Monday, March 25, 2019

The Monsoon Ghats - 1. The Faith of Colors & Early Notes

The Lord of the Universe ignited the twin suns of soul and sacrament, illuminating the endless tapestry of night. All His manifold dreams coalesced into all that exists, in all possible forms and in the illusory stardust between those forms. Joy and emotion clouded the supreme truth of the Lord of the Universe, and in the light of the twin suns be birthed the world illusory. 

Granting His raw blissful emotion a place in the mist and smoke, the water and sky, and for a time He watched. He watched His virtues and vices, His ideals and emotions, and all the sins He thought Himself too majestic to possess. 

And then He heard a Voice, which granted Him purpose; for it was not of His creation. It spurred something new, His curiosity...


The Monsoon Ghats are the southern coastal mountains of the Land of Triumph, where the Lord of the Universe found joy and sorrow and was wounded by mortal man in a war betwixt the illusory nature of existence and the supreme truth of the cosmos. 

It is a borderland of the lush, with the ocean side of the ghats locking deep black soils and rich sinewy trees. Civilization holds itself here, bound by doctrine of the Daeva and the Asura; The Faith of Colors, honored still despite the warring nature of these celestial tribes. The common folk cling to moralities that might allow them to change their stars, often in lock-step with atrocities committed at the behest of their masters towards those who will not bow as deeply. The Faith of Colors was a thing of splendor before the celestial tribes suffered their schism, now the vestiges of once was engage in petty skirmishes for supplication. 

Many in the Ghats hold themselves to but four colors, forsaking all others. They festoon their banners and houses with that they were born to, hoping with power and time to ascend to the next.

Many are weaker for sake of these petty ambitions. 

A dog's age since a brahmin was born of deepest indigo and void-knowing. Most are conformed to mortal colors and mortal aspiration;, dominance, power, wealth and joy. Illusory items that weigh heavily upon their karma and might sink them completely to serpent-shriven underworlds if not for deeds done in ages past. 

The Faith of Colors is not diminished in its majesty, though it is fractured and as such tested. Those who once served it have been forsaken in man's pursuit of supremacy and comforts. 

The Raksha demand fealty for their service in the War of Wounding. Few are willing to pay, fewer still willing to admit the atrocities forced upon them. Some were concepts, illusory sins bound with purpose to slay perfidious river naga; others were of mortal tribes bent to the will of cruel words and made monsterful to fill the hosts of the supreme truth. They are a horror to behold, blackened like ash without an ember to stoke their soul. The Faith broke them, and now they play the villain for hope of promises to be honored and old shames apologized for. 

The Vanara are of equal pain, forced now to live in a world without blissful ignorance and the frivolity of a war-time's simple morality. Virtue forced into the framework of ignorant animal can make good deeds bestial and make a simple atavist contemplate too darkly the nature of their soul. These are not the heroes of ancient deeds, their temples and statues are forlorn. Most think of them as thieves and fools, undeserving of respect within the hierarchy. The Faith has left them to the wayside, they're characters for children's stories now.

The Bangla, the bear-people, have never held the Faith of Colors in any high regard, they wish only to fight and appease their Mountain at the roof of the world. Those within the Ghats are sell-swords and monster hunters, looking to drink deep the honey of the earth before they return to the stone from which they were born. Upon the fur of their chest is a pattern still, a rank held in the ancient armies, they feel contempt for those who do not recognize the mark. They claim to hear the dreams of the Lord of the Universe echoing out from the Mountain, though man does not entertain this blasphemy.

The Naga-Malla are perhaps all that remain truly devout to the Faith of Colors, and they view humanity as holding it in poor regard. The elephants existed since the first thrumming sound emitted when the Lord of the Universe ignited the twin suns. They know truth and revile in the illusory world which grows stronger with each passing age. They feel great doom, each cycle reborn with less of the world being as it should be. They would remake the Faith of Colors, but too quickly would man tarnish it in their petty grasp for power.


At a Glance
The Monsoon Ghats is a setting which makes use of a mash-up of B/X & Knave rulings, and it is constructed for sake of being a toolbox setting book akin to Yoon-Suin. Attention and research is paid for sake of representing religious and ethnic groups in a fantastical world without (hopefully) dishonoring their real world counterparts. Symbols and influences are meant to be present, but no group should be a 1-for-1 translation. I've been told to aim for that which I find interesting by my readers, and as such the Monsoon Ghats are designed for tiers of play which will eventually see characters involved more in warfare and politics than mere dungeon-delving. This is not a game of superheroic divinely powered characters, it is by design intended to come across as a vaguely pre-Vedic India which is dealing with other religions and socio-political factors that would not have cropped up in said era.

Notes in Broad Strokes
In meta-contextual notes; the Faith of Colors is the stand-in for Hinduism within the broader setting. It is, for the bulk of those who reside within the Monsoon Ghats, the truth of creation. It is henotheistic for the most part, though the Lord of the Universe's exact status is open to debate. He may be all that is, and thus beyond reaching; he may be only remnants and vestiges in the form of the Asura and Daeva, his sins and virtues and all of humanity is but a continued test to see if illusory desires or supreme truths will have a true victor.

I realize much of what is here doesn't present greater context to the religion, and that's...noted. I have more written but I'd rather not just lore-dump, especially for homebrew. I can bang it out to a good four pages altogether explaining the current socio-political-religious situation of the world, but I'd rather get further work done before that. Things change. My two sensitivity reader pals, one Hindu one Muslim, are both of the mind that I'm doing all right; but I'm a religious parasite who has never found that perfect fit while at the same time appreciating all the imagery. So it will be a situation. I also don't want the Faith of Colors to come across as Hinduism with the numbers filed off, because that's boring and offensive and I'll make note of that further down the page for those still reading. 

The Lord of the Universe, is for sake of my own interests, based more on the Jagannath by way of Vaishnavite origin. Though for my purposes he is re-purposed as an entity of flaws and virtues; who upon finding something beyond his own creation (perhaps this alone is a deception, an illusion, a falsehood) allowed himself to descend to the world he'd created and be subsequently maimed and wounded by aspects of himself he dared not accept. He is, for my purposes, much like a young lover who in his own inability to accept and work on his weaknesses, is undone by them. 

