Grey Area RPG

Grey Area is a series that debuted in 2000 AD, and features a scenario that readers may find similar to the District 9 movie – an alien ghetto on Earth.

In Grey Area, on one of the first instances being visited by aliens, humanity was “greeted”. Their technology, however, as based on tecnobacterias.

Thus, a good chunk of mankind got infected and suffered mutations from it, including hereditary ones. Because of that, all other contact with aliens should be limited.

This limitation comes in the shape of a designated landing spot on Earth – a walled city/spaceport where all aliens (xenos in the comic) must pass, be cleansed and verified. Above the clouds, a satellite array protects the approach from hostiles.

This walled city is called Grey Area, and was built in Arizona, deep into the desert. The local police force is called ETC, for “Exo Transfer Control”, and act as border patrol, investigators and standing army in the Grey Area.

They’re heavily armed, with full body armor, stun guns, laser weapons and such.

An ETC trooper

I think this comic would make for a great “Cops and Robbers” game. The ETC can bear all the tropes of an overstretched police force in a dangerous city, and the aliens offer an infinite amount of customization and campaign tailoring.

If you want to read more, 2000 AD website offers some (if not all) issues online.

One of the main gates leading into the Grey Area

Ready to use Hex – Snowcap Mole people

Hexmaps are nice, but sometimes an eye candy that could fit easily on a hexmap makes them even better.

Check this picture of Nevado Sajama, in Bolivia.

A dormant volcano standing proudly

A single dormant volcano, surrounded by a flat desert on all sides, with hot springs nearby. Seriously, if I came up with a map like this, people would accuse me of being unrealistic and demanding more mountains and hills beside it.

Also, the whole thing occupies roughly a 6 mile hex, which can be inserted in any desert/mountain map. Another option is downloading the map without marks and run from that. I have used old ski maps from Switzerland and it worked great.

The small village at the foot of the mountain also evokes the kind of frontier city so popular with RPGs, and serves as a waypoint to the riches below the mountain.

Since most dwarfs in my game have been driven from their mountain homes, this place is inhabited by Mole people!

Before getting to the moles themselves, I gotta develop the town a little. For that I’ll generate something on Donjon and adapt it to my needs.

The generator gives me a tiny hamlet inhabited by 180 moles and humans. This number is also my benchmark for what kind of goods are available there: anything under 180 silver pieces, or 18 gold for most fantasy games. This covers most food and beverage, simple weapons but hardly any armor.

The generator also suggested a Guild Hall, shared by the locals, and a theater. Since politics is important, let’s describe the local rulers.

Living under the shadow of a great mole people mountain community is safe, but stifling. They don’t want to draw attention to them, and thus, you can’t develop much. The human-led council is aware of that, and apart from local issues, they consult with the molepeople representative for most things. In return, the council has a monopoly on the trading of certain goods the moles make, such as cutlery, tools and glass or crystal containers. When hiring adventurers, the council may opt to pay them in such goods, or make them wait until trade season to be paid.

Upon consulting the city generator, the person running the theater is a female elf called Chimpe, with a troupe of trained snakes. Coincidentally, I have just finished reading “Stranger in a Strange Land” by Robert Heinlein, and one of the characters is an exotic dancer with a troupe of snakes!

Using Heinlein’s character as a trampoline, I’ll lift from her two peculiar characteristics: her body was covered in religious tattoos, depicting the life of a proeminent figure, and she was very confortable in wearing only her skin (and live snakes). With this, I have a bunch of lazy politicians, and a naked elf lady who is something of a religious nut. Enough to amuse players in such a small town.

Now we need some good tables for drinks, food, carousing, adventure hooks and the mole people’s marriage traditions when engaging with non-moles. But that’s for another day!

Crítica – “Joias Brutas” (2019, 2h15m, drama)

Normalmente não faço críticas cinematográficas, mas me pediram uma sugestão de filme para ver na Netflix, e antes que eu pudesse me manifestar, vi que haviam indicado o Joias Brutas. Assim, resolvi ver o tal do filme, e na empolgação escrevi essa crítica.

Modus operandi:
Eu vi o filme, mas não fiquei lendo muitas críticas ou comentários sobre ele. Acho que qualquer um pode buscar esse material no Google, e o que eu pretende entregar abaixo é uma opinião, me colocando em pé de igualdade com todo mundo que queira participar da discussão.

