Extra Mapping Live Stream
There are no Legends & Lore Show tonight, so instead I'll stream my Twitch Channel: https://www.twitch.tv/anna_b_meyer tonight at 5pm PDT/8pm EDT with Linda Buth.
I will work on both QGIS, Photo shop and maybe World Machine as well, so please tune in and keep us company, ask questions and such!
A week ago we had a series of power fluctuations and failures which got to my computer. It messed up my boot settings and file system on two of my hard drives. It took a while for me too check for hardware damage, reinstall my system, configure my boot settings and get back my data from backups.
I'm so grateful I have kept a rigorous backup regime, it paid off handsomely this past week. Everything I'm working on is kept in Dropbox so it get backed up both to the cloud and my other machines. I also use A service called Backblaze that backs up my entire main machine to long term online storage which takes longer to sync, often several days for large files. This is a good compliment to Dropbox.
Finally I back up things that are done on separate hard drives stored in a fireproof safe. This method was more important back when didn't have room for everything. Nowadays I use this mostly for some of all the versioning files that gets created while working on projects. They have a tendency to clog up even 20TB drives after a while, which tells you I'm saving often, and under unique names as a way of long term undo. This is very important when you testing things and go down rabbit holes that doesn't lead to the results you wanted. This way I can go back to before I branched off.
Now my computer is back up and running again, and everything important are installed again. It has taken me back almost a week but it was a good learning experience, and reassuring to know that my backup scheme worked as intended.
Virtual Greyhawk Con 3 is coming soon, less than a month in fact, October 6th to 8th. My Shield Lands game slots got filled up in a few minutes. I'm so humbled and overwhelmed by the interest, ad feel I need to do more. So as a part of my game prep I've decided to run a prep session on September the 23rd at 4pm Pacific, and invite my top patreons.
This will not be streamed, and the story will be slightly different to not spill all the secrets of the VGHC3 game. It ill be very similar and set in the same general area using another set of pregens. The rules will be my my 5E House Rules, that are still very much under construction, so expect some oddities.
We will use Zoom and Owlbear Rodeo, and there will be a tech test session before the gam for those who are going to play. If you're interested, can play on the 23rd, pleas send me a PM using Patreon. I'll use lifetime support as a way to select players if the interest are too big. There will be 5 slots. The mission is to go recon behind Iuz lines in the Shield Lands. Please PM me during the week and I will go though all the PM's and pick the party this weekend.
Thank you so much for your support, it means the world to me, especially times like this 🙂
After a lot of sweat, work and a steep learning curve, it is finally time to present my first proper city map project, my take on Critwall. It took me twenty years to make the leap in scope from continents to local area maps focusing on a single settlement. This have forced me to learn a lot of new tricks and new design principles, things that I have worked on for the last 10 years and now I'm ready to show the first result, a closer look at Critwall a city on Veng near the northern shores of the Nyr Dyv.
A first wave of brave Flan settled the area around -4000CY. The Flanaess was a much colder place back then and the beginnings of what would become Critwall had a mesa that gave a good vantage point for hunters, defensible and still close waterways for fishing and easy travel. The plateau was covered in a dense forest of low spruces and pines which provided both cover and good building materials.
The settlement on the mesa into a large hillfort with fortifications of wood that got gradually reinforced with stone. Some centuries later it had become a small town still centered on the former hillfort. Most of the native forest was cleared and replaced with farmland and planted oak, birch, ash and other, more valuable tree species. The climate was warming and that also helped deciduous trees spreading.
The Flan town was called Shelemek and was home to a bit over a thousand people when the first tragedy struck. A new priest arrived from the east with an entourage warning about grave danger, a dragon had settled in the Volcano in the east. The new priest demanded that they prepared to defend against the dragon, and improved defenses where dug into the hill. This is when they discovered that under the hill there was a huge cavern, the remnants of the old volcano that once was here, it eroded down into the mesa that are still with us in modern times.
