Pitch

You are a group of cartographers from the imperial capital Endon, far off to the south east, appointed by Royal Decree to come to the backwater, out-of-the-way, and downright weird Duchy of Brackenwold, to comprehensively map out the Dolmenwood, something the local rulers have somehow never managed. And speaking of those local rulers, they’re not quite sure how to act with you noble folk hanging around. The Duchy was once a kingdom in its own right, and has been largely left to its own devices since being annexed by the Empire some 600 years ago. In principle everyone here is honour-bound to help you out as best they can but, well, Endon is far away and you might not find them as cooperative as they could be.

There are strange stories about the Dolmenwood, some folk say there’s all manner of weird fairy creatures living beneath its tangled branches; that it was once ruled by a fearsome frost elf known as the Cold Prince, who hungers to reclaim his mortal territory once more; and that it’s now threatened by some sort of chaos being from the unclaimed northlands. These rural folk, I tell you…

House rules

Character creation

Ability Scores

Roll 4d6 drop lowest, in order.

Races

Humans only.

Classes

Class Book Page Requirements Prime Requisite
Cleric OSE Advanced Fantasy Player’s Tome 36 None WIS
Druid OSE Advanced Fantasy Player’s Tome 40 None WIS
Fighter OSE Advanced Fantasy Player’s Tome 50 None STR
Illusionist OSE Advanced Fantasy Player’s Tome 62 DEX >= 9 INT
Magic-User OSE Advanced Fantasy Player’s Tome 66 None INT
Thief OSE Advanced Fantasy Player’s Tome 74 None DEX
Friar Dolmenwood Player’s Book 36 None WIS
Hunter Dolmenwood Player’s Book 40 CON >= 9, WIS >= 9 DEX
Knight Dolmenwood Player’s Book 42 CON >= 9, DEX >= 9 STR
Minstrel Dolmenwood Player’s Book 44 INT >= 9 CHA, DEX

Note that Clerics, Illusionists, and Magic-Users belong to one of the organisations listed on page 51 of the Dolmenwood Player’s Book.

Furthermore, Clerics and Friars all belong to the Church of the One True God, the state religion of the Empire, of which the local religious head is the Bishop of Brackenwold.

Alignments

Only Lawful or Neutral. No Chaotic characters.

Known Languages

We’re using the languages from the Dolmenwood Player’s Book.

Woldish is the Common of this setting. Everyone has that for free. Then you get a number of additional languages based on your INT score:

  • Gaffe, the language of the Shorthorns, the goatfolk commonalty of the High Wold.
  • Caprice, the language of the Longhorns, the goatfolk noblility of the High Wold.
  • Sylvan, the common tongue of the fairies found frequently visiting the mortal world.
  • Clerics, Friars, and those with connections to the Church may also choose Liturgic, the holy tongue of scripture and sermon.
  • The educated or noble may also choose Old Woldish, the historic and now-dead original version of Woldish.
  • Non-locals may also choose Imperial Common, the language of the wider empire, not really used around here.

If you want to think in real-world terms, Old Woldish is like Anglo-Saxon, Imperial Common like Norman French, and Woldish is Middle English, the bastard offspring of the two. Knowing Woldish means you’ll recognise a few words in the others, but not enough to communicate. Liturgic is the Latin of this setting.

There are no alignment languages. Alignment languages are silly.

Starting Money & Equipment

Roll for quick-start equipment, as described on page 76 of the Dolmenwood Player’s Book.

Starting Spells (Illusionist & Magic-User)

Roll N unique numbers on 1d12 (determined by your INT, see page 124 of the Advanced Fantasy Player’s Tome) and pick those spells from the relevant level 1 lists (page 130 for Illusionists, page 131 for Magic-Users).

Birth Date & Moon Sign

  • Roll for the birth date in the Dolmenwood calendar (page 98 of the Dolmenwood Player’s Book): 1d12 and then 1d28, 1d30, or 1d31.
  • Check the Dolmenwood Calendar to see if this is a feast day.
  • Check what moon sign this is (pages 102 & 103 of the Dolmenwood Player’s Book), which confers a minor mechanical benefit.

