Saturday, May 30, 2015

Gallows of the Cross Roads
Where Alba Road and the Grey Mountain Road meet. There is a rickety old wooden set of gallows. Known as the Gallows of the Cross Roads. It is a dark place that has seen more than its share of death. These gallows used to be the primary execution spot during the rule of Duke Valentin Valeriu. Its last victims fetid corpse still dangles from the rotten rope. 
But this place has also a dark secret. The corpse that dangles in the wind was no ordinary criminal. They say he was touched by the devil himself. He swore to come back and haunt this land. That this world would never lose his murderous touch.
Unfortunately he was true to his word. Though few have survived to tell. For at night his corpse comes to life and stalks the countryside. Strangling the life out of his victims. Just as his was taken. Then returns to his rope perch at day break.

Gallows Corpse
AC: 11
HD: 4 ST: 15
Attacks: Strike or Strangle. If first attack is successful 1d6 per round till victim makes a save.
Special: Immune to sleep, charm
Move: 6
HDE/XP: 4/240

The Gallows Corpse was reanimated by a vow, dark magic, and evil intentions. While possessing a rotten body, its mind is quick. Inhabited by an evil intelligence. During daylight hours it appears as a simple corpse. At dark it animates and seeks victims. Continuing its quest to bring evil to the land.

(Stats are S&W)

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Gothic Rules

    So thats all a brief preview of Ardeal and places within. I do have more to it. Hooks of people, places, and things. But enough of that for the moment. As the question always comes to, what system? This time it is simple, blood simple. Sabres and Witchery. Its also free. Can you say bonus round?
    Based on Swords and Wizardry, it is a simple and (imho) wonderful. It really needs no modification to run the setting. I'm gonna give it a few extras to my taste of course. Mix in some tables of my own devising for horror, madness, reaching 0 HP, and what have you. Or just use them straight up from Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque. Which was free, but I know for certain is still on Lulu. Jack has taken down pretty much everything from his blog. Which you should still check out. Hes been writing about Arksylvania, which is very cool. Obviously very gothic stuff.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Prominent Cities, Towns, and Villages 6

Bodružal is a quiet little village in the Vişeu valley. Known for its herds of sheep and gently rolling meadows. It is a tightly knit community of timber framed houses. Rumors abound of nearby Mount Tatra. Which some feel has an evil aura. This is generally dismissed by other citizens of Ardeal as hearsay. But the locals know the truth.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Prominent Cities, Towns, and Villages 5

The village of Vidra is known as the fuel source of the modern Ardeal. Outside this quaint timber framed village are multiple lignite mines. Lignite is a soft brown fuel with characteristics that put it somewhere between coal and peat. It is primarily exported to Zlatna. Where it is used in the forges and foundries in the iron works. While lignite is plentiful. Wood is the primary fuel here. Which keeps the smoke haze down to a minimum.
As of late Vidra has seem to have been inundated with marauding undead. The reason is not known why. Several undead/monster hunters have begun to base their operations out of Vidra. Evil seems to stalk the forest around the village.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Prominent Cities, Towns, and Villages 4

Şibot is a dichotomy of rich and poor. The Grey Mountain River splits the town in half. The Northeastern half is composed of gold merchants, and the wealthy gentry. It enjoys beautiful field stone and mortar homes, fountains, and cobblestone streets. While the southwestern half is composed of almost a shanty town of plank board buildings. This is where the men and their family who work the mines live. Not to mention the prospectors hoping to hit it rich and move across the river. Unfortunately it also serves as a breeding ground for criminals. Not that all people from southwest Şibot are criminals. But its reputation precedes it.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Prominent Cities, Towns, and Villages 3

Doştat is known for its primary product, sulfur. Its part of the refinement process that gives the town its particular odor. The sulfur ore is piled and stacked in brick kilns built on sloping hillsides, and with air spaces between them. Then powdered sulfur is put on top of the sulfur deposit and ignited. As the sulfur burns, the heat melts the sulfur deposits, causing the molten sulfur to flow down the sloping hillside. The molten sulfur can then be collected in wooden buckets. The sulfur is used for many things. Medicines, fungicide, and fertilizers to name a few.
But the forgotten industry of Doştat is the copper mines, smelting, and smithing. Which can be seen in the beautiful copper ornaments adorning the half timber buildings in Doştat.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Prominent Cities, Towns, and Villages 2

