Follow Me And Die!

Ramblings of an Old Gamer

Day 18 R is for Roads


R – Roads/Bridges/Teleporters/Transportation

Transportation around the city will vary from walking, to riding an animal or a conveyance, to using some magic item.

Roads, bridges, rivers, canals are all methods to get around.

In my campaign, the ancient cities had rooms that were teleporters that could move you to other teleporters around the city, or to the other cities of the empire.

For a high magic campaign, these would be very interesting and the matter of their use and payment would need to be determined.

In my campaign, the use of these things is a lost art, and thus very dangerous. Without knowing the combination of stones to press, one can end up anywhere. Perhaps land at a broken teleporter, unable to return. Does the teleporter malfunction in some unpredictable way? Doe you end up in another ancient city unaware of it and unsure where you are and how to get back?

Could another plane or dimension be involved?

Types of Roads (See Roads) Do they have signposts and mile markers? I have markers on the boundaries of some territories.

  1. Dirt (MUD with rain/snow) In arid climates, trails, such as the wagon ruts of the Oregon Trail, can still be seen today.
  2. Corduroy
  3. Cobblestone
  4. Timber Trackway/Plank Road
  5. Brick (I recall living in Wichita, KS as a very young boy, late 60’s to mid-1972. The original brick roads were a fairly smooth ride. However, when they pulled up the bricks to work on the water or sewer lines, the replacement of the brick made for a bumpy ride. My dad always complained that if they did it right it would be as smooth as before.)
  6. Roman Roads are very sophisticated and allow two carts to pass, drain water well, with footpaths and drainage ditches. Some are still in use today. They also had mile markers.
  7. Tar – The Arab Empire around Bagdad used tar for their roads.
  8. Macadam – Chipped stone that worked well for wood or iron bound wagon wheels, that packed down hard with rain and use. Many might call them gravel roads. Rubber tires of cars pulled up the chips and tore up the roads. This led to roads made of Tarmacadam, i.e. tarmac, and also cement or concrete.
  9. Cement/Concrete The ancient Romans had cement and concrete and even marine cement for making harbors, some still extant today.
  10. Magic – The the use of Wall of Stone or Mud to Rock. I have a system of “wizard roads” in my campaign made by the fallen empire to connect its cities.


  1. Poor
  2. Fair
  3. Good
  4. High

Maintenance (Initial quality will affect the required maintenance to keep that quality.)

  1. None
  2. Spotty
  3. Poor
  4. Fair
  5. Good
  6. Excellent


Print Friendly

Slavery In RPGs

Slavery is often referred to in fantasy role playing games, FRPG’s, as evil. However, the scale of good/evil and how each game nation or culture views slavery would vary, as it did from ancient to modern times. Usually, on nine point alignment systems, chaotic good is viewed as opposed to slavery, while lawful good might be accepting of it, provided the methods of slavery and treatment of slaves falls within what is culturally and legally acceptable. This topic is touchy and some people see the word and might choose to think I am saying that I am in favor of slavery. I am merely discussing it from a gaming perspective. It is generally understood that the bad guys, such as orcs, keep slaves. Some human groups might keep slaves. I begin with some questions,  a brief historical and cultural review, and conclude with some thoughts for informing slavery. This article was spurred by the directions of my thoughts on this post. This is not a high scholarly article, only the briefest of overviews that touches on some general ideas. [For the record, in the real world, I think slavery is an evil, nasty practice, that should end. Many think that slavery ended over a century ago, but there are still people suffering in slavery today. If you have a problem with simulated slavery in the imagination, and don’t have a problem with all the imaginary killing, you have a logical disconnect. If you want to end slavery, go track down the jerks who BUY the slaves, thus making a market for the product. If there is no demand for slaves, it will end.]

Does or did slavery exist in your world? Is slavery more akin to some aspects of antiquity, where some or all slaves had certain rights and could somehow expect to return to or gain their freedom? Or is it more like more recent examples of slavery, where slaves are absolutely property to the point that their descendants are slaves, and their treatment varies by who their masters and overseers are? Would there be state slaves doing the work projects of the state? Would slaves be limited to conquered peoples, i.e. war prisoners, or criminals? What kinds of crimes would relegate one to slavery? Would all nations keep slaves, or only the most “primitive”, “evil”, or some such? Would slavery be such that even predominately good nations have slaves?

