Posts Tagged ‘gnomes’

Thank you. That is what I have to say first and foremost. In the past few months, World Builder Blog and The Round Table Podcast have grown steadily and surely. Your feedback, support, eyes, and ears are more appreciated than you know. So thank you all for making updating this blog and recording a weekly podcast worth it.

Fix it with a Submarine

All right, onto the goods. Last week I wrote about creating adventure sites in RPGs. Well take a quick look at this adventure site I’ve included in the Exploration Age Campaign Guide.

The Deepest Light. There is a deep ocean trench just off the coast of ReJong that sparkles with radiant light. Thousands of small, star-shaped crystals line the ocean floor which can only be reached by deep submersible. These star crystals explode when thrown, dealing 4d6 radiant damage to everyone in a 20 foot radius. A successful DC 14 dexterity saving throw means the target only takes half damage. Harvesting the crystals is dangerous work however, since a group of sahaugin call the canyon home and don’t take kindly to the invasion of others.

Not bad, I mean there’s danger, but also a good reason for venturing into the site, so the risk-reward balance is there. There’s just one little problem…

Eventually, I realized (and so have you, probably) that there was no convenient way for a few PCs to get to the bottom of the ocean, let alone a mining operation. My first reaction was to move the adventure site to deep in The Underdark or a volcano, but I already have a few adventure sites in those locations in Exploration Age and I wanted this to be a unique underwater experience.

Then I remember that Exploration Age is a world of mechs, firearms, airships, bombs, and more. Why not throw in a submarine? I know some of you are already rolling your eyes and I’m preparing to hear about it in the comments section from Joe Lastowski for a while (who is a great dude and who’s feedback I appreciate), but I gotta go with what my gut says is going to provide some awesome adventure – and that’s a submafrigginrine.

A submarine also allows for further exploration of the world of Canus, which is unsurprisingly a theme of Exploration Age. An underwater adventure into an uncharted area of the deep is my kind of adventure.

The Dragornborn Built It

I know, you want the submarine to be built by gnomes. Well, a gnomish submarine makes those of you old enough to remember Warcraft II think of this…

Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness Gnomish Submarine

While it wouldn’t be entirely out of the question for Canus’ gnomes to pull off a similar feat, in my mind it makes more sense in Canus for the dragonborn, who live on a collection of islands and love the water, to have created the submarine. Also, since it was invented primarily as a means of exploration and transportation and while it can defend itself, it does not shoot torpedoes (but it does shoot magic). How else is the dragonborn submarine different from it’s Warcraft counterpart? Take a look at the excerpt below from the Exploration Age Campaign Guide.

The Crustaceans

What began as a simple underwater mining and exploration vessel has change naval warfare on Canus. Dragonborn inventors were curious about what might lie in the depths of the ocean, and so they took years to create the world’s fist submersible vessel. Their discoveries were endless once they had their vehicle in the water – never before seen creatures and plant life. The most important of their discoveries were the gems in The Deepest Light.

Once the precious stones were discovered in the dangerous depths, the rush to mine them became tied to the purpose and spurred the invention of more submarines. The dragonborn outfitted the vessel with two arms to aid in the mining – one arm ending in a large drill, the other in a large two-pronged claw, thus giving the submersible its name, the Crab. Both drill and claw still exist on the vessel today and can be used in mining and combat.

As the Crab began to face dangers in the deep, its drill and claw proved to be ineffective against foes who might attack from a distance and so four pressurized spear guns and bulky armor were added to the vessel. These guns are placed on the fore, aft, starboard, and port sides of the submarine which required a larger body to make room for gunners. The submarine’s hull became larger in the models which have these spearguns and as such is known as the Lobster.

During The Fourth Great War, a final feature was added to some of the submersibles so they might be used in battle. An arcane cannon was affixed to the tops of these vessels and could be used only when the submarines surfaced. It wasn’t a perfect plan, but it did allow Marrial to sneak up on their enemies. These War Lobsters were outfitted with even heavier armor and painted black so they were hard to find in the sea at night after they had surfaced. During the war some of Marrial’s inventors sold submarines to other nations, since Marrial’s lax laws did not require them to keep the submarines exclusive to Marrial’s navy.

