Six Clerics for Pits & Perils

In my previous post I created six Fighter characters for Pits & Perils, each with a different stat. I will do the same for the Cleric class in this post. Again I will use 40 gold pieces as the standard.  I used the Triune Saints  as a guide when creating the story of most of the clerics.

The Strong Cleric

Background: Merchant

Gear: Pack, bedroll, rations(7), mace, leather, pole, cloak, tinderbox, lantern, oil, holy oil, ale, rope, holy symbol 4gp

Abner worked as a laborer on a trader’s ship.  Spending two years lugging crates and barrels of silver, gold and spices for the wealthy, he became aware of the plight of the poorer people in the shipyards. Tiring of strenuous manual labor, and realizing he could earn his daily bread doing something more noble, he entered the priesthood of the Order of St Agnes. Little did Abner know that he would be volunteered for the grunt work during his year as an acolyte!

The Dexterous Cleric

Background: Farmer

Gear: pack, bedroll, rations(7), hammer, leather, shield, tinderbox, waterskin, torch(6), blessed mulberry jelly (as holy oil), holy symbol, 2gp

As an orphan, Beatrice worked at St. Elmo’s orchard in the summer, climbing the tall mulberry trees to tend the sick branches and harvest the sour fruit. In the autumn, working in the cookery preparing jellies and pies. Then one evening the nearby cemetery opened up and a swarm of the dead stormed the abbey. Being but ten years old, and seeing the priests fleeing in panic at the skeletal army, Beatrice charged defiantly with torch in hand, and they fled at the sight of her. It was considered a miracle, and Beatrice was sent to train as a crusading nun of the order of St Elmo.

The Wise Cleric

Background: Performer

Gear: pack, rations(7), bedroll, club, donkey (as pony), saddle, lantern, oil, tinderbox, holy symbol, 1gp

Garret the conman earned his bread pretending to be a priest. Carefully observing the ritual, patterns of speech, and liturgies of the Triune faith, he visited the homes of the wealthy posing as a Friar of St Julian. Eventually he was caught in an affair with a lord’s wife and flogged. It was observed by members of the order of St Julian that his act was so convincing that he might as well take the vows and become a cleric. After being branded as an adulterer and conman, Garret saw no other option but to try it. To this day, he preaches that being caught in his deception was the best thing that ever happened to him.

The Intelligent Cleric

Background: Gambler

Gear: pack, bedroll, rations(7), quarterstaff, club, leather, sling, stones(20), tinderbox, waterskin, dice, chessboard, holy symbol, 12gp

Donald is well versed in all dice games, as well as games of abstract strategy. He made his living hustling the dice and the chessboard, but always made a point to tithe from his winnings. When applying to be accepted as a novice of order of St Gregory, it was his argument that Triune made the laws of probability. By wisely playing games and giving charitably from ones winnings, one does honor to the Triune. Also, if the unvirtuous gamble and invest their winnings in sinful pursuits, it is the duty of the virtuous to deprive them of their money through fair play so the money is put to righteous use.

The Sturdy Cleric (constitution)

Background: Bowyer

Gear: pack, bedroll, rations(7), prodd, bullets(20), Yeti fur, club, knife, tinderbox, torches(6), holy symbol

In the subarctic region, Eric eked out a living making archery equipment for hunters and militia. He designed a bullet firing crossbow that suited the Triune clerics’ preference for weapons that minimize bloodshed. To prove its utility, he spent a week on a glacier tracking a Yeti through a snow storm that would have frozen lesser men, and slew it with the crossbow.

[You will notice that I gave him the Yeti fur, which itself would be quite expensive. However, it suits his background, and serves merely as a warm cloak.  Therefore I ignored the otherwise expensive cost of this cloak.]

The Charismatic Cleric

Background: Town Crier

Gear: pack, bedroll, rations(7), mace, chain, waterskin, tinderbox, torch(2), rope, holy symbol

Gordon was the the town crier of his district, but also his natural charm made him persuasive in calling the faithful and the unfaithful to the Church of Triune. However, it so happened that the crowds would rather listen to him preach than attend the local church. Tithes dropped, and Gordon found himself distributing the funds to the needy that would otherwise maintain the church. It was agreed the order of St Leonard would train him in the priesthood and send him off where he would cause the least amount of grief for local congregations. He would bring the good news of the Triune to the poor, the lame, and the lepers, and to anyone else away from normal civilization.


New Crossbow Weapon for Pits & Perils

I adapted the Prodd to Pits & Perils after creating a cleric with a background of a Bowyer.

