Saturday, June 29, 2013


This Worldbuilding by Map post is from the worldbuilding genius that is

Be sure to check the tutorials page. Some of you may know this, and some of this you may not know - you only think you do. Trust me, I've been a worldbuilder for several years now. I have taken university courses simply because I knew that they would teach me better worldbuilding bits and goodies. And I learn something from Jonathan every time I check his site!

Fair warning: You will get lost in the Maps section. There, my conscience is clear.

And perhaps the best part....these FREE maps! (make sure you read the Creative Commons link)

Saturday, June 22, 2013

D&D Past and Present

Sporkchop shared this video on his blog yesterday. I don't have nearly the readership he does, but I want to do my part to share and share alike. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Wo(den) Unto Them Who Miss This

Very fitting for a Wednesday post and bonus geek points if you know why.

Nerd out Tolkien-Viking style!

God of Wednesday

And because I got another promo email from them FREE shipping from Banners on the Cheap. I spend my money on toys, or do I order a hexmap? I hate making such grown up decisions.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Pokies and Wullies...With a Bonus Dwarf Murder Mystery

Goats (males) are known as pokies, sheep (females) are simply wullies.
They come in various colors: black, spotted, brown, and white.

White pokies/wullies are usually found only in the snowy mountains where their hide acts as a natural camouflage. In the spring and/or lower altitudes, the white mountain pokie’s coat turns an ashy gray to better hide it against the rocks. An extremely rare mountain pokie is the Great Black Pokie, with long horns and a thick black coat. Black pokies and wullies are much more common in the domesticated, flatlands breeds, but to have one be completely black (not a mix of color or spots) is almost unheard of.

 For some unknown reason, pokies climb trees – at least shepherds have never been able to figure it out. This odd behavior has never been observed as it occurs. Shepherds simply wake to find that a pokie has climbed a tree. This has led to the belief that pokies can fly - there are even fairy tells of chariots being carried aloft by flying black pokies. In all actuality, it’s a defense mechanism. The male pokie does this so he can literally watch over his flock and genetically speaking, even if the rest of the flock is devoured by a predator, the male’s genes survive to potentially gather another flock and reproduce.

Shaggy ones with long horns are called Great Pokies. They are rare because they were hunted nearly to extinction, by the dwarves, for drinking horns and/or helmet ornamentation. Their long coats also make excellent robes. A black great pokie is 1 in over 2,000. This exceedingly rare specimen has only ever been seen on an exceptional handful of lucky occasions. Dwarves believe it’s a sign of good fortune to come. But if one goes hunting for a great black pokie and either doesn’t find one, or worse, finds one but cannot kill it, these are bad omens of a life of toil, pursuit, and missed opportunity. 

King Ovid Cleft-Foot – so named because once in a drunken, capering reverie he dropped his war axe, splitting his right foot several inches above his toes. He was lucky enough not to lose the foot entirely, but the wound never knitted back together because he wouldn’t stay off it like his physician told him to. He forever walked with a limp. To this day there is a dwarf admonishment to “never dance drunk and barefoot with a battleaxe”.

A pair of dwarf brothers (Hairn and Gote) are in competition for the throne/pokie crown of their father. He challenges them each to find and kill a great black pokie for their coronation feast. Doing so will result in them becoming king. Gote is the eldest and feels that he shouldn’t have to earn the crown; it should be his by right. But the king knows that Hairn would likely make a better ruler because, being the younger, he always understood that people aren’t going to just give you respect, you must work to earn it.

They leave the unterholm by different doors, but end up fairly close to each other in their hunts. Hairn amazingly spots one and fires at it…but misses. The pokie fleas (unbeknownst to Hairn) toward his brother, Gote. Hairn is much disturbed by the omen that he had the crown within his grasp and it slipped away due to his haste. He pursues the pokie. Against all odds he finds it again in the driving snow. This time he steadies himself, takes a deep breath, and fires into the wind. He fells the great black pokie. 

The only reason he was able to hit it is because the pokie’s attention was diverted. Upwind of it was Gote readying his kill shot as well. Because Gote was firing with the wind, and Hairn was on the leeward side of the hill, Gote’s arrow passes over where the pokie was standing. Had it not fallen to Hairn’s shot, Gote may have hit it. As it was, Hairn killed the pokie, and Gote’s arrow struck Hairn in the chest. All Gote sees in his excitement is that the prey fell. He rushes to claim it and finds his brother’s arrow buried in its lungs. Hairn lays gasping and bleeding in the blizzard. Gote has a choice: he can leave the trophy, knowing full well he did not kill it, and try to save his brother (the rightful king) by getting him back to the unterholm. Or he can pull his brother’s arrow from the pokie and replace it with his own. He chooses option B. Hairn cries out in pain and rage as his brother betrays him, pulling the shaft from the black coat. Gote approaches, silences Hairn by stabbing him in the throat with his own arrow. As Hairn dies gurgling, Gote plunges his arrow into the pokie. He then shoulders his brother’s still warm corpse and dumps him in a deep, narrow ravine – ne’er to be found. Then he obscures the tracks of the bloody scene and returns home with his ill-gotten prize. 

No one ever knows what became of Hairn the Lost. Some think he never came back because he couldn’t stand to live under his dark brother (they whisper Hairn’s the lucky/smart one to have left). Others think he left to found a new unterholm where he could be king. 