There are rumors that some dragonborn inventors are currently working on a special arcane cannon that can fire force shot below the surface of the water, but these rumors have not been proven.

Submarine HP AC Speed Size Right Arm Left Arm Price Special Attacks
Crab 120 16 30 ft. Large Drill Claw 30,000 gp None
Lobster 200 18 40 ft. Huge Drill Claw 80,000 gp Spearguns
War Lobster 350 20 40 ft. Huge Claw Claw 150,000 gp Rend, Spearguns, Arcane Cannon

Sinking. Once a vessel is reduced to 0 Hit Points, it ceases to function and sinks at a rate of 30 feet per round until it reaches the sea floor.

Obliteration. If a submarine’s Hit Points are reduced to negative its max HP, the submarine is obliterated and crew and cargo find themselves in the deep.

Repairs. A damaged submarine cannot have its Hit Points restored the way a creature can, since it is an object. In general, ship repairs cost 10 gp per 1 HP restored and take a number of hours to complete equal to the number of Hit Points restored.

Crab. The smallest of the submersibles, the Crab is mainly a mining and research vessel. A creature proficient in vehicles (water) can pilot the submarine using its move to move the vessel. The pilot can also use its action to make one attack with the Crab’s claw or the drill. In addition to the pilot, the submarine can hold three other Medium or Small creatures.

  • Claw. Melee weapon attack. +5 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 12 (2d8 + 3) bludgeoning damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 13). The Crab can only grapple on creature at a time. While the Crab has a creature grappled, it may only use its claw attack against that creature as it continues to crush it.
  • Drill. Melee weapon attack. +5 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 16 (3d8 + 3) piercing damage.

Lobster. The Lobster is a larger, better armored submersible. A creature proficient in vehicles (water) can pilot the submarine using its move to move the vessel. The pilot can also use its action to make one attack with the Lobster’s claw or the drill. Four other creatures can work the spearguns located on the fore, aft, starboard, and port sides of vessel. In addition to the pilot and four gunners, the submarine can hold four other Medium or Small creatures.

  • Claw. Melee weapon attack. +6 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 15 (2d10 + 4) bludgeoning damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 14). The Lobster can only grapple on creature at a time. While the Lobster has a creature grappled, it may only use its claw attack against that creature as it continues to crush it.
  • Drill. Melee weapon attack. +6 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 20 (3d10 + 4) piercing damage.
  • Spearguns. Spearguns are attached to the vessel and can swivel. To attack, a creature must make a ranged attack roll and can add its proficiency bonus if it has proficiency with heavy crossbows. Spearguns deal 1d12 piercing damage, and have the ammunition (range 100/400), loading, and two-handed properties.

War Lobster. When it comes to dealing damage beneath the waves, nothing comes close to the heavy-armored War Lobster. It is designed strictly for battle and sports two over-sized claws. A creature proficient in vehicles (water) can pilot the submarine using its move to move the vessel. The pilot can also use its action to make one attack with one of the claws. Four other creatures can work the spear guns located on the fore, aft, starboard, and port sides of vessel. In addition to the pilot and four gunners, the submarine can hold four other Medium or Small creatures. While surfaced, a team can also work the arcane cannon atop the vessel.

  • Claw. Melee weapon attack. +7 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 21 (3d10 + 5) bludgeoning damage, and the target is grappled (escape DC 15). The War Lobster may only grapple one creature at a time with each claw.
  • Rend. This attack requires the War Lobster to be grappling a creature with one claw and have no creature in the grip of its other. The War Lobster makes two attacks against the grappled creature with both claws.
  • Spearguns. Spearguns are attached to the vessel and can swivel. To attack, a creature must make a ranged attack roll and can add its proficiency bonus if it has proficiency with heavy crossbows. Spearguns deal 1d12 piercing damage, and have the ammunition (range 100/400), loading, and two-handed properties.
  • Arcane Cannon. While surfaced, the arcane cannon can be fired, per its mechanics.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

My day job has been keeping me busy traveling, so here’s another sweet excerpt from the Exploration Age: Campaign Guide. Take a look below at the religion of the humans and gnomes of Aeranore and let me know what you think.

