Saturday, June 18, 2016

[Realmscrawl] Change in direction

Well, that was educational.

Since I first released Realmscrawl Campaign Map 05: Tilverton on DMG on Sunday, June 12th I have had 56 downloads, 53 freebies and three paid, for a total of $5.10 gross ($2.55 net). None of the three who paid ($3, $2, and $0.10) e-mailed me with the nature of their interest for the next product. At this rate, the goal will never be met, anyway.

After due consideration, I'm changing my methodology on this line.

First, I'll be adding a very simple line-item gazetteer to the PWYW map. That will give everyone the very basics for each location on the map. This is much in the same vein as the original Wilderlands booklets from Judges Guild back in the day. Bare minimal detail, but enough to get started.

Click to embiggen.

Second, instead of a full gazetteer, I'll simply release mini-modules of specific, small and mid-size locations. These will usually clock in at three to 18 pages, with the location designed as an adventure rather than as a gazetteer entry, and range in price from $0.50 to $3.00. Each will include the full details on the location (and the surrounds, one or more hexes worth), maps of the sites, encounter tables, and so forth.

Third, if those sell well, I might tackle some of the larger sites, such as Hollow Mountain, Thunderdeep, and so forth, either as a larger module or perhaps as a series of smaller modules, each detailing two to four levels.

And of course, I really want to publish my version of Tilverton... that one will probably end up having to be broken into district booklets.

We'll see how this new method works. Plans might change again.

The line-item gazetteer should be up sometime this coming week. The first mini-module shortly thereafter.

More as developments warrant.

Monday, June 13, 2016

[Now Available] Realmscrawl Campaign Map 05: Tilverton

Realmscrawl Campaign Map 05: Tilverton is the first in what is hoped to be a series of maps and gazetteers detailing the Eastern Heartlands of the Forgotten Realms at a six mile per hex scale.

Click to embiggen this snippet of the map.

Continued support for this line depends primarily if it is worth my time to continue to develop this campaign setting as a product line, rather than merely for my own campaign use. This depends entirely on how well these products sell. If this map doesn’t generate enough interest, then I’ll know there is no interest in the gazetteer, the hex-based encounter and event generator, or other expansions of the product line.

Thus, your donations through the Pay What You Want system will decide if I publish further support materials. In fact, your payments will also guide what products are published after the gazetteer for this map is published (if it is published). As I cannot use Patreon to make this work, here is the way this will be done:

When you make a payment for the map, send an e-mail to, letting me know what you paid and when. Also include your vote as to which of the following items should be published after the Region 05 Gazetteer:

1)      Region 05 Hex Encounter and Event Generator; or
2)      Map and Gazetteer of the Underdark of Region 05; or
3)      Map and Gazetteer of another region.

Regarding option #3, these are the nine regions of the Eastern Heartlands that I am developing. As my campaign has pretty well stuck to Tilverton so far, I am not attached to any of the other regions specifically.

Region 01: Old Arkhosia (includes the Kingdom of Takhasia)
Region 02: Northern Dales (include Palandria, Daggerdale, Teshendale, and Shadowdale)
Region 03: Western Moonsea (includes Zhentil Keep, Phlan, Thar, Hillsfar, and northern Cormanthor)
Region 04: Goblin Marches (includes northern Cormyr, southeastern Anauroch, and western Stonelands)
Region 05: Tilverton (this map)
Region 06: Eastern Dales (includes southern Cormanthor, Battledale, Scardale, Featherdale, Tasseldale, Harrowdale, northern Sembia, and the Dragon Reach)
Region 07: Heart of Cormyr (includes western Cormyr, the Tunlands, the Dragonmere, and the Dragon Coast)
Region 08: Way of the Manticore (includes eastern Cormyr, western Sembia, Highdale, Archendale, and Westgate)
Region 09: Sembia (includes central Sembia and the northwestern Sea of Fallen Stars)

If I reach my goal for sales for this map and the gazetteer, I will tally the total votes by dollars to decide which product will be next.

NOTE: Reaching the goal for the sales on the map and the subsequent gazetteer is NO GUARANTEE that I will necessarily publish further products. So pay ONLY what you want for the CURRENT product, with the HOPE that further products will be forthcoming. There is NO guarantee of further products AT ANY STAGE of this process.

ALSO: Do NOT send me any payments for these products in any way EXCEPT through the Pay What You Want system on DM’s Guild. I CANNOT accept payments or donations for these products in any other way.

My sales goal for Campaign Map 05, which will determine whether I even go on to publish the gazetteer, is net $100 (total sales on this map thus being $200). Running total sales and vote totals will be posted every Friday on my blog at (more often if developments warrant it).