Gote the Black – named for his rare black robe, is a horrible ruler and a drunkard. He is brooding and sullen and constantly tries to drink away his brother’s murder. His hands were cleaned at the coronation after he skinned the pokie and ate its heart in front of witnesses, but he can never get the blood off his conscience. In drunken fits of rage he’s heard screaming “I’m king! My brother missed his chance! I’m king!”

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Gnays, Kneddies, and Heejaws - Gnomish Beasts of Burden

Gnays, Kneddies, and Heejaws are rather smallish ponies/burros/equines.

Rather than sleep standing up like ordinary horses, kneddies will kneel down to sleep, tucking their short legs underneath themselves like cats or camels. Curling up this way into very small lumps means that they will usually go unnoticed by any predators - which is just about everything. Gnomes don't often eat their domesticated equines, but a hungry human has no qualms about spitting one over a fire. Mmmm...kneddy chops. 

They are not suited for riding with a traditional saddle, but instead are arranged into teams for pulling small carts. 

A mare will bear not more than 4 tiny offspring. Ordinarily it is no more than 2, with an odd third runt sometimes slipping in. The chances of a mare carrying and birthing more than 3 [live] offspring is exceedingly  rare. There are hostlers tales of a good breeding mare birthing 2 litters of 4 each before she finally died, but they’re typically dismissed as horse-tales -- they are so called because a horse’s tail only goes up so much naturally before it produces sh*t.

It’s a brutal practice in butchery, but any runts are usually killed shortly after birth because they’re too sickly or would cause competition for feed. To be called “worthless as a kneddy runt" is an incredible insult that will likely result in bloodshed. 

Gnomes are the only humanoid beings small enough to ride such miniscule creatures, and even then, they do so bareback to cut down on the weight of saddle and tack. A single kneddy can only carry 75 lbs reliably. Anything more than that and they will simply tire out or refuse to move at all.

Compared to a regular donkey, the kneddy is quite small. Even a “large” one is not quite shoulder height to a human youth.

If bearing a light single-rider cart, one will suffice, but they can pull no more than the weight of the rider and their possessions. They are not “pack mules” capable of hauling great loads. If the rider/cargo’s weight exceeds 200 lbs combined, it is too heavy to pull (on wheels). If the kneddy is a “companion” animal that carries the weight of supplies on its back, anything greater than 100 lbs is considered too heavy and will risk the animal’s health. For travelers that don’t care much for the animal, they will load it heavy, walk it to death, and then consume the meat. 

The hide of a kneddy is considered unfit for anything more than light gloves. It is not thick enough to warrant foot wear and it is certainly lacking in the durability of any kind of armor. Its hide would need to be at least 4-5 x as thick to be of any use for protection.Gnome maidens will often wear kneddy hide aprons because they are inexpensive to replace should something tear or stain them. 

A team of 2 may pull upwards of 200 lbs (including the cargo and weight of the cart itself). Ordinarily one does not ride with a team of only 2 unless the rider is the only thing being pulled. When hauling goods, the master attaches a set of long reins that pass over or around the cart laden with supplies. The animals cannot exceed the walking pace of a human, so they just trundle along saving the master’s back from toting the weight of a heavy pack. Some gnomes have even devised light canopy carts. The design has wheels a bit taller than the driver and an angled canvas canopy that extends over the driver. They are devised as such so the driver is sheltered from the weather, and in the off chance that the team spooks and runs, the gnome master simply falls flat and the high wheeled cart passes harmlessly o’er top of them.

4 can comfortably pull a rider and cart loaded with up to 300 lbs for medium duration/distance. If one falls victim to injury or predation (completely lacking any natural defense) the rider must either walk beside the vehicle or drop 50 lbs of gear.

 A team of 10 can haul/drag the same amount as a regular horse. To carry 2 riders is considered a reckless strain on the creatures. As such, sometimes only 1 person (up to a normal human) will ride while any companions walk beside the lead kneddies to keep them moving. A responsible gnome child might be put in charge of driving the wagon, while their parent(s) lead the team. 

A heavily laden gnomish wagon would need a team of at least a dozen. They can be arranged in 2 rows of 6, 4 rows of three, or 3 rows of 4. Most common is 3 across (known as a gnomerow). The downsides to traveling this way is that A) it looks a bit ridiculous, B) the harnesses are prone to tangle if the entire team fails to work together, C) because gnomes and gnomerows generally lack adequate defense, they make easy targets for predators (both humanoid and otherwise). 

Kneddies also have a natural fear of water as they are profoundly weak swimmers. Any water more than about knee-deep on a human is cause for panic/hesitation/refusal for a team of these wee creatures.
The advantage of keeping/raising kneddies is that they are small and docile and can be very easily sheltered in stables that resemble shelves upon shelves of the wee things. They are exceeding gentle, almost like a favorite pet, and even the odd unfriendly one cannot deal much physical damage (not more than a human biting a gnome). They don’t eat much, and they can eat darn near anything, up to and including stinging, sour swamp grasses. This iron stomach also allows them to drink even murky, fetid bog water. This is about the only thing nature has given to help these tiny animals survive in an otherwise harsh world. The drawback to these walking garbage guts is that they are prone to noisome flatulence and thereby they usually stink of whatever they’ve been eating.