In the Bible, the Old Testament version of slavery was a form debt relief, or could be voluntary. Slavery was to be limited to six years, and then they were to be free, unless the master provided a wife during that time, then the male slave could opt to stay with his family and become a slave forever. The slave then was to have his ear pierced with an awl as a mark of his status. Women were not able to become free after six years, like men. Fathers could sell their daughters, but the master had to deal fairly with her. The only exception to this, was the year of Jubilee, every 50 years all slaves were to be set free and all debts forgiven. That was the law, but so far as we know, the ancient Israelites never did this. Those who were not Hebrews, however, were treated as we usually understand slaves. One can see how this informed the English concept of indentured servitude in colonial America.

Debt slavery is a way for one to get out of a hole by giving their labor for a set term in exchange for the master paying off their debts. This is related to voluntary slavery where someone becomes a slave so that someone else has to worry about where their food, clothing, and shelter comes from. This might be common in times of Indentured servitude, like was used by many young men from England and the German states to pay for passage to the English colonies in North America. It is estimated that between one third and one half of white males who came to the American colonies between about 1630 and the American Revolution were indentured servants. Indentured servants and their bond holders each had responsibilities to uphold. If an indentured servant ran off, they were found and sent back to finish out their term. Some bonds were re-sold, mid term, and the servant was stuck in perpetual indenturement, thus becoming a slave for life. Colonial apprenticeship programs where a master craftsman took on someone as an apprentice was much like indentured servitude, and could be initiated to bring the person to the colonies or for someone already in the colonies to get into a trade. This system could, of course, be abused, and apprentices ran away, much like other indentured servants. I did not find information on this with a quick google search, just going from memory from past history classes.

The first Africans brought to the American colonies in 1619 were indentured servants, because they had been baptized and were Christian, English law forbade enslaving Christians. So until 1640, African brought to the British Colonies were indentured servants, and not chattel slaves. Early on, slaves in North America could save up and buy their freedom, but that soon changed.

In antiquity, there was all variation of slavery. Slaves could be very well educated and entrusted with the education of the master’s children. Slaves could also be the ones doing dangerous and difficult jobs, such as mining underground.

Often, the largest supplies of slaves in antiquity were prisoners of war, that is, soldiers captured in battle after their defeat by the Roman Legions. At times, the Romans enslaved entire populations. Such slaves were sold to bring money into the state coffers. The needs of the state were maintained by keeping a portion of the slaves for government jobs. Famous examples of roman slaves are gladiators, who could win their freedom, such as Spartacus, famous for leading a slave revolt. See the movie with Kirk Douglas, or if you have cable, the TV series Spartacus.

In feudal Europe, there were varying levels or grades of serfs. In England, for example, there were four types of serfs, the lowest of which were actually slaves. Serfdom faded in Western Europe between the 14th and 16th centuries, and lasted in the Russian Empire until 1866.

The behavior and attitude of slaves is dependent upon their treatment. Underfed, poorly clothed and sheltered slaves who are mistreated become a powder keg and are ripe for revolt against their masters at the provocation that becomes the last straw. Some slave revolts, like that of Spartacus, come very near to reaching their goal of freedom, but usually, they end in a lot of death for the slaves, and sever punishments for those left behind to knock them back into compliance.

In my the online AD&D game I play in on Wednesday nights, the players discovered a conspiracy between powerful factions in two cities on the island, and we managed to expose it and end it, or at least drive off the slavers or send them underground. Obviously, this means in this case, that slavery is a no no. This need not be the default case in all games.

In my AD&D campaign, slavery only exists among the bad guys, however, I can see that it could be a normal part of life in another part of my world, if it even got developed.

If you have slavery in your world, here are some things to consider. NOTE: This assumes a human-centric world and a human government, from my interpretation. If you have a game where another race is in charge, the same questions need to be considered.

How does one become a slave?

  1. Losing side of battle or war
  2. Born into slavery
  3. Debt/Indentured/Voluntary
  4. Punishment for Crime(s)

Who can own slaves?

  1. King/State/Government
  2. Approved groups, like temples, military, certain types of industry, etc.
  3. Anyone who can afford it?

