From Little Acorns

I want to tell you a little story.

Once upon a time Kwickham emailed me and said that he wanted to publish his Aiorskoru game world and that I had blogged about it. He suggested that I could repurpose those blog posts, edit them into standalone documents and put them on RPGnow and maybe make a few Dollars.

So I did.

That got me thinking so I packaged up my professionless and level less RMC rules and put them on RPGNow, there is a link to them on the left here, and I get downloads of those every single week.

In another email exchange Kwickham was telling me about a game he has written and is still developing called ABS12. ABS12 is as simple a system as it is possible to get. There is just a single stat and the entire system runs on 1d12 rolls. This gives 12 possibles all of equal probability, there is no bell curve  created by using added dice rolls. My part in the exchange was to describe a game I had often thought about writing but had never committed to paper. In a single email I laid out al the core rules with examples. That game became 3Deep, again see the links on the left.

I make a few Dollars a month from selling these documents on RPGnow and the other OBS sites.

I recently had an idea. I thought I could repurpose some of the blog posts here and create a Rolemaster Fanzine. It would take almost no time to copy ‘n’ paste a selection of blog posts into a word document and a quick editorial pass to resolve links into the actual addresses for people to use. So I did it. I created a RolemasterBlog Monthly as a PDF on RPGnow.

Then I thought PDFs are all very well but if you are reading it on screen you may as well read the same articles on the blog and that way you get all the comments and links too. The blog is a much richer experience in my opinion. Unless you love physical books that is.

So I make a print on demand version. This was the first document I had ever done the complete layout for print on including the cover design.

I have on my desk right now the first proof copy of the first edition of the RolemasterBlog Monthly, the Rolemaster fanzine. 
This was a mile stone for me. To have a real physical book. I have noticed a couple of layout problems with the proof but I fixed them last night and I have uploaded the corrected print files.

Despite that, it is lovely and glossy and feels nice. At 36 pages (A5) it is no mammoth tome but then it is only intended to be a fanzine. Everything I learn in producing this I will apply to all future issues and so on.

I honestly hope to have the final print copy on sale (you cannot do free books on RPGnow) within 10 days.

With the actual launch I will announce it first here. If you love the touchy, feely experience from dead trees then I hope you like the RMB Monthly!

Melos, A contribution to Aioskoru

Quite a while ago now I produced half a dozen blog posts in support of Ken Wickham’s Aioskoru world setting. Things than kind of went off the boil a bit and I didn’t do much more beyond describe NPCs, three settlements and some adventures based around a ship full of orcs.

So recently Ken emailed me and said that he had bundled up a lot of his Aioskoru material from his blog and posted it on RPGnow. He had kept the format simple so that it was easy for him to update but he was putting it our there. He has had over 200 downloads of the material he has produced which hopefully means that the setting may get more supporters and continue to grow and develop.

I am always willing to lend a hand so I bundled up my old blog posts, re-edited them to turn them into a coherent supplement and submitted them to RPGnow. They have only been up for a few days but they have already had about 50 downloads. You can download them yourself for free at the link below. (click the cover image)

Melos, A contribution to Aioskoru


The ship on the cover refers to the sloop full of orcs in the featured adventure material.

If you want to download it and you like anything in it then let me know whar you think!

How much fun can one person have with a ship full of orcs?

Just giving someone a ship ful of orcs may not make the best adventure, an interesting fight maybe but not an adventure. So what can you do with them to make it an interesting challenge for the players.

I would suggest just making the characters aware of their existance at first. If the characters are already on one adventure and in a tavern just have some locals arguing about whether there really was an orcish armada that invaded the southern lands. If they are pressed then they say that is what they had heard from a merchant that passed though. Others in the tavern will confirm that is what they have all heard. Now just leave that at that. The locals don’t know any more and cannot confirm or deny anything else.

Some of the things the orcs like to do is sail into harbour, launch fire arrows at every boat they can reach and sail out again. It doesn’t do them much good but they do enjoy the power trip and the thought of the destruction. It isn’t all senseless violence though. If a ship puts to sea in pursuit then the orcs will lead it out until it is isolated and then turn on it. When it comes to hand to hand fighting then the orcs are a savage and effective crew. If they capture a ship in this way but it is too big for them to crew then they will either scuttle it in the mouth of the harbour it came from (towing it along) to serve as a grim trophy or if the wind is blowing right they will set it on a ramming course back into its home harbour to try and wreck another ship. They will hang some of the crew from the spars as a grisly bit of theatre. When the ship collides with another vessel or the harbour wall the bodies will dance and swing on the ends of their rope.