Zlatna is the industrial center of Ardeal. Lead and iron foundries supplied by local mines. Fueled by lignite from Vidra. The half timber style buildings white stucco are colored in shades of brownish grey. Dirtied by the ever present thick smoke. A perpetual haze lies across the city. Blacksmiths are the kings of this town. They manufacture iron, and lead items distributed across Ardeal. From nails, and hinges to swords, and muskets. They make it all.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Prominent Cities, Towns, and Villages 1

Alba Lulia
The capital Alba Lulia lies in the north end of the Alba River valley. The city is built in a mostly romanesque/gothic style. This along with the fog from the Alba river running through it, makes it a bit dreary and dark. Built into the side of the mountain leering over Alba Lulia is the Crows Garrett. A mighty gothic fortress. Home to the royal family, the Duchy of Valeriu. Surrounded by steep cliffs. The only way to reach the castle is by a set of covered stairs. Which meander up the cliff face from the city below.
Two of the bright spots of the city are the Royal Gardens, and the market bizarre. The Royal gardens is a park of statues and shrubs carved into the likeness of animals. In the center is the jewel of the park, the lion enclosure. A tall wrought iron fence surrounds the grounds of the lion house. These lions were a gift to Duke Mikail Valeriu, hundreds of years ago. They have been continuously bred with the induction of new blood from time to time. A fierce symbol of the royal family, which is included on their coat of arms. It is a legacy of the families continued power.
The market bizarre is a cornucopia of sights, sounds, and smells. All manner of things can be found here. All sold from pushcarts, stalls, and storefronts. The south end of the market centers around produce, and meats. While the northern end focuses more on shops, and pubs. But all through out can be found street performers and food vendors.
             A boon and bane to the city are the nearby salt mines. Salt is a valuable commodity, necessary for life. But the underside to this, is the deadly conditions which it is mined. The strenuous work and horrible conditions take a toll, on those who toil there. Semi-frequent cave-ins entomb lost souls. There are those that claim the mines are haunted by the lost dead. Though this has never been proven.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015


OK, with the kinda dreary days that have fallen on us here in the area. I've been thinking of my Ardeal setting. Which is sort of my gothic/ravenloftish setting. I thought I would share a little bit of my latest revised version.

Ardeal is a land of primeval forest, mountains, valleys, and rivers. A mostly temperate climate exists in the valleys. The valleys being a combination of meadows, and deciduous forest. These valleys are where most of the towns and villages are located. The unique topography of the area, does create fog on a regular basis. More so in the fall, and spring. As one progresses up the taller peaks they move from alpine forests to snow covered caps. These caps are the source of the many rivers. Rich in resources such as wood, wool, lignite, iron, lead, gold, copper, salt and sulfur. Yet little of it has been tapped into. This is partly due to the remoteness, of the area and the shorter growing season in the valleys.
This is beginning to change as the newly completed railroad has just been established. This railroad is jointly owned by the Ardeal Royal family, and the Royal family of the Kaiserthum-Transleithania Empire. Coming up north from the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. It has one stop, and station in Ardeal. Located in the capital Alba Lulia. The Royal family is considering the idea of adding stations in other cities. But they are currently unsure of this new technology. Wanting to see and understand the possibilities before committing to a large and expensive project.
The residents of Ardeal tend to be a superstitious lot and with good reason. Dark things lurk in the shadows of the towns, woods, and mountains. Only occasionally having contact with these things. When they do appear it is an ill omen, resulting in death. Folk healers, and clergy try to protect the peasants as best they can with charms and prayers. But sometimes these events can only be stopped by the intervention of the Ardeal Guard. But many times the kingdom likes to employ what are known as hunters. They tend to operate in a quieter, and more effective manner. As the creatures of the night tend toward the undead, and lycanthropes. Which at times require special tactics.
The Eastern Orthodox Church is the primary religion of the land. Churches adorned with the Suppedaneum Cross, appear in all the towns of Ardeal. Ranging from huge cathedrals sporting towers embellished with onion domes, to small timber framed churches. All of them seem to feature a religious icon, particular to each area.
Before the conversion of the area to Christianity. The land was under the watch of two primary deities, Perun and Veles. The two of them stand in opposition in almost every way. Perun is a heavenly god of thunder and lightning, fiery and dry, who rules the living world from his citadel high above, located on the top of the highest branch of the World Tree. Veles is a chthonic god associated with waters, earthly and wet, lord of the underworld, who rules the realm of the dead from down in the roots of the World Tree. Perun is a giver of rain to farmers, god of war and weapons, invoked by warriors. Veles is a god of cattle, protector of shepherds, associated with magic and commerce. Only scattered small, and mostly abandoned chapels to them remain.
Ardeal is a Duchy in the Kaiserthum-Transleithania Empire. The Empire is a large collection of kingdoms ruled over by the dual king/emperor of Kaiserthum-Transleithania. The two largest kingdoms in the Empire.
The Ardeal Guard is the Duchy's army and police force. Like most armed forces it consists of infantry, artillery, and cavalry. Infantrymen are armed with flintlock musket and bayonet. Officers sabre, and pistol. The cavalry with flintlock carbines, lances, and sabres. The Guards primary garrison is in Alba Lulia. It maintains smaller ones in Zlatna, Doştat, Vidra, and Şibot. The garrison in Şibot has grown substantially. Preparing for possible unrest, that may be brewing.
The monetary system of Ardeal is based on the Leu (equivalent of a gold piece). Lei is the plural wording for the Leu. The Leu is a gold coin produced by the Ardeal monarchy. It features a lion on one side, and on the other a tower from the Crows Garrett fortress. The Leu is further broken down into 100 Ban (equivalent of a copper piece). Bani is the plural wording of the Ban. The Ban has a Lion on one side, and a bundle of wheat on the other.