The heavy bullet firing crossbow

With twice the cost of a regular crossbow, it’s main purpose is to provide the clerical class with an easily trained projectile weapon that doesn’t offend their sensibilities about shedding blood in combat.

A bag of 20 round lead bullets cost twice that of arrows or quarrels.

It is a heavy weapon that must be braced and cranked to reload.  As such, it only fires every other combat round.  It could also be loaded with small clay pots of holy water for destroying undead at a distance.

If I were to read this, my first question would be, “Why buy this when I can buy a sling for 5gp and twenty shots for 1gp?”

Good question.  The crossbow is better suited for dungeons as it does not need the extra room to be twirled about as a sling might.  And by my own optional rules, if the crossbow wielder is loaded and ready to fire, but loses initiative, he can still fire.

For twice the cost, the cleric gets a decent projectile weapon. And anyone wishing to kill without leaving a blood trail can do the same.




Fighters for Pits & Perils

After creating a draft for adapted AD&D classes, Google+ user Michael Julius inspired me to create basic P&P characters, each with a different stat and background. I want to see how far I can push the basic rules and create a variety of characters. And so, I will make a version of all four basic human classes, each with a single stat and a secondary skill. I will assume average money rolls, rounding up, and therefore give them 40 gp to work with.

For those unfamiliar with Pits & Perils stats, for each character you roll 2d6 and consult the stat chart.  For whatever stat comes up, your character excels in that ability.  For example, on a roll of 2 you character has strength, where on a 6 or 7 the character has Wisdom.  On a roll of 11-12, you can pick two stats to excel in.  So a fighter with Strength could be called a Strong fighter.

This post will cover the Fighter class with one stat.

The Strong Fighter

background: farmer

Gear: pack, bedroll, rations(7), flail, hand ax, dagger, sling, stones(20), leather, waterskin, tinderbox, rope, sack, Mule

Fred is a poor farmer known for being a fierce scrapper and his knack for wrangling livestock without any help. After a bad harvest, he was forced to eat all his animals except his best friend Ford, a mule. Fred set out with Ford to seek his fortune as an adventurer.

Wise Fighter

background: hunter

Gear: pack, bedroll, rations(7), short bow, leather, hand ax, dagger, cloak, rope, mallet, wooden stake(6), tinderbox, torch(6), waterskin, arrows(20), 1gp

Abel makes his living on animal pelts and wild herbs. He’s used to sleeping in the wild, and in fact prefers it to civilization because there’s less noise. People talk to much, and say too little. Animals, on the other hand, talk little, but say exactly what they mean: “go away”, “I don’t mind you”, “sure I’ll have a bit of that you’re cooking”, “I know you caught the fish but I’m taking it.”

Intelligent Fighter

background: Merchant

Gear: pack, bedroll, rations(7), Longsword, chain, dagger, waterskin

Bruce served as a merchant caravan guard, but learned the rudiments of appraising various trade goods. Pottery, rugs, silks, and wines (the last one, especially) are his expertise. After pursuing a clever mountebank over some fake jewels, only to be outnumbered by his hired goons, he decided that risking his life for other people’s profit wasn’t the lifestyle he wanted.

Dexterous Fighter

background: Fisherman

Gear: pack, bedroll, rations(7), short sword, dagger, net, leather, cloak, rope, waterskin, sewing kit, lantern, oil, sack, 3gp

Charlie made his living on a fishing galleon as chief of the topmen, spending more time in the rigging than on the deck. He made a name for himself when he helped repel a boarding party of sea elves, swinging from the ropes and cutting them down with his short sword. After that experience, he decided he could earn more as a hero than a fisherman.

Sturdy Fighter (constitution)

background: performer

gear: pack, bedroll, rations (7), mace, shield, crossbow, bolts(20), waterskin, tinderbox, balls, 2gp

Desperate Dan entertained with the absurd, and it paid well: snake handler, flame spitter, brick breaker. No snake bite, no burn, no concussion could deter him from his calling. That is, until he juggled poisoned knives, and cut himself. He survived a dose that would have knocked down a bear. Upon recovering, Dan decided it was time to stop temping fate for coppers and do it for gold, and set out adventuring.

Charismatic Fighter

background: Beggar

gear: pack, bedroll, rations(7), quaterstaff, dagger, sling, stones(20), leather, waterskin, mirror, cloak, lantern, oil, set of ragged filthy clothes, 6gp

It is said that Eleanore could deceive the gods themselves with her acting skills. Faking helplessness and distress was her bread and butter, her wine and meat, and her gold and silver. She learned the arts of combat brawling with other beggars for territory.  Caught trying to scam an undercover sheriff, she knocked him out and fled the city.