The dragon attacked and they hid in the caves and Shelemek survived its first trial, and come out stronger. The next catastrophe was different but it again started with a a priest, a son of the Lord of Shelemek that had been away to learn new skills, explore and hopefully come home wiser, stronger and preferably even richer. The lords son had indeed picked up new knowledge, he had seen how a new class of powerful lords was conquering in the east and south, they had overcome death itself and make use of the dead to seize power and hold it, for eternity. The son quickly disposed of his father and proclaimed himself as the new ruler of Shelemek. Then he used his necromancy and turned himself into a some form of free-willed undead and dug up the buried townsfolk and turned them into his minions.
The undead lord's tyranny lasted for decades and then he ran out of living souls to rule over, and that is when the name of Shelemek was almost lost and the history of Critwall might never have been written if it weren't for people fleeing the empire of Tostencha who arrived looking for a place to seek shelter and start anew. For these hardened Flan a few undead was no match and they made the process short with the undead lord of Shelemek and took over the town.
They also worshipped differently, they served a new mother in Beory, a father in Obadhai, and they had also learned to ask Ehlonna and several other powers for guidance. They raised the stone circle near the southern end of the mesa, that still stand to this day, and built a small ringed village next to the stones safely away from the tainted town on the hill top to the north.
These people where determined to keep safe from the dead and after Beory had told them to return them to the earth they followed the new tradition of throwing the dead into the underworld the belonged far enough that no mortal could ever used them again. Communities that still practices burial and the use of the dead to fend of other enemies was shunned and labeled Dark, serving the Horned Ones, or worse...
Shelemek became a regional center, it had both good defenses and waterways for good communications. The top of the mesa became known as Niahu Hill, the place you don't step into. Business was good, both the religious and more secular kind catering to agriculture, hunting and fishing. The climate had steadily been warming up for centuries, and this is when new people from the west started to arrive, they were great riders and skilled warriors, the first Oeridians had arrived.
After the initial tense contacts an bit of an understanding started to emerge, and there was enough land to have for all. A few of the new arrivals stayed but then more came and rumors spread of rich lands in the east and south so a lot of the newcomers moved on. Luckily not all did so, and they where around to help out when the next calamity hit the area, Vecna had picked up where Tostencha had left off and become an even worse undead tyrant. Vecna's henchmen terrorized the area for more than a century and it was probably during one of the many nights spent in the old caves dug out centuries before to shelter from the dragon long ago, when an old dark haunting memory started surface again. Every weapon was needed to fight this new horror, and the Dark Ones had the power to call them.
The word spread and the answer came from up the Veng, the Order of the Storm in Molag sent warriors to Shelemek. They were led by a young warrior called Ulvane. He was as ruthless as Vecna's men and with the support of the remaining townsfolk they got rid of the tyrants rule, and after that, several of the old gods where seen in a new light, even the dark ones. Just as Vecna's rule had been disposed of came the next problem, and again it was a dragon. This time the folk were not going to take it, they were prepared and determined to hit back hard. Under the leadership of Ulvane they figured out that dragon laired in the Volcano they named White Plume Mountain.
This time the dragon was a big one, of the most powerful dragons that have ever existed in Flanaess, Dragotha. She was a determined, intelligent and utterly ruthless dragon,. This threat was going to be tough, and require a both cunning, cooperation, bravery and patients to defeat. All of the priesthoods of the area saw the threat and cooperated, and a group of the most daring servants of the gods secretly settled in the Mountain to observe and get to know the enemy, they were lead by a hierophant named Aegwareth.
Shelters where dug in various places across the land and a big complex was constructed in the Serion Hills a day east of Shelemek. By having a force there as well they could attack from multiple directions and have many places to seek cover. The caves became known as the Dragonhide Caves, and in the year of -900 CY the Order of the Storm, led by Ulvane, and every abled body from Shelemek participated in the battle near the caves when Ulvane became Warduke when he defeated Dragotha.
