Posted by: Vancian Notions | January 10, 2010

a 3.5 mass combat system

We interupt your regularly scheduled in character content for a draft 3.5 mass combat system
The system is built on a few assumptions. It is designed for moderately large scale (between 50 and  500 a side, at a guess) mass combat which allows PCs and other ‘specials’ to seemless be involved, and have a minimum of dicerolling.

There are a few basic concepts for this system:

1) Units.

A unit is a group of 5 or more homogenous troops. Troops will generally be a number of groups of 20 and/or one group of less than 20. Units of 5 or less will generally be assumed to retreat or be treated as individuals. Wherever

2) Dice rolls

Whenever you roll a d20 for a unit for attacks or saves, the following applies, depending on unit size. Whenever you roll, roll a d20. Apply the following rules based on that roll.

20; Assume the unit has rolled each number from 1-20 once.


  • if you rolled 11-20, count down from 20 until you run out of men.
  • conversely, if you roll 1-10, count up from 1.

10 or less

  • if the dice is odd, you have rolled the odd numbers (1,3,5,7…19)
  • If the dice is even, you have rolled the even numbers (2,4,6…20)

No matter how many are in the unit,

  • if you roll a 20,  one soldier who would otherwise miss hits for double damage
  • If you roll a 1, a soldier who would otherwise hit misses.


A unit of 17 city guard is attacking a group of orcs. The city guard hit on a 12 or more. They roll high, so are treated as hiving rolled 3-20. 9 of them hit.

A few turns later, having taken a lot of casualties,  they get fireballed. They need to roll 15 to save.  They roll 7, which is ODD and LOW. So they have rolled 1,3,5,7,9,11,13,15,17 for their saves – 2 saves, and the rest are in a world of hurt.

3) Damage

Once you’ve worked out how many of the troop have hit, each one does average damage, and any fractions are discarded. It’s important to note that ‘average damage’ vs creatures with DR is slightly more complex to work out, and will be filled in later. (we have a chart, basically).


when the city guard hit those orcs for the first time, they were using longswords and had strength 12, so were doing 1d8+1 damage, which has an average of 5.5. So those 9 hits do 49 damage to the orcs.

If the orcs had DR 5, then you’d need to work out the DR average damage – on a damage roll of 9,8,7,6 you do damage, so the formula is (4+3+2+1)/8, which is an average of  1.25 per hit, so the 9 hits would do 11 damage.

4) Initiative

roll initiative for each group of 20 as normal. See also combining units, below

5) Lethal and wound damage

In a normal fight with large volumes of dudes, you would tend to have, each turn, a number of guys killed and a number injured.

To simulate this, half (round down) of the damage dealt is turn is ‘lethal’ and half (round up) is ‘wound damage’

Lethal damage is applied first to the most wounded people in the opposing group and can kill them. Wound damage is applied to the most unwounded and if any are under half will be applied to those first, and otherwise spread evenly. Wound damage can only take people over 50% if there is noone under 50%.


The city guard deal 49 damage to the orcs. 24 points is ‘lethal’ and 25 is ‘wound’. The orcs have 15 HP.

The first 15 lethal damage kills an orc. The next 9 is dealt to another orc.

7 is the most wound damage an uninjured orc can be dealt, so 3 orcs take 7 and 1 takes 4

Note that you don’t work out how much damage each hit deals; just deal the damage and spread it as per the above.

A second unit of city guard hacks into the same unfortunate orcs, dealing them 55 (27 and 28). The 27 broken up as follows:

  • 6 to the orc on 9
  • 8 each to two orcs on 7
  • the remaining 5 to an orc on seven, putting it on 12.

4 orcs are also dealt 7 each.

6) Combining units

At the end of each turn, if their are groups of mutually homogenous units next to each other, one or more of which has taken casualties, reorganise them so that all but 1 of them has 20 soldiers in it. Take the soldiers from the higher initiative units and give them to the lower initiative units.

7) Unit formation

Units can be in one of three basic formations

a) Very tight (swiss guard, roman legionaries etc)

2 men per hex.In general, only highly trained units can be in very tight formation (Must have shieldmate, formation training or similar feats)

Formation has the following advantages and drawbacks.

