31 May, 2012

Dr Hagfish Knockknobble,
Keeling University,

Dr Knockknobble,

I hope that this letter finds you in good health and spirits, and that your “Disquisition on Granite” is progressing well. We are all most keen to study what will – I have no doubt whatever – be the final word on the formation, characteristics, mythology, history, uses and inherent value and beauty of igneous rock comprising quartz/feldspar/mica crystals of .5mm or greater diameter.

Kindly be in receipt of these records of my expedition to Cloudarc Monastery and the Well of Stars. I would be most obliged if you could arrange for their publication in the usual journals. I have endeavoured, as always, to provide a popularisation which I hope will be acceptable to “Adventuring Times” in exchange for the usual fee.

Enclosed in the package accompanying this letter are a number of eyestalks from a creature I believe to have been an “eye-tyrant”, or “beholder” (the wizards of the coast have copyrighted the term, so do try to avoid it in any published works). I can think of no-one better able to document and make use of their various properties. If you could mention me in your write-up, I shall again be greatly obliged.

You have to prod him to do the job, and if this doesn’t motivate the greedy old letch, then I’m out of ideas. But it will. It will.

I regret that I am somewhat pressed for time as I compose this message, but I look forward to seeing the next Adventuring Times (and, of course, the receipt of their cheque!) and speaking with you at any length at next season’s faculty ball, to which I intend to bring some few of our most promising young students from the woodlands and nearby. With luck, perhaps even Melanae of the fey will deign to join us for a brief time.

With greatest respect,
Zacharias Jackson
Court of His Grace the Most Martial Duke Jope
Fort Tuskwater, Fredonia

And so, having solved the ancient riddle of the prayer wheels, Zack Jackson led the expedition across the now-revealed bridge of cloudarc, an ancient bridge of simple quartz linking the twin peaks of the mountains, soaring majestically over the clouds beneath. Its surface smooth and slick, no doubt another test for the ancient order of monks who built it, but entwined now with great ropes and cables of the loathsome vine that had strangled the gatehouse.

Science Facts

Kids, did you know that an eye-tyrant’s flying is entirely nonmagical? They float by means of lighter-than-air gasses, and move by expelling gas from various bodily orifices. This has a distinctive sound and smell!

But their crossing was not unnoticed. At the very apogee of the arc, an abberation – an eye tyrant – emerged from the clouds below.

Zack Jackson immediately cast a spell of invisibility on the great archer and general of Fredonia, Rainor, for he could best deal with the flying abberation. The general launced a volley of deadly arrows into it, wounding it. It fled, but not before using its dreadful disintegrate power on the bridge itself. The arc of cloudarc, which had stood for millennia, began to fall.

Lord Jope’s faithful shieldbearer fell, but had the presence of mind to quaff a potion of flying as he did. Then the collapsing bridge caught Zack Jackson himself! He pummeted to an almost certain death, but was saved by Rainen the flying wolf. The shield bearer and Rainen briefly played hide and seek with the eye-tyrant in the cloudbank blow the bridge, avoiding the distinctive sound of its flight. They flew on to the far end of the bridge, rejoining their companions.

Before them, on a small plateau stood a site of myth and wonder – a legend: the Well of Stars. This was the great secret of Cloudarc Monastery, this was the place that the monastery was built to keep secret.

I’m not going to finish this. The beholder retreated to the well of stars, which had some kind of portal to of which the fey vines were growing. Rainor killed it, of course, but just before it died ZJ ran up and stuck his rapier into it.

Rainor found his granddad’s bow, which I have no doubt at all will come in very, very handy.

GG5 – Campaign notes

25 May, 2012

Navigation, world map

(this info is general knowledge to inhabitants of waterworld – no spoilers)

Another source of the income and power of the elves is that you basically can’t get anywhere without ’em. It’s a sea world – very few islands, a couple of major currents, some “cities” are actually floating. But there is a bit of a trick.

The elves have worked out a way of taking a cutting of a tree, a cutting which is “aware” of where the original tree is. A potted cutting can be read via a simple ritual. The few islands almost all have at least one navigation tree, and the elves thereon will sell you a potted cutting. We simply call these “compasses”.