A BIG shout-out to my friend, player, and fellow podcaster Ray Fallon for giving me this idea. Sometimes a friend approaches you with an original mythology and world creation story. Those friends are the best kind, especially when you’re creating several unique religions for a campaign world. These ideas come mostly from his own, amazing brain.

Here endeth my similarities to Steve Jobs

Also, as you read this excerpt, remember that Exploration Age is a campaign world where the gods have no confirmed existence, and if they do exist they do not directly interfere in the affairs of mortals. How is that possible when clerics and paladins pray for spells and get magic? Well, skeptics would say sorcerers, rangers, warlocks, wizards, bards, and more have magic without praying for it – why can’t clerics be getting their spells from the same places? Magic is mysterious. No one is sure of its origin on Canus, but that’s another matter.

Many humans and gnomes of Aeranore practice a religion known as Immortalism. It was their belief in this religion that resulted in their persecution in Parian and subsequent immigration to Aeranore. Immortalists believe all humans and gnomes are descended from a race of humanoids who used to be immortal, long ago. According to the religion, these beings, known as The Immortals, lived before the aberrants and the dragons.

World Creation Myth of Immortalism

According to Immortalism, Canus was created when The Sun and The Moon mated to produce three children. Their firstborn was their daughter, Alphon, a ball of earth encased in water. Their second birth was conjoined male twins, Baydon and Cardon. These twins were made of dirt and earth. They lived as one land mass on top of Alphon. These stories have led many humans and gnomes to believe that Parian and Findalay (and now Verda) were once one giant land mass.

The Immortals sprang forth from the bodies of Baydon and Cardon and at first there were no animals or plants. They were the first living beings on Canus and their lifespans were infinite, though they could die as the result of physical harm or starvation. At the time there was no disease. Since there was nothing to eat other than each other The Immortals began as violent cannibals.

This changed when Gretan, the first Immortal Hero, prayed to Baydon and asked him to produce something to stop the violence amongst her people. Baydon took pity on Gretan and was overcome by her beauty, so he created sheep and goats. The Immortals learned to herd.

It is said that sheep and goats soon began to die, however, for they had nothing to eat. It was then that Mara, the second Immortal Hero, prayed to Cardon for an answer by planting her hair in the dirt. Her hair took root and grew, becoming the first plants. Soon The Immortals learned that they could eat this food as well. Baydon created many animals and Cardon created many plants. For a long time Canus lived in peace.

Overtime, Baydon and Cardon grew jealous of one another. Baydon was resentful of the fact that his animals could not exist without Cardon’s plants, and Cardon did not like the way The Immortals made animal flesh the center of their meals. Soon the conjoined twins began to war with one another through earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and storms. Many Immortals had their lives ended in the process.

As the war progressed, Alphon formed rivers to part her brothers, breaking them into pieces large and small. Still that was not enough to stop their warring. Cardon and Baydon created The First Dragons who escalated the war. These were the ancestors of the dragons known today and instead of breath weapons of fire, ice, acid, and the like, they breathed pestilence, which ravaged the plants and animals of Canus. Eventually these diseases spread to The Immortals. It took a toll on their bodies and The Immortals had their life spans shortened. They began dying of old age and disease. They became the present day humans. The gods, Baydon and Cardon saw what they had done to these people, called The First Dragons back into the ground, took them apart, and rebuilt them over centuries into the dragons known today. The brothers vowed to never again interfere directly with the live of the folk of Canus.

The Immortal Lines

It is believed that Cardon, Baydon, and Alphon in a final act of divine intervention granted immortality to one champion each of their choosing. Baydon chose Gretan and Cardon chose Mara. It is said that when these champions grow tired of their immortality, they are able to pass it to a worthy offspring. It is believed that Queen Icillia IV herself is descended from The Line of Gretan and holds The Immortal Gift, which she may pass on. Currently it is unknown who holds The Immortal Gift in the Line of Mara.