  • +2 to attack and armour class (over and above any benefits from feats)
  • Cannot be flanked
  • +2 AC vs arrows
  • AOE spells are highly effective vs very tight formation. -2 to saves vs area spells and cannot evade
  • Further advantages may be possible (For EG pikemen etc) at GM option
  • All damage dealt is ‘lethal’ (The damage tends not to get spread around)
  • +4 to moral (note: Moral rules not written yet)

grouped formation

Grouped formation is 1 individual per hex. Most sorts of troops can adopt the grouped formation.

  • +1 to attack and defense
  • AOE spells can be dodged normally
  • Can only be flanked if at least three hostile groups are adjacent

Loose formation

Most untrained troops will mostly be in loose formation. In loose formation, troops have 5-10 feet between individuals.

  • Cannot use feats like shieldmate
  • can be flanked by any two non-adjacent hostiles
  • generally gets hit by less AOE attacks.
  • Where two units in loose formation engage, they are effectively intermingled. Intermingled units are hit by the same AOE attacks. Intermingled units all get +1 flanking bonus against each other and can sneak etc. If firing against intermingled units with ranged units, get a -6 penalty (instead of the usual -4) for being in melee. if you have precise shot, it is -2 instead (meaning you will ALWAYS deal damage to the friendlies!)

8) ‘Specials’

Dragons, PCs and other individual units are ‘specials’. Specials interact with units in exactly the same way as they would normally. They roll to hit and damage as normal, and cannot spread damage around. Troops will generally prefer other large units as targets unless the specials are obviously special (dragons etc) or they are ordered to do so by a leader. Individual specials in a group with a unit of non-specials generally cannot be targeted (except by MMs).

9) Leadership

Leadership is a skill which allows a character to direct troops, improve their moralle and improve their actions. Leadership is a class skill for bards, paladins, fighters, people with the leadership feat and some prestige classes.

A character with the leadership feat and no ranks in this skill has a default skill of charisma + non-level leadership bonuses (special reputation etc). example uses of leadership skill. If a character has the leadership skill+feat, they add the non-level leadership bonii to their skill. Leadership and diplomacy are mutually syergistic.

Rally troops: DC 20

Command troops: Dc15

‘Aid another’ troops: Dc15 (either attack or defence).

I think this covers everything?


All morale checks are will saves with modifiers based on how much damage the unit has taken, how many enemy have been killed, how powerful their foes are and if there are nearby specials directing the unit. Most Morale saves are DC 5 + the number of soldiers in the unit who have died. Standard morale modifiers are

  • Less than half original troop* still standing -4
  • Unit and allies have killed more than half of the total enemy force and more than half your side still alive +4
  • Cleric/wizard support /attack +2/-2
  • Your leader (via leadership feat) within command distance + non-level leadership
  • Your boss (either they pay you or you are a follower and they are an ally of your leader) – + NLL -5 (min 0)
  • No retreat possible +2

Edits: Added criticals. Added draft morale.

Posted by: Vancian Notions | November 11, 2009

About the crew

Hello all! Ship construction is going really well – should be completed in a few weeks, probably.

Hiring and training the crew may take slightly longer, but I got a message from a trustworthy source (Cally, who had a brief chat with the rather handsome chap who came late to your party, F) that you’ll be out of town for a month or more.

I’ve actually been attracting a lot of interesting potential crew. Some of them will probably raise a few eyebrows, so I figure I should mention them up front. (I think I may have to re-jig the sleeping arrangements, for starters!)

The oddest one…well, ok, there are two really odd ones, and a few just slightly less odd ones.

First odd one is Zanna. She’s, well, an Aasimar. And a paladin.

She is, luckily, not a complete always-and-only-exactly-one-

way kind of paladin, but she’s still a bit more ordered than most of my crew. But she joined up because apparently she’s a deamon hunter, and saw myself and a couple of the lads fighting some Barbazu in one of the pubs (granted, going into a pub called ‘the deamons lair’ was a bit of an error, but I thought it was just a name!). She thought joining up might be a good way to find more deamons to hunt. She can certainly handle that greatsword of hers, and picked up the sailing game faster than most. (I really should buy her a ring of floating). She also has a cleric friend with her – of Pelor – who I imagine will be pretty handy when next the undead hordes come a threatening.

So she’s a bit weird for wanting to join the crew. Agrish is, well, just weird.