O filme:
Joias Brutas acompanha um curto período na vida de um joalheiro chamado Howard, atuante no Diamond District de Nova Iorque (tipo a Rua Barão de Paranapiacaba, mas mais esnobe).

De cara, a personagem causa espécie, porque é um trambiqueiro de marca maior. O compadre negocia relógios falsos, furbies incrustrados de diamantes, pega dinheiro emprestado e não paga, e perde tudo no jogo.

O dinheiro emprestado (e com sucessivos atrasos no pagamento) é a fonte de apuros para um cara que não conhece limites, do tipo que ganha o suficiente para pagar a dívida mas enfia tudo em apostas cada vez mais arriscadas.

[Abaixo – Spoilers]
O Howard me pareceu um eco do clichê shakespeariano do agiota judeu, estabelecido na figura de Shylock, na peça “O Mercador de Veneza”.

Na peça em questão, Shylock é o outsider, que só é aceito nos círculos cristãos porque ele tem grana e pode emprestar essa grana, algo que não caía bem aos mercadores cristãos da cidade alagada.

Essa figura do Shylock é tão poderosa que já foi objeto de leituras e releituras, teses de doutorado, pesquisas sobre antissemitismo e quetais.

Mas Howard é uma inversão desse clichê, porque ele não empresta, mas toma emprestado. Ele faz apostas arriscadíssimas, enquanto Shylock busca sempre garantir suas dívidas.

No entanto, na caracterização de Howard eu senti uma mão um pouco pesada, colocando ele como uma figura tão gananciosa e sem limites que fica caricata.

Ele destoa das demais personagens na sua excentricidade, e isso corta o liame de empatia que você poderia ter por ele. Não acho que ter empatia por um protagonista seja necessário (Hannibal Lecter manda um abraço), só que no caso do Howard isso pareceu forçado.

Ele tem uma família que trata como lixo, clientes que engana, empregados que ignora e parceiros de negócios que tapeia seguidamente. Essa sucessão de violências que voltam em dobro contra ele acabam ficando previsíveis, porque logo na metade do filme fica claro que não vai ter espaço para redenção ou crescimento de Howard.

No fim, como muitos filmes norte-americanos, Joias Brutasnão deixa pontas soltas. Isso pode parecer bom, mas não é. Não há espaço para reflexão pós-filme – o sentido é enfiado goela abaixo.

Howard, mesmo sentindo o sabor da vitória que tanto escapou entre seus dedos, é assassinado. O choque serve para assustar plateias amortecidas pela violência cotidiana, mas impede ponderações como “valeu a pena para ele?”, ou “ele pode crescer?”.

Não há dúvida, o trambiqueiro tem que morrer para reestabelecer a fábula onde os maus não tem vez (mesmo que sejam devorados por gente pior).

[Alternativas]
Da mesma forma que o filme inverte a lógica da arquétipo do agiota judeu, ele também inverte a lógica do “heist movie”, porque o objeto de valor do filme já começa na mão de Howard – uma pedra preciosa que serve de ligação entre ele e os seus clientes, entre o seu próprio corpo (com as referências à colonoscopia) e o mundo ao seu redor.

Sendo assim, no espírito de buscar um heist movie às avessas, cheio de reviravoltas e com atores em papéis que normalmente não são comuns, sugiro Snatch – Porcos e Diamantes. 

Acho uma comparação interessante, porque o filme também envolve diamantes, reviravoltas e personagens memoráveis.

Mas é engraçado, não te angustia e ao menos diverte, ao invés de te deixar meio deprê sem poder sequer ponderar como a personagem principal poderia ter feito as coisas diferentes.

Swamp Psychedelic Cotton Candy

After fleeing from the Steel Mummy from Outer Space, the group noticed they were on the far edge of island, closer to the swamps where Mycolol grew.

Fastly approaching across the road that ended on the swamp, the sunset greeting them as flocks of seagulls drunkenly gorged themselves on mycolol infused crabs.

Were the birds susceptible to the numbing properties of the fungi? There was no time to find out. The Sun was setting and the climate got ever colder.

With a single silver tool, they resorted to using silver coins to remove the mycolol from the rotten wood where it grew, as removing them by other means would ruin the pink tufts. Sometimes it required the group to wade waist deep into the cold saltwater of the swamp.