After the battle the dragon carcass quickly became a worm ridden mess which was left to rot. To the astonishment of people left to guard it, even the bones disappeared, such a thorough job did the worms before they too was gone. Later wisdom would have told the people back then to take this omen seriously, and both Dragotha and the Worm Lord would come back and haunt many of their descendants later on. But for the time being celebrations where at hand, Warduke, the Order of the Storm and the people of Shelemek had triumphed!
The time of celebration and happiness turned into yet more tragedy, Warduke turned out to become more and more of a ruthless tyrant as the years went by, and he seemed to escape death as well. Not only on the battlefield but rumors had it he served Nerull himself and the lord of death needed him here so he could live on as long as he served him well. Often had problems come from afar, but this time intruders would be the problem solvers. A stream of Oeridians came, from the east this time. Descendants of the first wave hundreds of years ago had now established a powerful kingdom in the east and was seeking new lands to settle, or conquer with force if needed.
When the first probing ships came up the Veng the people of Shelemek knew the language and took a chance and asked for help, offering they lands as a reward. That and tales of evil Flan cults terrorizing the area made the mighty Aerdy send a force many times stronger that had been seen this side of the Nyr Dyv before. Warduke fled back to Molag with those loyal to him and the Aerdy took over, and a new era started.
The new rulers had big plans, were well organized, skilled in both engineering and warfare, and determined to build an empire. Plans for a big city north of the Nyr Dyv on the well situated peninsula along the Veng were laid out and work begun. The new folk had a habit of using clay and chalk found along the river to cover their walls making them white, and the term Critwall was coined ant it soon became the name of the new town. A new lord of the Walworth family became the new ruler when Critwall was included in the Earldom of Walworth. Below is their heraldry:
The modern city started in the early days of the Great Kingdom's advance westward as a staging point in the defense against northern incursions as well as continued advance westwards.
In the early 100's CY the city was still under the Earldom of Walworth when they adopted this heraldry:
The tower symbol was still white, relating to its white limestone, the black malachite imported from the mainland Great Kingdom would come later in the 200's CY. Then a new heraldry was introduced to show the new fancy improvement:
Now the modern day Critwall is starting to take shape with its three main wards defenses and port. Shelemek, the old gods, traditions and history of the flan who had lived here for so long became legend. Scary stories, told to folks to make them cling to the new gods, or laugh at when drunk in the alehouses.
Symbols are vital to marketing, propaganda, religion and way more in our real world, and in Greyhawk that might be even more so. Every ruler, cult and faction needs to brand themselves appropriately using the means available.
In a medievalesque world the options are more limited but the basics are still the same, a recognizable design that send the message you want effectively across. Since our games are for us to have fun they need to be an inspiration for our games as well!
Tonight's legend & Lore Show on the https://www.twitch.tv/lordgosumba channel @8pm EDT will be about Languages, Expressions & Glyphs so I wanted to add some stuff to the discussion, so here comes a selection of symbols I have cooking for my games. Mostly cultish and other more nefarious types, but not all.
Lets start in old Flan lands with Count Dahlvier.
In my campaign the lich was once a Flan lord who fought against the Oeridian invaders and succumbed to using some of the worst of methods and kept on the fight beyond death even. The design of his symbol are, according to some of his many enemies, either some sort of fiend or an example of what he does to his enemies, or a combination of the two.
Next up is Keraptis who we don't know that much about so I kept it simple with a rune of a person reaching everywhere at once.
as a part of his career Keraptis ran large part of the old Flan world from Tostencha using, according to legend, some pretty harsh methods and needed a symbol to keep the masses subdued.
Simple Flan design with a symbology what are mainly lost in history.
A modern use if the flan tradition are the servant of the Old One, Waquonis with his own rune showing his ability to change.