What form does slavery take?

  1. Temporary/Indentured for a set time.
  2. Permanent, but with possibility to save up and buy freedom, AKA redemption.
  3. Permanent, for life and descendants are born into slavery.
    1. This can take the form of no one can free a slave.
    2. A master can free, manumit, a slave.
    3. A slave can do something heroic and earn freedom.
    4. Perhaps a ruler or a deity could decree that it ends.

Who can become a slave?

  1. Anyone
  2. Only those born to a lowly caste/social class.
  3. Only prisoners of war.
  4. Criminals (types of crimes eligible would vary from any crime, to only the most severe, like murder)
  5. Only non humans
  6. Only those who don’t worship deity X

Who/What can end the institution of slavery?

  1. Nothing – That’s just the way it is
  2. Decree by ruler or representative of the main deity of the area.
  3. War
  4. Divine intervention – not likely, put possible.

Questions to consider:

Who is going to pay for this? Owners of slaves don’t want to just give up their property rights and inherent economic power, capital, tied up in their slaves.

Can the ones making the decree back it up with enforcement?

What jobs do slaves perform?

  1. Any job
  2. Any job designated as a slave job – Varies by nation/culture
    1. Skilled craftsmen
    2. Soldiers (sailors)
    3. Teachers of children
    4. Entertainers
  3. Only manual/menial labor
    1. Mining
    2. Galley Slaves (rowers)
    3. Farming
    4. Working with dangerous substances (poisonous, explosive, corrosive, etc.)

Social Strata

  1. Social Class, Loose – Possibility of moving up or down the ladder: money, valor, honor, connections, etc.
  2. Social Class, Rigid – Remote possibility of moving up or down the ladder: something exceptional, saving the king, defeating a powerful enemy, etc.
  3. Caste System – One is born into one’s station and there is no chance of movement, barring overthrow of that system. Becoming a slave in this system is a big deal, you upset the apple cart.
    1. If one does something to become a slave, they are the lowest of the low.
    2. OR, slaves stay in their caste, but no longer have the same rights and freedoms of others.

How does a slave become free?

  1. Never, or completion of contract if indentured.
  2. Manumission by master.
  3. Save up and buy freedom – Redemption.
  4. Earn it by deed(s).
  5. Freed by victorious army, ruler, etc.
  6. Run away and get clear of the slave chasers.
  7. Slave revolt

 Trivia: I came across a term in the Midkemia Press, Cities book, “coffle” – a line of slaves or animals fastened together. This gives me the image of old pictures and movies about processions through the jungle. Coffle is from the Arabic word for caravan.

Print Friendly

Day 17 Q is for Quarters


Q – Quarters

Cities have different divisions or districts. How does this affect the layout of the city?

In March, 2014 I published an article on districts or quarters of a city. That thread had someone ask me for my research, so I posted the links from my research.

While following a chain of Wikipedia articles, I found reference to the Fatih district of Istanbul, which covers the same area as 23 districts of ancient Constantinople. Only 5 of those districts have articles in Wikipedia at the time of this writing. The Walls of Constantinople are interesting, in that much of them still exist today. Some of the districts were near harbors and other fairly clear cut divisions of the city.

Quarters usually mark some sort of functional/rational division of the city. For example, referring to the area of the original or oldest boundaries of the city as the old city. Often the old city features some sort of fortified area, such as a citadel, acropolis, or medina. Naming the district by some feature, such as wall district, for the part of the city near a wall or a more significant wall, such as the oldest or biggest wall. Similar district names could be harbor district, tower district, temple district, gate district, etc.

Today, in the USA, most cities and towns refer to their business district that contains the majority of their businesses. In a fantasy setting, this might be the merchant district, caravan district, trade district, etc. Such a district might be further divided into areas with concentrations of the same or similar trades, such as The Way of Smiths, that might contain blacksmiths, goldsmiths, locksmiths, armorers, etc. Certain businesses occupations might be limited to a specific area of the city, and might further be limited to certain classes/casts/races. The red light district is usually reserved for other than the well to do areas of a city, yet there have tended to be high class prostitutes serving the rich. One group of trades/industries grouped together would be “stinker,” that is, those trades that have an odor, such as tanneries for leather makers, fish markets, stockyards, etc. The district(s) with an odoriferous  byproduct would tend to be in an area lower than or downwind of the upper class area(s) of the city.