This is not a setting of Good and Evil, Law and Chaos; it is one of Virtue and Illusion by which ones karma is judged. Those who adhere to positive actions in their life will face many tests and will, hopefully, rise to the occasion stronger for it. Those who dwell in the illusory world of temporary mortal joys will be given chance to deny such things, and many may yet fail. Karma, as a statistic, is  on a 1-100 rating with thresholds. It is primarily rolled when you wish for someone to believe in you or to appeal to their better nature. It is used by Holy-men to reveal the wicked and weak of moral fiber. It has no stronger power than that and in translation between other faiths beyond the Faith of Colors, things are often lost. 

I like personally, the idea of demi-humanity within the setting being leftovers from a powerful ancient conflict. The Vanara are without guidance or grand heroism to participate in, as such they are without purpose in these "modern" times. The Raksha are either illusory spirits forced into a truism, a "Cruel-but-Certain" or "Spiteful-but-Honest" type of situation; or they are made from human beings who in seeking their own grasp on the world were converted against their will. I always found it interesting how certain groups in Hinduism were demonized while still being very much real-world ethnic group stand-ins. I like the Raksha as being strange spiritual ogre-esque horrors who by all accounts deserve praise and thanks but are not given any; I think this can lead to a tragic narrative and purpose for adventuring.

The Bangla are based upon Jambavan, and in theory they are meant to represent those who religion has left behind, the larger than life heroes whose own traditional way is discarded in favor of what is palatable and easier as a societal control mechanism. I also like the idea of blue sun bear/sloth bear monster hunters, that's cool. They mirror well against the Naga-Malla, whose traditional view on the Faith of Colors is that humanity has perverted it and things are only getting worse; they're literal Opener of Ways and Remover of Obstacles type elephant demi-gods. 

I like the idea of a starting party consisting of various humans from differing varna, who function in society on different levels but in the eyes of any demi-humanity character are all the same. I personally view the "caste" system as a control mechanism, especially in our modern day where its subtle strings are things I have to deal with as a fully Americanized/Colonized brown person. That all being said, I do of course have massive respect for Hinduism as a religious grouping. It is beautiful and intriguing. 

Which leads to my next note.

No Kali in Fantasylands
Not a fan of putting real world religions 100% into fantasy worlds, it just doesn't do me right. While it is already presumptuous to state a religion to be an absolute truth in fantasy, it is even more harmful to do so while misrepresenting it egregiously. There is no Kali or Hanuman or Ganesh in the Monsoon Ghats, what there is would be Daeva or Asura; the benevolent and baleful faces of the shining supreme beings who represent those sorts of powers. 

Hopefully by Friday, though I make no promises, I'll have my proper Daeva/Asura Generator for the Monsoon Ghats up. It is made for determining lesser house/personal deities, larger deities, and the stories associated with them. Each figure has multiple stories depending on their domains (they are tied to the Holy-man class, after all), as well as notes for items like should one become a decapitated god, or should one become an amalgamated deity. 

The Monsoon Ghats is meant to have more to it than just Hinduism. Jainism (under the framework auspices of the specific belief that it existed prior to Hinduism), Sikhism, Buddhism, Islam, and certain more interesting forms of Shaktism will see parallels; none of which are intended to be 1-for-1s, and all of which may have some degree of commentary upon them while at the same attempting to respect and pay kindness to their beauty. Which is to say that if I am to go into this specific set of randomizations for not!Hinduism, the same sort of care and consideration for randomizers would also need to be applicable to other faiths in the game. 

Current play-testing sees a Holy-woman of the Bel Shahih (the pseudo-Islam of the setting), and that's going well, or at least is capturing the spirit of what I'm working towards so sayeth one of my readers. I would say it is going well to the point that even if I end up being an imperfect creator for this project, I will hopefully at least provide material enough to not misrepresent and to also allow for someone to use said material as tools to do a much better job in the future. 

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Dolmenwood: 30 Rumors Overheard

What follows was part of the same project as Gifts for Dolmenwood Classes, which I might finish up at some point when times are more certain. The idea for the rumors overheard were that they were dialogues or conversations heard at a feast, in a pub, et cetera; they are the epitome of gossip had by folks with drinks in their hands who want others to engage with them as they speak on these topics. Such rumors are, most likely, not fully true; but could help spark seeds of adventures down the line.

Though looking back on that post, I notice I forgot to update it for the Crowmaster & Woad Rager classes. I suppose, given my own additions to my homebrew Dolmenwooding, I ought to add Ratlings & Wosemen items before I post an update to the gifts. I have some ideas in mind...

Anyhow, here are 30 Rumors Overheard - Dolmenwood.

Rumors Overheard in the Dolmenwood [d30]

1.       “Heard there’s some lunatic up in the Fever Marshes, says he’s found a cheese that can cure damn near anything.”“…How does one find cheese in the Fever Marshes of all places?” “Oh that’s…I really don’t want to think on that.”

2.       “The Goat-Lords are at it again, bet this war is going to torch the whole damn High Wold.”“Wouldn’t that get fairies involved?”“Oh God, just what we need. Bloody fairy politicking with the longhorns.” “Maybe we’ll be dead by then.”

3.       “The Watchers are planning something. Something foul!”“What?”“Probably something active and wicked.”“…Would that make them the Actors?”“What?” “Like, they watched now they acted.”“…Talking about the bleeding end times and you’re cracking wise?”

4.       “I saw my cousin the other day, got bloody bewitched.”“Ain’t no such thing as witches.”“Tis true. He’s a woman now, stumbled out the woods blathering about a witch god what took his beater.”“..And you're sure this is your cousin, not a she-bandit what's gonna rob you blind in your sleep?”“Again? Bloody unlikely. I hope.”