Cat Men Class for Pits & Perils

I’ve yet to decide whether to call them Cat Men or Cat People.  Fighting Fantasy has them as Cat People, and it seems to roll off the tongue well.  You tell me what you like better.


Cat Men

A creation of the ancient high elves, cat men resulted from mixing humans with felis domesticus. The resulting hybrid had the intelligence of humans and the will of feral cats, and proved useless as servants to the high elves. Left to their own devices, the cat men retreated to isolated forest communities usually ruled by a Chief who proved himself in combat. They have very little need to trade with the world of men, but occasionally travel and interact with them. Rare cat men are known to take up adventuring with parties of humans. They care not for monetary wealth, but do value gems and jewelry as decorative trophies.

They’re dexterous warriors, leaping from trees and the shadows to ambush their prey and foes alike. They are excellent infiltrators, charging past enemy formations to attack them from behind. They speak their own tongue and a variant of the common human tongue. They are naked and not ashamed, but will wear simple tunics or trousers to fit in among other humanoids.

While they prefer their claws in combat, cat men are known especially for hunting with knives, bola, javelins, and thrown nets.

GMs should use their judgment as to the efficacy of claw attacks against certain monsters such as gargoyles and animated constructs.

Cat men have Dexterity plus whatever else they roll.

Cat men have a base movement rate of 60′

Cat men can feed themselves as long as there’s small game available such as rats, snakes, birds or mice.

On a successful save, cat men can detect invisible enemies, including spirits.

If a cat man forgoes his combat action, he can move at double movement rate.

The cat man gains +1 to attack and +1 damage when attacking an unaware foe.

If a cat man is unarmed, his claw attacks count as daggers.

Cat men have the dodge maneuver at level 1.

Cat men gain combat moves at 3rd level, and every 3rd level thereafter.

Cat men can carry shields, but otherwise do not wear armor.

Cat men can wield one handed melee weapons but do not use bows.

HP 7, +2 per level thereafter

Adapting AD&D classes to P&P

In the spirit of the original fantasy role playing game, stats must be rolled in advanced before picking these classes. Each has prerequisites. These classes are powerful, and having stat prerequisites makes them rare and special.  Per the standard P&P stat generation rules, only a roll of 11 or 12 on a 2d6 allows the choice of two stats.  So rangers, paladins and bards will be rare indeed.

Ranger prerequisites: Wisdom and Constitution


A ranger has +1 to notice tracks, odor, scat, or other signs of recent activity. This increases by +1 at 3rd, 6th and 9th level.

In the wild, a ranger gain +1 to foraging attempts, and get an additional +1 at 3rd, 6th and 9th level. This provides enough food for 1d6 people, or 1d3 doses of medicinal herbs.

Being skilled hunters, rangers get +1 bonus to ranged attacks.

A ranger can wear armor up to chain and a shield.  The ranger can wield all weapons and all magical items particular to fighters.

A ranger gains one spell point at 3nd,6th and 9th levels.  Rangers can cast CALL, CALM, ROUT and OBEY.

Rangers get combat moves at third level, and every third level thereafter.

HP 10, +2 per level

Paladin prerequisites: Wisdom and Charisma

A paladin gains 1 faith point at levels 3, 6 and 9 and can use it to cast clerical spells at 1/3 his level. So a ninth level Paladin can heal like a third level cleric for 1d6+1.

Paladins have the fighter’s +1 combat bonus.

Paladins get +1 damage against undead and demons.

Paladins can wield all weapons and wear all armor.

Paladins can wield all magical items particular to fighters.

Paladins get combat moves at 3rd level and every third level thereafter.

A paladin may retain 100 gp after personal expenses, but must otherwise donate his treasure to good works.

A paladin can request room and board at any church of his faith. The vicar of said church may require a favor of the paladin such as help with a troublesome monster, aiding in an exorcism, cleaning duties, chopping firewood, etc.

A Paladin who does evil will have his powers revoked by Triune and become a regular fighter until he redeems himself.  A priest of his order will give him the mission after he confesses his sin.

HP 10, +2 per level

Bard Prerequisites: Intelligence and Charisma

The Bard has 1 spell point at first level, and gains 1 spell point every other level. Bards begin with one spell, and gain a new spell every other level. The power of a bard’s spells do not increase with level.

As entertainers preferring to be light on their feet, Bards can wear leather and use a shield. Bards can wield all one handed melee weapons and all missile weapons.