Now it is time to look at a someone that are held in much higher regard the master of Swords Kelanen. He is actually playing a small part in my current campaign so I needed a symbol for him.
I might need to tweak it, but it's a start..
Next up is a faction I invented for my campaign. The Daughters of Aegwareth. Aegwareth was the druid who Keraptis killed in White Plume Mountain. His spirit survided and he persist in some strange form and in my campaign he had a daughter who wowed to revenge his death. She started a cult to go after Keraptis, each time he are reborn. The daughters have a symbol made up of a set of runes, see if you can figure out which..
They also have a a more prominent holy symbol, a dark Beory with a burning interior..
Time for the BBEG's Fist out is my favorite Fiend, Graz'zt. Who in my campaign have been a sponsor of a lot of bad things for a long time in the Flanaess. His most notorious symbol are a six fingered hand, here in silhouette.
and here in a painted version...
Graz'zt is also known for his mastery of swords and his huge curvy demonic blade that has lots of powerful propeties.
Here is a painted version..
Another major evil that might need some more symbology in Greyhawk are Orcus. I made this rune based on the scare his has some of the WotC illustrations.
It is a combination o his sword and his horns. Here is a silhouette symbol of his used to scare and impress..
and a full color version for the places when he really want to show off..
The concept for Orcus head and Graz'zt sword are made using Midjourney, without mentioning any artists in the promts and then lots of Photoshop and illustrator editing. the other illustrations are made using Illustrator and Photoshop, without any AI involvement. I know it is a contentious topic and I want to be open with it.
After a way too long prep and learning phase my GIS project is well under way. I took the decision to migrate my Greyhawk project to use GIS technology as its base over five years ago, and now after lots of reading, watching videos, consulting people who are professionals and have worked on similar projects, I have something to show.
I've been a long time user of GIS maps in my former life both professionally and as a hobby, but I have never produced them. Understanding the basics of how something works in the reals world only takes you so far trying to implement said technology on a fantasy world. The key difference is that you can't go out and measure the world, or use data already collected and processed, you need to create and refine the data from scratch which is the big part of the work. Back in May I posted the first look at my GIS project, georeferencing the planet and its continents. This time it is much more into the weeds, looking at data entry from large to small.
One key part of this project is to convert my existing Flanaess & Hepmonaland map into GIS, and the other is use GIS t make detailed regional and local maps. The test area for this local bit are Critwall and its surroundings. First step is to geo-reference the detailed terrain map of Critwall so it matches my Flanaess terrain and the surrounding terrain.
Next is to set up layers, its databases and the styling and start adding stuff to the map. This is the most fun bit, to world-build and create my version of Critwall. Its main quarters, called wards from its religious roots with a cleric or paladin assigned to be the protector of each. The Oeridian empire builders who settled this area in the 100's where emerging empire builders, and after a century the Old Ward wasn't big enough for their ambitions. A new ward was created on slightly lower plateau sough of the old town dating back to Flan times, and it became the New Ward. It was designed to house at least 10,000 people, and more if you included the new Harbor Ward to the west.
The Southward was added in the 200's when the Great Kingdoms ambitions peaked. The intention was to turn Critwall into the main bastion of the north west and a base for further conquest north. This is when Rauxes started to have problem closer to home and the anticipated influx of settlers and soldiers from the Great Kingdoms core lands never materialised. The southward instead became a walled in area for the well off, military training facilities and a large tournament and fair ground.
Here is a work in progress preview of Critwall:
Again I have to remind you that this is my very first map done in QGIS, but I'm enthusiastic for the possibilities. Things will get better from here and take less time to do as well!
When it comes to the bigger picture I've added all the Metropolises and all the Cities and was about to start on the Towns when I screwed up with my database management and managed to delete all the city data, a couple of days work gone. I store stuff in Dropbox, or so I thought, but QGIS store so called "sidecar files" in C:/User/%USER%/Documents..sigh. Found that out the hard way, and now I have change that setting and turned of the sidecar files and works with integrated data until I export it. You learn every day in this job...lol. It was a lot of anger management for half a day, but now I' coming back to it again, placing labels in Critwall was a great way of liking my job again.