5.       “I heard the Havenlanders might try to claim all Emeraude under some sort of Protectorate.” “The fuck is a Havenlander?” “They’re a bunch of gloomy dirt-eating sods.” “Oh…Think they’d tax us worse than Hogwarsh and Lucien?”

6.       “I heard The Royal College of Sorcery has all but boycotted the Sardineers Club.” “Woglemain pay with gilded leaves again?” “No clue, but nothing good can come from wizards and rich boys fighting.” “Well…maybe if they killed one another.”

7.       “The Venerable Laurenne was seen wandering the wold near Goatman territory.” “Maybe she’ll convert a few of the bastards.” “Or be eaten.” “Maybe her blessed flesh will convert a few of the bastards.” “Possibly into corpses.”

8.       “Oh lord, Shadwell and Furroughby are at it again last I heard. You hear this?” “Aye yeah, something about digging up a lost Goman city.” “Sure that won’t bring us curses.” “Or wretched undead.” “Fecking bastards, hope they choke.”

9.       “Got myself a bit of ink at the Roost.” “Yeah? How many venereal diseases you catch as well?” “…I don’t think I caught any.” “I heard they use all sorts of nasty stuff, you can never be too sure.” “Never in my life had I heard that. Thanks for this new needless worry, ya prat.”

10.    “Lord Borrid says he’s going to host a grand hunt come autumn, but I hear he needs men as soon as winter thaws.” “Oh yeah?” “Yeah. Gotta hire some poor blokes to capture the beasts he’ll let those frilly-pantsed nobles hunt come fall.”

11.    “It’s a conspiracy. Shydewicke don’t throttle folk.” “Oh? And you know this how? You friends with the Shade?” “I’m just saying, man’s a thief not a highwayman proper. Those bodies were mangled.” “Well, stranger things do happen…”

12.    “You been to Brandybile’s as of late?” “Not for a year and a day, why’s that?” “I hear some cult done filched his last four shipments of Lunden twill with them lil’green stone beads.” “Anyone find’em?” “Nah. That money’s just laying out.”

13.    “Got me a new knife, Jorye of Lankshorn made it.” “Oh, bad tidings there. Boy’s a devil-worshipper.” “WHAT?” “His blades cut keener than God intends and he’s got nasty pagan marks in his shop. I’d toss the knife” “…But I like me knife.”

14.    “One of the Sardineers wants to burn down Man of Gold, and I won’t be surprised if he does.” “What happened now?” “The rich boy wanted to please his wife so he went there, bought a special herb, and he’s been sporting a spike down there ever since. Been going nigh on three weeks.” “…That’s too long however ya cut it.”

15.    “..And then Sir Waverly just straight up had that knight beaten with clubs.” “Well you don’t accuse a man of corking his lance.” “But he usually takes those banters, especially from knights, in good humor.” “Probably gonna have some bad petty squabbles because of this.” “Oh aye, or worse. An expensive tournament.”

16.    “I heard ol’Thornwaif might be fleeing to the Havenlands.” “Didn’t she melt someone’s face off?” “Nah, but someone bought acid from her and melted someone’s face off. So, won’t be surprised.” “Damn shame. Already heard enough to find her stuff on the market. I like her little firecrackers.”

17.    “The Ducal Surveyor’s Guild is looking to re-evaluate taxes throughout the wold.” “Oh bloody great. The crowners show up yet?” “Already at Castle Brackenwold, building up a large troupe to break knees and steal money.” “Well, from the land-holders maybe. We should be fine, right?” “We ever really fine?”

18.    “Damn shame, I was told Paronax the Enwisened was going to be here.” “Didn’t take you for a friend to wizarding folk.” “Well I met him on the road not too long ago and he was blathering on about hiring on for some frog-catching for his research. Said he’d pay a king’s ransom.” “Can’t trust no wizards, friend.”

19.    “Mostlemyre damn near shat himself when he saw that coin I found.” “Magic?” “Old, possibly Goman, possibly fairy but like very old fairy.” “And you found that in your latrine?” “Aye, and now the bloke wants to fund a dig.” “In your latrine?”

20.    “Bishop is probably going to excommunicate Father Dobey.” “Why’s that?” “Well the man beds himself with goats.” “…Actual goats or she-goatmen?” “I always took him for a schemer.” “Aye, but you feck one goat and here you are…”

21.    “Merridwyn Scymes is making monsters out there in the woods, I swear to God, the One and True!” “…I mean, yeah, likely. But the woods are already bleeding fearsome and you said the same thing about Friar Baldry last month.”

22.    “Every night he’s screaming about owls! Owls this, owls that! Owls he says are taking him out of bed at night and poking him in the bum with silver tools.” “Well that’s…why’d you marry him again?” “I thought he’d be dead by now, honestly.”

23.    “Damn barrowbogey stole my father’s urn and gave all my boys a fever.” “That’s bold of them. You going to kill’em?” “For my boys, sure. But let them contend with that cantankerous old bastard now.” “Father still haunting you then?” “Well, not anymore.”

24.    “I saw old Dewidort up on that road that night, gave me a fearful fright.” “Dewidort’s a folktale,  a dead old birk of little consequence.” “Dead as yesterday, ‘e was. But standing all the same” “How much have you had to drink?”

25.    “Greydobe installed a new safe.” “Castle Brackenwold?” “Nah, he was carting it north. Lovely box, silver and gold. Hard to imagine what’ll go in it.” “Duke Lucien know?” “I figure he must.” “Well, that’s not gonna end well.”

26.    “The ruined abbey should really be refurbished at some point.” “Or we could build a new one.” “That’s damn wasteful. The abbey has history.” “The abbey is haunted and a den of thieves and witches.” “Oh ye of little faith and great idiocy.”

27.    “Philontimus was holding council with moss dwarfs, trying to learn how to talk to mushrooms or something.” “So glad our tithing goes to pay a lunatic out of Odd to speak with dirt and spores.” “I doubt they’d have much to say.” “The dwarfs or the fungus?” “Probably both. Whole thing stinks to high heavens.”