Those on the lookout saw the shape of a crocodile, but the group avoided it and fled the swamp with 4 bags of mycolol, weighting 20kg each.

They try to set up camp near the swamp, but Anuin the elf notices that apart from the living croc that showed before, other crocodile carcasses were strewn about, killed by something even fiercer.

With little water and food in this place, the moved into the night, loosing precious hours of sleep and rest.

After setting camp uphill, they rest a little and nothing disturbs them at night. In the morning, the light of dawn is disturbed by a strong pale glow a couple of miles ahead.

Upon closer inspection, they reach a tall floating menhir. It is very smooth, like a river stone, and it hangs a feet above the ground motionless. Below it, the patch of grass has disappeared, leaving barren rock.

Gorgoradin the dwarf promptly urges the group to leave this magical monolith alone, but Anuin is adamant in messing with it.

He throws a heavy stick, which bounces uselessly against the rock.

Epaminondas, the barbarian, deems it safe enough, and touches the stone with his bare hands. He promptly feels cold, and a brain freeze hits him.

His gums bleed, and most of his front teeth falls from his mouth. He is pissed as Hell, and in his frustration he uses his newly acquired shovel-axe to hit the stone.

The hits are impressive, but the stone remains unscathed. With each strike, it resonates like a giant bell, sending shivers through his hands into his very bones.

But the headache and bleeding gums were too much, and he kneeled in pain.

Soon the great pain diminished, and he noticed another set of teeth grew. This time, they were serrated and sharp, giving him a shark-like grin. Woe to him! For he bore another mark of this cursed land.

Fallout Boardgame Review

I have had this game for quite some time, but today I finally managed to play it.

I painted these

We were two Wasteland Survivors (Vault Dweller and Brotherhood of Steel Renegade), running “The Pitt” as our setting.

Me about to be surrounded by Deathclaws

General impressions

The game is quite complex to set up, but the “dashboard” each player had alongside the miniatures were great. It gave the feeling of playing the computer game.

Things started a little slow, until we actually explored and interacted with the missions themselves.

Most of the action revolves around the main mission, two warring factions and personal objectives that are drawn at random at the beggining of the game.

There’s about 5 or 6 scenarios to choose from, and each of them has two factions, which act as independent players, with moves of their own. These factions also have a gauge that measure their level of success, triggering their victory if one of the players fail to gain enough points to be the victor themselves.

This mechanic puts a little pressure on the players, and prevent the game from going on forever.

When we realized that the “history” behind the mission should be progressed through actions in the settlements and ruins, the game unfolded nicely. Every advance you make trigger the reveal of other cards with other outcomes, and these outcomes are intertwined forming a narrative.

For those who played the Fallout PC Games, it feels a lot like the dialogues with the NPC’s, and how certain answers would allow you to gain enemies, make friends or new missions.

Combat and action resolution are based upon special dice that come with the game, and the symbols in those dice serve multiple purposes. Most of the time you can change the outcome by rerolling these dice, using equipment or your own abilities, based on the letters forming S.P.E.C.I.A.L

Hardware

I have the Brazilian Edition of this game, published by Galápagos Jogos.

The five miniatures that came with it had good definition and were made of hard plastic. They were pretty easy to paint too, and I highly advise you to do so, since they come in an ugly tan color.

The S.P.E.C.I.A.L dashboard was a nice surprise too, being built from the same hard cardboard that make the Nuka Cola tokens and the other bits.

After the first game using the dashboard was pretty intuitive, and the rounds were faster as the game progressed.

Conclusion

In comparison to other games I have played (Pandemic Cthulhu, Chaos in the Old World, Car Wars Cardgame, Ogre and others), Fallout Boardgame ranks as:

Complexity – 3/5
It looks hard, but after setting it up the games run smoothly.

Visual – 5/5
The parts are pretty, and the minis look good

Hardware – 3/5
Some enemies could have plastic miniatures, even if at a smaller scale

Fun – 5/5
I loved the emerging narrative that arises from the development of the missions. After tying them together, you can see a history unfold.

If you like quick dice games and are quick to set up, consider checking out my duel minigame available at DriveThru RPG:
https://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/339950/d6-Duels

My first 40k game – getting clobbered and lessons taken

On this Sunday I finally played 40k with someone who’s not my brother, and who supposedly should know the rules a bit better than we do.