I plan, at the same time, to publish notes on the history, races, cultures, events, and other broader elements of the Realmscrawl Campaign, which differs in ways from the core Forgotten Realms campaign, as outlined below. All these notes will also be Pay What You Want, and any payments made for these items will count toward the overall goal of the current product and votes for the next product… so email me with your votes when you purchase them as well.

Note that the entire background of the Realmscrawl Campaign and all elements thereof are entirely optional; use whatever bits you want however you want in your own campaign. And of course, under the terms of the use of the Dungeon Master’s Guild, you are free to re-use, alter, and expand upon any of these materials for your own products. The maps, of course, remain copyright © 2016 James Mishler, however, if you want to license them for your own products, my terms are simple and relatively cheap.

The year is 1287 DR, the Year of the Smoky Moon, near the end of one era and the beginning of a new. The Eastern Heartlands are in chaos, as Cormyr and Sembia are wracked with civil war and the Dalelands and Cormanthor are under siege by dark elves, humanoids, and other monsters.

It is a time of war, a time of heroes, and a time of villains. It is a time of change, a time of opportunity, for good and for evil. The old traditions of feudal kings and the sacred bonds of barons and knights are giving way to the customs of mercantile princes and the profane contracts of guildmasters and adventurers.

The old world, however, does not give over gracefully to the new, and the fading lords of chivalry cleave desperately to their waning treasure and power, even as the rising masters of trade seek to claim the wealth and authority they feel more fit to wield…

As can be seen from the above scrawl, the Forgotten Realms (hereafter simply referred to as the Realms or the FRC) of the Realmscrawl Campaign (henceforth abbreviated as the RCC) isn’t quite the same as the standard Realms. It is an alternate version of the Realms, with several major and numerous minor changes in history and geography. The reasons for this are several:

First, the origin of this version of the Realms is in my own campaigns and campaign styles. I generally prefer a campaign setting that is more Dark Ages to High Middle Ages than Renaissance, and so my campaigns focus more on knights and chivalry than merchants and trade, though both are a factor.

Second, when 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons was released, and I thought of re-launching my Realms campaign, I decided to make it even more of a “What If?” by positing a whole new beginning for the Realms. That is, rather than adopting all the changes that had occurred over the years, all the great events in the “past” that were caused, in our reality, by new editions of the system, I decided to simply re-present the campaign as though it had originally been developed with 5th Edition races, classes, and concepts from the get-go… though informed by the themes and ideas from the Old School Renaissance movement that is near and dear to my heart.

Third, I decided to set the campaign at a time of great strife, to drop the characters in the midst of world-changing events, though close enough to the original timeline that, if the players chose, they could still be “at home” in the familiar Realms. Thus, I chose to set the campaign at a slightly earlier date than the Realms had been set before (save, of course, for the Age of Netheril mini-campaign). And so the campaign opens in 1287 DR, 71 years before the Year of Shadows (1358 DR), which was the suggested starting date in the original FRC.

The grand struggle between feudalism and mercantilism makes for an excellent backdrop to the campaign. It is a time when players could choose to make a quick buck as mercenaries for either (or both) sides in the broader struggle; righteously defend the rights and prerogatives of feudal society; honorably embrace the new way to the mercantile princes; support one faction or many among above others in the overall anarchy; defend their homes or explore the growing wilderness amidst the sputtering points of light of civilization; or, if they were of the mind, to even carve out an empire of their own.

Unlike the grand events of previous editions, there is no “right” way for a Realmscrawl campaign to end… the future of the Realms, for better and worse, is entirely in the hands of the player characters, should they so choose…

There are only a few pertinent changes between the core FRC and the RCC that need be mentioned in this gazetteer:

The dragonborn Empire of Arkhosia once stood where now can be found the wastelands of Anauroch. It was from the fading remnants of this empire, not the elves, that the Netherese first learned the ways of civilization and magic. Dragonborn are still found in great numbers in Anauroch, particularly the powerful realms of Palandria and Takhasia, which follow Bahamut and Tiamat, respectively.

The descendents of the Old Netherese, known today as Anaurians, are the dominant culture of the city-states and wild tribes of the wastelands found between the dragonborn realms. The wandering Bedine are found in the Shaar; there are no Zakharan-based cultures in Anauroch.

Thauglorimorgorus, the Purple Dragon of Cormyr, wasn’t a black dragon; he was a purple dragon, born of a union of Dragorgonos (the Dragon-Demon, three-headed son of Tiamat and Demogorgon (with red, purple, and blue heads)), and Khyrexandretha, herself a purple dragon born of the union of a red and blue.