It is a lot of tedious work but will be more than worth it in the long run. The potential of this in endless!!
Patreon have screwed up a bit on their own this past month. They changed payment processor and the new one was according to rumours in Ireland and lots of US banks declined the card charges, in my case it was about nearly 40%, hopefully they will have that sorted out to next month. They sent out an email apologizing, but without going into much detail which is understandable. Being away for a bit over a month also takes time come back from so it affected me when I deserved it..lol.
I just lost a friend and long time former colleague which is always hard, and not being able to attend the funeral (it is not possible to go back to Europe again so soon) feels really depressing. I'm sorry for the delays in my projects and communication that this have caused. I'm getting over it, just need to be careful so I'm not spreading negative vibes.
I plan to do an overhaul of my Patreon and its tiers this fall. Patreon are changing lots of things and I need to adjust on my end as well. Lots of the changes are for the better I hope, want to make things simpler and a bit more straight forward. More on this soon.
NobleDwarf now have a lot of stuff with my graphics on it, posters, t-shirt, mugs and more with my maps, heraldry and logo on them!
The price is for the cost of the print, I don't get a cut of the sticker price. This is so I'm, hopefully, staying compliant of the WotC Fan Creation Policy. There is a tip option in checkout, where you can ad a few bucks that will go to me. The exceptions are t-shirts and mugs with my logo only, there I will get a bit of the sale since there are now derivative Greyhawk art on them. I hope you find something you like!
I will be back with an in depth look at Critwall soon.
Thank you again for your support, it means so much, especially now!!!
It has taken 20 years of hesitation, half-assed attempts, a few fast made commissions and lots of trials and error, to get this point where I have found out how to create city maps that are both useful and pleasing to my eye. Please understand me wrong here, fantasy cartography are full of fantastic looking city maps. After dungeon maps they are probably the most common type of map in TTRPG publishing, and despite looking great they often missing key parts I'm looking for in visualizing a settlement.
May main missing feature are the surroundings, a city is a feature of the surrounding landscape, a landscape that are usually the reason for its existence and determines its layout and spread, omitting it makes it really hard for me to understand the place. Another vital part are elevation, a settlement on flat lands are fundamentally different from one with huge height differences. A proper map need to make this apparent, strangely this can be harder to do well when the elevation differences are smaller but still significant.
Level of detail is another key aspect of a map, especially for a place where text and images are the only way we can get to know the place. Fantasy mapping are less about finding the way and more about discovering the journey. At a distance things like color and shading give away clues to the lay of the land, big structures like city walls and the biggest buildings. Contrasting colors between buildings and streets work to give hints to the basic layout of the city even at a glance from the distance. Porta Potty Scale works well to show an overview of settlements and their surroundings, and to use to navigate around town, point out places of interest and calculate travel times.
The final map and its data need to fit into my grander scheme of setting mapping, both in accuracy, data compatibility, and style. The data bit is the often overlooked part, I want to be able to re-use as much of my work as possible, and when I update something the update should be applicable across all maps using the the same data. Good maps are so much more than pretty pictures. All the separate layers of textures, shading, masks and things like occlusion data can be very handy when it comes to make different types of maps, like a grey overlay to show the sewers for example.
I've used my trusty World Machine, Photoshop workflow for this one and I'm starting to feel comfortable with both the process and the results. It is tedious and even "treacherous" at time with many pitfalls, but overall the best possible at the moment. There are a few things with large scale water drainage that I need to iron out, but I have ideas on how to fix them better. Who knew that drainage would be such a big part of my life, I never even though much about it until I started moving into virtual terrain creation, and now I study both geology and python to get a grip on the topic!