28.    “I hear the Watchers are plotting a coup against Hogwarsh.” “Well, at least they’ll be out of the forest for a bit. Seen me some of their womenfolk. I’m fixing to court one.” “That seems like a bad idea.” “Why?” “Probably watching you right now. Fixing to turn you into a newt.”

29.    “Spathewhat’s been acting strange.” “Didn’t you get a wedding band from there?” “Yeah.Ring’s been acting strange too. Glows a little at night. The spouse loves it, though they’re acting awful cruel about it.” “That why you here alone?”

30. “…So I told him to take the Runny-Root Challenge.” “Oh no.” “Oh yes. Shantywood, Oaf in the Oast, the Crimson Bath, the Jaunty Horn, and the Mannish Miser.” “Poor lad’s going to be dead by the end of it.” “Or his root will run-off. It’s what he gets for laying his oats about town.” “And he agreed to this?” “Only way I’ll take him back, I said, and the lecherous twit believed me.”

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Dolmenwood: Notable Trees of the Dolmenwood & Their Uses

"I hereby request a table of terse, evocative descriptions of the common, yet sublime trees that compose the Dolmenwood."

- Requested by David Perry of the Lithyscaphe blog.

If brevity is the heart of wit, then I am a heartless fool. But in all seriousness, here are 4 trees for each of the 11 regions of the Dolmenwood, with notes for both what they look like and long-winded descriptions of what good they might be used for. In all honesty, should've just done twenty. Even thirty would've been more than enough. 

Yet here I am. Had to reformat the dang thing five times too.


Many a wandering friar in the woods of the isle of Emeraude are known for their skill in botany, and while most wayfarers will accost them for their services in identifying mushrooms (usually for hedonistic or malicious purposes at that!), many are far more adept at examining the sublime yet subtle mutations the fae energies have upon the wood. Common trees, in certain areas of the wold, possess strange magics and features that are uncommon elsewhere in the world (at least according to the friars.)

When attempting to examine or search for one of these sublime trees, consult the following information for sake of guidance:

  • Friars: 4-in-6 chance of valid information (location, type of tree, strange effects).
  • Hunters: 2-in-6 chance of valid information (4-in-6 chance for location of "the weird tree")
  • Drune: 1-in-6 chance of valid information (they wish you harm, but if you are friend to them, 5-in-6 chance of valid information.)
  • Woodcutters: 3-in-6 chance of valid information, 5-in-6 chance for location (Backenwold, High Wold, Hag's Addle).
  • Generic NPC from Region, 1-in-6 chance to know location, always wrong information [see below]


Notable Trees of the Brackenwold

1. Brackenpine 
Appearance: Pine with curled frond-like needles. Sweaty bark.
Lore: Notable for its needles which bend and curl like the fronds of a young fern. The wood of such pines carry far more moisture than they need to, and pulping said tree can produce a powerful earthy-tasting syrup which is used in many hermetic remedies; particularly for toothaches. 

2. Sweet Monkswood  
Appearance: Oak with wide boughs, lacking leaves at the top. Smells sweetly.
Lore: A malady which effects young oak trees around their fortieth year, causing all leaves above a certain height to fall off and never grow back which in turn creates a strange tonsured look to the tree. Tea brewed from these "bald" twigs are sweet like candies and worth a fare amount on the spice market.

3. Itchermuss Tree 
Appearance: Dusty-leafed hazel with crackled nuts. Swarmed with vermin.
Lore: A low-growing off shoot of hazel trees, the itchermuss has leaves which collect all form of stinging detritus and irritating pollen, which in turn attract all manner of wasps, bees, and ants. To fall in an itchermuss is to court terrible rashes; but to an apiarist, they are a treasure to the trade. Its nuts taste bitter.

4. Sylvan Soverweald
Appearance: White wooded oak with beautiful patterns, feels warm as if always in sunlight.
Lore: An easily workable form of oak that is born from wayward seeds planted in the Otherwold. Soverweald grows high and the branches encircle with elegant angles befitting an Elfen crown. Prized by woodworkers, cutting down such trees can cause vicious reprisals by elfs, dryads, and the occasional moss dwarf who views it as a distant cousin of an ancestral fey source.

Notable Trees of the High Wold

1. Subtle Birch Hornwood 
Appearance: Birch whose branches sprawl out like antlers. Pungent spice smell to the bark.
Lore: A specific form of birch tree, mutated by the longstanding and capricious presence of goatmen. Branches grow gnarled and smooth rather than straight like a traditional birch. When peeled, the bark can make a soothing tea and the wood cannot be stained, remaining white as snow.

2. Mansæpple
Appearance: Dreadful looking crab-apple tree, smells of fermentation.
Lore: A form of apple tree that grows in the courtyard of Lord Malbleat's Manse. The fruit is unspeakably bitter, and when dried, resemble the twisted faces of men in torment. Can accentuate the flavor of any meat when used as a spice, though Malbleat hoards them for his own purposes.

3. Duskwood
Appearance: Towering pine with needled branches only upon the top. Shadow-hued bark.
Lore: Cultivated by the trusted servants of the dreaded Lord Ramius, the Duskwood trees grow tall and straight like blackened spears from the underworld, sprouting at too high a height into coniferous spear-heads. The bark of duskwood is used in the making of true spirit boards, and when burnt it produces only smoke which serves as a gateway to a hellish realm of shadows. 

4. Lethean Elm
Appearance: Twisted Elm with oddly-shaped shadowcasting branches. Sounds of laughter when wind blows through its boughs.
Lore: Tapped into the groundwater of the Lethean Well, these elms grow exceptionally gnarled and weird of bough. Their specific nature can only be discerned by how light casts shadows from the elm, those which reveal the form of fae shadow puppets belong to a Lethean Elm. The sap of these trees can form the basis of potent alchemical treatments, and when applied as a salve, seal shut any wound with great efficiency.