(Oh and as a side note. I've had some text background color issues that have propped up when posting. Well I fixed it. Screw you HTML, I've got your ass now!)

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Slacking and Broken Earth

Ok. I'm a slacker, or at least in a little slump. The whole fey mini setting isnt coming together like I want. I think I'm gonna skip it for now.

On another note. I was thumbing through drivethru RPG the other day and found this. It looks really interesting. I think one of the things that attracts me is the published setting locations. All in Michigan. Being thats my stomping grounds, it appeals to me. Heres the blurp for it

"Bombs fell. Billions died. Now you must pick up the pieces and rebuild this Broken Earth.
Broken Earth is an adventure setting that takes place in a post-apocalyptic version of Earth. It deals with a small fraction of the world, what was once the northern Midwest of the United States, and a tiny bit of southern Central Canada. As an adventure setting, Broken Earth includes many compelling locations and adventures, but also gives the heroes freedom to explore the world.
The book gives the GM everything you need to run a prolonged campaign in the Broken Earth setting, including locations, NPCs, plot points, mutant monsters, and a detailed first adventure that brings the party together."

This is a summation from poster Brand55 On theRPGsite about it.
"It's not overly gonzo, though you could probably make it more so without too much effort. I got a very strong Fallout vibe from it because of the vault group with advanced technology/knowledge coupled with surfacers who have regressed to a tribal society.

The best parts of it, IMO, were the hex-crawl nature of the setting and the very awesome settlement creation mini-game that I plan on one day expanding and using in my other SW games. It's really easy to plan and grow your own apocalyptic town of survivors, and some of my group is really into that stuff. Card draws from the action deck provide for random events, and the group (the leaders of the town) can organize survivors into groups that do things from building roads to patrolling for raiders to adventuring with the party (for those times when there are just too many angry mutants for the normal 4-6 players to tackle on their own)."

Its available in Savage Worlds and Pathfinder for systems.