Half of the process still requires a hands on approach using Photoshop, this is both a pain but also a source of artistry and a chance to get to know an area intimately. It is also important for me to have lots of hands on in in the city design process, things need to be figured out gradually with a tow step forward one step back kind of way. Trying to imagine what the place would be to live in, when and how was it constructed, by whom and who made the decisions. Towns and settlements rarely form instantly, but it might happen in a fantasy world, they grow over time and their history are an integral part of how they are designed. Taking time to let all this evolve when I work on settlements makes it possible to come up with lots of cool little details.
Next phase in mapping Critwall is to bring it into QGIS for labeling, which is something I'm very much still a newbie at. The final presentation represent a whole new set of challenges with, fonts, size colors and more. More on that in a few days...
Here are a new version of my Campaign Map depicting the situation at the start of 599 CY.
Lots of caveats comes with this map. First it is very much a work in progress and things that are changed and added as my campaign progress, and I also change things outside the scope of the current campaign to prep for future adventures. This makes some areas way more detailed and others left more barren. This doesn't mean there are nothing there, it just means I haven't developed that are much yet. This campaign map is both a snapshot of my campaign and an overview of my personal take on Greyhawk.
My current campaign are set in Shield Lands which means that I've added a lot of detail to the Shield Lands and neighboring Furyondy.
Eazyzoom let you download a copy of the map as well, a warning is that it is a huge map. It is over 30,000 pixels which will cause problems for some tools and viewers. You can resize it to just under 30,000 pixels and it should work.
My campaign have come to Critwall just in time for the 599 CY Needfest celebrations, which will play out in the upcoming game sessions. In order to help out my players I have put together a cheat sheet about some of the most prominent guests, their titles and a few notes about them. Some of the juicier stuff is not here, it will be for the players to find out during the sessions.
These NPC's are a mix of published sources and my own creations.
His Eminence - Count Paralen Isenben, Royal Ambassador to Mitrik
A cousin of Belvor IV, and a close confidant maintaining the Kingdoms affairs in Veluna. His job is to keep Veluna happy and close to the Kingdom even if Belvor designates an heir that is not from Veluna.
His Lordship - Baron Tidrus Derwent - of Eragern
Baron of Eragern, Luther Derwent is his uncle. Seen as a lightweight, is in fact the kings eyes and ears in Luther's court. He plays light hearted but is in fact both intelligent and wise, and staying loyal to the king. His job during the festivities is to stay close to Luther and be part of the discussions.
Tidrus gives cover for Mauritian to conduct military action across the border on Iuz occupied lands, focusing on economic, cultural and mediate between Luther and the King.
Sir - General Mauritian Declenn - Lord of Eyeberen
A good friend to both the king, Katarina, Janzipir and Tidrus Derwent, who's support secured his lordship of Eyberen. He is a capable warrior who organize and conducts raids inside Iuz lands with the help of Katarina and Janzipir.
Sir - Janzipir - See'er of Eyeberen
A diviner that serves as the eyes and ears at Castle Eyeberen. He is taking huge risks and has paid for it with an eye and lots of other damages, but he is determined to take the war back to Iuz lands. He is very close to Mauritian and able to provide valuable information.
His Noble Grace - Earl Xanthan Butrain of Willip
A key noble in the kingdom who have been struggling a bit lately, mainly due to his only son and hair who lacks both skill and ambition, and a brother who is disloyal and somewhat of a political pariah. With two intolerable successors his political future looks fraught, he is hoping his niece Annise Butrain can turn this situation around.
Her Lordship - Baroness Annise Butrain of Gor
She is the daughter of Gregen Butrain, who is the brother of Xanthan Butrain. Gregen is seen as a unreliable and villainous force in the Kingdom, so it was with trepidation everyone saw Xanthan make young Annise a full baron in her own right. She has taken to the position with both skill and strategic thinking, eying to replace Xanthan in leu of his son William. She is young but full of charm, and more importantly ambition paired with a good heart.
