Sunday, March 25, 2012

Jalamere: Considering Player Character Options

I wanted to take a break from still more Encounter Tables for Jalamere. Needed a change. I'll finish the whole Black Ziggurat sequence off eventually.

I found this old sketch from way back while going through some old files. Doing a little Spring cleaning. Anyhow, this little fella got me to thinking about swapping-out one of the usual PC options for spiders. Intelligent, dextrous, expert climbers and trap-makers & finders...natural thieves and adventurers. As a Fighting Spider they'd be able to wield multiple light weapons and use their webbing in combat. As Spell-casters they'd be able to read more than one scroll simultaneously and enchant their webs to form temporary magic items (usually traps...). As Clerics, they'd be more blood-thirsty than a vampire and might even hunt those particular forms of undead down as competitors for the same food-source.

Maybe they're caste-oriented and each segment of their society is served by a particular species/sub-species...which might open the door to intelligent scorpions or other arachnids...maybe they have human slaves that they raise for food and servants, like Eloi perhaps...

Hmmm...still kicking that idea around a bit. We'll see where it leads.

Then there's the Octopi. Over at the excellent A Paladin in Citadel blog this past February there was a stroll down memory lane with the weapon-wielding Octopi from the old Microquest: Death Test II, and that got me to thinking about the Octopoidal Degenerates from our Cliff Tomb of Vhonj adventure (Jewel Throne?) and the Octoscholar, and a quick search led me to an old post by Michael Curtis over at The Society of Torch, Pole and Rope blog where he has done-up an Octopus Race Class. I really liked the sword-wielding Octopi from Death Test II. Barbarian Molluscs who are cross-planar invaders, with sorcerous ties back to a realm of deep, dark oceans sound like fun.

Octopi with scimitars and eye-patches spiked bucklers would be fun.

Less Lovecraftian, more Beatles would be more fun.

Unless there are Half-Octopi running around. Ick. That's definitely more Lovecraft-esque. But it could be fun. Sort of. Maybe. Still ick though.

Centaurs might also be interesting to try-out in Jalamere. It's a lot of wide-open spaces, rugged terrain and well-suited to people who have built-in all wheel drive. Most of the time it's a real pain to try and squeeze a centaur down into a dungeon, but with Jalamere, there's plenty of room...until you run up to the edge, the World Rim. Heck, maybe they're gecko-centaurs...that'd be a really good option for exploring all the ruins and such-like all down the jagged cliffs and chasms along the World-Rim. Then winged apes or monkeys might be an even better bet. Or more spiders.

Vertical skirmishes up and down the notched and eroded cliffs below the World Rim between geckotaurs, winged monkeys, octopi and spiders. And velvet-worms. Big, nasty, armored and intelligent velvet-worms who've crawled up from deep below, fighting their way past megapedes, tiger-wasps, and who knows what else all the way up the great cliffs. Now that sounds intriguing.

Mapping the Rim Regions and all those cliffs, niches and cave-pockets is going to be a real pain...unless we do some sort of variation on Dyson's vertical geomorphs...hmmm...that could work. I'll have to try sketching something out over the weekend.


  1. With a serious world edge such as Jalamere has, there must be at least one intelligent species or cult which tries to end thimgs by galloping right off the edge of the world.

  2. I love the spider idea, and the cliff habitats only make it more attractive - maybe they weave webs to catch falling creatures, especially in areas of high unpredictability in air flow at the Rim. Maybe they guide prey over the edges somehow...

    What's humidity and precipitation like in the region? Condensation or spray from the rivers could form pools and mean weird isolated realms evolve. Gecko-like centaurs could emerge from those, and they're a fun idea as well.

    As for the mapping, vertical geomorphs of some sort would be great, and they'd work for Shard Fall on Stopover as well - the time may have come for a Cliffcrawling to go with your Roofcrawling... I'm in if you want to source table entries.

    I'm drawing a more isometric map at the moment, which is a format that has real potential for showing depth, and although the workload is higher, geomorphs with some kind of depth through forced persepctive might be possible.

  3. @Tallgeese: Certainly! I'm leaning towards using Centaurs out past the World Rim as a major power--nomadic heavy cavalry. Serious raiders, and possibly good barbarian stock.

    Dumping troublemakers or opponents (sacrifices?) over the edge seems like a natural fit. This leads to the building of nets, webs, etc. farther down below to try and cash-in on this profligate wastage. There might be winged species who offer a sort of insurance/recovery policy or service. Body recovery, or loss prevention...whatever the niche, someone will figure out a way to exploit it, one way or another.

    @Porky: I want to avoid anything too Vardeman-esque (ala Cenotaph Road), and go for something a bit more Oz-like or Anansi-style perhaps. Less overtly threatening and more socially integrated, after a fashion. In a way these things are somewhat similar in their relationship to conventional society as half-orcs are in the more medieval milieus, or even half-drow. A bit monstrous, but making progress and becoming a more accepted part of it all...heck that sounds like NextGen Klingons too, doesn't it? Spider-Klingons? That'd be odd...

    RE: Humidity, the waterfalls really provide a lot of water to work with, where they are found, in-between it can get really, really dry and barren. The more Lamia-style nasties, Ekimmu-things, dehuman/inhuman critters prowl those spaces. things that prey upon the living, but aren't suited to the higher-up regions. Usually.

    Your idea for the pocket environments is exactly the approach intended. Isolated pools, eroded pockets, overgrown niches where life can take root and ecosystems develop...and where species like the Geckotaurs can live and grow and form tribes, etc. until population pressures or warfare or disasters, etc. force them to migrate outwards and upwards.

    I'm cleaning-up the old set of geomorphs, then will be posting my efforts on adapting the vertical approach to what we're doing with Jalamere. If those work for your stuff, then that'd be great! Vertimorphs. Yeah, that sounds fun. So does Cliffcrawling, which is definitely going to get going in another week or two ('C' for the A-to-Z to be exact...). Feel free to jump in any time. We'll set-up an index that points to anyone else's stuff that fits, like the revised index we're doing for Roofcrawling (since DM Muse is defunct and you've done some awesome good stuff for this sort of thing).


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