Agrish is a half-orc monk swordsman.

yes, I thought it was pretty weird too. I mean, either ‘half orc monk’ or ‘monk swordsman’ would be weird. He doesn’t speak much, mostly in riddles. Not even sure what god he worships.

I’ve not really properly introduced you to any of them, so I’ll give you a quick rundown of the main crew as well. This may get a tad rambling in parts, so just be gentle.

Well, you know me and jim, obviously. You’ve met wash plenty of times – he’s the first mate, and has a fantastic yelling voice. (I lent him the hat once; my ears were ringing for a day). Joker you’ve also met – I think he did some juggling at your party, F. He’s the ships bard and backup navigator. Vlad you know – the water gensai priest –  he’s grown quite a bit since his experience in Basutu. He’s enjoying having a bunch of junior clerics on board he can boss around. (I think he also enjoys watching me train, as he puts it, ‘all the man-candy’). Mostly they are procanians, but there is a priest of Ilmater (Dixie) who’s attached herself to us as some kind of penance.

The marines have expanded quite a bit. I’ve about 45 water gensai on board now, all training in underwater maneuvers and ship to ship combat.

It’s actually quite amazing. I’m apparently developing a bit of a reputation amongst the water gensai community around here, and a couple of them have even come from off-plane to talk about signing up. And the bit of a joke I made with the first couple about picking nicknames for them seems to have really taken off – the newbies all take it as a bit of badge of pride when they get their new name.

Cally you know, of course. Baritone – she’s the marine commander – you’d have seen. She’s the scarily tall one. Most of the rest are new. Naught is the chief mage in the marines, along with Bishop and Dermis. (the other marine clerics are streak and blood). Boot and Trick are our trap-and-lock experts (pays to be prepared!). You’ll tell them apart easily enough – trick is the ugly-ass one with all the scars. Boot is the much younger one, and a complete genius (Well..ok, not compared to drake, but a lot smarter than most!), but has the social skills of a desert boot. (plus, he’s hilariously easy to trick – I saw Tryst talk the poor boy into cleaning his shoes in the stew. That was closely followed by baritone making Tryst run up and down the docks, barefoot, for 4 hours, then do a full watch in the rigging – barefoot as well. That girl can punish!)

Tryst does like himself a good practical joke. And is rather charming (you know, for a water gensai – we’re not generally the most amazing public speakers, you might have noticed!). And he is exceptionally talented with his spiked chain, so that wins points in my book. There are a bunch of other fighters of varying talent – Duke, Dragon, Arid, Bent, Carrot and Brass are the more skilled among them. Plus there are about 20 of the buggers who haven’t earned nicknames yet. (I find it best not to get too attached to them until they prove themselves! Not that I’m keen for them to die, of course, but – it’s bugger trying to remember all their names, so I’m happy for them to just blend in to the foreground for now!)

Crew of 250 is a pretty hard thing to maintain, let me tell you! Not cheap, neither, although obviously with a ship this size some serious incidental piracy should be making a fine profit. Once I’ve, you know, paid off the various debtors.

Other people of note: Dox and Tinker are the lead archers. (Dox is the dwarf who insists on using a longbow. It look almost comical, until you see him shoot someone in the ass at 300 paces.) There’s about, oh, 70 archers, plus another 70 odd general fighter-types, for both defending the ship and boarding others. Kate’s also managed to rustle me up 20 folks with training in operating balistae, so that’s all covered.

Lessee – who else haven’t you met? Oh, Lyria. Kinda reminds me of Cyrah. She calls herself a ‘weather witch’; I think drake would call her a sorceror, but either way she’s pretty good at the wind-and-cold type spells. She’d been kidnapped from her homeland and was chained up and being beaten by her owner, who was in the city trying to buy a ship because…well, as I’m sure you can guess, Ella ended the conversation long before the ‘because’ part was explained. We were going to take the girl home (she’s only 15) but she’d been sold by her family because they thought she was cursed. One of the dead guys retinue was a byzantine trader – guy wailed and weeped that it wasn’t his fault, and he’d been trying to get out of his contract. Ella eventually decided he was telling the truth (I find it best not to argue where I can avoid it) so we offered the guy a chance to redeem himself.