A bard can entertain at inns, taverns, camps and castles for room and board.

On a successful save, bards can earn 1d6 gp per day entertaining. Add an extra +1 to entertaining and gold rolls at 3rd, 6th, and 9th levels.

At third level, bards can specialize in a weapon, and gain +1 to attack with that weapon.

Bards get combat moves at 3rd level and every third level thereafter.

HP 7, +1 per level

Adapting Rhino Men to Pits & Perils

Below is a character class for Rhino Men adapted to my game world in development.  This is inspired by the Rhino Men from Fighting Fantasy.   Perhaps you may like to run them in your setting.  For simplicity’s sake I used the male pronoun, but you can of course run Rhino Man female characters all you like.

It is my goal here to define the Rhino as a warrior class without treading upon the standard Fighter of Pits & Perils.  Note that the Rhino does not get a +1 attack bonus.  That is the domain of the Fighter Class.

I have yet to play test this Rhino.  Consider this a rough draft to help flesh out character concept.

Rhino Men

The Rhino men are a hybrid creation of the High Elves, blending human and rhino traits. Originally created to be a servile soldier class, the human free will and conscience combined with rhinoceros stubbornness made them unreliable soldiers, often disobeying unjust orders and instead killing their elvish commanders. Rhino Men joined the coalition of humans, dwarfs and sea elves in the Great Rebellion that eventually destroyed the Empire.

Adult rhino men are very tall and broad, ranging six to seven feet tall, and easily 250 to 400 pounds. Rhinomen live in tribal villages, and their homes are usually thatched houses spartan in furnishing. They have a very martial culture, their main professions being mercenaries and caravan guards. Some take to the wilds alone or with Wanderers of other species to protect the trail-ways and back-ways from being overrun with monsters.

Rhino culture values honor and heroism, and their bards create extravagant operas and orchestral hymns that are performed at seasonal festivals. Despite having only three fingers, they are adept at playing bagpipes, flutes and drums. Their great voices range from soprano to deep bass, with many of their marching hymns having multiple overlapping harmonies. The rhinomen, while learning the written languages of other races, have no written language of their own. They dispense knowledge through song, rhyme, and poetry. Rhinos are well regarded in human settlements.

The tough rhino hide gives all Rhino Men +1 armor. Due to their great size, tough hides and sharp rhino horns, if a Rhino Man charges 20′ or more, he can add +1 damage for any hit (melee or thrown). Rhino Men have Strength plus whatever else they roll. Rhinos have an acute sense of smell, but like their rhinoceros relatives they have poor eyesight. Ranged attacks beyond 60′ feet are at -1.

Rhino men gain combat maneuvers at level 3, and every third level afterward.

As their combat prowess increases, so too does their ability to withstand combat damage. Rhino men gain +1 armor at level 3, and every third level thereafter.

At 9th level Rhinos gain 2 attacks per round.

Rhino Men are vegetarian and do not eat flesh.

Rhino Men speak the common trade lingo of men, their own tongue, and can speak with wild rhinoceros.

Level HP XP

1        10   0

2        12 tbd

3        14 tbd

4        16 tbd

5        18 tbd

6        20 tbd

7        22 tbd

8        24 tbd

9        26 tbd

10      28 tbd

High Magic Spells for Blood of Pangea

This is an old post I had saved as a draft from September 4, 2017.  I release it now as it does no good sitting in the draft bin.

In a previous post I brainstormed some magic spells that fit within the rules of regular sorcery in Blood of Pangea.  Now I want to brainstorm some high sorcery, as I personally prefer a game where there’s amazing magical spells of all kinds.  I  like the idea of a free form magic system.

The challenge with free form magic is there’s no yardstick for determining cost vs effect.  There is a Might cost, but one must have a metric for how much might it costs for a given effect, and that is difficult for me.

Having actual limits to your magic helps spur creativity.  You have an idea of what realm you have mastery over, and focus your efforts at making it work within that realm.  World Of Dungeons has an interesting system whereby the magician has use of two “spirits” that grant the caster powers, and those spirits each have mastery two domains of power, such as lightning and stone.  Spell damage is capped at 2d6 or 3d6, and otherwise you can cast any spell that’s plausible within the domains of the spirits in your service.  It’s not quite free form, but it’s free form within a limited domain.

A creative person might take this spirit of lightning and stone and work their creativity on it.  Stones that explode with electricity, stones that glow with electric light, electric sparks that follow the caster like a torch, animating stone statues, making your target’s hair stand on end, charging your staff so anyone you poke with it gets a nasty electric shock, crumbling stones to dust, etc.