I went to a local gaming club to pick up some custom Crimson Fists dice and decided to take 500 pts. of the Black Templars I’ve been painting since August 2020, as a Covid-quarantine project.

Being the huge nerd that I am, I had my list neatly printed and every datasheet of the units, with their applicable stratagems, organized and ready to go. I would be using the old Black Templar rules, since I haven’t carefully read the new rules (first mistake, the new rules are much better).

My list was:
1 Terminator Chaplain, with Epitome of Piety which saw no use the entire game.

6 Intercessors, with grenade launcher and chainsword for the Sgt.

5 Vanguard Veterans, 3 LC/SS, 1 Power Axe and Grav Pistol, Sgt. with relic blade and Plasma Pistol

3 Inceptors.

Unfortunately, my gentlemanly demeanor put me at a disadvantage. My opponent, perusing my list, changed his own list and switched from playing Imperial Fists to Salamanders. He quickly put it together on Battlescribe, and I didn’t feel the need to inspect it, which would bite me in the ass later on:

1 Phobos Lt. with Anvil of Strength and Lord of Fire.

5 Intercessors, bare bones

4 Flamestorm Agressors

3 Eradicators.

I wanted to get a feel how it would be playing at a tournament, and didn’t change Epitome of Piety to anything else, and proposed that we should roll for a basic mission.

We rolled for Outriders, and I chose as my secondaries: “Linebreaker”, “Slay the Warlord” and the mission’s secondary “Survey”.

He chose Raise the Banner’s High, Retrieve Octarius Data and Slay the Warlord.

My second mistake was believing that who deployed first gained +1 on the roll off.

The board had 7 pieces of terrain – sadly I forgot to take a picture. We had 4 light covers, 2 heavy cover and some obscuring trees in the middle. Bear in mind, terrain rules are still a very weak spot on my 40k knowledge.

I deployed very aggressively, with the Intercessors behind light cover, ready to make a run to the “free” objective on his side of the board, the Inceptors off the board, and the Vanguard Vets on the back, with the Chaplain.

He put his Intercessors in the back with the Eradicators, the Agressors in the front with the Lt., and went first.

When he rolled for his first attack, I asked him if he was going to apply -1 penalty for moving and firing heavy weapons with the Eradicators, since the models had Heavy Melta Rifles on them, but was told they actually had normal melta rifles.

I don’t mind not being WYSIWYG, since I’m planning to experiment with my own Intercessors with the different Bolt Rifles, but the change on the fly seemed a little fishy.

It didn’t matter as much, as right away he killed 5 of my guys with the Aggressors + Eradicators, leaving only the intercessor Sgt. with 1 wound, and moved the Aggressors forward

Then, I proceed to do the most naïve thing I could – charge the Aggressors like a maniac.

I chalk this up to reading the Horus Heresy novels – in them, the Son’s of Horus jump pack guys are baddest mofos around, but alas, it went badly.

The chaplain blessed them with Fires of Devotion, and they went on. Sadly I forgot to use Hammer of Wrath, which could put 1 or 2 Mortal Wounds on them. Both pistols failed to their thing, they overwatched with so many flamer hits that made my head spin, and I charged with 1 less LC guy. Result: killed one aggressor and left another with 1 wound. In the fight back, they pummeled the whole squad to dust.

After that, the remaining Aggressors moved forward, and flamed my Chaplain to death – I had moved him up like an idiot, trying to get the drop them.

Later on, while chalked up points with his secondaries, my Intercessor Sgt. had moved back to my deployment zone to hold at least one objective. Seeing that dropping on his Intercessors with my Inceptors would be stupid, I put them on the objective on my side of the board.

However, these Assault Bolter guys did their work, as I pumped 18 shots in the Aggressors, who succumbed to S5 fire. Important lesson of the day: S5+ assault weapons are really good.

After that, he moved the Eradicators a little bit, and the tried to hide the Lt. besides the obscuring terrain.

As my final deadly mistake, I moved the Inceptors and blasted the Lt. apart, but failed to consider that melta rifles were also Assault Weapons with very good range – even so in a small board – and got blown, leaving just the Inceptor Sgt. around.

After that we decided to call it quits.

I can’t say it was a super fun game, since certain parts felt rushed and I got the feeling I couldn’t trust my opponent, but it was fun in the way of getting to know the game better.