It is after a ‘wrecking’ like this that the orcs have tried to demand a ‘tribute’ from the port to be left alone. Failure to pay will often mean that the orcs will moor their boat in a cove or bay near by and then raid from the landward side burning farms and out lying homesteads. The orcs like this as it provides them with fresh provisions, coin, odds and sods of equipment and a good fight on solid ground. They will often kill and raid in an arc from their hidden ship in land but not burn. They will attack and press on all though the night. At the first sign of pre-dawn they start to torch their victims properties and retrace their path burning each site as they go. This tactic means that men sent out to investigate the first plume of smoke are heading in the wrong direction to find the orcs. The orcs can also stash the booty from each raid rather than carry it with them as they know they are coming back the same way.

If the characters need to take ship at any point in their adventures it is a great time to introduce the orcs by having them come upon a town that has been treated to the orcs attention. From the landward side the characters discover the remains of burned farms and when they do reach the port they discover the wrackage made of the harbour. Everyone will be able to tell the characters that all this happened because the town council refused to pay the orcs their tribute. There will probably be people who blame the authorities and those that support that decision.

The orcs are not above a bit for piracy and in particular they like to take captives for ransom. thse plans often don’t work out too well as they have been known to eat the captives regardless of whether the ransom has been paid or not. They once managed to ransom an entire ship and its cargo back to the owner as it was to big for the orcs to sail and the cargo (grain)  was no use to them at all.

A kidnapping is a great way to have the orcs and characters cross paths. It is simply the heroic thing to do to rescue the victim. You should bear in mind that the orcs have not survived this long because they are stupid. If the characters rock up and are obviously more powerful than the orcs then they will do whatever they can to distract the players long enough to make their get away. Things like dropping the victim over the side with heavy iron manacles in their feet so they disappear under the waves like a stone. Launchig fire arrows at the characters vessel to cause a distraction and positioning their boat so that they have the wind to make their escape whilst at the same time robbing the characters boat of the wind. If the orcs end up in a chase as they flee the characters the sorcerer will attempt a ritual to control the weather (a boat chase can last for many hours) and make good their escape that way.

What the orc will not do is make it obvious that they have a spell caster with them. Nor will thye all fight to the death in the first opportunity for battle. They are all greater orcs and they got that way by surviving many battles and schemes in the past and they want to again. Do not make the mistake of killing them off too soon as there is a lot of potential here either to be an enduring pain in the side of the characters but also as a part of the local culture and as use as a plot device for your characters.

avavk Dovkov avuvk Kukiav – An Adventure

The title of this translates to The Black Pig and is the name of a sloop raiding the northern coastline of the Melos peninsular. It could of course be any coastline in any world. The language is Aioskoru Orcish courtesy of Ken Wickam (check out his blog for all things Aioskorunian).

The nature of these orcs is very much raid and move on. They are not interested in pitch battles but they pick on weak and defenceless coastal vilages where they can run amok. Occaisionally they will hide their sloop in a cove or natural harbour and raid in land. This is where the characters are to first encouter them.

How big an adventure you want to make this is rather up to you. If you want one pitched battle and done then allow the orcs to be caught easily and quickly, if you want to taunt your characters then they can be much more elusive.

The Rolemaster Creatures and Treasures book gives standard stats for a lesser and greater orc but also the rules to easily shift the creatures up and down in level and this is what I have done to create the crew. The orcs of the Kukiav are all greater orcs and one of them is also a spell caster (a 7th level sorcerer).

So first of all lets look at the crew of the Kukiav.

I am not going to name them because they are orcs and orcs exist to be killed not for their conversation.

First up is the sorcerer. There is one major consideration for the GM here. I use the optioal rules for Ritual Magic. If you allow this then This orc can call upon much more powerful weather magic, scrying and illusions at not much risk given enough time and preparation. The ship will have ritualistic markings on the deck where these rituals take place and the sorcerers quarters will be protected using waiting phantasms. the scale and magnatude of these are very much up to the GM. I now use the RMU ritual rules but the original ones were from Companion III. If you allow the use of rituals then this orc will have made his foci (a harpoon) and should be considered to have a +60 skill in ritual magic taking into account he skill, level and stats.

This orc is 7th level and has the following spell lists Fluid Destruction (1-10), Soul Destruction (1-10), Weather Ways (1-10), Essence Perceptions (1-10) and Lesser Illusions (1-10).  He has 40hits, is AT1 and has 21 powerpoints.

The orcish captain is also 7th level is AT18 and has 92hits and an OB of 120 also with a broadsword and an OB of 80 with a Harpoon (thrown). He carries a +5 non magical large shield to give a DB of +45

Subordinates. There are two greater orcs with the standard RM stats (4th level, 70hits, AT17, 40DB) What makes these two stand out is their armour and shields. They killed a pair of soldiers once and both have matching bronze breastplates and large black shields embossed to look like screaming faces.

The crew. This is another five greater orcs armed with broadswords and bucklers and harpoons as back up weapons.