Notable Trees of the Tithelands

1. Goman's Spine
Appearance: Off-grey Ash which grows with spiky nub-like branches towards its base. Smells of cowardice.
Lore: These ash trees grow in the gaps between burial mounds or on the scrubland of ancient battlefields where the Goman invaders were beaten back by the men of Tolmenwode and Goatmen natives. Tapping a foot before the top of the trunk will allow a syrup of glooming green to flow, which if applied to weapons can rip at the spectres of spectral undead as though they were physical. Armor or weapons made of this tree are said to always break upon striking at a True Emeraude warrior.

2. Puckswood 
Appearance: Yew tree whose branches reach over the edge of cliffs. Lightly illuminated at dusk and night, as if by candles.
Lore: Wicked yews which often grow on the edge of cliffs, puckswood are common home to jack-of-the-lanterns, will-of-the-wisps, and glowbugs who act as lanterns seeking to lead men off the edge and to their dooms. Torches of puckswood glow with embers rather than ignite in flame, and remain lit when submerged in water for up to a minute. 

3. Silverpine
Appearance: Pine coated in silver dusting of pollen at all times of the year. Smells of iron.
Lore: Silverpines grow upon lands where ancient battles among faeriefolk ensued to great carnage, the eldritch blood soaking deep into the earth and nourishing fledgling seeds. Silverpines collect pollen from both this world and the Otherwold, and when burnt they serve as a powerful aromatic. Smoke from a Silverpine can sometimes trigger the silver sickness of faeriekind.

4. Shamblemound
Appearance: Akin to a crumpled strawberry tree, bent over itself. Berries are green and hard as stonefruit.
Lore: Shamblemounds are aptly named for their habit of being knocked about in thunderstorms and growing tightly around rocks or mounds they've been knocked towards. Taking up shelter beneath a shamblemound is a sure way to remain dry during arduous weather, and taking branches for grafting can allow a skilled gardener to naturally work wood into forms that will grow if properly nourished. Berries taste sour but their skins are easily candied.

Notable Trees of the Dwelmfurgh

1. First Oak 
Appearance: Oak tree, but ancient and wrinkled like the skin of your great grandmother; smelling of smoke and stagnancy. 
Lore: First Oaks are the first oaks, they are the concept of the oak, they are held in great value by the Drune for their longevity. Drune of skilled enough sorcery can commune with these trees and see, listen, and learn, all that such a tree has come to remember since the world was young and man dwelled in mud. The bark of a First Oak can contain spells of power for more than a single charge when used as a scroll, but the Drune consider it high sacrilege to wound the trees given the knowledge they might impart.

2. Wickerweald
Appearance: Pliable sallows, dusky autumnal colors. Smell of honey. Attract bees upon their boughs.
Lore: Wickerweald are a cultivated off-shoot of willow maintained by drunewives over generations, from mother to daughter. The wood of the wickerweald is harvested to create the framework for Drune hoods that need to be exceptionally tall or pointed, as well as in the creation of furniture, and sacrificial effigies in which human sacrifices are allegedly placed. If properly worked, wickerweald can provide a sturdy base for most costuming projects, and if used to build an apiary it will attract a hive of robust workers.

3. Mugmuntle Tree
Appearance: Low growing holly trees with poisonous berries that look like a starry night sky.
Lore: Mugmuntle berries have long been used in the woad of warriors in the Dolmenwood, both for painting their bodies and for psyching themselves into berserker states. The Drune cultivate Mugmuntle now to create wicked brews that make their enemies more pliable and open to manipulation. Drinking a tree of mugmuntle leaves can help ease the sickness of those who consume the berries. The berries, if pulped, can make a contact poison that can enrage a victim or pacify one if treated with the appropriate tinctures. 

4. Grovemoaners
Appearance: Spindly pines with long limbs ending in thin needled branches. Sounds of screams echo through the boughs when it rains. Iron nails can be found at all manner of odd angles in the trunk.
Lore: It is said when one betrays the Drune, after having undergone astonishing lengths to gain their trust, suffer the most heinous of deaths. Grovemoaners are pines which men have been crucified to. Their flesh is ripped by the long limbs of the tree, thrown flayed into the winds. Those who die here scream, and their scream echoes eternally upon the winds. The most fearsome wooden masks of the Audrune are made from the wood of a grovemoaner, often worn by those who performed the ritual upon their victim.

Notable Trees of the Nagwood

1. Pareidolic Mournwood
Appearance: Bare leafless trees, bark that resembles the tormented faces of human beings.
Lore: It is commonly held that when one sees faces in tree bark they are overtired or have stepped too close to Faerie; in the Nagwood, it means you have stepped into a graveyard of the damned. The trees that bare human faces, often more than a dozen, trapped in eternal torment, scream and moan in cacophonous lament as the wind blows through them. Necromancers may find they carry souls of use for their wicked art, while woodgrue in service to the Wood-King, know only mournful sorrow songs can be played on instruments of this wood's make. 

2. Blotbark
Appearance: Bloated trees, as if merely a bark layer containing a black tarry ooze. Smells of pitch.
Lore: Blotbark is a mark of corruption by the forces of chaos upon the wold, a sign that the years of existence and the testament of ages that are the forest are worth nothing while held in such bondage. Sometimes wicked fruit grows upon these trees, but no man of the cloth is willing to sacrifice their soul to dare taste or experiment with them. 

3. Splinterwood
Appearance: Shattered trees with sharp edges like broken glass. Painful to breath around.
Lore: Further corruption by way of chaos, splinterwood is deadly and it carries upon the wind like a gust of sewing needles or razors. It breaks easily enough, and the splinters seem to bury themselves deep in the flesh of those they touch---carried by tiny mite-like limbs. If properly and safely crushed and placed into a pouch can be used as an agonizing blinding powder.

4. Wosewillow
Appearance: Like an agonized giant, obscured by lichen, vines, and bramble branches that burst from a hole in its crown. Smells of tears, leaks spiders.
Lore: The Hairy Giants oppose the Wood-King, and of their champion the Nag-Lord made examples. Those who stood their ground against his expansion of the realm were rooted firmly in place, stuck in a dreaming hellish half-life wherein they feel every pain but can do nothing to strike out. If their wooden throats are cut, a hairy tarantula with the face of the wose-man upon its rump will emerge. Returning such spiders, alive, to the Hairy Giants will grant mortal man some degree of friendship among their ranks.  