The most important lessons I took was:

  • Pay extra attention to range and line of sight. My intercessors were way too exposed, and way too close to his side.
  • If I had positioned my Inceptors better, I could have killed his Lt., and the moved to engage the Intercessors.
  • Don’t charge guys with lots of flamers, and unless I’m dealing with hordes, bring some thunder hammers in the Vanguard Veterans – luckily they’re magnetized, so it won’t be a problem.

MVP: the Inceptors. I decided to bring them in the last minute, and they pack a punch – 6 shots at S5 is no joke.

Ideas for my next 500 pt. game: I’m keeping the Inceptors, but I’m switching the chaplain for a firstborn captain. He will be on countercharge duty with Vanguard Vets without the jump packs. Finally, I’m field 3 Eliminators. If I’m going to play on boards with less terrain than I’d like, I’m gonna put them in the back and outrange Eradicators and their bullshit protocols.

Finally, after seeing loads of commentary on how the Black Templars are going to play, I can see that these are not the “charge everything and kill” type of army I thought they would be. They are Space Marines after all, and a combined arms approach is very much necessary. If I had combined the Inceptor shots with the Vanguard Vets Assault, things would have gone much better.

Dwarven Genocide – The Mole Uprising

Disclaimer: I really like dwarves. Tolkien dwarves, Dark Sun bald OCD dwarves, Warhammer 40k Biker Squats, Warhammer Fantasy Grudge-book red haired berserker dwarves and the Alcoholic Maniacs from Dwarf Fortress. But they have become a crutch from where I prop my ideas, and as such, they gotta go. Hence the history of their demise.

It had been 20 years since the last goblinoid was put on the run.

The “Goblin Purge”, was it was called, was a drawn-out and bloody affair, but resulted in the near extinction of orcs, ogres, goblins and giants.

A few years before the Purge, the human lands had been stricken with a deadly plague, but it only affected humans and half-elves. While their people died in droves on the streets of their cities, the Orc Clans Confederacy saw the opportunity to strike, and marched for war.

Orcs, ogres, gnolls and goblins ravaged the countryside, and the Hobgoblin fleet landed on every island and coastal city, blockading the defenders.

The human kingdoms fought fiercely, even as their infected troops succumbed to arrow and disease, knowing that would be last war. The corpses of the enemies piled against the walls, and served as ramps for the attackers.

The elves and dwarves offered token assistance. Certain forests and jungles under elvish rule were so threatening for the goblinoids, that human settlements on the borders benefitted from the relative peace.

However, no refugees were accepted under the argument of quarantine, even though scholars suspected that the fair folk were immune to the plague.

The dwarves kept a steady flow of weapons for the humans, but more than one kingdom was surprised when the enemies took routes through mountain passes that otherwise should be heavily guarded by the dwarven republics.

In the end, the humans were vanquished. With their cities razed and burnt, refugees fled to their so-called allies.

In foreign lands, the few humans who survived found little comfort. Reduced to servants, their masters denied proximity under the same pretense of not wanting to be infected with the deadly pathogen that had weakened the men and women who sought refuge.

Cold, heat, hunger, floods. All of this proved too much for the refugees, who dwindled too close to extinction. In far off lands, isolated clans and roving bands of nomads are still said to exist, but these could never challenge the dwarven or elven kingdoms.

Soon things became peaceful again, as internal conflicts kept the goblinoids from mounting an unified front.

Forests began to expand without the depredations of human logging activities, and the plateaus between the mountains were too heavily defended to be attacked from below.

The dwarven republics got greedy though, and unified under the Great Dwarf Collective, a new system were elected leaders overthrew the old clan appointed republican consuls.

This new government sought to rid the land of all goblinoids, and gathered every other intelligent creature from the underground into a foreign legion, promising citizenship in the dwarven lands after the whole affair was over.

They began their raids at night, emerging from behind the orcs and goblin lines, striking their recently rebuilt cities from below.

The ruined walls, still scarred from the war with the humans, were no match for veteran dwarven sappers, and fortifications were crumbled in exceptionally violent cave-ins.

The orcs and goblinoids still put on a fight, and the dwarven overlords rejoiced when the underground denizens legion engaged in large scale battles against the ancient enemies of all dwarfdom.

A meat grinder of a battle, in the same spot where the last human kingdom fell, marked the end of hostilities. A steel clad phalanx composed solely of dwarves mopped the last orcs, bruised and battered from slaughtering the cannon fodder that was thrown at them at the start of the battle.

