Posts Tagged With: Pre-5E Aquitaine Setting

Musing about the last AD&D campaign

As I’ve been thinking about the AD&D game I was running I’ve been looking at some of the things I’m not so thrilled with. Training for levels is one thing and weapon proficiencies is another. Experience points are the last place where I am just not thrilled with the basic AD&D system.

Weapon proficiencies were ok, but I wasn’t really happy with the way that they worked. While I like the idea of the different classes being restricted in what weapons they can use (it’s somewhat artificial but I’m ok with it for game balance) I’m less convinced that there is any good reason for limiting the learning of new weapons to level advancement. It seems to me that I merely want there to be a cost in time and money (mostly time) in order to learn new weapons.

Similarly, I’m less than thrilled with the time and costs associated with level advancement. This seems to be a remnant of the particular play style that is very “Grognardian” and reflective of the artifacts of the AD&D experience system. Back in the day I had dropped any level training for fighters and rogues (save for when they wanted to learn a weapon proficiency) and retained some costs for spell casters only when they gained a new spell level (to cover initiation and ritual costs). I’m really thinking that I’m going to do the same thing again. This makes the warrior and the rogue classes a bit more popular (not a bad thing) and in turn makes the magic-using and multi-classes a bit less popular because they are actually expensive to play.

In the old days I’d left the old style AD&D system behind and moved to what was basically the Palladium XP system which was far more based on ideas and planning rather the killing and treasure for the generation of XP. The problem is that this made figuring out XP a large investment of time after I was done gaming for the session. So this time around I went with a mix of that style, plus the old AD&D style, and it was still a ton of work. I really like Alexis’ method of 10XP per point of damage done, 20XP per point of damage suffered, with a bonus for the party on total damage suffered. There would still need to be a bit of something figured out for spell-casters and rogues because I like to reward people for using their special skills, but looking at his number crunching and doing some of my own I think it is a pretty reasonable method.

In any case, I just wanted to get this down for posterity. TTFN!


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Long time no see…

Yeah, life did get pretty crazy there for a bit. I don’t think it has really gotten any less crazy, but at this point I’m starting to acclimate…

The AD&D game is on hold, after the switch to the new setting we had a great time starting the Slaver series, pretty much trouncing through A1. But due to the chaos I was basically burned out and when my spouse was ready to take over running a “Cybertraveller” (Cyberpunk 2020 and Traveller mashup) game we had an extra bit of chaos thrown into the works and we had to cancel that plus pretty much all formal group gaming.

For the last few weeks my son and I have been playing in our shared Dark Heresy game. Itself a bit of mashup because it has been combined with the rest of the FFE WH40K games. It is just my son and myself because my spouse and our friends really don’t have much of a desire to play in it’s the dark future setting.

This Friday past we (my son and I) went to see Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters and I was struck by how much the vaguely steampunk setting would work in a low-tech Dark Heresy setting. The witches in the film are excellent examples of Chaos-taint, and the steampunk-esque weapons certainly had a WH40K feel to them.

And that had me thinking.

Why couldn’t the setting of 41st millennium be re-imagined? It doesn’t have to actually be so unrelentingly god-awful and dark, that’s a function of how the Imperium works – and there are certainly plenty of examples of how there is definite scalability to that even in the official universe. So I’ve starting think about how everything could stay the same but at the same time be massively different…

I have a couple of very interesting ideas, and much of it involves delving into the apocrypha of the WH40K setting – not hard because I was playing 40K back in the days of the original Warhammer 40K: Rogue Trader rules. So I’m going to be using this space to talk about this alternative setting, which has it’s start in bright hope of the Great Crusade, before the dark days of the Horus Heresy and the slow descent of the Imperium into madness and chaos…

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Status Update


Life has been, well, really crazy for the last couple of months. Gaming-wise, I’m behind on game logs, behind on rules updates, and I’ve made some interesting and major changes in the campaign.

The short version is that the group finished up with Castle Amber – which in and of itself let me implement a couple of changes to correct things that we “out of whack” with my current campaign. I realized that I reached a point where it was impossible for the players to keep up with the DM (me) on just sort of simple “world knowlegde” because I’d been running essentially the same setting for such a long time.

So I took the wierdness of Castle Amber as an excuse to jump the group forward in time and space when things ended.

So they are roughly 1000 years in the future and in a brand-new part of my world – I have somewhat steadfastly decided to not worry about where it is in relation to where things were. Given the somewhat mallable nature of the Mortal Realms I’m not sure I ever have to determine that. I’m having a great deal of fun worldbuilding again and the entire group gets to participate in the process. I think that this is an undermentioned aspect of world-building – the role of player participation.

Sometimes this is really explicit – my spouse invented a whole culture once because she wanted something new to play – and other times it is more accidental – Gnomish culture is pretty much the result of two different players in my old game.