I mean, granted, most people wouldn’t think ‘redeem yourself’ and ‘Piracy’ went well together, but, hey, what can I say? Turns out he’s a fairly capable trader, and a bloody good translator – knows about 15 languages, including a couple of byzantian dialects I’d never heard.

Well, good lord, that took a while to explain. Like I said: 250 of the buggers. Best just to let Wash, Jim and the various second mates take care of all that.

Ship’s hull is almost complete, and the enchanting of it is progressing. Had a bit of a setback last week with the fireproofing (One of the sub enchanters claimed it was finished and was completely fireproof. So The Turk fireballed the hull, which took us about 15 minutes to get under control. I mean, he doesn’t charge more for repairs when he does this sort of ‘testing’ but it takes time. Luckily all the repayment contracts specify that repayment only starts once work is completed. Haven’t, now that I think about it, seen that subenchanter for a couple of days). But the hull is now waterproof and seaworth, so we’ve been practicing maneuvers every couple of days while the enchanters work on the magical sails etc. Also been doing some mock ship-to-ship battles with some chaps from the admiralty of the spire. They keep claiming that sending my men to climb the sides from under the water is cheating – I keep telling them they need new tactics.

Interior fitout of the ship is proceeding. The guest-staterooms are pretty close to finished (It is, let me tell you, funny to see the look on a designers face when I tell them of the tastes of F, C and Janette and ask them to come up with some middle ground). Had to expand the minor shrine slightly, but I’ve managed to get Jim over that by the abovementioned hiring of a dozen new procanian clerics. He’s even willing to ignore the clerics of Valerian, Pelor and  Ilmatter, especially as I’ve convinced them that he’s in charge on the religious front. Oh, and speaking of priests of Valerian: I say there is one in the crew, but what I really mean is: If you want one to join the crew, the invitation is open, F. Preferably one who knows their way around a ship, or who can at the very least swim!

Oh, also should mention: I’m pretty sure some of the people who have  ‘volunteered’ are spies for the thieves guild or other debtors. I’ve a fair idea of who, although won’t mention it here. We’ll be fine talking in the state rooms, of course, but just keep an eye on people while on deck, ok?

See you all soon!

Posted by: Vancian Notions | October 11, 2009

An update from Brine

Howdy all!

First things first – we got the new ship’s new flag back.storm crow

Pretty cool, huh? It’s magical, o’course – summons storms and lightning and whatnot. (When it the magic is fully on, you can see the bolts of lightning move and the crow flap her wings).

However, it’s not been all bloody magic flags and lollipops over here. Brine continues to be a nice place – well, all the bits which don’t involve the turk, anyway. Man is – well, can you imagine what drake would be like if he could drop meteors on people and had no social graces, honour or decency of any kind? But he is, I’m assured, not evil, just a totally self centered power-mad wizard. (The Turk, I mean, not drake. Well…)

He’ll probably be making an appearance at your birthday, F, as he finds it important to take an interest in those who owe him interest, if you know what I mean.

Which brings me to the next point: Turns out that loan was a lot more nasty than I had thought. It’s not just one big simple loan, it’s a lot of smaller complex loans all of which have slight strings attached. That gnome bugger is trying to protect their identities, but a few have made themselves obvious.

First off, the city of the spire is in for fourty grand, in the form of Sir Mallory Walton. You probably know him, but just in case – he’s one of the nobles in charge of the city Navy. Apparently our various exploits at sea – especially as relayed by wossisname, that little kid we had to babysit on the way down to Byzantia, who appears to have somewhat inflated what we did – have drawn me to the attention of the city and they thought I might be able to train some of the useless gobshites they call captains. (I mean, some of them are good at what they do, but anyone who thinks heredity is a good way to pick ship captains is sitting on the mast). So once a week for the last couple of weeks I’ve been shanghied into playing tour guide around the ship under construction (which is a pain – I’ve had to have a second set of the plans drawn up so as to not have them all know where the secret bits are!) and then take them out on some of the great sows they call ships and train them. It’s a good excuse to yell at rich idiots, I guess. (And I’m pretty sure some of the soldiers on a few of those training missions are keen to try a more, shall we say, free life).