Notable Trees of the Mulchgrove

1. Bloated Hogselm
Appearance: Thick-trunked elm with stunted branches and a greasy texture to its bark.
Lore: Bloated hogselm is a favored material of the moss dwarfs as it is rich in nutrients and easy to cultivate fungi upon. The pulp meat of the tree tastes oddly like pork, or so moss dwarfs claim, and the wood is easily carved into their moon-sickle handles. Of note to non-moss dwarfs is that hogselm oil can be rendered from the pulp and made into a robust sauce with which pork tastes heavenly. It spoils easily though, with latent spores of the Mulchgrove turning it putrid within a matter of days.

2. Clootiecap 
Appearance: Robust juniper tree, religious symbolism appears in wood boles if gazed upon long enough.
Lore: The clootiecap is a votive tree, whose berries make fine communal wine, and which always seems to be thick with water such that a wayfarer might cut it with a knife and sup away their weary troubles. The bark and the boles of the tree are pareidolic in nature, with most claiming they seem to show saintly images in their recesses when gazed upon with the desire to see such truths. Clootiecap, as a wood, is smooth and pleasant to cut, and many an abbey have tried to grow their own from grafts and splints; often to little success.

3. Prayershingles
Appearance: Drooping elm tree, weighed down heavily by bracket fungi. Smells pungent.
Lore: Present near fallen shrines in the Dolmenwood, prayershingles are more of a condition upon which an elm might be felled than a type of tree in their own right. Prayershingles, by virtue of wayward spores and strange climactic conditions, seem perfect for the growth of bracket fungus. All manner of brainconk often take up roost upon a prayershingles, and to the tale of old wives are said only to eat upon pagans and sinners. This is patently untrue of course, and save for harvesting bracket fungi it is best to avoid such trees. 

4. Anklebrankles
Appearance: Any tree wherein the stump is half-undug and the roots have grown thicker and wider than the branches. 
Lore: Anklebrankles as they're called by the moss dwarfs and woodgrue, are troublesome roots and pear-shaped trees which seek to trip and harm those who do not watch their step while walking through the wood. Both demi-fey keep it something of an open secret that they watch and mock wayfarers who find themselves tripping and breaking their faces upon the forest duff. The roots of anklebrankles are, however, of use and well-prized in Prigwort among youngsters seeking to supplant their betters within the Brewmasters. When properly carved, the roots taste heavily of fermented ginger. 

Notable Trees of the Hag's Addle

1. Addleswood
Appearance: Gnarled and knotted tree, often tangled with wooden poppets or branch totems which crackle when the wind blows.
Lore: The Woodcutters know well enough not to cut Addleswood, as it is said that one of them might be a portal to the realm of the wretched Hag herself. This has not stopped miscreant youth and no small amount of political rivals to Jollie Oistace Pollard from scaling the trees of the Hag's Addle on both sides of the River Hameth and putting up false witch totems. Addleswood is, due to never being cut or properly trimmed, notably old wood and quick to catch fire. It produces more termites than syrup, and provides no notable benefits save for the wiles of reckless youth getting a chance to be aired out.

2. Hag's Spoon
Appearance: Any tree which has a large bole towards the top of it. Smells of brine emanate down from the bole.
Lore: Hag's Spoon is a condition upon a tree wherein a concave area appears near the top of the trunk. While it may occur on any tree in any number of places, upon the River Hameth, such a bole will inevitably be filled with strange vittles left by the Hag or lesser servants wishing to appease her. While none can claim to have seen the Hag personally scale these trees to supp upon the fermenting treats inside, any who have climbed will take notice that a Hag's Spoon is often half-full. If the bole is actually carved out of the tree and made into a large wooden spoon, the Hag might consider it a kind gift or proof of thievery. Regardless, anything placed in said spoon would ferment and triple the speed.

3. Elder Duckswood
Appearance:  Much like a pear tree, with long roots that provide sanctuary for waterfowl and supple fruits which grow heavy and fall into nearby waters.
Lore: Duckswood is by no accounts a tree which bares tasty fruits, as the pears of it are hard and gritty. The flowering leaves, which bare a striking resemble to duckweed, is in truth the most enjoyable part to consume; as it chews well and numbs cankers. Ducks and geese often take up roost beneath the roots of an Elder Duckswood tree, making them an adequate marker for hunters and would-be egg-thieves.

4. Mudderweald
Appearance: Black alder growing out of at least three feet of water, bark is slick and jagged when splintered.
Lore: Grown from the most stoic of seeds, an alder from the banks of the River Hameth and the Hag's Addle is known as a mudderweald for two distinct features. The first being that, when its pulp is proper rendered by knowing hands, it can form a life-sustaining milk substitute which has saved many a babe's life; albeit with the alleged curse of making such beings doomed to live a life with the Lac and the River at the forefront of their minds. The second such feature is that despite their roots tightly gripping the to the riverbed, many of their younger roots easily come undone, splashing and flopping through the rushing water, slapping mud to that which unearthed them until they find hold or snap off. 

Notable Trees of the Valley of Wise Beasts

1. Fatherelm
Appearance: Low-branched elm of prodigious girth  and age.
Lore: Fatherelm are believed by some witch-cults to serve as windows into the liminal and other realms of witch-gods. Dreamcatchers and other totemic items made from the branches of a Fatherelm can help prevent nightmarish influences from taking root, or so say the hedge mages. Wooden beads made from Fatherelm are not uncommon among woodsfolk, both pious and pagan alike. 

2. Trouttrippers
Appearance: Thorny spindle-scrub, generally found alongside riverbanks, with offal-looking berries.
Lore: Upon the groaning loch many a man tells terrible tales of fish-faced-folk who make foul use of trouttrippers to entangle and ensnare land-dwelling man. The truth of this matter, as well as its folkloric origins, often lead to further unsavory stories. What is of not is that trouttrippers can be weaved like any basket wood to form nets made perfect for catching river fish. The offal-looking berries upon the plant are highly poisonous when consumed, but inhaling vapours distilled from them can make one alert as if they've consumed coffee of some villainous bean's make. 