Alphon’s champion does not pass on his gift. The goddess chose the first man to ever drown in her waters, a sailor named Delistar. His body still lies somewhere in the oceanic depths, and it is said that his late-granted immortality does not allow him to move physically, but he can transfer his spirit into the body of any Immortalist. When an Immortalist is dying, moments before death it is believed that Delistar inhabits that person’s body and sends his or her spirit on, so he may suffer that person’s pain.

Creation of Gnomes

Somewhere down the line, Alphon decided the humans needed magic again, but since she had vowed to never directly intervene again in the affairs of the world, she created a plan for the creation of the gnomes and left it out for the shardminds to find. The shardminds followed the plan exactly and then also modified it to create the dwarves.

Immortalism Today

This creation myth is the base of all Immortalist doctrine. The Sun and The Moon are part of this five god pantheon, but they most prayed to are Alphon, Baydon, and Cardon. Delistar is a sort of demigod, prayed to when a loved one passes. Most Immortalist priests and clerics are not exclusive to one god or goddess. They rely on Alphon in times of healing and magic, Baydon in times of the hunt and war, and Cardon during the harvest.

  • Alphon Often depicted as a globe of water, Alphon is the kind and gentle goddess. She is prayed to for all things nautical and ocean related. Alphon is also the goddess of mysteries so all magic, psionics, and healing are both her domain as well.
  • Baydon Often depicted as an angry volcano, Baydon is the aggressive god of the hunt and the herd. War and weather fall into his domains as well.
  • Cardon Often depicted as a piece of wheat, Cardon is the sneaky god of the harvest. He is said to take pleasure in many things that delight and make life easier so art and technology are also part of his domain.
  • Delistar Though not truly a god, Delistar is prayed to in times of death, and some cults who worship him have sprung up throughout Aeranore. The cults range in their beliefs from those innocently interested in death to those who violently murder other Immortalists, believing if they sacrifice enough victims to Delistar he will grant them his Immortal Gift.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends and share this blog post, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

“It’s been a while,” the clergyman thinks as he gets out of bed and reaches for his prayer-book. It hasn’t held interest for him in years, but today, for some reason, he feels compelled to grab the book off its near-permanent location – the bedside table.

Also on the table sits a pile of gold and bank notes – extortion fees from the nobles he is blackmailing. The scheme is simple – the nobles come to the cleric to confess, a process during which he remains anonymous. The cleric makes a note of the noble’s sin and identity and then years later collects his money via blackmail, long after the noble has confessed.

Sighing, the clergyman opens his holy book to begin his prayers and he throat becomes dry. Cold sweat breaks out on his brow, his back, and under his arms. The pages of his prayer-book are defaced. Right over the text someone has painted a face with two large, black ears. Behind him a voice speaks.

“If only you hadn’t given up your prayers for the pursuit of wealth, you may have received our warning in time.” The cleric does not turn around. His face curls in terror and he can only let out a whimper followed by a sob.

“We cannot show mercy to those who cannot save themselves.”

“Please!” the cleric finally musters the strength to save between tears. It is not enough. Before he can say more, he looks down on the floor and sees the carpet stained with blood. His blood. Dripping from his own white robes and from the end of the blade sticking out of his stomach.

Dark Whispers is secret organization of Gnome Assassins operating in Aeranore. They seek to right anything they deem an injustice through intimidation and murder.

The Founding of Dark Whispers

‘Nuff said.

The gnomes fled Parian many millennia ago due to the violent persecution of their race at the hands of a human emperor. A mass exodus of humans and gnomes from Parian landed on Findalay and founded Aeranore. For thousands of years after that exodus, the gnomes and humans worked side by side building a better life in Aeranore.

Then Maldwyn the Mad King sat Aeranore’s throne. His paranoia and suspicious nature made him fear the gnomes’ ability with magic. Maldwyn ordered all gnomes be removed from The Council of Mages and then demanded every member of the race be rounded up and put into walled camps. Any who spoke out against the actions of Maldwyn were immediately put to death. The gnomes had few allies amongst each other, let alone from other races. However, a group of courageous gnomes rose up and decided to take action against Maldwyn. They became everything he feared, mastering illusion magic and stealth. One night, they infiltrated Maldwyn’s court, killed Maldwyn, and all of his advisors. The victims’ ears were blackened, for the gnomes had poisoned them via the ear canal while they slept soundly.