I’ve also worked out that our Lady of the thieves guild is in for some of it as well. I’ve certainly seen Vincent hanging around in Brine a fair amount, and have received a few mysterious (and slightly perfumed) notes suggesting people I might want to consider hiring (or not) and some interesting questions to ask some of the nobs on the training missions. They haven’t asked anything direct yet, but…well, you know our good lady friend.

And the third one I know of (there are 7 groups, I think – one of them is a group of financiers headed by your little buddy, F, but I’m not sure about the other 2) is that damnable turk. He’s only in for 10 grand, and at the lowest interest rate of any of them, but he’s got a clause in his preventing any of that principle being payed off until all other debts on the ship are cleared. Apparently (and why does no one tell me these things in advance?) he does this on all the ships he is involved in building, so he can continue taking his annoying interest in the people for as long as possible.

Which brings me back to your birthday. Don’t annoy him if you can avoid it; stories I hear are he will occasionally kill people for very trivial things, or to see what it looks like (although, again, he is apparently not evil. Or so I’m told). But some of the gear he has is pretty epic, from the little I know of wizardly things, and he has that arm…anyway, just play nice with him, ok?


Posted by: Vancian Notions | October 7, 2009

for F


Found this in one of the markets – it’s an old saga. Not sure what the original language is – the girl’s will bring the scroll to the party. Some of the translation is kind of iffy, but thought this might be the sort of thing you’d like.

A fragment of an old poem about the Godswar


Pelor stood, against the dark

Caddltyr1 burning in his hand

Lloth’s horde surged forward, mad with lust

to meet the Dawn Lord’s stand

The demon Gruufort was first to reach,

a twisted horror of legs and eyes

But swift twitch of sun’s quick wrist

and he – and a dozen – cried their last cries.

Relentlessly her army pushed

to try to make the Dawn Lord die

but all their might, they might as well

have tried to smash the sky.

‘Gainst him the were as glass ‘gainst stone

no ground could ever gain

the strongest of them would become

a burning, ashen stain.

The dawnlord fought for 15 days

and every foe dispatch’d

But lloth’s armarda ever came

for ever downed, a dozen hatch’d

Even a God might miss a stroke

as so many foes come hobbling

He’d slain a hundred, a thousand foes

but was scatch’d by a Goblin

Though Pelor thought of that scratch naught

lloth’s laughter rocked his soul

And sunrise realised, suddenly

That poison’s spider’s goal

Though gods ignore such, normally

The spider knows her foes

And Pelor knew, that very soon,

He’d die, as his strength goes

So Daybreak gave a mighty roar

As death burned in his vein

And so the light was vanish’ed

across the Astral Plane.

And all across the multiverse

The people knew his pain

as they endured endless night

and new dawn never came.

Pelor’s desperate teleport

had ended him in peril

though not as bad as facing Lloth

’twas worse than facing Beryl2

His landing was in the Abyss

a long forgotten layer

he stood alone their, powerless,

his strength sapped by the Thaier3

The plane seemed ever desolate

a land of hellish stone

of burning and of steel

and of long-lost heat-bleached bone

But creatures did live here abouts

some deamons, wargs and beasts

when they espied him they came forth

to kill him for their feasts

For though the poison weakened him

the horde knew him divine

wanted to defeateth him

to eat his heart and spine

for god’s hearts blood is powerful

and can make power grow

they thought to be a newborn god

and spread their evil woe

But only one could claim the prize

so they fought like a rabid beast

but daylight knew, in his weak state

none of them could he defeat

Pelor tried to back away

but all sides hemmed him in

a ball of screaming claws and legs

of cacophonic sin

a girl reached out to Daybreak there

And whispered ‘come with me’

“I will not kill – you know it true

so please, now, let us flee”

The Dawnlord nodded his consent

She apported them from there

she seemed so stunning beautiful

with long, luxurious hair

But Pelor did not trust at all

he knew her looks a lie

he said “Deceiver, show your face!

I’ll know you ‘fore I die”

She smiled at him, eagerly

and gave a little trill

she said “Now, sunshine, don’t you fear

I Promised not to kill!”

“Oh no” she said “I’ll kill you not”

“You’ve something else I need!”

