I’ve been writing frequently about the Earthwardens in Shadow World. Not only do I find them a viable link between the techno-magic of the Ka’ta’viir and the “arcane magic” of Shadow World, they also represent a mysterious shadowy past also present in our history.
So Monday I’m heading to Malta to explore the ancient megalithic temples found there. Much is mysterious there, and history continued with the Knights of Malta and even more recently with the German invasion during WWII (I’m a history buff!)
I’m excited and I know this will spur my imagination and creative in the coming months! If you are intrigued by the Earthwardens as well, please read my blog posts and add your own thoughts and insight.
Back in 2017 the Rolemasterblog created a writers challenge for ourselves to write 50 adventures/hooks over a 50 week period. Basically 1/week to be published on DrivethruRPG as d100 adventures.
By almost every measure it was a great success and those adventures are still selling to this day! Many of mine were cribbed from my Shadow World campaign, but The Inn of Dusk was written specifically for this challenge.
Now, 5 years later, it has hit “Electrum status” based on sales volume. (not sure how many units are needed for that…)
Our second attempt at 50in50 sputtered out a bit due to COVID, but I think it might be worth revisiting!
It’s odd how creativity works isn’t it? Like many of you, I have multiple writing projects in the works and while I plan on finishing one, I end up getting distracted and start working on something else!
So given that I’ve been compiling some past encounters I’ve used in my campaigns, plus some NPC’s and other adventure hooks to integrate various SW religious organizations into an adventure. All told, I want to have at least 3 “hooks” or encounters for each religion covered in the handbook.
The goal of course is not to get distracted by some other project, but my goal is still 2 pages/day.
I have not posted for several months, but diligent in watching other posts here and on the Rolemaster Forums. What are your thoughts? We have done well with this blog, but if users migrate to the official RM Forum, what should we do??
One of the enjoyments of reading Terry’s Shadow World books, is finding a interesting but vague tidbit that just cries out for more detail. I previously blogged about one such nugget, the Mazatlak Pillar City, and today I wanted to speculate on the Clycallah War Machines.
There are only a 3 mentions of mentioning or relating to these War Machines in the Master Atlas:
5983: The Raven Queen’s armies first encounter the Clycallah war machines, rebuilt from ancient Wôrim designs. They are routed by the huge walking mechanical terrors. Later encounters are inconclusive
Gaalt: The Raven Queen launches a new assault, this time led by land and air drakes, each with a Quaidu rider. They prove an even match against the Clycallah war machines.
That’s not much to go on, but it definitely sparks the imagination. From these few points we can conclude that:
These are mechanical not magical–they are not Constructs but “technology” of some sort.
They move by walking rather than wheels or tracks.
They are “huge”.
They are built using Wôrim designs. This implies that they Clycallah had the technological capacity to build these machines, but it also hints that they are “rebuilt” so perhaps they fixed older inoperable machines.
Where is Clycallah? Per the Master Atlas, it is in Gaalt:
G. Clycallah: [Cool Temperate/Seasonal–Wet & Dry] Laan (Mixed economies/Republic (TL:6-7). This little realm would have fallen long ago to Gaalt but for two things: the powerful Mages among the Laan, and their machines. The Clycallah’s war machines (based on Wôrim technology) strike terror into even the Raven Queen’s elite forces, and they are powerful enough to defeat her Troll warriors.
Who are the Wôrim? Again we are left with only a few references that they were a vanished, technologically advanced race during the Interregnum:
c.-30,000 – -20,000: The Wôrim empire, centered in Gaalt, is founded and expands rapidly and is soon at odds with the Jinteni and Elven populations.
What else do we know? Per the Master Atlas we also have some possible conflicting info that:
The Lydians might be descendants of the Wôrim
Trogli might be descendants of the Wôrim
The Wôrim might be the pre-cursors to the Laan.