Rauthauvyr “The Raven,” who founded Sembia in 913 DR after unifying the major city-states and most of the regional towns under his banner, kept the new realm as his own, crowned himself king, and founded the Ravencrown Dynasty. Following last year’s untimely death of King Rauthauvyr IV, with no less than seven pretenders to the throne, Sembia has fallen into anarchy. Each pretender is backed by a mix of factions of Traditionalists (feudalists) and Modernists (mercantilists).

The fateful meeting between King Salember and Prince Rhigaerd, during which Jorunhast slew the Red Dragon King in the FRC, did not happen. Thus today, after two years of small skirmishes and street fighting, Cormyr is rent by civil war, with the Uncrowned King (already called the Purple Dragon Prince) and the Red Dragon King each gathering their forces for major battles…

0814 CASTLE FALCONBRIDGE is a castle-bridge complex, with a five-story square keep and walled bailey at each end and a fortified stone bridge, complete with shops and upper level, crossing the Stonerun River. Built by a consortium of merchants from Tilverton, Bloxham, and Ravensden, Falconbridge is governed by Starjan Coelwren (LN male Cormyrian Human 3 HD Trader) and guarded by a garrison of 60 Guards led by Captain Kharwyn Hastler (NE male Cormyrian Human 5 HD Captain, secretly a Zhentarim agent).

Use of the bridge costs 1 sp per man and beast and per wheel of cart or wagon. The castle-town, which is built on and above the bridge, consists of 90 Commoners, including a Smith, a Wheelwright, a Tavern Keeper (The Dragon & Eel) and an Innkeeper (The Falcon’s Nest).

1611 THE CITADEL OF VALDYR’S FORGE is a massive three-story stone keep atop Mount Moeglidh (“Old Grumbly”), a (mostly) inactive volcano. It is home to the eponymous Valdyr Ironforge (LN male Shield Dwarf 14th level Artificer), one of the mightiest artificers in the Eastern Heartlands; he goes about his forge wearing only an apron, bracers of defense, and a ring of fire resistance. Young when Thunderdeep was overthrown, he has sworn not to rest until the Beast of the Deeps is slain and his people return to their home; to that end he perfects his arts, hoping to forge the blade that will be the Bane of the Beast.

Valdyr is served by 60 dwarven men-at-arms led by his nephew, Valkyr Ironforge (LN male Shield Dwarf 6th level Fighter (Battle Master)), who wears a suit of magical +2 plate and wields a magical +1 battle axe. He is served at the forge by eight 1st level, four 3rd level, and two 7th level dwarf Artificers. His complex system of magma-based forges is maintained by four stone giants. Six brown bears, allies of dwarven rangers among Valdyr’s men, prowl the mountainside hunting any stray goblins from Duskdale or the mountains to the east.

The seven major and three sub-levels of the dungeons beneath the keep are home to many dwarves, half being the remnants of the Ironforge clan, the rest from a mix of clans, including an additional 220 males, 177 females, and 88 children, plus seven 1st level, two 2nd level, one 3rd level, and one 4th level Fighters, plus eight 1st level, four 2nd level, two 4th level, and one a 9th level Clerics of Moradin. The 9th level cleric, Brynd Shieldbreaker, wears a suit of magical +2 splint mail.

1711 THE RUINS OF DUSKVALE consist of the tumbledown remnants of an un-walled village of 656 gnomes and dwarves; these were slaughtered, every man, woman, and child, during the fall of Thunderdeep, when a whole horde of goblins fell upon the village without warning. The bleached bones of the victims are scattered amidst the fallen stones of their homes and workshops.

The ruins consist of the remnants of 72 buildings, including temples of Moradin and Garl, a village hall, a merchant hall, and a large keep. There is a three-level dungeon beneath the ruined keep, home to a guard outpost of 33 goblins, three goblin bullies, and a goblin boss; the bullies and boss are worg-riders, with their worgs stabled in the 1st level of the dungeon. The goblin boss also possesses a pair of boots of springing and striding. The goblins are served by ten gnome slaves; these slaves are from the slave pits of Thunderdeep, have been raised to slavery, are thoroughly broken, and will raise the hue and cry if anyone attempts to rescue them.

Unbeknownst to the goblins, a hidden chamber on the 3rd level of the dungeon (used as a midden, and occupied by vermin and slimes) contains 1,187 sp, 280 gp, a jar of universal solvent, a jar of sovereign glue, and eyes of minute seeing.