“I’ll be the mother of a god”

“I’m here to steal your seed”

“So choose, oh godling, what will be”

“What face will take your fate”

“This one, so pretty, good as gold”

“Or the dark one, filled with hate”

And as she spoke she chained him up

and tied him to her bed

her knife-like nails raked at him

he said “Your real head”

She shrugged and said

“it’s as you pick”

and so she showed her real face

so foul to make you sick

her face of rotted fishes’s flesh

with man-bones sticking out

she cocked her head and looked at him

and made a deathly pout

She tore the last clothes off of him

while cackling with glee

“and now” she said, with witches voice

“lets get that rod in me”

She rode him like a rutting beast

for hours long she’d ‘dance’

until she felt her belly swell

part of her evil plans

Once she was sure the seed had took

she mocked him, as she tied him tight

“Once he is born it’s he who’ll kill –

your child who brings the night”

“Thxustrzail4, we’ll cry his name

I’ll be his mother-bride

my patricidal hell-spawned boy

know on all-planes wide”

“Your power taken, none shall surpass

he’ll be the Basylking5

He’ll rule the worlds, me by his side,

my son, my everything”

She tortured him as belly swelled

godspawn grow very rushed

just 14 days and 13 nights

to birth the fruits of lust

She screamed in wailed in dark delight

the extasy of pain

he burst forth, full grown, as she sang

her terrible refrain

She looked in horror, as he stretched

a perfectly formed man

a chiseled, muscled, handsome god

with just a hint of tan6

The she bitch could not understand

how this could be her son

her plans to make the dawn lord lost

instead had made him won

Her son, the godling, turned to her

a tear upon his cheek

he looked at her, and loved the beast

but knew he had to speak

he knew full well his power, then,

knew how to end this gloom

his mother, loved, dark as she was

but knew he was her doom.

He touched her cheek

and she recoiled, feeling his mighty force

so he began his fated song

his heart filled with remorse

His voice was like a rising tide

a burning fire brand

a growing tree, a sunlit day,

the power of the land

His mother’s evil blackened heart

could not withstand such good

she crumpled down, dead, at his feet

as he had know she would

The song filled pelor’s every pore,

he felt his strength return

‘cross every world, ‘cross every plane,

the dawn’s light would soon burn

The dawnlord flexed, and shattered chain,

and walked to his son’s side

the handsome man, though illy got,

filled daylight’s heart with pride

His pride grew stronger as he saw

the tears of his son’s grief

the sadness at his mother’s death

his mind smashed on a reef

“It’s good to grieve” the Dawn lord said

“it’s any just son’s role”

“It’s good to know that even she”

“Had light within her soul”

“Though everything she planned to do”

“was caused by blackened hate”

“It ended with a greater good”

“Your birthing was her fate”

The son was not all that consoled

and cried out “it’s not fair”

“My song’s of beauty, happiness”

“Yet causes my dispair”

The dawnlord smiled and touched her, then

with his full godly might

returned the good she had within

to stand within his light

He looked at her, and softly said

“a second chance I’ll give”

“It’s yours to use, or waste perhaps”

“but once again, you live”

She smiled at him happily

(He’d left her darkness dead)

she promised to make good her ills

and reached to touch her head

No scars or scrapes, no awful skull

her form now beauty true

an aasimar or celestine

and not her former grue

So taken back by this she was

could find no words to voice

Dawn smiled at her and his son

and asked her new name choice

“Vaminor” was her swift reply

and Pelor smiled bright

she smiled back, now not afraid

to live in the sun’s light

The godswar did not finish their

Lloth’s plan did not avail

A new champion was found for good

an ending to this tale

So though the sun may hide its face

and shadows quell the light

the dark is always darkest

just before the end of night

And if you are imperelled

and you cannot face your foe

remember that there’s strength within

to help you place your blow

Remember that for every night

a dawn must follow soon

as sure as there’s a sun and stars

and monsters on the moon

And when it seems the grimmest

and so dark seems everything

that very soon you’ll hear a sound

the one they call dawns ring.

1Caddyltyr was one of Pelor’s weapons during the period of the godswar, although Jim tells me it was given to a human hero some thousand years ago on a quest and has not been heard of since. (Not that I trust Jim entirely on other gods, because…ow, stop hitting me! Fine. I trust Jim.

