Thursday, March 28, 2019

Dwarves of Athas Part Four: Lifecycle

One of the original Dwarves
Although I've seen plenty of Dwarven children running around, playing, and working, I was surprised that Dwarves were so close-mouthed about their life cycle. I actually had to talk to a human resident of South Ledopolus to gather the information. Her name is Tabitha and she has worked from numerous Dwarven families and find joy in working with their children. I heard that Tabitha herself is barren and consoles herself with helping raise the children of others.

The first thing we, as humans, have to realize is just how long a Dwarves life is compared to ours. A Dwarf will generally see three generations of humans grow old and die before they succumb to age. So, a Dwarf born today will see your grandchildren have grandchildren.
Also unlike we humans, Dwarves have a longer childhood. They aren't fully mature adults until  they reach their twenty-ninth birthday. They are considered young children until age nine and children until they are twenty-one. Between the ages of twenty-one and twenty-nine a Dwarf is an adolescent. Then, on their twenty-ninth birthday, they are expected to choose a focus and set out to fulfill it.
The first time I witnessed a Dwarven mother giving birth, it was quite not what I was expecting. I had served in midwifery roles during human births before and I thought it would be the same. I was wrong. Dwarven mothers don't make much noise at all. A little grunting is all. Dwarves don't seem to be as fertile as human women, so they generally have a number of years between siblings. This is one reason that Dwarves fiercely protect their children.

Tabitha paused here and leaned closer to me, even though we were alone. She continued with a whisper.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Yuan-ti of Athas Part Five: Ssapha

Sapha (Halfbreed)
Climate/Terrain: Any
Frequency: Very rare
Organization: Nation or Tribe
Activity Cycle: Any
Diet: Carnivorous
Intelligence: High to Exceptional (13-16)
Treasure: C
Alignment: Any evil
No. Appearing: 1 - 4
Armor Class: 4/0
Movement: 12 or Slither 9
Hit Dice: 7 or 8 + Class (if applicable)
Thac0: 13
No. of Attacks: 1 or 2
Damage/Attacks: See Below
Special Attack: Psionics + Class abilities (if applicable)
Special Defense: Class abilities (if applicable)
Magic Resistance: 10%
Size: M

Morale: Elite (14)
XP Value: Varies based upon hit dice, characteristics, and class level (if applicable)
Psionic Summary
Level: 1
Dis/Sci/Dev: 1/1/3
Attack/Defense: 1/1
Score: 15
PSPs: 21
Telepathy: Mindlink, Aversion, Contact, (Any one mental attack devotion)

Thursday, March 21, 2019

Yuan-Ti of Athas Part Four: Ssuddha

Ssuddha (Abominations)
Climate/Terrain: Any
Frequency: Very rare
Organization: Nation or Tribe
Activity Cycle: Any
Diet: Carnivorous
Intelligence: Genius (17-18)
Treasure: C, P
Alignment: Any evil
No. Appearing: 1 - 4
Armor Class: 0
Movement: Slither 9
Hit Dice: 9 + Class (if applicable)
Thac0: 11
No. of Attacks: 2
Damage/Attacks: See Below
Special Attack: Psionics + Class abilities (if applicable)
Special Defense: Class abilities (if applicable)
Magic Resistance: 20%
Size: L (10' long)
Morale: Champion (15)
XP Value: 5,000 + Variable amount based on class (if applicable)
Psionic Summary
Level: 2
Dis/Sci/Dev: 2/1/5
Attack/Defense: 1/1
Score: 17
PSPs: 35
Psychometabolic: Chameleon Power, Chemical Simulation
Telepathy: Mindlink, Attraction, Contact, (Any one mental attack devotion)

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Session Seventeen: Spines in the Sand

Note: For those unfamiliar with Dark Sun, psionics are called the Will for wild talents and the Way for trained psionicists.

Sandstorms are dangerous.
The storm picked up and raged around the characters as they hid in their makeshift shelter. Kalino took the opportunity to do further work on his chitin khopesh and show Kyran, one of the freed slave children, how to build weapons.
Alaxander altered some of Atkil's clothes to make a tunic for Kyla, another of the children. Vashti and Julius tested the children for psionics and finally had the time to ask them their names. There was Cara, Kyla, and Osian, who had the will. There was also Kyran, Ben, and Dean, who did not.
The storm raged for the rest of the day and all through the night. The group decided to keep watch, just in case the sand crocodiles returned.