When and if I get some extra loot. I think I'm gonna have to check it out.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Pic Post

So have been having a pretty crazy week so far. Working the mini setting over in my head. Not quite ready yet to be spewed out here. Yet. So in lieu of actual content, heres some pics.
I've always been fascinated by the cold war intrigue. Berlin is pretty much the epicenter of it.
The best spy show you've probably never watched. From the late 70's, it focus a lot on the office and the politics behind the scenes of an intelligence agency. Way smart, and just a really great program.
Pretty much the spiritual successor to "The Sandbaggers" in comic book form. Good stuff.
I have a special place in my heart for old school pistols, that are charged with stripper clips.
One on my favorite spy books. John LeCarre is great. If you haven't read any of his stuff. Start here.
The Fiat S76 "The Beast of Turin". A land speed record vehicle from 1911. Its gargantuan 28.5 liter inline four cylinder is 300 hp and propelled it to 116mph. Its pretty much the awesomist thing I've seen in a while.
Veronica Lake

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Some thoughts

Not blogging  (Still strikes me as strange that's an actual verb nowadays) about Hawaiian Noir, or Empire today. Like I've said previously this blog is about me putting ideas down on paper so to speak. So I don't lose them. Don't worry I'll be back to them. They are really rough gems that need polishing. But not tonight.
So some random thinking here. Been reading over my blog list. Lots of good stuff out there. You know that. But that's not what this is about. Like all great minds I'm stealing and combining some ideas. Kinda like good blues music. Bryce over at Tenfootpole reviewed Dungeon Magazine #41. (You read his blog right? No? Why not? Follow the link der Kamerad) The last adventure is what caught my eye. Titled "Old Man Katan and the Mushroom Band", it has a fairy tale quality to it.
Over at Swords & Stichery Needles reviews Cold Drake Canyon which is kind of a mini setting.
I think it would be a swell combination. A small setting just a valley, or woods full of fable and whimsy.
Thats leads me to another thought that I've had this evening. The emphasis on weird. Now don't get me wrong I like weird. But it seems like everyone is pushing it so hard. Maybe its just the blogs I read, I don't know. Everything seems to need to be strange and push the boundries. If Lovecraft dreamland's is awesome, that dreamland's on LSD stuffed in a pinata inside of an alligators stomach is even better. No, no its fucking not. Stop trying so fucking hard. Your making my teeth hurt. Weird is cool. But it seems so over done.
I'm not saying whip out the vanilla garbage. I'm saying it doesn't have to be so fucking weird. It has to be different, it has to have enough originality to stand on its own. To be different, yet familiar and accessible.
Back to my original idea, before the little rant. Take the fairy tale/whimsy combine that with a little horror. Then place it all in a small contained setting. Few keyed locations, some motivations for the NPC's. Good, bad, or somewhere in the grey in-between. A diminutive sandbox. Let the players pick their poison, and how they drink it. I'm gonna meditate on the whole thing and probably post a little something.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

More Hawaiian Noir bits

Honolulu PD Vice Squad

The majority of HPD officers are straight shooters. The type you want protecting and serving. These guys aren't that. Low down dirty hustlers, barely above the scum they bust. The scumm they bust? Yeah the ones that won't or can't pay them off, pay them up. They get a taste of damn near half the narcotics, and prostitution in town. They protect their money makers, and bust the opposition. Try screw them, you get busted or worse. A one way boat ride, or a trip to the jungle.

Honolulu PD Major Case Squad
These are some of the hardest boiled flatfoots you will ever come across. They play no favorites, their brutally honest, and get the job done how ever they have to. Even if that means bending the rules. Even some of the more savage heist crews fear these guys. Truth be told everyone does. Criminals and cops. They are not above bringing down the blue wall if its necessary to get justice. Course in those cases they tend to try to keep it low key. If a dirty cop disappears, whos to say what happened...

Willie Danford
Willie Danford is a jeweler, and a  fence. Always sweating and nervous. Course you would be to if you were playing both sides of the cops and the Triads. 

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Sweet Sci-Fi RPG's roll out

A little break from Hawaiian Noir and such for a moment. Theirs some sweet ass stuff that's come out in the sci-fi OSR world.
White Star, by James Spahn
B/X Cosmonaut, by Micheal Gibbons

I could go on about them both. But don't take my blabbing for it. Hit the links. Hell Cosmonaut's free. Check'em out. Cool stuff.

Monday, May 4, 2015

More people and places

A couple more ideas for a Hawaiian Noir.