The entre crew are competent sailors now, having raided successfully for a coupleof years. This has often been added by the use of illusions such as a barn fire away from town that draws all the men folk away before the orcs pull in to the harbour. The ship looks well cared for and in good condition, work carried out by captives before tey are eaten. The orcs are also partial to a bit of piracy if the opportunity presents itself and will use any advantage they can get. They will given the choice fight on land as they are all wearing metal armour and are fully aware that they sink!

The Kukiav

Sloop Deck Plan

  1. The Wheel Deck. The Orcish leader is here when active otherwise one of his subordinates will take the wheel.
  2. The main deck. The ritual circle is bewteen the masts in fron of the hold hatch. These are normally performed looking back down teh length of the ship.
  3. The Sorcerers quarters. These are pretected by a pair of waiting phantasms that will attack once before their ‘touches’ are expended. One phantasm is of a wicked axe swinging down from teh ceiling into the doorway and the other is of a trap door opening in the floor to reveal a trapped crocodile rushing up to attack. Both will attack with a 60OB on the MA Strikes Rank 1 table for x4 concussion hits. These take the sorcerer days prepare so to protect his privacy he has create a neurosis in all the other orcs making them too scared to enter his quarters.
  4. The subordinates quarters. These two orcs share these quarters in an uneasy truce. They are never on duty at the same time and if they are forced be in here and off duty then they normally duel for the right to use the bed with some kind of feat of strength such as all out wrestling or by gambling for it wth dice. The rest of the furniture in here is completely wrecked due to their vioolent life style.
  5. Captains quarters. This cabin is in surprisingly good shape considering the ocupant is an orc. Our orcish leader considers himself a bit of a master and commander or pirate king and consequently likes to live like one. All of the furniture is miss matched as it has been stolen piecemeal from coastal towns or other ships up and down the coast.
  6. Below decks. The rest of the raiding party have their hammocks hung here. The floor is strewn with leavings from meals past and the general detrius of a orc raiding party.
  7. The hold. This is where the raiding parties spoils are kept as well as spare weapons and armour. The hold holds 5000tp, 350bp and 60sp. In addition their are coils of rope, barrels of pitch and bundles of sail cloth.

Playing the Kukiav and its crew.

This could easily be a single one off encounter or a device for giving the characters a boat if the greater plot calls for it. i think it works better if the orcs are allowed to out fox the players. Let the sorcerer use rituals to spy on the characters once they know they exist and maybe over hear plans and then take advantage of that knowledge. If the characters have no way of following the ship out to sea then allow the orcs to escape on their ship and taunt the characters. If the characters try and use magic to attack then the sorcerer will try and use spells like neurosis to create an irrational fear of orcs or of water. If he is able to possess a character and start an in fight that way then that will serve. He will resort to throwing waterbolts as an absolute last resort as he knows he does not have enough power to last in that sort of fight.

If the characters become a major threat to the orcs then they will do their best to be where the characters are not but at the same time will try and taunt the characters by leaving a victim alive and then saying the raid is retaliation for the characters actions. remember the sorcerous orc loves fear and deception and with soul destruction and illusions both are very very real!

All of my Aioskoru content is made available under the Open Gaming License.

Where Next in 2016?

The problem I have is this. I want to write about Rolemaster in general, the games I am running (Rolemaster Classic), the new Rolemaster (Rolemaster Unified), the Forgotten Realms, the new world of Aioskoru and I want to produce more actually playable adventures. I try and publish two posts a week and right now I am even failing to write that much. There is such a thing as being stead too thin and that is me right now.

I have recently bought both HARP Fantasy and HARP SF and I would like to get into those as well. I also have a face to face game weekend come up.

I think I am going to slow down a little and commit to producing one post a week but try and make it more substantial. The RMU side of things should go quiet for the time being as they are producing the final draft. That alone make all the current discussions in the Beta forums irrelevant as they are now discussing rules that will not exist.

The game I am running (Rolemaster Classic) and the Forgotten Realms side of things are pretty much one and the same for me and Aioskoru is game independent as it is purely a setting.

The single most useful thing I can do is produce the playable content. All memebers of the Rolemaster community can use that and there is very little of it out their on the web. If I make it fit in nicely with the Aoiskoru region I am working on I can tick more than one box at once with that.

I think you can also expect a bit more of a nautical theme going on as I am quite interested in seabourne adventures. So that is it. 2016 is going to bring more adventures. Next time (I am already working on this) I will share a ship with deck plans that will become the basis for a series of adventures. So until then have fun!

All of my Aioskoru content is made available under the Open Gaming License.

Putting Melos on the Map – Aiorskoru


This map was created by Kwickham, the prime driver behind Aiorskoru, of the Melos peninsular. You can hopefully see three little red dots on the far east of the land mass. These are (from North to South) Danusos, Melos and Man’s Head.