Her hand in marriage will be a trophy for who ever can claim it, and Annise is seen as brave move by her uncle Xanthan. By elevating her and giving Annise his support, he has sidestepped Gregen, and given Willip more political currency. There are rumors of interest between Annise and Milon Uwilsvale.
Grand Councilor, Celestial Dame - Ubica Darmen Imperial Envoy of Ahlissa
Leading Zilchus Priest from Kalstrand, diplomatic envoy to Greyhawk specializing in business relations. She has practically invited herself to the festivities, by sponsoring it, to see if the rumors of a new push against Iuz and reports of major powers being involved. She is very curious to confirm who is backing Katarina financially, giving her the means to spend like she is, and what she is spending her resources on.
Rumors of Belvor deciding a new heir soon is of huge interest to Ubica and her realm.
Sir - Milon Uwilsvale - Holder of the Heart, Commander of Redoubt
Milon is one of the best warriors of the Kingdom, and a loyal servant of both Heironeous and the King. He has a friendly rivalry with Katarina determined to stay out of her way (and bed) and focus on military matters rather than politics. Annise has more than an eye on him, and there are rumors.....
His Royal Highness - Commander of the Heart, Marshal of Chendl, Protector of Ferrond, Lord of Fairwain, King of Furyondy -
Belvor Stinvri IV.
Belvor attends to festivities to reconnects with his close friend and ally Katarina, plan the fight against Iuz, and show everyone that he is not shying away from visiting the front lines at times. He is also taking a risk by giving his public support to Shield Lands at this time when the rumor mill is focused on his succession. This accents his appointment of Artur Jakartai, giving one of the most important positions to a Shield Lander, what else could he be up to?
Her Noble Grace Lady Commander - Katarina Walworth, Earl of Walworth, Commander of the Shield, Marshal of Furyondy
The hostess of the festivities, and a powerful actor on the political scene in the part of the Flanaess. She is dedicated, charming and spends resources to further her goals. She had many friends and allies, and equally many enemies. Rumors states she is in fact secretly negotiating with some on the Iuzian side. The number of Iuzian clerics she has killed keeps her above suspicion, by most, for now. She leads from the front and shares burdens with those who fights with her, which makes her a very popular commander.
Her social life is both enigmatic and surrounded by rumors, she has no official partner and is known to be both old and not even human. This has led to speculations and rumors, but few are those who dare to say anything. Katarina are one of the most capable warriors in the Flanaess and have proved it many time, and she has the favor of both Heironeous and Belvor.
His Noble Grace - Arthur Jakartai - Marshal of the Shield, Lord of Grabford, Marshal of Furyondy, Count of Crystalreach
A knight of the Shield, the ruler of Crystalreach and the main organizer of the fight against Iuz. He is a 7' bachelor who has devoted himself to the fight rather than family and politics. Had a fell out with the old leadership of the Knights of Holy Shielding, but he and Katarina became good friends, rumors say more, during the campaign against Iuz.
Sir - Arlen Pirtena - Knight of the Heart
Sir Arlen is the current personal aid and a protector of King. He is a Heironeous devotee and very capable warrior. He has good relations with Katarina who had his position many years ago. Arlen hasn't realized it yet, but he is an up and coming star in Furyondy politics. Being the Kings aid is a very good spot to launch a career in Furyondy politics. Arlen is still new on the job and focused on the security and wellbeing of the king, which is seen as a plus by Belvor.
His Noble Grace - Luther Derwent - Protector of Free Borough, Lord of Gorsend, Count of the March
Luther sees himself as central to politics of the realm. The King and those around him has the duty to run military matters and other day to day business, Luther's main interests are economy and succession. He is in fact not that smart and the King keep him close to make sure he is not turning into an enemy. His sons are still to young to be in play politically, but his daughter is the hope of Luther. He talks up her virtues endlessly as the biggest price in the realm. Luther and the Derwent family are rich, but lacking inventiveness and charm, which harms Luther in his ambitions.