Freddie Laktin
Freddie Laktin is a marked man. He can typically be found cruising Kuhio Avenue at night, in his custom 50 Cadillac. Looking out for his stable of girls, and more importantly making sure they are working. He treats his girls pretty well, but once pushed to his his limit he can be a sick, and vicious hustler.
But as I said, hes a marked man. Everyone seems to be out to get him. A pair of dirty cops he double crossed and set up, are looking to even the score. A rival pimp is out to fish his girls and get him off the avenue. Threatened by by his more or less take over of his area. Then their is a vigilante. A man out to kill him. For turning out his daughter, and hooking her on drugs. He stalks the neighborhood, looking to put a bullet in him. Then finally something black seeks him. A slinking gloom, jumping from penumbra to shadow. An icy coldness, setting souls at unease.
The worst part of all of this for Freddie? Hes oblivious to it all. Living a continuous party. Drinking, hustling, and gambling his way through life.

Jim "Lucky" Coogan
Jim "Lucky" Coogan is a hard boiled dick. Referred to as a bedroom dick. He specializes in divorce cases. Following the wife and snapping incriminating photos. The approaching the wife, setting up a payoff there. Playing both sides against each other. Making money the whole time. Thought of as a sleaze bag by most.
Jim doesn't care. Hes getting his, while he can. You see they don't call him "Lucky" because he is. Much to the contrary. Hes lived a hard enough of a life for five people. When he was a child his parents died in a house fire. Then as a teen he witnessed the murder of his best friend. In the war he observed scarring horrors as a Marine at Guadalcanal. Then back from the war. He beheld the death of his beloved wife in a car accident. The worst part is he saw all the grisly events in his dreams days before they happened. The future is an unflinching wall of darkness for him.

The Shack
The shack is a mysterious former dwelling lying ion the jungle outside of Honolulu. A place where kids hike to and dare each other to go in. But someone, or something lives inside. Only stirring supposedly at night. It is said those who enter on the night of a full moon, are never heard from again. Probably just a cock and bull story. But as you well know tale tales tend to be based on a morsel of fact.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Some things, places and people

So now that we've got the rough system out of the way. Heres some places, things, and people to utilize in the Hawaiian Noir setting.

The Banyan Tree
The Banyan Tree in Lahaina Court Park is a special place. planted on 24 April 1873 in Lahaina to mark the 50th anniversary of the arrival of first American Protestant mission. The Banyan tree Ficus benghalensis, known in Hawaiian as paniana, located in the Courthouse Square. Covering 1.94 acres, it is not only the largest in the state, but also in the United States. The tree, a gift from missionaries in India, a mere 8 feet (2.4 m) when planted, has grown to a height of about 60 feet (18 m) and has rooted into 16 major trunks, apart from the main trunk, with the canopy spread over an area of about 0.66 acres.
But it is far more than all of that. This tree was planted on atop a ley line nexus. A focal point of rich magical energies. Infusing the very essence of the tree with raw magic. It has become a place where kahuna (Hawaiian priest/sorcerer/magician) and other wizardly types have begun to perform rituals. Using and drawing on the trees vast potential energy.

The Sword of Ryuu Moto

This type 95 shin guntō sword is a fairly nondescript mass produced sword for Japanese non commissioned officers in WWII. This particular sword was issued to Gunsō (sergeant) Ryuu Moto. Ryuu was an exceptionally brutal and sadistic individual. Directly responsible for numerous atrocities committed against the allies and civilians. In his last moments his blood lust was so great he should have been struck down by the marines he was attacking. But he kept fighting even though he was dead. His spirit forged by battle into the sword. He was finally stopped when struck by a mortar round, that split his body asunder. The sword was picked up by a marine as a trophy of war. This was the down fall of the marine and the many other hands it has passed through. For the sword is cursed. It is possessed by the spirit of Ryuu Moto. It drives its owner insane, and to kill. It leaves a trail of blood, chaos, and madness.

Konani "The Black Heart" Ikaika
Konani "The Black Heart" Ikaika is many things. Hes a thug, murder, gambler, and a Hoʻokomokomo Kahuna. A Hoʻokomokomo Kahuna is a sorcerer that is able to summon and send out typically evil spirits to possess victims. Running many different gambling dens around the island. He uses his powers and the threat of them to run his operation with an iron fist full of dollars. Those that cannot be controlled by his money or violence. Find themselves in the sights of a spirit. Send to possess them and force them to do evil acts. One time a man owed him a vast some of money, and would not pay. Nothing seemed to sway him. Till The Black Heart sent a spirit which possessed and forced the man to kill his whole family.