BOP has no restrictions on high magic except that  1 point of damage costs 1 Might.  The Judge can impose restrictions or conditions as he sees fit.  Here’s an example from a Google+ discussion, where member James Ciriaco explains his take on animating zombies.  It was an excellent idea.

With a Might cost related to damage inflicted, one could use that as a metric for all kinds of matter changing sorcery.  Without a lot of Might to spend, even your high magic effects are limited.

Someone commented over on the Google+ forum about my previous post having spell effects similar to using “The Force” in Star Wars.  That may well be a good point of reference.

So with that in mind, I will list a few high magic spells. I will add that ritual could be used to help achieve the desired result, but it would take time and materials to do so.

Here’s the spells:

Any kind of damaging spell could be themed to suit the style of the sorcerer.  A ball of energy, an ethereal putrescence, ice, fire, acid, doing damage equal to Might.  Over on the trollbridge forum, someone said they themed a “Take That You Fiend” spell as the victim’s shadow coming to life and strangling them. The Emperor in Star Wars used Lightning.

Breaking down doors.

Crumbling stone.  Levitating a 250 pound boulder might take only 1 might, but crushing it to rubble would take more, I think.  If the one hour duration and concentration rules are used, then you might negotiate a cost of Might vs Time.  Let’s say the 250 pound boulder blocks a crawl space you need to pass.  Then the Judge could offer a deal such as it would cost 1 might for one hour to slowly crumble the stone, or 5 might to break up the stone right now.

Set something on fire.  The larger or more flame retardant the target, the more it costs.

Call a prolonged wind to push a sailing boat or ship.

Push down a tree. * Consider how many axe strokes it would take to cut down a tree.  Toppling even one 40 foot tree with a 6 in diameter trunk could possibly take a tremendous amount of Might.

Removing body parts.  If a body can be levitated, surly part of the body can be levitated. If you’re into the macabre, then there’s some interesting implications to this idea.  I’ll leave that to your imagination.

Cauterize a bleeding wound.

Jump start someone’s heart with electricity.

Snap someone’s weapon in half. * This is a Pits & Perils spell.

Mend a broken sword. * This also is a Pits & Perils spell.

Cause the targets to lose control of their bowels.

Summon a small whirlwind.  Simple little dust devils cost little, more powerful gales or tornado speed winds, very expensive.

Heat a water-logged porous rock from a stream, causing it to explode like a bomb.

Attract lightning from an overhead storm cloud.

Summon demons.

Summon floating lights.

Animate thorny plants to entangle a target.





NPCs of my Fantasy World, Part 1

Below are the couple who own Zootaloot Farm.  Their ages are of the time of their marriage.

All stats are from Pits & Perils.  For D&D and their derivatives, assume a score of 15 or higher for the named stats.

Artair, of the Pig Clan, age 38

9th level fighter, Strength, Intelligence

Beekeeper, friend, and owner of Zootaloot Farm

Married to Didena, of the Frog clan

Bearer of Frostbane, an ancient magical sword

Artair is the fifth generation to possess Zootaloot Farm.  He had four children from his first marriage, and all inherited his gift of animal empathy.   After his wife died, he married Didena of the Frog clan, with whom he has one daughter Tana who also inherited his gift.  He learned the Song of the Bees, and can tend beehives without being stung.  He is regarded as one of the chiefs of his clan, both leading men in war and resolving disputes.  He is friends with Fabian, a chief of the Cow clan.

On his farm he has several orchards of fruit trees, as well as fields to feed his  livestock. He primary trade goods are fruit, honey and mead.

Like all the people of his clan, he made a name for himself at the age of 17, setting out on a quest to prove his worth as a warrior.  He recovered the Tome of the Planets from the abandoned Elvish library in [Unnamed Mountain Valley].


Didena of the Frog Clan, age 23

4th level Fighter, Constitution

Farmer, married to Artair of the Pig clan

Wielder of Frostbane, an ancient magical sword

Didena met Artair at the battle of [unnamed], where Artair’s wife was slain, and he was wounded by an infernal walking machine.  She took the dropped Frostbane, endured the severe burns it inflicted, and destroyed the machine.  Artair was impressed with Didena’s power to withstand the searing heat of the Frostbane.  After a period of grieving, he courted the brave woman who became his wife.  She bore one child, Tana, before taking an orc arrow to the belly, leaving her sterile.