The few underground creatures that survived the battle found out that second-class citizenship was all they would have, but were too weak to debate this proposition.

In the end, a delicate balance was set between the elves and the dwarves. Not having engaged in the final fight against the orcs, the elves grew their strength quietly, training thousands of light irregulars, hawk riders and moose cavalry.

The dwarves also fielded impressive quantities of soldiers, but their kingdom was too large for their own good, and these troops were often fighting enemies at the fringes of the empire. Nonetheless, if pressed into action, every worker of the Collective could fight, and would carry fine dwarven steel into battle.

Things would change when particularly large incursion of giant ants plagued the underground farms of the Dwarven Collective.

These creatures were troublesome, as they bypassed many of the chokepoints and strongholds made to deter an invasion from the surface. Although few dwarven defenders actually died in the struggle, it was enough to disrupt the food supply of an empire that was already stretched thin.

Meanwhile, disturbing reports started to arrive from the more distant outposts. Whole settlements disappeared overnight, but no sign from sieges or break-in were detected: the attacks came from below.

This detail was too disturbing, as no one dug deeper that the dwarves. Even though, it kept happening, and expeditions were sent to the caves and passageways that the attackers left behind.

Small even for dwarven standards, these tunnels were dug with claws and teeth, although crude stone tools were scattered about.

Soon, the truth was unveiled.

In great caverns that stretched from under the elven lands, a new enemy had been bidding their time, and amassing great strength: the Mole People.

These creatures were cunning, used stone tools and farmed extensive fungal farms, and were expert diggers. Their numbers were great, and once the dwarfs amassed their soldiers to engage all major enemy’s settlements, it was already too late.

The Moles ruptured inside the Collective’s rear lines, killing non-combatants and striking down their leadership. The Dwarf President was assassinated, and every official in the chain of command soon met the same fate.

Leaderless, the dwarf soldiers retreated to the surface, finding the elves waiting for them.

Instead of a helping hand, these dwarves were betrayed and massacred. These elven legionnaires seemed unaffiliated with the known Elvish Satraps, and wore dull grey robes with little ornamentation. Their only symbol was an inverted red triangle.

Pressed between the Mole People and the elven death squads, it was the dwarven turn to flee and be scattered to the winds.

Survivors of the Last Betrayal found hard to understand who these elves were, and why the known Elvish Satraps didn’t return their emissaries.

Unknown to them, these grey-clad soldiers were an order of elven supremacists known as Bloody Tombs.

They were the creators of the plague that afflicted the humans, and secretly spurned the orcs into action. But before these events, they were also behind of the Mole People.

Using dark and forgotten magics, simple forest creatures were experimented upon, with varying levels of success. Raccoon-men and bipedal Rats were smart, but too prone to violence amongst themselves when the population rose to certain levels.

From all the creatures suited to underground combat, the star-nosed Mole proved to be most prone to develop a higher level of consciousness, necessary to build complex societies.

For 50 years they were nurtured and encouraged by their elven overseers, and when the time was right, shown the best way to become the lords of all underground kingdoms.

Now, many years after the goblins and orcs were eradicated, the dwarves had met a similar fate, being supplanted by an species that would develop and thrive upon the remains of once proud underground dwarven cities and palaces.

Elven scholars, affiliated or not with the Bloody Tombs, have visited the Mole People domains, and saw impressive evolution in their ways. Below we present some notes of these expeditions.

A Mole trader emerges from below to inspect some crops

Architecture and decoration

The rooms have little furniture, and molepeople kneel over dry fungi mats.

Almost all rooms are square, and most are symmetrical. They are divided with leather bound sliding doors.

Each Moleperson’s house, above or below ground, has an inner court, covered in course sand. Mole children love digging this soft material.

The rooms are kept in pristine condition, as Mole People loathe the smell of feces or spoilt food.

Most lairs have an aboveground or underground body of water nearby, as Mole People are very good swimmers. Sometimes a secret exit is placed underwater, preventing pursuit from determined attackers. This proved invaluable when steel armored dwarves counter-attacked the moles, but were unable to follow them in the deeper regions of their homes.

Demeanor and communication

Mole people are dour, with a vengeful streak on the side.

When marching for war, a Moleclan charge usually happens at night when aboveground, and is bereft of sound, save for bowstrings and assorted mettalic clashes.