Low city and high city might refer to the topography of the city, and can usually refer to the economical and/or social status differences of their respective populations.

Other districts might be named based on their predominate populations, such as the foreigners district. Would the different groups of humans in your world be physically different in some way, or only culturally different? Would this rise to the same level of animosity that we see in our own world? Would other fantasy races be lumped into a non-human district, divided into each non-human race, like elves, dwarves, gnomes, and halflings?

Does or did slavery exist in your world? Is slavery more akin to antiquity, where some or all slaves had certain rights and could somehow expect to return to freedom? Or is it more like more recent examples of slavery, where slaves are absolutely property to the point that their descendants are slaves, and their treatment varies by who their masters and overseers are? Would there be state slaves doing the work projects of the state? Would slaves be limited to conquered peoples, i.e. war prisoners, or criminals? What kinds of crimes would relegate one to slavery? Would all nations keep slaves, or only the most “primitive”, “evil”, or some such? Would slavery be such that even predominately good nations have slaves? (I sense another article is needed….)

When designing your own cities you can use as many districts as you want, and name them after whatever best suits your needs/desires. Will all your cities have the same districts? I can see cities of the same nation/cultural group having similar divisions to their cities. For example, Alexander the Great spread the Greek ideals of cities to the areas he conquered. The Romans built arenas, hippodromes, temples, and other features of their native Italian cities in the cities of the territories they conquered, whether new or existing cities.

Midkemia Press has three free PDFs of things related to cities, one is a sample of their Cities Book. Both The Cities and The City of Carse are available in PDF for a total of $9.00.  I have the Cities Sampler, and just ordered Cities and The City of Carse, and received them the same day via email. I will do a write up, after I read the PDFs. They have one page on the City of Carse Bazaar.

Historically, ancient cities had 3 to five districts, Paris has 18 districts. The old city with some sort of fortification feature, government quarters, lower/upper town, old town/city, and royal quarter, are common. In ancient Alexandria, and many old cities, each new king would often build new palaces, so that the royal quarter was huge. The Gymnasium quarter had the race course and was the largest division of the city, but a lower population density. In Byzantium, chariot racing was a big deal, much like professional sports today. The blue and green teams got in a major riot where thousands were killed and a large part of the city burned.

Burned cities. If a city had enough wood or other flammable construction to burn, after such destruction, the re-built city would either be built of less flammable materials, like ancient Rome in the time of Nero, and/or institute building codes and rules to minimize the chance of another conflagration, as in Chicago after the 1870 fire. Some poorer areas of cities might burn, being of flammable materials, or not well built, or not built to minimize the spread of fire. This could leave the rest of a city relatively untouched by fire.

The poorest of the poor might live in slums built from the scraps and refuse from the rest of the city, most likely outside the city proper, and outside the walls. In modern times, the poorest build on or next to the dump, building huts out of scraps of wood, cardboard, and plastic, and furnished with the same. Such districts would easily be wiped out by fire. Often these fires are set by authorities to force out these “undesirables.” Do your game cities feature this level of verisimilitude?

Table ideas for generating city quarters/districts:

  • Temple quarter
  • Wizard quarter
  • Royal & Noble quarter
  • Government/Bureaucracy quarter
  • Merchant’s quarter – Markets or Bazaars
  • Non-human quarter (for areas where they don’t just mingle right in)
  • Rich/Poor
  • Docks/Wharves/Shipyards
  • Warehouse District
  • Thieve’s quarter
  • Necropolis/Graveyard (Necromancer’s quarter)
  • Arena/entertainment quarter.
  • Barracks?
  • Aqueducts, sewers, water towers, wells, catacombs
  • Smithees and leatherworkers (stinkers)
  • Slave pens/auctions
  • Gallows, Stocks, and Gibbets

Number of Quarters

Pick a die for the highest number of quarters you want to deal with, if you want other than the usual 3 to 5 divisions, like most historical cities.


  1. Low/Lower/Valley
  2. Mid/Middle
  3. High/Upper/Acropolis/Hill

Divisions (Most activity in a city can be grouped under the following. See district ideas above for specifics.)