Didena feels somewhat out of place in the Pig clan.  She is more serious of disposition than most of the Pig clan, who constantly indulge in all sorts of humor, both innocent and bawdy.  She is 15 years her husband’s junior, and the only one of her present family without the gift of animal empathy.  Nonetheless she is respected for her prowess with the sword and her courage.  Anyone who could endure the searing heat of Frostbane and not drop the weapon is worthy of praise indeed.


+2 Sword, +1 damage versus armor and foes particularly vulnerable to fire

The Frostbane is an ancient blade, presently passed from parent to child on Zootaloot Farm.  When asked how one endures the pain, the present owner says, “When you truly need the sword, you will be able to wield it.”

Whoever wields the blade for the first time must endure terrible heat which severely scalds the hand, leaving the palm with little sensation.  Anyone who wields it must save or drop the weapon, and be severely scalded for 1d3 damage.  Anyone who passes the save will still be scalded,  but can thenceforth wield the sword in either hand without being damaged.   The save must be passed to wield the weapon.   If the wielder is somehow shielded from the burning effects, the sword will not yield it’s magical bonuses.  The sword “knows” who can wield it.

The hot blade is known to cut through steel armor and ice with ease.

Note to GMs, anyone casually wielding the sword must roll 9+, whereas anyone wielding the sword in a time of need must only roll 7+.  The weapon can be handled for examination without harming the handler, but it will feel hot.  Upon wielding it for practice or battle, the roll must be made.

I haven’t decided if Frostbane is a two hander or a one hander.  If and when I get to writing about it, I’ll decide.  I generally envision Artair and his kin employing the Sword & Board fighting style, so it’s probably just a one-handed weapon.

My Game World Setting

This is a long post.  So get a cup of coffee or your beverage of choice.  John Feldman’s Blog  inspired me to begin writing down the the foundation of a game world  and collection of short stories I’ve been struggling with for over a year (one year and I’ve only written chapter one, twice, plus a couple of disconnected story fragments). It is my hope that by writing here, I can help define it and thereby be more successful and writing stories about it.

The world is inspired in part by the Fighting Fantasy adventures I played with my ex-wife, and partially by a mishmash of other known fantasy worlds.  The bestiary to populate this world is heavily inspired by Out Of the Pit.

The working title of this collection of stories is “Zootaloot.”  Yes it sounds like a bit of absurd Onomatopoeia , and it is.  It’s one of a few dozen absurd words my family made up over the years (though not an entirely unique creation, as a Google search will reveal), and it means blowing a musical raspberry on someone.   In the language of the Pig clan (described later) is means a brotherly love between humans and animals.  The farm the main protagonist comes from is called “Zootaloot farm.”

The map, conceptually, is not unlike that of the world of Conan: a continent combining Europe, Africa and the Near East.  There’s even a great inland sea that would stand in for the Mediterranean, but it is a freshwater sea.  There is nothing geographically creative about this map.  The planet has two moons, and the alignment of the moons is a timer for certain events in the overall story.  For example, there’s a periodic migration of all the elephants to a sort of Elephant-moot, where the large gray elephants, and the mastodons of the arctic region, and the sea elephants of the inland sea all meet together.

Yes there are sea elephants, and their noses are like snorkels on the water surface.  They have flippers rather than legs, and eat aquatic vegetation as well as fish. They’re otherwise of an elephanty disposition: some are tame, some are vicious.

There are many clans of humans, each with a different totem animal.  The totems derive from the most peculiar thing about humans in this world: people born with alopecia have the peculiar ability of Animal Empathy, and can communicate with animals better than any other human.  This is based on my ex wife, who has alopecia, and also has a peculiar affinity with animals (though not to the extent that people in this world do).  Such people are known as friends in the various tongues. While not all are fond of animals (in fact some tire knowing when an animal dislikes them or is cursing them out), such persons tend to be the best herders, shepherds, and productive farmers thanks to their superior talent at communicating with animals.

There are Rhino men, and Cat men, and Vulture men (all three based on Rhinomen, Cat People and Hamakei from Fighting Fantasy) which all products of the High Elves magical genetic experiments.

Like Tolkien’s world, the High Elves are an immortal race of people, gifted above all the others in the arts, sciences and magic.  One can imagine how such creatures could fall into evil based on their overconfidence in their own superiority. The story of the High Elves is the story of the corruption and downfall of the master race (and, if I ever finish the stories, their redemption).