Optional rules

This list does not contain referee-facing rules like morale rules, only the rules which directly affect players.

  • OSE Advanced Fantasy Player’s Tome:
    • Ascending AC
    • Arcane spellcasters can wield staves
    • Advanced spellbook rules
    • Detailed encumbrance
    • Attacking with two weapons
    • Parrying
    • Splash weapons
  • Dolmenwood Player’s Book:
    • Inebriation
    • Smoking
    • Camping

XP for exploration

  • Exploring a hex gives 100xp (each) for the first hex, 200xp for the second, 300xp for the third (etc), resetting when you return to a town.
  • Overcoming a hidden thing (intentionally left vague) gives 50xp, on top of any other XP gained doing that.

Exploration XP, like gold XP, is gained upon returning to a town.

Carousing

Once per session in a civilised settlement, a PC may choose to Carouse to gain additional XP. A PC who goes carousing must choose to spend a certain amount of gold, limited by the size of the settlement:

  • Village: 1d6 * 100 gold spent / XP gained
  • Town: 1d8 * 150 gold spent / XP gained
  • City: 1d10 * 200 gold spent / XP gained

In any given settlement, carousers may choose to roll for a smaller entry.

If the amount of gold spent is more than the PC has, and the party cannot (or won’t) cover it, the PC is now in debt to someone nefarious and must also roll for a mishap.

If the die result is higher than the PC’s level, they must roll for a mishap.

Mishaps (1d20)

  1. Make a fool of yourself in public. Gain no XP. Check CHA or gain reputation in this settlement as a drunken lout.
  2. Involved in random brawl. Check STR or lose d3 HP.
  3. Minor misunderstanding with local authorities. Check CHA: on success, pay a fine of 2d6 * 25 gold; on failure (or inability to pay the fine), 1d6 days in prison.
  4. Romantic entanglement. Check WIS to avoid nuptials. Otherwise: 1–3 scorned lover; 4–6 angered parents.
  5. Gambling losses. Roll the dice as if you caroused again to see how much is lost (no additional XP).
  6. Gain local reputation as the life of the party. Check CHA: on failure, all future carousing in this settlement costs double due to hangers-on.
  7. Insult local person of rank. Check CHA: on success, they are amenable to some sort of apology and reparations.
  8. Venereal disease. Check CON or contract a venereal disease.
  9. New tattoo. 1–3 it’s actually pretty cool; 4 it’s lame; 5 it could have been cool, but something is goofed up or misspelled; 6 it says something insulting, stupid, or crude in an unknown language.
  10. Beaten and robbed. Lose all your personal effects, and are reduced to half HP.
  11. Gambling binge. Lose all your gold, gems, jewellery. Check WIS for each magic item in your possession: on failure, it is gone.
  12. Hangover. -2 penalty to attack rolls and saving throws for the next day.
  13. Target of lewd advances turns out to be a witch. Save versus spells or be turned into a pig.
  14. Initiated into some sort of secret society or weird cult. Check INT to remember the signs and passes.
  15. Invested in a “sure-fire” scheme. Lose all spare cash (3-in-6 chance of all gems and jewellery too). 1–4 it’s bogus; 5 it’s bogus and the authorities think you’re in on it; 6 it’s a winner, returns investment and d% profits in 3d4 months.
  16. Wake up stark naked in a random local building. 1–3 the inhabitants aren;t happy; 4–6 they smile and thank you for stopping by.
  17. Major misunderstanding with local authorities. Imprisoned until fines and bribes totalling 1d6 * 1000 gold paid. All weapons, armour, and magic items confiscated.
  18. Fall head-over-heels in love. 5-in-6 chance your beloved is already married.
  19. Get in way over your head and pray for salvation. God listens, and now you’re under the effects of a quest spell.
  20. Accidentally start a fire! Roll 1d6: 1–2 burn down your favourite inn; 3–4 some other den of ill repute reduced to ash; 5–6 a big chunk of town goes up in smoke. Roll 1d6 again: 1–2 nobody knows it was you; 3–4 your fellow carousers know you did it; 5 someone else knows; 6 everyone knows.