  1. Religion
  2. Trade/Business
  3. Death (gallows, cemetery)
  4. Royal/Government
  5. Entertainment (arena, race track, etc.)
  6. Education/Library
  7. Magic
  8. Race/Culture


  1. Stinky
  2. Non-Stinky


  1. Poor
  2. Moderate/Middle Class
  3. Rich

Street/Road/Location Names

These often incorporate aspects of the surrounding area, like Way of Smiths, Temple Plaza, or Avenue or Boulevard of Temples.

Mix in an occupation, specifically or generally, building type, race type, etc.

  1. Street
  2. Lane
  3. Alley
  4. Road
  5. Way
  6. Avenue
  7. Boulevard
  8. Court/Courtyard
  9. Field (Like Elysian Fields, AKA Champs Elysees)
  10. Place
  11. Route
  12. Carriageway
  13. Byway
  14. High Road = main road
  15. Low Road = secondary road
  16. Parkway

Types of Roads – see tomorrow’s post.

Predominate Building Materials of District

  1. Earth/Mud/Cob/Adobe/Sun Dried Bricks
  2. Wood – Logs or milled lumber
  3. Fired Bricks
  4. Stone – Unfinished or Finished

Roofing Materials

  1. Thatch – Would not do well in a city environment. Better suited to rural environments with less proximity and thus less chance of fire spreading.
  2. Wood – Shakes/Singles, Logs, Milled Lumber
  3. Slate or other flat stone
  4. Ceramic tiles

A helpful set of all the dice tables for generating neighborhoods in a city can be found on pages 10 & 11 of the Winter 2014 Vol. #1 of the Metal Gods of Ur-Hadad zine. Thanks to +Adam Muszkiewicz personally putting this in my hands from +Roy Snyder’s display at Marmalade Dog 20 back in February. You can get this issue for PWYW at RPGNow. Adam and I share a fondness for all the dice tables.

Print Friendly

More on Follow Me, And Die!

If you think about it, wandering bands of homicidal vagrants seek hirelings to help guard the horses, carry lanterns and torches, fight monsters, haul loot, and most importantly, to die instead of a player character.

The enticements to follow a band of adventurers are all flowers, sunshine, and gold! Tales of success and riches, minimizing, glossing over, or ignoring foul, nasty beasts with mean, sharp teeth, undead, evil sorcerers, hungry trolls, etc.

The mumbled/whispered/assumed end result, “And Die! [So I don’t have to…]”, is never mentioned to potential hirelings, without a cost in treasure, or only the most untrustworthy and backstabby of sorts.

All adventurers do this, moreso with hirelings than with henchmen.

As for the realm of RPG bloggers, you might as well follow me, you’re going to die anyway, so do it, before it’s too late!

Print Friendly

Happy Jacks Podcast – Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day

After listening to the Drink, Spin, Run livecast and its heavy representation of Michigan residents, I hopped over to the Happy Jacks Podcast for their live broadcast for Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day.

I was paying attention during the DSR session when they explained what the three Swords & Wizardry books are based on, and I was the first with the right answer on the Happy Jacks Podcast and I won something from +James Spahn of Barrel Rider Games. It is one of his recent White Box series of material. I wasn’t clear if it is PDF, print or both.

Once I find out what I get and have it, I will have an article about it. I think it’s the White Box Omnibus.

The winning answer: Swords & Wizardry White Box = OD&D White/Brown Box; S&W Core = “Extras”; Complete = Every Supplement.

Print Friendly

Day 16 P is for Potions


P – Potions – How prevalent is magic? Can one just go a buy it? Is it real magic or a charlatan?

In a high magic setting can one just go buy any magic item you want? In a low magic setting, with any “magic” items one can buy can be mere forgeries, or lies. Perhaps only with Nystul’s magic Aura on them? Or not magic at all? Granted, a high magic setting could have the same issue.

If a current low magic campaign, but the fallen city was high magic, what kinds of items will be found here, and where will they most likely be found, and how will the party discover them?

Will potions, scrolls, and spell books survive the ravages of time? Perhaps surviving books are one of the many librams and tomes suggested in the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Scrolls might be found it airtight and resilient scroll cases, or perhaps magical scroll cases to specifically protect scrolls. Potions could be in special bottles, or one might find a bad of holding or a portable hole with its original contents. Or such things found could be the remains of past adventurers seeking riches and glory.