2The original parchment (included with what Cally is giving you) is pretty smudged here and none of us spoke the language (an old, old version of Elvish from the Parnish region, apparently). I have my doubts about this translation, but the guy we paid to do the translating swears it is correct, even at swordpoint, so who knows.(I’m also slightly surprised at how well the rhymes translate. weird!)

3Joker tells me ‘Thaeir’ translates as something like ‘sun poison’

4Sun eater

5Literally ‘king of the abyss’, a title that many demonic forces have aspired to but none have ever successfully claimed. Other related legends name the birth of the Basylking as one of the signs of the apocalypse.

6Honestly – I swear this translator is making this up. A hint of tan? Seriously?

Posted by: Vancian Notions | September 7, 2009

Greetings, Crab Worshipers!

And Procan did say: blessed are those with claws, but not of red.

Hello guys! Ness is busy but wanted me to write to you all (It’s Jim, by the way – Cally and Joker are hear as well helping me. I tried to write this one my own but apparently sending a message not using any vowels isn’t kosher, even if it is cheaper.)

Anyway, Ness has been really busy. The chief shipwright/Mage – the Turk – is a bit of a fascist nutjob. No real concept of people not wanting to do it his way, but he can do mass scale magic like nobodies business. Also has a metal hand; very odd chap. Also doesn’t like the idea that while the ship is being worked on Ness might be elsewhere, so he might not be able to make it to your Birthday, F. (And when I say he dislikes people not doing things his way, I mean he really dislikes it; rumour has it he disintegrated one of his work crews a decade or two back for cladding the left side before the right side on some ship.) Anyway, he’s trying for that. He’s been a bit odd lately; spends a lot of time, when not overseeing the work on the ship, in his room stroking his sword.

(Cally just had to leave the room; I think she must have a stitch or something)

We’ve had a couple of fights since we got here – a few groups of Lobsters, but we showed’em the wrath of the sea pope, by jove! But like I said – Ness has been getting all confused from his discussions with Ella and is occasionally wondering about, you know, making sure people who get killed deserve it and stuff. I tell ‘im that if they get killed, then Procan wanted it and the crabs can eat ‘em. Not that that stops him and her in all circumstances; there was a puppeteer troop on the docks near the shipyards. There isn’t any more. Dunno if they got killed, but they’re gone.

Oh, Cally’s back; she wanted me to say that before you fully agree she needs to have a chat with you, in person – Ness wasn’t supposed to ask that directly. And I was not sulking!

Anyway, ship construction is going pretty well. I reckon we’ll be ready to come back about three or four weeks after your birthday, but most of us should make it. Joker’s still keen to do some juggling and comedy, although given your  parents are going to be there he might need some new material! The marines will be there too.

Oh, and: Nope, we ‘aven’t heard from Kendo or those others. Will keep an eye out.

Anyway: May you claws be sharp and your shell full  of meat,


Posted by: Vancian Notions | August 29, 2009

The ship itself

Work on the ship continues at a reasonable pace. By which I mean: I’m told it will, eventually, look like a real ship.

I’ve got the chief shipwright’s drawings of the first two levels (the top deck (and forecastle, where the main rooms are) and the middle deck (where most of the crew will sleep).

top deck2

It’s a little bit hard to see here – the copy wizard isn’t worth his money, I can tell you! But in the main castle we’ve got my room (the big one, at the back), the officers mess and war room (to the north of that), a female officers room (the one next to mine) and a male officers room. I figure you guys will use those, mostly, when we are all aboard the ship. (By the way; If you want decent furnishings – not that there is room for much more than the beds – you’ll need to send me some extra cash.)

Other side of the corridor from them is the first mate’s room, and a temple of Procan next to that. The officer’s kitchen is tucked in behind those.

Oh – and I’ve added a small stable for Fion next to the castle. The design couldn’t really withstand large enough internal corridors for a unicorn, so it’s on deck. Still, it’s enclosed and nice enough. Probably. (I’ve also include a small space adjoining that for a little shrine to Valerian – not big, but Jim’s eye was getting twitchy enough as is. You’ll need to supply whatever iconography should go inside it).

Midships, we have,  space for the rest of the crew. I won’t go into as

middle deck2

much detail; you can check it out when you come to visit or I bring it back to the castle. Directly below the castle is where the marines and junior officers are quartered. We’ve also got a space for a trading officer; I guess some of that will still occur. You’ll also notice the Ballistae mounted on each side. I’ve given up the idea of having enchanted Ballistae – too damn expensive. Enchanted bolts will do just fine.