Mole People are impatient when pursuing vengeance, but they are not dumb. Those who have wronged them will soon see their houses caving in, bridges being demolished and Mole Ninja Assassins bursting from the floor at night.

Most Moles understand common and elven, and communicate using their own language, which is composed of high-pitched squeaks and movement of the tendrils located at the tip of their noses. They seldom write, using a simpler form of the elven script when doing so.

Food and Drink

Fungal farms are the main crop of the dark underwold, although the Mole People acquired new types of great mushrooms from the vanquished dwarves. Dried fruits and meats are also popular, as well as annelids in general.

These are bred in large dirt pools, or in vases in every Mole home. Guests are encourage to stick their hands deep into these large clay pots, and grab a handful of worms, ingesting them as squiggly hors d’oeuvre.

The Mole People do not consume alcohol, for it disturbs their senses, masquerading other scents which would be picked up by their prickly noses. Juices from aboveground fruits are considered a delicacy though.

What matters most in the Mole cuisine is scent and texture, harking back to when they were simple mammals searching for worms. As such, very little spices are used, since their sensitive noses are able to pick up even the slightest of scents. Also, a sucession of very soft and hard foodstuffs comprise a Mole gourmet feast.

Guests will find almost colourless puddings and porridges alternating with blocks of hard cane sugar (known to humans as Panela or Rapadura). While the soft foods are felt with the tip of their noses, the harder items of a meal appease their great incisors.

Clothing and physical capabilities

The Mole People are a magically mutated species, differing from their base mammalian ancestors. Standing at around 4 ft. 6 in., the stand on modified legs, and their claws are reduced in size. Although they can still be used for digging, this reduced size allows the manipulation of tools. Keys, lockpicks and other small items are still challenging for them, and aren’t usually found in their lairs.

Coming from the star nosed mole, they have grey fur covering their whole body, sometimes speckled with white dots on the Moles living in colder climates.

Their star shaped noses remain as sensitive as ever, and can be used to feel movement and seismic activities when pressed against a wall or the floor. Some scholars claim that these appendages can even sense incorporeal undead or disturbances in the ethereal plane surrounding a member of this species. Tales of Mole warriors prevailing against invisible or teleporting enemies are not uncommon.

The nerve endings on this organ are also a weak spot, and when fighting the Mole People will usually wear steel helmets and large shields. Long piercing swords are their favourite weapon, except when longer one-handed spears can be fielded.

Mole people have very short reaction times, and are seldom surprised.

Being clad in fur and having excellent body heat control, most clothing is eschewed in favour of belts and pouches. Waterproof containers made of clay are also highly valued, since many members of the Mole society swim on a regular basis.

Setting them apart from their ancestors, the Mole People have better eyesight, and can even use crossbows, but drawing the strings of normal bows is difficult for their clawed fingers.

Government and religion

Mole People are functionally atheists, but are able to channel mystical energies commonly known as “Holy Magic” in the form of healing spells and undead turning. In order to prepare themselves for these activities, they do a ritual called “Eimerring“, when they meditate by pressing their noses on the floor. During these rituals, older Mole persons claim they feel the “heart” of the land or deep magma flows, feeling very relaxed afterwards.

Magic-users and psychics claim that clusters of Mole persons engaging in “Eimerring” generate large quantities of energy, which could theoretically be used to produce great magical effects.

The basic unit of social organization is the “Clan”, organized around the oldest female. Blood relations are relevant, and conflict among brothers is frowned upon. The head of each clan gets a vote to elect a regional representative, who conducts diplomacy and trading in the name of 3 to 10 clans, covering an area of around 1,000 sq. miles.

A Mole clan underground castle always has the biggest gold, silver, copper or tin nugget in the center of this court. Disagreements between clans are settled in favor of the one who has the most valuable nugget in the region, and Miner-Judges calculate the value of a nugget when they are of different metals, according to complex pricing rules.

Naming Elfs and Dwarfs

Tired of copying Tolkien? Doesn’t want to name another character as Bob or Joe? I’ve got you covered.

When I’m running “forest elfs” and “mountain dwarfs”, I like to pick a national forests and similar parks for elfs, and mountain ranges for dwarfs.

Let’s give it a try!

Say I want to give my elfs a bulgarian flavour, as they are gonna be drinking and making a lot of kompot!