Will a fallen city be fallen partly because of some dread magic item? Will this be an item they know the big bad is seeking, and seek to find it first?



Print Friendly

Some Thoughts on Swords & Wizardry

S&W Cover Art

Today is the 2015 Swords & Wizardry Appreciation Day (SWAD?). This is something +Erik Tenkar started a few years ago.

I have not played Swords & Wizardry rules, but it is close to original D&D and has a lot of support and interest in the OSR community.

I have collected the free rules, core, white box, and complete, and today, I bit the bullet and ordered the hardback S&W Complete and the GM Screen. There are also a lot of cool and free resources in modules and other game supplements. They all have ideas that help inform me as a DM and a player.

Swords & Wizardry is often the go to ruleset for online contests among the OSR.

One big benefit of these rules, is that +Matt Finch has allowed others to hack them to suit their needs, and there has been a plethora of rules for many genres, including other fantasy variants.

There are also many games of other genres that use S&W rules. Just today, two science fiction genre games were announced, and both sound cool. White Star by +James Spahn and Outer Space Raiders by +Chuck Thorin. Each had their own take on the genre, and since both are based on S&W, I can see taking bits from both.

+Sophia Brandt over at Die Heart has a very helpful article that explains S&W to newcomers. I find her articles interesting, informative, and helpful.

There are many other articles with ideas for in game, and on the experience others have had in play with Swords & Wizardry.

Catch the Drink Spin Run livecast tonight.

There is a G+ page for Swords & Wizardry, where you can catch what others are doing with it, either play reports, new supplements, etc.

Swords & Wizardry also has its own SRD: Official Swords & Wizardry SRD

Get the three different rule set here:

Download Swords & Wizardry: Whitebox

Download Swords & Wizardry: Core

Download Swords & Wizardry: Complete

Print Friendly

Day 15 O is for Obelisks


O – Obelisks – Monuments to men/rulers/gods – Buildings, temples, statues, cairns, etc. can all be monuments.

What monuments, statues, and tombs exist for heroes, conquerors, rulers, gods, and deeds? For a fallen city how many of these are damaged and in ruin? Does it matter how they were damaged? Fire might only blacken them or also cause them to crack, or crumble. Earthquakes might only topple them, or make them unsteady.

Is a fallen city being re-occupied and any old stone being used as building materials, as happened to the Coliseum in Rome and to the pyramids in Egypt?

Can the players read the languages or interpret the images or scenes on monuments? For example, on Crete were discovered the Linear A and Linear B writing systems. Linear B proved to be an early form of Greek, but Linear A has yet to be deciphered.

Is there a decree or dedication written in multiple languages, like the Rosetta Stone, that might enable the right sage or character to decipher it without needing magic?

Obelisks, spires, stellae, arches, stones, are all examples. The stone can be worked or unworked. The worked stone can be roughly worked, smoothed, or polished.

Stones can have letters, symbols, or images that are carved in relief or engraved. Stone for monuments can be of a different type than other buildings, or the same type but of a different color; for example, black or white marble, or marble for monuments, and granite for mundane construction. Paints and dyes could be used to color or highlight certain parts, or add an extra flair.

Some monuments may have been damaged intentionally, such as when a successor ruler obliterates the name of a hated or maligned predecessor, or if a once hailed hero has fallen from grace.

Stone can be soft, medium, or hard.

Soft stone examples are chalk, soapstone, pumic, and tufa. They can be worked by almost anything, and chalk can be worked by fingernails.

Medium stone examples are marble and many limestones. Tufa, mentioned above is a type of limestone.

Hard stone examples are granite and basalt. They are difficult to carve with even iron and steel tools and tend to be used for building processes that don’t require much shaping, but there are exampled of granite monuments.

There are also other kinds of stone that might be used for other purposes, like stone tools made from flint or obsidian, a volcanic glass. Decorative items and inlays in stone can be made from any other type of stone, or even gems.

Some ideas for tables are assembled below.