Other than that, there is little, if any, real data on the Wôrim. Unlike the Jinteni which were fleshed out quite a bit in Emer III, we only have a few more hints on the Wôrim found in the Haalkitaine book:
Corridors: Most of the tunnels correspond to the usual Wôrim trapezoidal profile with periodic buttresses of a grey stone. Some sections were cut from solid granite, but where there was only earth the halls were faced with granite slabs. It is these areas — mostly to the west — that have deteriorated the most. There are many caveins caused by water seepage from the sewers; some have opened cracks between the two networks while some have shifted or even completely blocked corridors. Also typical of the Wôrim, there is little decoration or engraved writing; the stone cutting is precise and starkly angular. The only apparent written records are etched on the oval metal canisters which hold the bodies — and those are the as-yet undeciphered dot patterns believed to be the Wôrim written language.
Anyway, circling back to the Clycallah War Machines, we are left wondering about it’s abilities. Clearly it must have some offensive capacity–it is called a “War Machine” and they can battle with Dragons! Chemical reactions are not reliable on Kulthea, so traditional explosive weaponry seems unlikely. The Jinteni had energy weapons–perhaps these War Machines were armed with laser guns!
What are your thoughts? Have you ever introduced Clycallah War Machines in your campaign? What do you think they look like? What type of weapons could you imagine they have?
Unfortunately, in my attempts to contact Rolemaster and Shadow World authors, I discovered that Tim Taylor had passed away in 2020. Tim was quite prolific in the late 80’s and early 90’s and had 3 Shadow World modules published and contributed to a number of Rolemaster products.
Tim Scott Taylor November 30, 1959 – November 8, 2020 Tim S. Taylor was born November 30, 1959 in Berea, Ohio to James and Ruth Taylor. He grew up in Columbia Station, Ohio, outside Cleveland. He died at home November 8, 2020 in Port Townsend, Washington after a brief struggle with cancer. Tim attended Columbia High School, graduating in 1978, and Ohio State University where he received undergraduate degrees in history and philosophy with a minor in mathematics. He was especially interested in military history, strategy and tactics, game theory, role playing games and board games. He was a lover of eclectic music. He greatly enjoyed sharing his music with friends and found joy in introducing people to board games of all sorts as well as role playing. In the 1990s Tim worked as a disc jockey at WICR radio station in Indianapolis where he hosted radio shows including “Time Without Meaning” featuring music he mixed live in the studio, and “Around the World in 60 Minutes”. Tim also worked as a proofreader and layout tech at Macmillan Publishing in Indianapolis. A Tibetan Buddhist, Tim volunteered many hours at the Tibetan Cultural Center in Bloomington, Indiana. He was a close friend of Thubten J. Norbu, a Tibetan lama and refugee from Chinese oppression in Tibet. Tim served for several years as Prof. Norbu’s personal secretary, writing articles, letters and speeches for him. Tim arrived in Port Townsend, Washington in 1999. He volunteered for a year at the PT Public Library and worked at Ravenstone Tiles, an art tile company in town. He was also a writer and game designer. Tim designed and published several war games, wrote books and articles, created a deck of Tarot cards inspired by a dream, and wrote fantasy role playing modules. In the last couple years of his life he went by the name ‘Crow’ and dressed all in black. He had many friends in the area and gave Tarot readings, which seemed uncannily accurate, at the Cellar Door in downtown Port Townsend. Tim/Crow was preceded in death by his father James Taylor. He is survived by his mother Ruth Taylor, sisters Tammy Taylor and Toni Cassidy, brothers-in-law Pete Wieneke and Ed Cassidy, three nieces and three nephews, and his long-time friend and housemate Laura Reutter.
I wish I had the chance to interview Tim, it sounds like he led an interesting life.
This blog series started in my post on the relationship between Shadow World and the Rolemaster Companion I. That got me thinking a bit more about a topic that was percolating in my head for a number of years: what would the Essaence powers of the Ka’ta’viir and Earthwardens look like exactly. In the first part of this blog series, I did a quick review of existing Arcane spells lists found in the first 4 Companions.
What would these proto-spell lists developed by the Ka’ta’viir and ultimately the Earthwardens look like? I think it’s illustrative to see what Terry says about the Earthwardens and what they did. We know that:
-They were a group of Ka’ta’viir that left Kulthea, were trapped in a time dilation and only returned after Kulthea was laid waste.
–They created Essaence artifacts like Flute Keys, Twig Bridges and Shell Shields and magical crystals, but they also constructed the Coral Roads, Sea Tunnels and left megalithic structures and Guardians throughout the hemisphere.