3. Gobbleswood
Appearance: Mossy buxus tree with shaggy leaves and long draping boughs, often home to gobbles.
Lore: Gobbleswood, given it is nigh virtually identical to boxwood proper, is hard to find due the only revealing quality generally being the presence of gobble families within its boles and boughs. Musical instruments carved from gobbleswood tends to howl and squeal on its high notes, much like a gobble proper. It is of no further important quality and is only notable to woodfolk who wish to kill off a pestilence of gobbles before they become too much a nuisance. 

4. Huntershearth
Appearance: Balmy sycamore, dry to the touch, soft, easily peeled bark. 
Lore: Huntershearth is the stuff of tinder boxes and snuff kits, a tree which is easily made into firestarters due to its unique ability to catch a smoldering ember and feed it like a vagrant at a saint's day feast. Unsuitable for construction or even wood-carving, it can make for reasonable bedding if one is willing to risk immolation from a nearby camp fire. 

Notable Trees of the Northern Scratch

1. Scratch Elm Appearance: Long reaching elm trees, often wrapped in poison ivy, whose branches flog about in the wind. Lore: To be "as bitter as a scratch elm" is an esoteric insult, even in Drigbolton, but when such words are said all know their meaning. Scratch elms are a nuisance when autumn comes in, as leaves are shed itching oiled branches remain which whip about in the winter winds; gashing, cutting, and leaving behind terrible rashes. Such oils can be harvested for use in poisons, but as any in the North Scratch would tell you "it'd be less messy just to stab someone."  
2. Whispering Willow Appearance: Looks much like any willow tree, save one branch clearly has been worn down by long sitting periods under stress.
Lore: A whispering willow is a home to some invisible faerie, clearly one of some great weight if its well-worn seat is of any implication, who whispers terrible truths upon the evening breeze. When children have long grown past the age for imaginary bogun friends, they are sometimes told to whisper their name to the willow so that it might add them to their branches. Woodwinds made from such a willow can be enchanted with ease to mimic the voices of children; though mortal hands which strike upon the willow may find themselves struck down by an invisible force.

3. Bitterfingers Appearance: Blackened oak with white-lichen tipped branches and leaves. Slimy to the touch. Lore: "Idle work makes bitter fingers" is a strange adage, attributed to moss dwarfs who claim it has something to do with how the black oaks of the Northern Scratch remain stagnant enough that a cold lichen can easily grow upon them. The lichen itself is hearty and good eating for foragers, especially as it grows all the more bountiful in winter months. The wood of the tree is not worth burning, it produces only spore-laden smoke. Moss dwarfs will pay well for the lichen, especially if delivered in good enough quality to grow it themselves.  
4. Gloomcankle Appearance: Long-limbed yews, off-grey and ruddy, hard as stone. Often solitary. Lore: Gloomcankle is a vicious tree, stained with foul energy by those of dark dreams and ill intent. They appear after years of misfortune befalls an area, be it the wickedness of a fallen star, or the long campaign of attrition against bandits or petty goatlords. The limbs of a Gloomcankle serve well in the aims of the violent, spear shafts of it are strong, shields of it shatter bone, and nooses cling tight to its limbs when a man is strung up on them. There is some perfidious relation between gloams and Gloomcankle, though none have ever let one survive long enough to determine the truth.   

Notable Trees of the Fever Marsh

1. Leechwood
Appearance: Tall wych elm with brittle leaves and worm-infested bark, surrounded by bog cotton. 
Lore: Leechwood trees themselves are not vampiric, but they produce such a warm and well-baited environment immediately around them that it is not surprising to find hundreds to thousands of leeches buggering beneath the bog cotton, ready to suck dry any flesh which finds itself there. The wood of a leechwood tree is easily crumbled down into nutrient rich soil, and Lichwards claim it can be used as a sacred unguent against wights. 

2. Wyrmsproxy
Appearance: Sickly putrid bell-heather which grows from a rotten husk of a tree. Attracts flies.
Lore: There are few things on Heaven or earth more foul than the spume of the perfidious wyrm, though a wyrmproxy stump is not much better. Such trees bare the mark of having suffered the collateral damage of wyrms in the past, dying terrible deaths and sprouting in flowers which carry the wyrm's curse to any soul foolish enough to come near them. If a flower can be properly bottled without it releasing its curse, a potent weapon can be held indefinitely. 

3. Bolecanker
Appearance: A goiter-like bloat upon any tree, often ripe with ants and bracket fungus.
Lore: Bolecankers are the reprieve of a bog-dweller, providing the sweet meats of any tree in the form of a rich and heavy molasses. Carving a bolecanker out of a tree is not an easy task but those with curved saws or awls can make short work of it. Bolecankers are common in the Fever Marsh and around the River Hameth, where collected nutrients can bloat up through the tree into a yummy, tumorous mass. Bolecankers do not rot, they merely harden into an inedible state, though the process of this can take decades. They are a useful travel ration which can be fried, eaten as a jelly, or slathered in butter for a woody-but-sweet treat. 

4. Marshman's Folly
Appearance: Long bald-kneed willow trees, slick with lichen and cicada husks.
Lore: Marshman's Folly are aptly named for their wood seems of a sturdy sort but when exposed to marsh water, emits a pheramone stench that attracts all matter of acidic slime molds and frisky cicada. Many a raft constructed from this wood has led to humiliating and tragic deaths. If properly treated with salves and sealants, the wood of a Marshman's Folly can be used as a means to safely harvest or grow certain slime molds, or to attract cicada to a specific area.

Notable Trees of the Table Downs

1. Sweet Colleen
Appearance: Yellow-flowering cherry tree with a dusky bark and reddish wood sap.
Lore: Named in song by a bard off to woo his lover, Sweet Colleens are an off-shoot of cherry wood which produce unpleasant fruit but lovely flowers. The yellow flowers of a Sweet Colleen unfurl when sung to, reaching towards the singer before exploding with dandelion type seeds. The wood sap of a Sweet Colleen can be rendered into a fine chewable jerky which tastes vaguely of rum.