The king’s brother, Madrin, took the throne and immediately did away with the camps. He never searched for his brother’s assassins. Many believe the gnomes intimidated Madrin, explaining his actions and lack of retribution.

Since there was never a warrant issued for the arrest of the gnomes who killed Maldwyn, they remained free. The vowed to never again suffer injustice at hands of another race. Folks took to calling the clan of assassins Dark Whispers, a name taken from a poem written about The Night of Black Ears by, Namfadring Dazlittle, a famous gnome bard (whom may have been a member of Dark Whispers).

The Manifesto

This lady ain’t messin’ around.

Dark Whispers has set forth a code for dealing with those they deem unjust.

  • Those in power have no one to keep them in check; therefore we shall be the judge, jury, and executioners of those with power who oppress those without.
  • All people are flawed. Before they are delivered judgement, they must first be given a symbol which warns them they are giving into evil temptation and will soon be dealt justice if they cannot change their ways.
  • There are no third chances.
  • There will be no warning given to those who take action to intentionally harm the gnomish peoples as a whole. These are the worst kind of criminal and shall be dealt a swift justice. We cannot allow our race to risk suffering again.
  • Those in power hold many of the cards and only a preponderance of evidence is needed to convict them.
  • The word of the common folk is worth twice as much as that of nobles.

By these rules Dark Whispers deals out judgement.


No one knows the structure of Dark Whispers or how one joins the organization. Dark Whispers could be as small as ten gnomes or could have hundreds of members. To this day there is very little proof they exist. Copies of their manifesto can be found and occasionally a noble finds a face with two black ears on a piece of parchment of carved into his or her furniture, but this could be and most likely is someone playing a childish prank. It’s the Exploration Age equivalent of Bloody Mary in many people’s eyes.

Still occasionally one of those nobles who has received the sign does become a corpse. The nature of this organization and the tales surrounding it have become of great concern to Queen Icillia IV and her court.

Remember how David had a fox… I’ve got a pet too.

Dark Game

Queen Icillia IV has publicly expressed her own disgust with Dark Whispers, an organization she fully believes to be real. Though she speaks out against the organization, she has never received a mark of warning or threat otherwise, strengthening the belief for many that there is no Dark Whispers. Other argue that while Icillia rails against the organization, she has done nothing under-handed during her time as Queen of Aeranore and therefore Dark Whispers continues to let her live… for now.

Either way, the queen has launched her own investigation into Dark Whispers. Many say a dangerous game of imbedded spies and double agents has begun. Who is working for whom is unclear and loyalties are fluid. Of course, publicly, no one is really sure what’s happening, since the existence of Dark Whispers has yet to be confirmed.

There are a lot more pictures of badass gnomes on the internet than I thought.

More Rumors

Here are some other rumors about Dark Whispers:

  • The organization is currently run by a racist gnome supremacist who has plans to use Dark Whispers to eliminate all humans and other non-gnomes in Aeranore.
  • Dark Whispers is no longer exclusive to gnomes and the organization may contact all types of like-minded specialists to join.
  • Dark Whispers has grown beyond Aeranore and now has branches all over Canus.
  • Solving the plight of warforged slaves in Bragonay has become a primary focus of Dark Whispers.
  • Queen Icillia was assassinated by Dark Whispers long ago and has been replaced by a doppleganger in service to the organization.
  • There is no Dark Whispers. The rumors were started by Madrin, who actually desired the throne for himself. He murdered his brother and Maldwyn’s advisors. Since that time Aeranore’s Royalty has used Dark Whispers as a cover for a few assassinations.
  • The deep gnomes of The Underdark have their own branch of Dark Whispers known as The Lightbringers, but they are assassins for hire.

The idea here is that DMs can choose which of these rumors they want to be true or not about Dark Whispers. Or perhaps they could add their own and keep the players guessing!

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, tell your friends about the blog, and/or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!