  1. Soft
  2. Medium
  3. Hard


  1. None
  2. Rough Cut
  3. Fine Cut – still has tool marks.
  4. Smooth – Tool marks removed.
  5. Polished – Smooth and perhaps shiny.


  1. None
  2. Relief
  3. Engraved

What is the Carving?

  1. Letters – Alphabetic with or without vowels/Heiroglyphs & other Ideograms/Other – see Writing Systems
    1. How many different languages?
  2. Symbols (Other than those in the writing system. For example, arrows to show direction, the writing system would use North, left, up, etc.)
  3. Animal Images
  4. Divine Images
  5. Human Images
  6. Demi-Human Images
  7. Humanoid Images
  8. Monster Images
  9. Combinations of the above.

Color Source/Decoration

  1. Natural from the stone.
  2. Painting
  3. Dyeing
  4. Inlays of other stones or gems.

 Construction Quality

  1. Rough/Loosely Piled
  2. Rough with mortar (Mortar can be mud, clay, cement, concrete, or various mixtures to help hold the stones in place.)
  3. Passable (Good enough to get the job done but not pretty or neat. With or without mortar. If no mortar, could be roughly fitted stone.)
  4. Good (Most craftsmen are capable of this level of craftsmanship.)
  5. Master Quality (It is evident that a master mason had a personal hand in the work and direction of the work.)
  6. Dwarf Quality (Depending on your take, dwarves might just be better than other races at stone work and their average work is better than other races.)
  7. Master Dwarf Quality (An experienced and practiced dwarf stone mason, whose specialty is stone work.)
  8. Other (Divine guided/inspired, magical assistance, etc.)

Each table can be further complicated by including magic.


  1. Writing (Explosive runes, moon runes, etc.)
  2. Images (One or more of the images comes to life and steps out of the carving.)
  3. Construction (Wall of Stone or Mud to Rock used to create the stone, an enchantment on the stone other than writing or animated images.)


Print Friendly

Day 14 N is for Names


N – Names – All places need a name that fits and evokes a sense of belonging to the setting. Tables for streets, roads, bridges, squares, fountains, etc.

Will their be signposts for streets, names carved on bridges, temples and other civic buildings? If not, how will a party know how to find a square in the butcher’s market for a fallen city?

In a living city, one need merely ask the right person, perhaps for a price. See my prior posting for L – Lost.

In the practical realm of actual play, I find that as a DM the players are always asking about the name of this or that person, place, or thing. As a player, if the DM does not supply it, I find that I too ask about these things.

I find it helpful to have a pre-generated list of names that I can turn to for various random NPCs. The same goes for taverns, villages, streets, geographic features, etc. Every shopkeeper, farmer, peasant, soldier, humanoid,etc. needs a name. If the players capture a kobold, you know that they are going to ask its name. Just like today, there will be popular names, like that of the king, local ruler, family member, etc. It is OK to reuse names.

Make a table, find a table, or a program and generate ridiculously long lists to avoid having to stop play and think of a new name. I find that sometimes, my mind goes utterly blank in the midst of play. I end up with a lot of Sam’s or Bob’s or Jim’s when that happens. If it is an NPC that will be encountered again, make a note of it.

Other postings on my blog related to names:


Print Friendly

Caves of Nottingham

I had not heard of the Caves of Nottingham before, but there is a lot of geology near/under many urban areas around the world that host their own underground city as a mirror, parallel, or predecessor to the current above ground city.

While not as extensive as the recently discovered cities in Turkey, it still shows that such places existed far and wide.

How likely are such caves to be forgotten and discovered by accident, or have cave-ins?

How likely are the things that now live in the caves to decide to explore the outside world for fun, profit, or food?

A sample of what the describe about the Nottingham caves:

The Anglo-Saxon writer Asser referred to Nottingham as Tigguocobauc = “the house of caves” and some of the caves date back over a thousand years. During the Middle Ages, some of the caves served as a tannery, chapel, kilns for malt and pottery and a secret entrance into Nottingham Castle.

More caves were created in modern times. Historic England reports, “The Victorians also used the caves as stables, for cold and fireproof storage, or as tourist attractions, follies, and summerhouses. In the 20th-century there were catacombs, garages, and air-raid shelters. There is even an underground skittle alley, with a slot carved in one wall for your ball to return through.”

Print Friendly