But currently, the characters are investigating what could be done about a group of rampaging slavers…



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The Guilds of Aquitaine

So, while the Empire of Old Aquitaine has fallen, that doesn’t mean that many of the old power structures have gone away – first of all, while all of the old provinces of Aquitaine have become kingdoms in their own right, the ruler of Navarre is technically the “High King” of the realm – and he does have a selection of forces at his disposal if he chooses to use them. The Imperial Legion for one, the Free Legion for another, two highly competent military forces that are quite concerned with making sure that things from the mainland don’t get a foothold on Aquitaine. There is also the Imperial Eye – that is the former intelligence service of the Old Empire and it still operates for the benefit of the High King of Navarre, though many say that it has its own goals as well. Finally, the Imperial Marshalls are also technically under the command of the High King, but are rumored to just as often be a thorn in the current King’s side.

But as mentioned in the previous email there are also the Great Guilds, each of which also has a regional subguilds, but which can safely be treated as one for these purposes. For player characters there are a number of these guilds that are worth checking out, and a couple that are essentially prerequisites for the group members in some combination or another.

The Collegium (aka the Mages Guild): One of the most powerful and most organized guilds, the Collegium struggles to maintain its dominance and control of sorcery and alchemy in the face of challenges by the Church of Lords of Light, the En Khoda Theos Kirk, and the Old Faith which have their own mystical orders. Closely allied with the Cartel, the Collegium maintains tight rein on the sale and production of magic, as well as the dissemination of training in the magical arts.

The Cartel (aka the Merchants Guild): Powerful, and potentially even more powerful if it wasn’t for the competing interests of the various Merchant Houses, great and small, that comprise it. The Cartel keeps trade flowing through Old Aquitaine despite the mistrust and differences between the various kingdoms – as well as the limited trade that occurs with areas outside of Old Aquitaine (the mainland, other islands, etc). Some of the Houses are said to have ties to the Thieves Guild, and the Guild as a whole also maintains excellent relations with most of the other guilds for obvious reasons. The Cartel also operates its own system of banks and moneychangers independent of those run by the Dwimmervolk and the Church of the Lords of Light.

The Mercenaries Guild: A guild with influence out of proportion to its size, the Mercenaries Guild provides a place for all of the organized mercenary groups in Old Aquitaine to settle their differences outside of combat. They are also act as a hiring hall for warriors of all types who don’t have the resources or the style to belong to the Adventurers Guild. The Mercenaries Guild also handles bonding and insurance for the various mercenary companies, and also reviews and approves contracts for its members.

The Adventurers Guild: The term “guild” doesn’t exactly apply in some ways because the Adventurers Guild is almost more of a social club than an actual guild. But the services it provides to its members duplicate the effects of a guild and it’s wealth and influence compare to many guilds as well. Its members are also always willing to help out other members with word or action – as long as they get a share of the proceeds. Being a member of the Adventurers Guild is a source of great prestige and not an inconsiderable amount of work for those that are looking for it.

The Syndicate (aka the Thieves Guild): Actually comprised of numerous gangs, families, and organizations that all answer their way to chain of command to the “Little Father” (or sometimes “Little Mother”). If you want to practice the arts of fingersmithing in any sort of organized way you either have to join – though some members of the Adventurers Guild seem to manage to simply pay them off or otherwise avoid having to be members.

Other, smaller Guilds that are worth noting:

The Companions Guild: Long rumored to have associations with both the Syndicate and the Black Dragon Society, the Companions Guild remains independent and controls the most respected of the brothels and festival halls – as well providing training, guidance, and protection for the greatest of Tantrics and Courtesans. The services that the Companion Houses provide are greatly valued by the wealthy and the noble.

The Navigators Guild: Small, quiet, and extremely influential, the Navigator’s Guild is responsible for maintaining the series of Leygates, Waystones, and Mageports across Old Aquitaine. Closely allied to the Collegium, the Navigators Guild also maintains very close ties to the Adventurers Guild and provides a series of special services at discounted rates to both of those Guilds.

The Black Dragon Society (aka the Assassins Guild): Run out of hidden stronghold by “Grandfather” (or “Grandmother” as the case may be), the Black Dragon Society is a highly organized group of assassins and killers who operate with a fair amount of secrecy and who have agents hidden in guilds and organizations across Old Aquitaine. Some suggest that the Bounty Hunter’s Guild is merely a front for them, while others say the same about a selection of the Dueling Schools, and the truth really is not known.

Bounty-Hunters Guild: The only professional thief-takers in Old Aquitaine, many members are also known to take on less legal or at least more questionable bounties at the behest of those who are powerful. Often the bane of the local law enforcement, they are also often the option of last resort when corrupt officials refuse to pursue a legitimate criminal who preys on local business.

La Fortuna (aka the Entertainers Guild): Minstrels, Jugglers, Acrobats, Mountebanks and the like provide the bulk of this organizations members, which provides the members with a small degree of security and operates as arbitrator and mediator in disputes between various entertainers across Old Aquitaine. Known to have ties to the Syndicate, La Fortuna generally remains on good terms with the Companions Guild as well.