Kompot High Res Stock Images | Shutterstock
Not your Phial of Galadriel!

A very important park in Bulgaria is the Pirin National Park, that was once known as Vihren National Park. Therefore, we have the Pirin People, that was once known as People of the Vihren.

When I checked this park on Wikipedia, the list of indigenous plants gave me a good list of cool names (unless you got a botanist at your table – this would make him/her/they giggle):

  • Papaver
  • Poa
  • Asyneuma
  • Carex
  • Erigeron
  • Verbascum
  • Festuca
  • Rhinanthus

For the dwarfs, let’s go across the world and choose a mountain range in Ethiopia, called Bale Mountains. Again, it has different names, and is also known as Urgoma Mountains. Because of this, we can say it’s the Urgoma Clan, under chief Bale.

The mountains and rivers of the Ethiopian highlands offer great sounding names:

  • Tullu Dimtu
  • Ras Dashem
  • Ancua
  • Kidus Yared
  • Weyib
  • Batu
  • Tinnish Batu (little Batu)
  • Tilliq Batu (big Batu).

There you go. A quick list of names that sound great, because they actually follow structures of real world languages. Choose a region far away from your own, and quickly name those characters! They aren’t going to last much anyway!

How I made Bargle into a villain (or on the nature of emerging narratives)

Since I started playing D&D Basic with a group of absolute newbies, I had the chance of honing my skills as a Dungeon Master, and get better in the way of engaging players that doesn’t share the same gaming background as me.

Right at the beggining of the introductory group adventure of the 1983’s edition, the group meet a farmer in a very bland encounter.

What’s up with this respectable monster bullshit?

I couldn’t help myself so I gave him a very abrasive personality. Actually, he was a cunt.

This farmer dude was bossing his employees around, being unpleasant, and made fun of the ragtag group of adventurers going to castle Mistamere.

The rogue, being played by an absolute beginner of a player, thought it would be a good idea to pick his pocket.

Sure, if we were playing a more narrative driven game, I could see that happening. But we are playing old D&D, so I was strict with that 10% chance of doing it. She failed, badly.

Instead of turning this first encounter into combat (and having to search for peasant combat stats in the book), I just said that she grabbed his ass instead of his wallet. He was miffed, things got tense but the party moved on, secretly vowing to burn his farm once the castle was clear.

While exploring the castle, I saw that the book suggested that Bargle should be around 4th level, hiding some levels below with a gang of ogres.

Frankly, if he had that kind of firepower, why hide? Why let the party loot the fat treasure in the room with the Harpies? I needed to make something out of Bargle.

I decided then that the farmer would be Bargle, and once they cleared the first the level of the castle, he would ambush them with 10 molemen (reskinned hobgoblins) in the castle courtyard.

To add a touch of mystery, I described some articles of clothing found inside the castle as “farmer’s clothes”. They took the bait, captured a kobold and interrogated him, conforming that the farmer was Bargle.

The trap had been sprung: when returning from the final delve of the castle, they fought Bargle and his crew.

I statted him as a 2nd level magic-user loaded with cash, which he spent bribing ogres and kobold, and giving gifts to his harpy girlfriends, which the players found amusing.

As always, I rolled badly and they rolled well, killing Bargle and losing only one member of the party.

They took his head into town, collected their gold and planned their trip to his not-so-abandoned farm.

There, they fought a couple of Ogre guards and their pet lizard, losing the cleric to a critical hit with a huge cleaver, and had to run away from an animated crystal statue.

I wasn’t ready to give up on Bargle though. To keep the game going, I placed some letters from the high priest to Bargle, assuring him that not even death would be his undoing.

Now they want to search the temple and bring justice to this high priest, which may be chance to bring them to B1 – In search of the Unkown, where this high priest will have fled to.

I conclusion, the whole campaign is sustained by a novice lecherous thief and her butt-grabbing ways, which is on par with my D&D experience.

The Silver Jubilee Issue of the Footprints e-zine

Dragonsfoot is where I began my journey back into gaming, after being away from it from 2004 to 2008.

More than 10 years later, I’m very happy to see that the community is still going strong, and making excellent material.

Classic Beholder action!

In this issue we have the brief story of RPG gaming in Brazil: a subject that explains and consolidates my own journey in this great hobby.

I hope you enjoy this issue as much as I did – it’s free!


https://www.dragonsfoot.org/ft/index.shtml#503