The High Elves built a continent-wide empire, subsuming all the tribes of men, some of the dwarfs, as well as some of the chaotic species like Orcs.  There was a common coin, standards of weight and measure, law, taxation, rules, regulations, lawyers, and so forth.  While prosperous, it demanded of all the diverse peoples that they give up their customs and traditions for the alleged efficiency of the empire.  The High Elves seemed to profit the most from this arrangement, and it grated on the various peoples until they rebelled.  The Rhino Men created to be soldiers sided with the humans,  and the Vulture Men created to be the scribes and keepers of knowledge put their minds to work at undermining the empire.

The empire was ripped apart in civil war, and most of the High Elves were slaughtered.  Even orcs and goblins allied with men to destroy the High Elves.   Of those who survived and surrendered, the administrators of the Elvish empire had their tongues cut for issuing the orders by which the empire was run.  The Elvish enforcers: soldiers, policemen, bailiffs, had their thumbs cut from their sword hands for enforcing the laws of the administrators.  Without the enforcers, the law givers have no power.

In the centuries that followed, those survivors were known as the Tongueless and the Thumbless, and were mostly shunned or barely tolerated as they went about their affairs among the various communities of men.  Those high elves born afterward (and not many were, due to the defeated elves being terribly demoralized)  often suffer with unjust social prejudice directed at them by the tribes of men.

The remnants of the empire fell into ruin, resulting in abandoned strongholds, caves, and other places of interest being occupied by strange monsters no longer kept in check by imperial policing.  The various clans of humans retreated to their ancestral homes, making a pact never to allow a State to form over them all again.   The places between human settlements became dangerous places where Orcs, Goblins, Trolls, bandits and assorted other troubles lurk. They are also places where wild goodly or bizarre creatures such as Fairies, Dryads, Gnomes, and pixies can thrive and flourish.

There is a lesser race of elves known as the Sea Elves.  They’re small framed, topping off about 4 1/2 to five feet at the most.  Their skin is tinted bluish-green, and have webbed feet.  They’re excellent ship builders and sailors and skilled weather workers.  They often work as fishermen, cargo haulers, and pirates.  The sight of a sea elf pirate ship is terrifying to merchants, for they’re difficult to outrun, and the elves will board the ship like a swarm of charging ants, taking everything not tied down.  The Sea Elves tend to be a chaotic, rough and tumble lot, and often are disliked in coastal communities.  However, the anger is due more to the actions of certain pirate gangs than racial prejudice.  Peaceful sea elves make an effort to identify themselves as such to avoid trouble.

The Sea Elves homeland is in island communities off the coast of the main continent. During the reign of empire, the High Elves had great difficulty trying to make the Sea Elves submit to their authority.  The Sea Elves were the first to regain independence as the empire collapsed and attempted to retain power on the mainland.

The Dwarves are akin to dwarves from other fantasy fiction: miners, metal workers, craftsmen.  They tend to produce great wizards (This I take from Tunnels & Trolls) as well as doughty warriors.  They tend to be stubborn, foul mouthed, but otherwise reliable people who generally keep their agreements.  A tribe of Dwarves built and operate the canal connecting the western ocean to the Great Inland Sea.

Now to the humans, who, like our own world, are a varied lot.  Currently I have only a few of the clans loosely defined.  If the fiction I write demands more clans, I’ll write them in.  This is what I have so far.   All the clans tend to have very martial cultures.  Most people are trained in the use of arms as there are no standing armies. Their tribal governments are based on their cultural customs rather than extensive written law. Duels to first blood are not uncommon as means of settling disputes.  Duels to the death happen on rare occasions as revenge for murders or other serious crimes.  On the whole, the various tribes of men are generally morally conscientious people: industrious, sexually temperate, valuing honor.   These are barbarians, loosely speaking, that value their liberty over the stability once granted by the Elvish Empire.

There is the Pig clan, who are known as a clan of explorers and adventurers in addition to being farmers and herdsmen.  They raise fighting pigs.  One of the chiefs of the Pigs is fifth generation bee-keeper and friend, who practices the Song of the Bees and can calm bees without smoke.  One of the main protagonists is the daughter of this man, Tana (based loosely on my ex wife)  The Pigs are known for their unusually silly sense of humor, and their custom of greeting one another by blowing raspberries on each other’s cheeks. In appearance I imagine them as Celtic peoples of the British isles.