Resources

In-session

  • Random Table: Assorted goblin weirdness: Knock! issue 2, page 83
  • Random Table: Lesser stones of Dolmenwood: Wormskin issue 4, page 17
  • Random Table: Common names in Dolmenwood: Wormskin issue 7, page 2
  • Hirelings: Wormskin issue 7, page 8
  • Medieval musical instruments

Prep

2022-06-11 — Session 0

Prep

Session 0

  1. Premise: cartography, everyone still happy with this?
  2. Game style:
    • This is an OSR game: creative problem-solving is rewarded; the answer isn’t on your character sheet; things are not balanced: the world is a real place, it won’t all be level-appropriate, it will react to what you do, and to what you don’t do.
    • It’ll be very self-directed: I will provide rumours to investigate and NPCs to interact with, but I don’t have a story to tell and what you engage with is up to you.
    • By default, politics will be off in the background, but if you want to get involved in that sort of thing there are plenty of factions: there’s the Duke of Brackenwold, the various noble houses his vassals, the Church, the magical guilds, the Nag Lord, the rulers and wealthy families of the towns, the Drune, and you represent the greater authority of the Empire.
    • Much of what happens will be procedurally driven, there’s rules for camping, fishing, foraging, weather, etc, and it’s all very flavourful and fun.
    • Resource tracking is also going to be a big thing: when in town you’ll need to pay for food and lodgings, and when adventuring you’ll need to make sure you have enough food, torches, retainers, and any other supplies.
    • You get XP for gold, exploration, and carousing.
    • XP is divided evenly amongst surviving characters when you return to town, retainers who participated get a half share.
  3. Rules:
    • PDF handouts
    • Character Creation handout
    • Optional & House Rules handout
  4. Character creation:
    • Note: spells are learned diegetically!
    • Do this quick!
    • Mention uploads directory in file browser
  5. Logistics:
    • Hex mapping
    • Dungeon mapping
    • Decide whether they have the player map
  6. Roll for start date.
  7. Begin!

Opening

After making the long journey west along the King’s Road, you arrived at Castle Brackenwold, the largest city in the region and capital of the duchy. Looming over the city, built atop a hill, is the castle itself, surrounded by pomp and grandeur. Around the base of the hill, which is called Clod’s Seat, is the Inner City, the commercial hub of Castle Brackenwold with all its markets, courts, institutions of learning, the mighty Cathedral of St. Signis, and so on. Finally, surrounding the Inner City in a great sprawling mass of teetering abodes, twisting alleyways, and seedy taverns, is the Outer City, home of the commonfolk of Castle Brackenwold.

You’ve spent a few unsuccessful [weeks / days] in the city trying to get an audience with the Duke, or at least one of his senior officials, regarding the topic of mapping Dolmenwood, and any aid or information they can provide to that end. It’s the Empresses’ command, after all.

…well, ok, it’s not strictly speaking the Empresses’ command, it’s the command of the Royal Geographical Institute. But certainly the Institute is highly valued by the Empress, and certainly she would value accurate maps of this remote border region just as highly, but it’s not entirely accurate to say you were sent by the Empress herself.

Or so the bureaucratic peons were quick to inform you, upon seeing your imperial writ.

And so, now, you stand once more upon the road. The Horse-Eye road which leads north-west from Castle Brackenwold to the town of Prigwort, a fairly central settlement within Dolmenwood itself, and famed for its breweries and distilleries. “Don’t be a stranger!” the bureaucrats said, “you’re welcome to return any time!” “But maybe you should start your mapping, hmm?”

They did at least mention that the Church would be very interested in knowing the locations of any old shrines you uncover, as so many have been lost for generations.

Character descriptions & introductions, then 1407.