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Old Aquitaine (New Campaign Setting)

Imagine Japan, ten times the size – that’s where you’re at. Part of the what you learn is the “Old Empire” of Aquitaine, that fell close to a hundred years ago. The mainland is (by all accounts and rumor) a wasteland inhabited by all sorts of badness and ruins from a cataclysm that occurred close to a thousand years ago.

Dion is a city and kingdom that was one of the old provinces of Aquitaine (on a map of Japan look for the city of Osaka, that’s where Dion is). Aquitaine itself covered the whole of the island and was founded by refugees from the mainland in the aftermath of the aforementioned cataclysm who united the island under one rule. Notable neighboring kingdoms are Vasconia (near to Kobe), Navarre (near where Kyoto would be), and Morin (near Nagoya). These are far from the only kingdoms and only major cities, though Dion is ranked the third greatest, distant Taormin the second, and Navarre the greatest (and the former capitol of Aquitaine).

Because of the overall hostile nature of the mainland, plus the very intricately interwoven cultures of the island of Aquitaine, the various guilds of that old empire have pretty much survived intact and have actually prospered in the aftermath of the empires fall as they operate across the borders of the various kingdoms and act an excellent counterweight to attempts to reform the empire – despite some factionalism. Similarly, many of the more illegal guilds have also retained control over their respective domains. The Old Faith, the En Khoda Theos Kirk, and the Society of Light still exist, but it is worth noting that the veneration of the Great Gods seems absent for the most part – while the worship of the various Godlings has increased greatly.

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Non-Human Cavaliers… (1e)

Yes, it’s been awhile since I posted – two different bits of family drama intruded into life and I’ve been busy. I’m woefully behind on the gaming log, and there have been some major changes that I have to fill folks in on…

But this post is about Cavaliers – specifically for non-human Cavaliers!

Yeah, I know that some folks have some serious hate for the cavalier, but I was never super-impressed by the complaints then or now…

While Unearthed Arcana says that humans, half-elves, and elves can be cavaliers, I have expanded this out to include dwarves and sh’dai as well. But like the The Elven Cavalier suggests in Dragon #114, this does require some tweaking. So, without much more discussion, here are the campaign-specific (and actually more culture-based rather than racially-based, so included are the two different versions of human cavaliers) weapons-of-choice and preferred armour selections for cavaliers.

  • Wood Elves
    • Greatbow or Longbow (First Primary), Longsword (Second Primary), Spear or Ransuer (Player’s Choice), Javelin or Shortsword (Player’s Choice)
    • Elven Chain
    • Damage Bonus to Primary Weapon of Choice: +1 per 3 Levels
    • Combat Bonus: Forest Combat
  • High Elves
    • Shortbow (First Primary), Longsword (Second Primary), Spear or Polearm (Player’s Choice), Greatsword or Shortsword (Player’s Choice)
    • Elven Plate & Chain
    • Damage Bonus to Primary Weapon of Choice: +1 per 3 Levels
    • Combat Bonus: Mounted Archery
  • Grey Elves
    • Longsword (First Primary), Battlesword (Second Primary), Fighting Knife or Shortsword (Player’s Choice); Greatsword or Scimitar (Player’s Choice)
    • Elven Plate & Chain
    • Damage Bonus to Primary Weapon of Choice: +1 per 3 Levels
    • Combat Bonus: +1 Level when fighting Dual-Weapon
  • Humans of Aquitaine (Great Families)
    • Lance (Primary); Broadsword, Battlesword or Scimitar (Player’s Choice); Mace, Flail, or Battleaxe (Player’s Choice)
    • Full Plate Armour
    • Damage Bonus to Primary Weapon of Choice: +Level when Mounted
    • Combat Bonus: +1 Level when Mounted
  • Humans of Aquitaine (Old Clans)
    • Longsword (First Primary); Longbow (Second Primary); Shortsword, Battlesword, or Greatsword (Player’s Choice); Lance, Polearm, or Spear (Player’s Choice)
    • Full Plate Armour
    • Damage Bonus to Primary Weapon of Choice: +1 per 3 Levels
    • Combat Bonus: +1 Level when Mounted
  • Sh’dai (Shadowlands)
    • Greatsword or Battlesword (Primary); Fighting Knife, Shortsword or Battleaxe (Player’s Choice); Mace, Flail, or Longsword (Player’s Choice)
    • Full Plate Armour
    • Damage Bonus to Primary Weapon of Choice: +½ Level
    • Combat Bonus: Beserker when Fighting Alone
  • Dwarves
    • Waraxe or Warhammer (Primary); Battleaxe, Hammer, or Battlesword (Player’s Choice); Fighting Knife, Mace, or Flail (Player’s Choice)
    • Dwarven Plate Armour
    • Damage Bonus to Primary Weapon of Choice: +½ Level
    • Combat Bonus: +1 Level against Giant-Class Creatures

There are a handful of other tweaks to Weapon Restrictions, Codes of Honor, etc. – but those can wait until another time…



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