The Frogs live in wetlands are are fishermen, clam diggers, with a touch of Louisana Bayou rural swampbilly (as opposed to Hillbilly).  They’re of a more somber disposition compared to the Pigs, whom they consider to be somewhat childish. However they have a taste for luxuries like coffee, tobacco and chocolate.   They’re a Euro type, French Germanic.  (Note: When my wife and I married, she being of French descent, put a Frog on the altar, and a Pig for me.  So this is another tribute to my ex wife)

The Cows are farmers of luxury crops and cattle ranchers south of the Great Inland Sea.  They’re successful growers of tobacco, cocoa, coffee, as well as harvesters of and weavers of silk.  They are well reputed as honest merchants of good quality merchandise.  They’re also very much in love with their cows, which they both raise for milk but also ride them into battle.  They only eat their cattle when they die of natural causes, to take in the strength of their fallen friends into themselves.  I envision the Cows as a black African type from the Congo region.  This clan was inspired by a coworker from The Congo who pays a man to watch his cows, but the customs above are made up.

The Horses are a free ranging people of the northern plains.  They are a proud and free spirited bunch, often riding naked on their horses.  A great many are hunters, ranchers, explorers and scouts.  I have yet to determine their most common source of income.  They might be hunter-gatherers.  They’re a Nordic looking euro type with red or blonde hair.

The Elephants are known for their employ of elephants in lumbering and construction. No further details yet.  I was inspired to create this clan after reading a heartbreaking news story about unemployed Burmese lumberjacks and their elephants begging on the streets. Trucks and power equipment are displacing the traditional lumberjacks.  This phenomena has occurred in India as well.  I envision the Elephants as a nomadic people of south Asian appearance.

As for the human-animal hybrid species: Rhino Men, Cat Men, and Vulture Men, they have their own lands as well.  The Rhino Men live mostly south of the Great Inland Sea and hire themselves out as convoy escorts and mercenaries.  They’re few in number but extremely powerful.   Their cultural expectation is to be a force for good in the world, not conquering and building empires like the Elves, but merely protecting that which is good. You might call them Paladins without religious dogma.   It is said that one rhino could easily count for three men at arms.   They’re also known for their music: composing operas and war hymns of bagpipes, flutes and stringed instruments.

The Cat Men are more catlike than human, and have settlements north and south of the inland sea.  They’re warriors and hunters, and have little need for trade with humans, though they sometimes will do so.  Their preference for raw meat and poor table manners makes them not the best of guests at a sit down dinner.  They’re neither evil nor good, but rather self interested.

The Vulture Men are scholars and collectors of ancient wisdom, and a goodly number operate The Academy, an institute of higher learning.  (I have considered combining the school of wizardry with the academy, but I’m not sure yet)  I have nothing else to write about the Vulture Men for now.

There’s also the Snake Men (inspired by the Caarth from Fighting Fantasy), who maintain a small kingdom south of the inland sea, and are not very friendly.  They sometimes raid the human settlements looking for food, goods, and slaves. The Rhino Men often fight them in battle.  The Snake Men are cold and calculating but also possess many secrets of ancient sorcery.  On rare occasion their interests may align with the humans or the Rhino Men, but generally they’re not well regarded.

Now for magic.  This is a high magic world and wizardry is not uncommon.  There is a school of wizardry and those with the gift often attend to learn the trade and return home to their clans to help their neighbors, or seek solitude to continue their research into occult phenomena. There are weather workers, manipulators of the elements, healers of the sick, battle mages and finders of lost things. Some are corrupted by the lust for power, and end up recruiting assorted creatures to aid their attempts at acquiring wealth by force or conquest.  The various clans of humans have ongoing treaties of mutual aid to defeat these armies of monsters.    In gaming terms, I envision spell casting as either powered by stamina (causing fatigue) or spell points.

Formal religion does not exist in any substantive way.  The most common tradition approaching religion are shamanistic rituals in honor of the dead, seasonal holidays, birth days, retelling of ancient tales, and celebrations of entering adulthood.

That is all for now.

I’m running a PBF game on RPGGeek

I’m running a sci-fi adventure over on

It is using 1974 Style   a rules-lite stripped down OSR clone.

I was torn between Blood of Pangea: Retrospace and 1974 Style, as I wanted to run both. In retrospect I kind of wish I used BOP–but fuck it(!)–there will be time to run that as well.  Every choice means foregoing another choice, at least for the time being.  Thankfully this adventure is only 13 rooms and their connecting corridors.

Feel free to follow the adventure if reading PBF games interests you.

While we’re discussing PBF, here is a link to the Fighting Fantasy PBF I ran that went over two years.  If you ever want to play “Shaggradd’s Hives of Peril”, you are better served by not reading it, so nothing is spoiled.  To be honest, I think Shaggradd’s Hives is an inferior adventure to “The Wishing Well”, which is the first of the two adventures included in “Fighting Fantasy: The Introductory Role Playing Game” . You wouldn’t be spoiling very much.