Notes

  • 29 Harchment: pouring rain
    • 1407:
      • Carve names on trees
    • 1307:
      • Abbot Spatulard hints he wants the secrets of the brewmasters of Prigwort
    • 1206:
      • Ambushed by the Baker’s Dozen
      • Get them to swear an oath to not rob any more (which they all but said they would ignore)

Next time

  • Evening, 29 Harchment
  • Arriving in Prigwort

2022-07-02 — Session 1

Intro

  • Session recap
  • Discuss variable weapon damage rule
  • Create character with Taneb
    • During this, other players add their birthdays to the calendar:
      • Birthday tag
      • Repeat yearly

State

  • 29 Harchment
  • Warm, sunny
    • Was pouring rain, but we forgot this in the session; do better in the future
  • About 6PM
  • Party arrive in Prigwort (1106) after 8 hours of travel (including stops)
    • For timekeeping purposes, I’m assuming “a day’s travel” is 12 hours

Prep

  • Arcane scent for Taneb’s magic-user

Stories in Prigwort

  • Some noble woman (Hilda Harrowmoor, unknown to the gossips) has taken up residence in the Swinney Tower
    • She’s got some servants, but they all look to be fighting-men playing at being servants
    • The tower’s close to the new barracks Lady Harrowmoor is building
    • She’s been exchanging messengers with Harrowmoor Keep and the Elevated Council of Brewers
  • Drune spotted to the north east of Prigwort
    • “I was just off the Harrow Road, hunting a pair of red deer, and all of a sudden one of them Drune stepped out of the trees and just watched me until I went back to the road”
      • “He didn’t say anything, just stood there, looking, but I could tell he didn’t want me going in them woods”
  • Violet Harrowmoor has gone missing
    • It happened a few days ago, maybe a week at most
    • Lady Harrowmoor is besides herself
    • It was probably them brigands at the ruined abbey
      • Oh, you don’t know the ruined abbey of St. Clewd? Bad stuff there man, bad stuff.
      • Well ok, nobody’s actually seen brigands at the abbey, but it’s the sort of place they’d hide out at, right?
  • Any of the Prigwort rumours

Notes

  • No Taneb, create character next time.

  • Not using variable weapon damage

  • Decide it’s raining

  • 29 Harchment: pouring rain

    • 1106—Prigwort:
      • Go to the Wrinkled Medlar
        • Meet Sprewdiman Kneeve
        • He offers a fair rate (5gp/night?) for Maybelle to perform
        • Get food and drink from him
      • Go to the Clashed Antler (a cheaper place to sleep)
        • Rumour: Violet Harrowmoor
        • Learn about the baker’s stall at the Frisk market
  • 1 Iggwyld: bright, fresh

    • 1106—Prigwort:
      • Maybelle hires a retainer: Wennew
      • Rumour: Drune north-east
  • 2 Iggwyld: warm, sunny

    • 1106—Prigwort:
      • Set off first thing in the morning to the abbey
    • 1005—Shub’s Finger and Stirge Isle:
      • Don’t stop, just keep following the road
    • 0906—The Ruined Abbey of St Clewyd:
      • See the kids
      • See the crows atop the bell tower
      • Squire Tolmen tries to talk them out, but they are unwilling to leave
      • Brother Stoker confronts the children about desecrating graves
      • Mr Rag-and-bone drives the PCs off, they hide in the mausoleum
      • Meet a skeleton, Subprior Pontyth:
        • He tells them about the ritual to contact the spirit of St Clewyd, and the Clewyd / Sallowbryg monstrosity that got pulled through into this world
        • He begs to be destroyed, but they cannot
        • He doesn’t know who Mr Rag-and-bone is, but says that evil attracts evil
      • Venture out again:
        • See a kid digging for teeth and Mr Rag-and-bone watching
        • Maybelle tries to charm them
        • Mr Rag-and-bone attacks!
        • Maybelle struck by death rot, 2 weeks to live (17th Iggwyld).

Next time

  • 3 Iggwyld, morning (need to roll weather)
  • See Wyrmspittle about Maybelle
    • Knobbled Mandrake
    • Divine miracle
  • Visit Harrowmoor Keep about Violet
    • 1000gp reward for info, another 1000gp for bringing Violet back
    • Protection Scroll vs Undead
    • Divine Scroll of Dispel Evil
  • Give hook for Winter’s Daughter