Friday, March 15, 2019

Dwarves of Athas Part 3: Family and Clan

Next, I had the privilege of speaking to Agafya, an old Dwarven woman who was likely already hard at work when my grandfather was learning to walk. She did not need a drink to speak to me, but I purchased one for her anyway. She had heard I was asking about Dwarves and I told her I wanted to learn all about them.
I'm sure you are well aware of Dwarves from what our kind show you in public. The hardness, the steadfastness. Well, there is a side of our people that we do not show the outside world and that is our love of family. Dwarves value only our focuses higher than our families. Unlike many humans, we value our extended families as well as our close family. Grandparents, uncles, cousins, they're all as close as immediate family members.
Of course, to manage our large families we form clans. Clans are lead by a Uhrnomus, a close enough translation is over-leader. The Uhrnomus is responsible for over-seeing the entire clan. He, or she, is often the eldest user of the way or cleric in the clan. The Uhrnomus acts as a judge among the clan, setting disputes and seeing to everyone's overall well being. The Uhrnomus is assisted by an uhrnius, or leader.
The Uhrnius has responsibility similar to the Uhrnomus, but with only part of the clan. While an Uhrnomus may have a hundred or more Dwarves to look after, the Uhrnius has about half that amount. If there is a dispute beyond the Uhrnius to handle, they may have the Uhrnomus review it for them. Of course, if a Uhrnius does this too often, they are likely to find themselves replaced as Uhrnius by the Uhrnomus.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Yuan-Ti of Athas Part Three: Leadership

If you missed it, here's part one and part two.

Yuan-ti Ssapha
The current ssassaka (over-leader) is Kalo Authi, a powerful defiler. Ssassaka Authi is a large brown scaled ssuddha (abomination) with a human head. He has a horned viper for a familiar. Ssassaka Authi recently came to power with the mysterious death of his predecessor. One of his first acts was to ally his people with an adult vishap, named Graytch, that lives near Tavara Ssarpale. He has also ordered more assuddha (pureblood) to be trained as merchant-spies in order to learn as much as he can about the other cities of the Tablelands.
Kalo Authi leads the hatyara (assassins) and gande (defilers). His neta (sub-leaders) consist of eight ssuddha (abominations).
The eldest neta is Kayamata, a powerful user of the way. Kayamata believed he would be selected as the next ssassaka by the netas. When Kalo Authi was chosen instead, Kayamata returned to running Tavara Ssarpale with much bitterness. Kalo Authi is aware of Kayamata's bitterness and keeps a close watch on him. One of Kayamata's ssallahakarama (advisor) is a ssapha (halfblood) named Ssundara. Ssundara gathers information on Kayamata and reports it directly back to Kalo Authi.
The neta in charge of the yuan-ti military is Yud'dha. Yud'dha supported the appointment of Kalo Authi to ssassaka. Yud'dha is extremely cruel and hissess the greatness of yuan-ti rule into the ssassaka's ear. Yud'dha would like nothing more than to lead his armies into battle against the cities of the Tablelands. Yud'dha is a strong and skilled fighter.

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Review of Dark Sun Vignette: "Cold Tower"

Jesse Heinig wrote this short location reference for AD&D 2nd Edition Dark Sun. I am going to review it. Just to let readers know: I do not know Jesse Heinig and have no reason to have an opinion of this vignette before reading it. You can read it yourself: Download it here.
The first thing I did was look up what a vignette was, because I was educated in California and had no idea what that meant. Turns out, in this instance it meant: "a short descriptive literary sketch" or "
a brief incident or scene." Now, on to the review.
A yakhchāl in the early morning on Athas.
The vignette begins by explaining that Cold Tower can be dropped into an existing campaign in almost any location. While that is true, I believe it would be most suitable in the sandy wastes or stony barrens, which the author agrees with me about.
It also discusses that this could be made into a short, one shot adventure by making this location a current home of a magic or psionic item. This is true and would make an interesting one-shot for introducing new players to Dark Sun.
The introduction continues by explaining that the village was founded by free people and escaped slaves. The village was constructed, but then the people died of a plague not too far afterward. As a location in a long running campaign, I believe this history is fine. However, if you choose to use this location as a one shot adventure, I would suggest giving it a more interesting backstory with defilers or psionicists.
The rest of the introduction explains the science behind the cold tower, which is called a yakhchāl in the real world. The description is as accurate as I could find without getting too much into the exact science. Yakhchāls basically work as an evaporative cooler. I think Heinig's conclusion that these structures would exist on Athas is a good one.

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Session Sixteen: Encountering Slavers

Note: For those unfamiliar with Dark Sun, psionics are called the Will for wild talents and the Way for trained psionicists.

Stony Barrens
The group traveled down the road, surrounded by stony barrens. Other caravans passed them, traveling to and from Altaruk. They stayed away from the other caravans and did not try to speak with them.
Just before high sun, Vashti spotted a dog stuck in a patch of cactus. She alerted Shade, who went to speak with it. The dog seemed friendly, if not smart, and Shade helped free the dog. He asked the dog to stay with him and the dog agreed. Shade named the dog Spike. They then rested during high sun.