Grand Councilor, Lord - Telemmand - Grand Council Representative - County Scribe of the March
Luther's representative at Noble Council is the scribe Telemmand, an expert procrastinator who refuses to make any decisions until he has discussed matters fully with his dour, pragmatic liege. Sharp tongues say that Luther uses Telemmand's presence to appear less unappealing.
My MeyerHawk House Rules Project is progressing and here comes a first look at Combat Actions. It is a classless system which means I have to base who can do what on something different than class. I've based it on Skills, Proficiencies and Exertion. Exertion is a resource that was invented by EN Publishing for their Level Up - Advanced 5E.
In this daft I've listed 56 actions which are a lot of them. They will be grouped into basic (everyone can do them), mounted etc.
I've attached a PDF exported from Obsidian. The format is simple at this stage, and no real editing. The final rules will be edited and published in several formats like PDF, Markdown, HTML.
It took me a little while to get over to my native Sweden, two days with cancelled and missed flights, forest fires, and a day in Munich. Now it is time to get some work done again. First out is a look at the traditional ring dwellings of the Shield Lands in my campaign.
Shield Lands is a realm where the new (read Oeridian) have been replacing and merging with the old for half a millennium, and this is clearly visible in how people live. Since the old Flan days this have been a dangerous and wild part of the world, where shelter could often be harder than enemies to find. It is a predominately open landscape with few places to hide and seek shelter, and the soil is not fertile enough to support a dense population. Ingenuity and make due was, and still is, the mantra for these hardy folk who call the Shield Lands home. Instead of building large towns and cities and seek safety and prosperity in number behind think walls, the flan who settled the plains here choose a different strategy. Small settlements that blended in with the surrounding terrain, and still provided some protection.
It was common to find a low hill made up of tough soil, dig out the center and a surrounding moat. Use the dug up soil and stone to construct walls battlements, and reinforce the outside of the dwellings. Sizes varied from a few families up to a several hundred, and in rare circumstances all the way up to town size with a thousand or more. The sketch shows a more typical size with living for 100-200 people and they livestock. Life inside the dwellings was cramped and dense, but people lived outside with their sheep, goats and cattle most of the daytime, so being cramped at night, or when danger was lurking was accepted.
An important aspect of this design was the proximity of similar settlements, key was to spread out risk instead of center it. The distance between these dwellings where usually a few hundred yards up to a quarter of a mile, and always within signaling distance, using horns, flags or smoke. This forced the enemy to attack only a single dwelling or spread out their forces. Neighboring settlements could quickly come to aid those attacked. Most adults in this realm can both fight and are able riders. A settlement only have to be able to defend themselves for a short time before they can count on help from their neighbors.
This way of living was the norm until the Oeridians came and wanted to modernize and upgrade the ancient ways of living in cramped dens not much better than a hole in the ground behind a small wall. They built proper houses with defenses, but often spend more lavishly on living standard rather than defense capability. The Oeridian idea of defense was a much bigger castle or keep that was designated to guard a much larger area, often many square miles. The defense installations where a deterrent for the thugs of the old bandit lands, but woefully inadequate when the well organized terror of the Horned Society and later Iuz came. Maybe a spread out much more nimble defense would have fared better, that we can only speculate in. But a lot of the lowly squires hailing from the rural part of Shield Lands who survived the onslaught swear that the only reason they made it was mobility and mutual aid.
Here in my Critwall map you can see the area outside the wall still being dotted with small settlements that have been, to a varyingly degree, converted to more conventional standard.
Architecture and especially settlement design are often overlooked in fantasy so for my Shield Lands campaign I wanted to take in this aspect in my campaign planning and cartography. It can add a special feel to the campaign, and making sure it feels a bit special and more believable.