Aeranore’s gnomes value the study of magical arts, history, and sciences above all others. Long ago they founded an institution in Aeranore where all gnomes could attend to receive an education in these areas of the highest pedigree. The Arcane College was meant just for Aeranore’s gnomes when it was founded, but now its presence and influence has spread.

Every major city in Findalay and Parian has a campus to which members of any race are welcome to apply. Now with various fields of study, The Arcane College has become the Canus A-List academic institution.

Fields of Study

Had to be done.

Retired adventurers, young academics, and everyone in-between can be found on the faculty of The Arcane College. If you’re at the top of your field, they want you, and they’ve got the hiring package to back it up. In addition to a healthy salary, professors are offered free room and board in spacious campus apartments, the ability to take free classes themselves, free travel to other campuses, and funding for expeditions and independent studies (provided The College also profits from these pursuits).

There are major fields of study for any who come to the college as a pupil, either to specialize or receive a well-rounded education. Some of the fields of study:

  • Arcane Magic
  • Forbidden Lore
  • Psionics
  • Physical Combat and Martial Strategy
  • Theatre
  • Music
  • History
  • Economics and Accounting
  • Law and Government
  • Nature Studies
  • Unusual Beast Lore
  • Cartography and Geography
  • Geology and Earth Science
  • Alchemical Sciences
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Mathematics and Physics
  • Foreign Languages and International Relations

Goals of The Arcane College

Let’s check out that pyramid… uh ziggurat…. uh temple? Whatever, there could be loot inside!

The mission statement of The Arcane College states: “We establish this collegiate institution to uncover mysteries of the natural and magical world, whether forgotten, lost, or as yet unknown. Our professors will light the candle of students’ minds, which shall, in turn, bring a glorious flow of knowledge to all people in the dark.”

From that flowery, pretentious statement it seems The Arcane College was founded to teach, experiment, research, and explore. That may have been true centuries ago when the establishment was founded, but at some point during the institution’s rapid expansion, another goal was added – profit.

Yes, The Arcane College continues to teach, but their tuition prices are steep. One can get a loan from The Arcane College, but, as we all know, in the long run the student would end up paying even more. Scholarships are only granted to the most gifted potential students, and in turn, those students must work for The Arcane College for free for four years after graduation.

And yes, The Arcane College experiments, researches, and explores, but they only fund those endeavors which will grant them a return and then some on their investment. For PR reasons, the institution will occasionally take on a high-profile project or expedition from which they shall not profit directly. This is a calculated risk. The College bets the prestige associated with that particular project will generate enough donations to turn a seeming net loss into a profitable venture.

That being said, The Arcane College makes its money through discovery and exploration. They have many folk in Verda learning about new cultures and mapping out areas unexplored. They have even sent (often ill-fated) expeditions into The Damned Lands. The Arcane College funded research that has given rise to air ships, underground railways, and hasted cobblestones that speed travel throughout Canus. They have experimented with cheaper technologies and better medicines. When the kingdoms of Canus were truly in trouble, they have to rise up with the goodly folk, as they did during the War of the Crown.

The Arcane College is run by The Board of Arcane Directors, a group of gnome wizard professors, who are each in charge of running one of the campuses of The College.

Adventures with The Arcane College

How I Spent My Summer Vacation

The Arcane College provides many opportunities for PCs. They might be contracted to serve on an expedition, guard the transportation of The College’s goods and services, or be called upon to help face a greater threat. One of the Directors may hire the adventurers to investigate a murder on campus he or she is hoping to keep quiet or to spy on another Director who may be engaged in underhanded dealings. The Arcane College has several zoos full of exotic beasts, and adventurers can earn coin by capturing and turning over odd beasts to the institute. The more rare and dangerous an animal, the higher the pay.

The PCs might become professors and teach in the downtime between adventures, or pursue an independent study, expedition, or experiment of their own if they can convince the institution to give them a grant. Which The Arcane College may do after a lengthy review process and cost-benefit analysis.

If you like what you’re reading, please check out my podcast on The Tome Show, follow me on Twitter, or leave me a comment and let me know you think. Thanks!