Total ships compliment will be about 150 – mostly tucked into hammocks and bunks in the Ballista chamber and the area forwards of that.

Anyway, lots to do – see you all soon enough! Now I have to track down that damn Turk and discuss some of the special features I’m after…


Posted by: Vancian Notions | August 27, 2009

A view of brine

Hey guys!

You’ve no doubt noticed I’ve not been around the last 2 months…no, wait, the last 2 weeks. Damn different flowing time.

I’ve moved myself and the crew off to a little demi-plane to get a new ship built. Was told about this place by that friend of Frala’s – you know, the investment banker guy. Already forgotten his name, although he probably won’t forget the 1/4 million worth of promisiary note he’s loaned me. Still – I’ve got 2 years to pay off 300 grand, after completion of the building.  Shouldn’t be a problem.  Oh…if there are any people wandering around the castle or the merchant business, they’re probably surveyors – something called ‘collateral’ I think, to do with my shares in the ships and so on.

Anyway, I was supposed to be telling you about Brine!

Fascinating place. It’s a demiplane – adjoins the elemental plane of water and Arboria. It’s split up into three parts; a seemingly endless ocean on one side (although taking some of the new crew out for a training mission I found out that 50 miles out you end up somewhere else on the ocean out there, 50 miles way from Brine (the plane being named for the city, of course) facing the city. Boy, did that sensation ever make some of the new dogs sea sick!

The city itself is pretty huge – or at least would feel that way if I’d never been to The Spire. Probably about 3/4 the size of our city, give or take. Or at least…you could walk around it in somewhat less time than walking the walls of the spire. But its internal dimensions sometimes seem not to match its external dimensions. Drake would wet himself with excitement trying to work out how they did that.

All I know is that I can walk for hours along the docks, and never run out of new pubs to visit. Lots of fascinating folks – the city tries to keep itself pretty neutral, and the law of the land isn’t what you’d call ‘strong’. Local thieves guild are colourful chaps – had been trying to get along with them, paying appropriate tithes and so on. Then a small group kidnapped a few of the workers on the ship.

I’m sure you can imagine how well Ella took that. She’s been really enjoying herself here – good clean air, the smell of the ocean, people doing the wrong thing we can punish. She’s been talking a lot with Cally about those things.

Speaking of Cally… (You remember Cally; She’s one of the Marines. Apparently a paladin of freedom – I had no idea! But her and Ella have been talking alot. (Now I get henpecked twice, hooray! (Ok, Ok Ella…it’s not henpecking. You’re teaching me the error of my ways; yes yes yes. Look, Cyrah can probably hear you from The Spire!)) Anyway – she’s the shorter of the two, with the pale blue hair). So, Cally’s apparently proposed to Joker – and is hoping you, F, will be one of her bridesmaids. And, boy, did it nearly cause a blue with Jim when she first asked me about it; Cally’s a bit of a traditionalist and so asked my permission to propose; Jim thought she was asking me to be the priest. I might as well have been a lobster!

Oh, anyway, more about Brine – So big ocean (which is amazingly refreshing to swim in – must visit the elemental plane of water one day!), and the city. On the other side is a river – a slightly odd one, it’s apparently the waters of the river Oceanus about 5 days a week, and the Styx the other 2. Only which is which is random, so swimming is pretty high risk. Lots of boats come down to trade with the city and have new ships built – which is what Brine is most famous for. Oh, and even the demonic folks who visit respect the peace of the town – the town has a fairly massive force of defenders, mostly gith (who take a fair deal of objection to questions about them following either the Zerth or Gith herself – some kind of third group?) who it would appear built the demiplane in the first place.

On the other side of the river (there are a couple of big bridges) is the most amazing forest – trees of every kind imaginable. And a regrowth rate that is just amazing – it’s actually (apparently) really easy to get lost without a good guide, which I can believe – in my short trip in, I saw trees growing fast enough that you could see it. Must make hauling out of the back half of the forest hell!


Anyway, I’ll see you in a while. Might miss your birthday, Frala – I’ll let you know. The ships chief architect – well, more about him in the next letter.



PS: Someone help Gug with the big words.