However, after a while they stop being “part of” the tree they come from – and they don’t tend to live long anyway. So a major expense for any long-distance traveller is paying the elves for tree compasses – it’s in effect a tax on all trade. The range varies, too. Any trade ship will tend to have an area near the bridge with half-a-dozen compasses in a gymbal. In smaller ships, the captain tends them. Larger ships have an arbourist/navigator and pay him well (if you can get an elf, then bonus! – but elves almost never go to sea).

So navigating involves moving from navigation tree to navigation tree – which have different ranges, btw – using the winds and currents. Finding a new area means either not starving to death before you stumble over it, or paying someone for a compass and somehow navigating to within its range.

DM Notes:

This solves a number of game issues, and creates scope for quests related to navigation. Instead of the world being a featureless blue orb, it’s a set of overlapping discs – the limits at which the various navigation trees can work. Some of which move – trees located on moving platforms in the sea (which tend to be a little smaller than the very few land-based ones). Nature checks, of course, to perform the ritual.

Oh – breaking into other ships at port and attempting to steal their compasses is distressingly common. Pirates will steal ’em too – a ship in open water with no compasses is pretty much fucked.

Kingmaker – Cloudarc revealed

24 May, 2012

Wish I could draw. Oh well – Zack Jackson can.



(“cloudarc watchtower 1, figs 1-4”)

Watchtower proved uninhabited. Assume it was abandoned during the fey war. Archway/portcullis originally enchanted (fig 3) – I believe would fire lightning at anything flying over it. Only residual magic remaining.

Contents: some weapons, a Journal. Unable to read Journal without damage. Replaced in nook must remember to pick it up on the way back.

Doghouse-sized outbuilding with humanoid figure – possibly a construct. We decided to take it with us (I have no idea why). It seems to move back to its assigned location by making small teleports if left unattended.

Cloudarc gate.

Large building – main section and two wings forming a courtyard (C/A gate, figs 1-5) with outbuildings. Large elm (?) tree (fig 4). Tree and buildings overgrown with a vine (C/A gate, vine, figs 1,2). On later inspection, we concluded that the tree was original, and the vine a hostile probably associated with the fey army.

Tree inhabited with very odd creatures – invisible in sunlight. We attacked and drove them off. In retrospect, probably the wrong thing to do – they were repairing damage to the tree, which we had done believing that the tree was a result go the fey incursion.

Investigated right-hand wing. Fight.

Sorry guys, I forget what was inside

Kitchen. Library (?). Large number of documents – too many to catalogue.


Monk cells. Water fountains (C/A gate interior fig 2).

Large open space around the root of the elm tree. Pile of bodies – peasants, some warriors in armour. Attacked by undead (obviously) and myconids. Rainen confused. Dimension Door out, but Rainen remained. Rainor back down stairs to deal with hostiles (hate that word) at range.

(at about this time, became convinced that this was not cloudarc monastery itself)


Forget which direction was which. Sorry

Four large prayer wheels on the roof. (C/A gate, prayer wheel figs 1-11) at cardinal points of the compass. Reliefs of figures in various poses relating to the four seasons and/or elements. Used Grease to lubricate the W wheel (spring/air). On turning, it seemed to cause eddies in the clouds around the plateau (part of the mythal – large scale magic).

N wheel (summer/fire) unserviceable. His Grace repaired it (with the aid of an Enlarge) within a few hours.

S wheel (winter/earth) good with Grease spell.

E wheel (spring/water) badly overgrown and building damaged. Klael and I cleared it.

Rainor discovered that the wheels could be set in motion with his Ki, at which they would turn by themselves. We decided to experiment with them and then on deciding that we had done something cool, Rainor could then use his Ki to keep them turning.

We prepared to turn all four wheels (used Dancing Lights to coordinate our efforts.)

When all were turned clockwise, within minutes the plateau became surrounded by a wall of storm. A very impressive scale of magic. (probably visible from beyond the mountains – His Grace may need to quash some rumours: people can be superstitious and overreact)

When all were turned counter clockwise, within minutes storms began streaming towards the gatehouse itself.

When they were turned N and W clockwise, S and E counterclockwise, a strong wind blew through the centre of the building complex and parted the cloud behind the buildings, revealing a solid transparent bridge (quartz?). Clearly, this was the “arc” of cloudarc, linking the two peaks (Plateau topography – fig 1). The vine that had been overgrowing the gatehouse was also making its way along this bridge. (C/A bridge, south view)

We were all much cheered by this, and set out to cross it.