The powers in that second section above are very much in line with the central ideas of Arcane Magic, but we also know that the Earthwardens had the knowledge and technology of the Althan/Ka’ta’viir civilization as well. In my SW campaign, the Earthwardens are one “splinter group” of the Ka’ta’viir that returned to Kulthea. These groups were not monolithic, but were general philosophies within the group as follows:
Erudites. These members were more focused on developing their knowledge of Essaence and science and it’s believed they initiated the early separation of the realms of Essence and Mentalism.
Elementalists. The Ka’ta’viir delved into the fundamental and raw powers of the Elements and manipulation of the physical world. Much of their legacy is found in the Magician Base lists.
My goal was to define and finish 10 Arcane lists f or use by the Earthwardens. The goal was to encompass most of the powers hinted at by Terry and be illustrative of early magic before the split into the three basic realms.
My rough ideas with loose spell list titles:
“Creations”. This list would encompass the various magical creations attributed to the Earthwardens: shaping crystals, sentinels, golems, flutes and similar artifacts.
“Essaence Mastery”. Spells related to Foci, Flows, travelling, recharging PP’s.
“Dimension Mastery”. Making of gates, interdimensional travel and similar powers.
Shapechanging. Basically a polymorph list leading up the higher level “Mage-drake” spell and the Ritual of Ascension.
“Time Mastery”. I wrote a time spell list for BASiL, but it really feels like it needs to be a Arcane list. Given the Earthwardens history with time dilation, it’s logical that they would master time via Arcane magic. Plus chronagenic statis tech is a SW element.
“Mana-fires”. I will skew this more towards plasma, but it’s feels like a good foundation for later Elemental Essence spells.
“Earthworks”. The Earthwardens had the power to build megalithic structures, major earthworks and similar edifices. More than Earth Law, this should be epic in scope. These spells would encompass stone, metal etc.
“Sound Mastery”. This needs more thought, but there is something here that feels very ancient and fundamental. Ideas include levitation, disintegration etc.
“Life Mastery”. The Lords of Essence created and manipulated many living beings. This might be too similar to Shapechanging…
“Words of Power”. I’ve always felt that instantaneous words of Power needed to be Arcane (and require Iruaric or Kugor)
“Warding”. Many of the Earthwardens works included protective powers. This would be protective magic: prototype of wards, runes, symbols etc.
“Physics”. BASiL also has a physics mastery list I might revise and include given the Lords of Essence’s technology level.
In part 3 I’ll have the finished draft lists. But for now, can you think of any “proto-magic” that should be included and fits with the Earthwardens and Lords of Essence in Shadow World?
It seems almost ironic that a blog covering RPG’s has difficulty in finding new contributors. Right? Roleplaying games are a purely creative endeavor, a collaboration story-telling among it’s player and referee participants. By nature an improv process.
We have been lucky here at the Rolemasterblog in having a number of great contributors over the last 8 years (is that right Peter?). We want more bloggers! D&D and other systems have dozens and dozens of blogs–Rolemaster has a couple at best. Competitive disadvantages compel the few survivors to circle the wagons and join talents. Rolemaster was a powerhouse in the industry–even if that might not happen again, it still deserves a strong forum for ideas and advocacy. I see great ideas, thoughts and even discussion topics over at the Rolemaster Forums–many of those ideas can be expanded upon in a blog.
I have reached out to few people about writing for the Rolemasterblog. These are creative, talented and experienced GM’s–masters of the RPG craft after decades of gaming. Why won’t they write a blog post or two? Everyone has a difference answer: no time, don’t want to be criticized, aren’t confident writers, don’t want their players to read the blog for insight etc.
I would only point out that outside perspective is important. Potential new players, curious about “old school games” will google “Rolemaster”, “Shadow World”, “MERP” among others. If they see new, fresh content, they will click on it. They will believe that Rolemaster is still relevant. Let’s show them why.
If you have an idea, want to discuss your thoughts in a more public forum, or share the creative parts of your campaign or game, write for us! Contact Peter, he can set you up with access and the Rolemasterblog will grow as a blog and Rolemaster may be helped in the process. Isn’t that what we all want?