The hill giants are occupying the grass lands between these three villages and the woods in the centre of the peninsular and to the north of the woods. As I mentioned on Monday the north coast is harried by raiding parties of sea orcs.

On the map each Hex is approximately 200 miles. The scale also highlights that Danusos is about 30miles north of Melos and Man’s Head about the same to the south as the crow flies and further by the coast road that joins them. This land is populated sparsely with farms, and small hamlets comprising just a scattering of houses. These hamlets are at particular risk from the hill giant threat as they do not have the man power or resources to fend off a giant family or gang. It is in these inland communities that Demelza Wrong‘s reputation was made. Many of the residents here will not hear a bad word said against her.

I have mentioned that Danusos particularly is built aroudn trade. Their primary trading partners are the islands you see scattered of the coast and to the south. I will start to fill these out for you over the next few posts and how they interact with our three villages. I also want to give you more on hill giant culture.

Danusos – Aiorskoru

To the north of Meos is the village of Danusos, meaning river mouth. This village sites just back from a sandy beached esturary. Much smaller than Melos it is less dependent on fishing and more on trade than its cousin twenty miles to the south.

The flat shelf of beach is dotted with man made rings of stone, these are known as a salteksta as they trap sea water at high tide and hold it in shallow pans to evaporate during the day. Before the rising tide floods the pans the villagers collect pails of the the salty brine to use for preserving food stuffs. Many pails of brine are further evaporated off to form crystalised sea salt which is then used for drying and curing perishable goods.

The main reason for the shift away from fishing is that the esturary impassible to even shallow bottomed boats at all by high tide and Danusos does not have the assistance of the Morimanus in finding where to fish and when to fish.

Danusos has sea on both its north and eastern edges as it sits on the extreme north east edge of the peninsular. Because of its location it has becoome the natural place to put a fire beacon which is lit during severe storms or other times of trouble. The beacon itselv is a thirty fot tall stone tower, roughly pyramidic in shape with a five foot diameter caldera scooped out of the top.  Normally there is a canvas canopy over this firebowl to keep the fuel dry and ready.

Several times in the past Danusos has been attacked, but has repelled sea bourne attacks from orcish raiders that often savage the northern coast. Danusos is seen as a prize to raiders as its store houses are often filled with preserved foods awaiting export.

Personalities from Melos

This follows on from last week’s post on Melos.

I mentioned two personalities, Allair Trewaint & Howe Gothnan last time but I thought I would flesh out the people a little more this time.

Jack ‘The Slayer’ Dormer

The militia are an adhoc group but when they are needed the most common leader elected is Jack ‘The Slayer’ Dormer. The monicker comes from his experience in giant killing. In his younger days he lead several successful defences against giants and his place in peninsular life was assured. Now Jack is nearly 40 years old and although solidly built he is a little thicker around the middle that he was in his youth. He has dark curly hair, greying at the temples and a dark mediterrainean complexion. He favours a leather poncho with woollen sock and leggings. His favoured weapons are the spear and sling with sling being the one that he truly excels at. He is an enthusiastic man that loves the wild landscape where he lives and knows almost every game trail, village and villager within 60 miles of his home.

Bill Newlander

Bill is a ‘retired’ fisherman. A grizled old seadog his frequently found on the beaches watching the fishing boats load and unload. He is a preeminent source of wisdom on boat craft but he is also one of the closest friends to the Morimanus. Although no one knows how old Bill is it is rumoured that he has live well beyond the normal span for a human. This is sometimes ascribed to his association to the Morimanus. Local myth says that as a young man Bill fell in love with a Morimanus girl who took him under the waves to live for many years. Eventually he become homesick for his family and desired to return to the surface world. He did return to his family home only to find hat so many years had passed for his family that they had all died or moved on. With nothing to hold him to the land he wanted to return to live under the waves but he found he was locked out from the undersea world. The magical change that allowed him breath below the surface was a one time only change and he had used it and broken it when he had returned to the surface. The truth of all of this is a closed secret and Bill will never talk of it and locals do not mention the stories within his hearing. Bill now serves as a general adviser to the fishermen and has a wealth of knowledge on fishing, tides and the Morimanus.

Guy Hydroc

Guy is the Constable or the elected upholder of the law. He normally has two or three sheriffs in his employ. Guy is about 30yrs old and is normally dressed in a rigid leather breastplate when on duty and has a dark suede jacket that he wears off duty. He is an accomplished horseman which is unusual for the local population. He constantly travels from village to village as the visible symbol of he law. Most minor crimes he will act as police and magistrate but for anything more serious the village elders will sit in judgement. Guy carries a spear and on his hips are a pair of hand axes.

Guy is very popular and respected both as Constable and as a barritone singer. When in a vllage he is often drafted in to male voice chiors (a popular past time).

More next time!