In my previous post, I touched upon the connection between the RMCI Arcane Spell Lists and viability for their use in Shadow World. I also posted about Druid concepts and the legacy of the Earthwardens and felt the existing Arcane lists were quite suitable to adopt as Earthwarden base lists–“proto magic” for early Shadow World magic.
Conceptually, the RMCI Arcane lists are fantastic and really fit well with Shadow World, but like most spell lists I see quite a few flaws and a need to adjust them to fit better into Shadow World. So I am re-writing them for use in my own campaign. There are a few Earthwardens around besides the Dragonlords and the Storm Wizard).
Ideally, all Shadow World Arcane lists should be more raw and fundamental than the refined lists found in Spell Law’s Essence, Channeling or Mentalism realms, but more structured than ritual magic. They should have over-arching scope with broad themes that reflect the origins of Essaence manipulation by the Ka’ta’viir.
A quick review and general thoughts on the Arcane lists found in Companions I-IV. Many of these lists feel like a rehash of other Profession Base lists and just a work around for casters via the Arcane realm.
Bladerunes. A great list, and one could argue would be the progenitor of the Alchemy lists and more permanent object enchantments. But as an Arcane list, it feels too “small” or narrowly focused to me. Would early Ka’ta’viir develop lists to imbue modest magical powers into swords and armor when they were creating more organic and powerful artifacts and they were a tech level 11+ society? I re-wrote this list, and expanded it into an additional “Protection Runes” list, and made them both Essence realm. Even after making my own improvements on the list, for my campaign, I didn’t think Bladerunes met the requirement for “Arcane” in Shadow World.
Earthblood‘ Ways. This list has a number of spells that work well with the SW foci and Essaence Flow but needs to be fine tuned a bit. I removed the various “Guardian” spells (Earthbeast, Earth Guardians) and developed that into another list, and incorporated Essaence Flow lists found in the Navigator lists that Terry created.
Entity Master. Another solid spell list, but I think it needs to collate the “Guardian” spells from Earthbloods, as well as Demonic Gates to reflect the Lords of Essence’s experiments and forays into the Pales.
Ethereal Mastery. This is another example of a spell list that mixes a number of concepts and mechanics that don’t really fit upon in depth analysis. Some of these spells should be ported over to “Entity Master”, while others could be made into a whole other list.
Mana Fires. This is interesting, but not much different than traditional Magician elemental lists. This needs to be punched up and maybe use Plasma criticals.
Spell Coordination. This makes no sense as an Arcane list.
Shapechanging Ways. A more powerful version of Animist/Druid lists. This can be improved.
Spell Triggers. This is a lot like Spell Coordination above and Spell Laws “Spell Enhancement” and “Spell Reigns” lists. They are all “spells for spells” that enhance, extend, store or create contingencies for other spells. I think this is more indicative of a short-coming in Spell Law; these are addressing a problem with more problematic spells. I don’t see this as an Arcane list at all.
Metal Lore & Stone Lore. These feel more like standard Essence lists: Stone Lore is basically a slight variant of Earth Law. I think the Arcane lists should include something very Elemental, but these don’t feel epic enough to me.
Wood Shaping. This has great potential for Earthwardens, but like Stone Lore above, it’s basically an Animist/Druid list. However, lvl 25th “Living Wood” is a great spell and is definitely more of the feel and scope that I’m thinking of.
Plasma Mastery. This list merged and adapted with “Mana Fires” feels like a good Arcane list.
Nether Mastery. This feels better as a list for the Unlife with some modifications?
Acid Law. Again, this one feels like another Magician or Essence list rather than Arcane.
Sonic Law. At first glance, this is another Essence list, but there is a tie with ancient Druid tradition, megaliths and mythology and even physics. I think there is a foundation for a cool Arcane/Earthwarden list.
So putting this all together, the “Arcane Realm” and lists presented in the first few Companions create a great framework to adapt to Shadow World. Terry did introduce Arcane magic in the Master Atlas and it’s clear through the timeline that the Althan’s and Ka’ta’viir progressed and developed their ability to tap and manipulate the Essaence.
So what might those spells and powers look like? I’ll offer my own solutions in part 2!