2. Giant's Pickbrush
Appearance: Tall growing blackthorn shrubs, as tall as any tree. Often littered in bits of giant's filth.
Lore: As one travels through the Table Downs towards the mythic domains of wose-men and giants, these blackthorn shrubs become a more common sight. Their bristling needles and sturdy construction see them serving as hygiene implements for traveling giants who use them to floss their teeth, toes, nails, and ears of detritus. Rather unseemly wizard-folks will often pay more for the detritus left behind on a pickbrush than for the brush itself. The needles, if properly exposed to water, taste oddly of mint and salt.

3. Old Bone Tree
Appearance: Fallen whitebeam trees whose branches reach up for the sun like defiant arms. Half-rotted smell.
Lore: An old bone tree is a sight one sees when leaving the Dolmenwood, it is a tree that by all accounts should be dead but clings to life due to the nascent energies of the forest. Many old bone trees are hollow, their insides rotten out but their branches still sprouting in leaves and acting as though alive. The branches of an old bone can be easily made into whistles, and a tea made of its bark can help clarify memories of better times which have long since faded from the forefront of the mind. It is said that a proper toy for a young babe who has survived their winters, should be made of old bone; for the times of rot are gone, and life still reaches on.

4. Stonegrowth Tree
Appearance: Hawthorn tree which grows only out of stone outcroppings. Produces grey-red stonefruit. Smells of dust and cold.
Lore: Cultivated in ancient times, a stonegrowth tree can gain nutrients from bare rock, slowly turning whatever it sprouted from into sand and gravel. Its fruit is akin to a peach, though gamy and pungent if not properly broiled. Stonegrowth wood is not useful in the construction of buildings, as despite its density it does not offer great insulation against the elements. Bows made from stonegrowth wood are a rarity as they require special unguents and oils to properly treat, but when crafted they are as efficient as a longbow and as sturdy as an iron truncheon when used in melee. 


What sort of wrong information was given? [d6]

1. You were told to consume the wrong part of the tree, which in turn will cause rashes, hallucinations, and general sickness what with you having consumed a hearty amount of wood.

2. You were given directions to the wrong tree, and thus you've harvested components from a completely normal version of the sublime off-shoot. You have nothing of additional worth and consuming it will grant no great effect.

3. You have been informed that the tree and its components are horrifically poisonous unless you perform a ritual of salting wherein you beseech the Faerie Princes to let you consume the item in question properly. 

4. You were mislead into thinking this tree would be easy to come by. It is protected by [d4] 1. Raucous Woodgrue who want to cause a stink. 2. Grumpy Moss Dwarfs, who claim ownership of the tree. 3. A Witch, who claims the tree is a pathway to her divine patron. 4. A troll, who is willing to let you have a pittance of a sample in exchange for a large amount of meat and anything else you have on you of worth.

5. Tree is actually a Treant, and it is [d4] 1. Unhappy to be disturbed or sought out. 2. Violent and belligerent as you speak the wrong language. 3. Doddering and demands you perform ancient rites of hospitality. 4. Wishes to converse in long morose poetry about the nature of its rings.

6.Tree is currently rotten to hell and back, with many a mushroom and other fungi taking up nutrition on the area you needed to harvest. 


For those desiring it, I've opened a patreon wherein for a mere dollar a month I'll write you up a random generation table or some other article. It'll likely be far less involved than this one, as it is just for a dollar. David was the first one to pay me to write here, plus I love Dolmenwood, so I put out the works on this one. 

Of course now that money, even a dollar, is involved; I must state that Dolmenwood is a product of Necrotic Gnome Productions and what I produce here is, of course, fan content. It is non-canon, nor approved by the powers that be. Use it in your home games, enjoy yourself, or mock my foolishness for having written so many trees.

Next: I do have, half-finished, an encounter/scenario featuring the Nag-Lord, Ratlings, and the Harvest Moon. I call it A Pestilence in Blue, and it'll hopefully make giant rats a bit more interesting or at least comedic.  

Monday, March 18, 2019

Dolmenwood: Ratling (Race-as-Class)

Noted in Gavin Norman's Dolmenwood House Rules document, the idea of Ratlings in the setting have long entertained me. Are they meant to be truly tiny things, or are they halflings but a bit scummier a la 40k? Given that Gavin has said he's not a deep Warhammer fan (or so I misremember from a convo on Orks), I must assume that Ratlings are meant to be actual rat-like people; something in tone akin to Redwall or Mouse Guard possibly. While noted in the document as being functionally equivalent to Halflings, with a 3-in-6 hiding rate in any environment; I'm going to attempt to do something a bit more setting appreciative with them. Also chucking in some Midderlands references.

Art from Larry MacDougall's Gwelf Project


Requirements: Minimum CON and DEX 9
Prime Requisite: CON and DEX
Hit Dice: 1d6
Maximum Level: 8
Allowed Armour: Any appropriate to size, including shields
Allowed Weapons: Appropriate to size (see below)
Languages: Alignment language, Common, Woodsigns

Ratlings (aka Giant Mouselings as they're called in Scrotland) are diminutive race of furred demi-humans who possess rodent-like features, long filthy tails, and teeth as strong as well-tempered iron. Seldom achieving heights greater than 3 feet or weighing more than 60 pounds when preposterously rotund or heavy with child, Ratlings rely on knowledge of secrets and their community to survive in an unforgiving world. Each Ratling warren is built in spiraling stone architecture deep beneath the roots of old trees, ruled over by broodmother and rat-king who tend to the collected knowledge and deeds of their ancestors. 

Ratlings, in their pure and honest forms, can be found in the Table Downs and Brackenwold; with corrupted forms commonly found in the Upper Middergloom of Havenland. Both types make use of sacred Woodsigns written in the whorls of trees and stones, which whisper secrets when read. Seldom does a Ratling adventure, as to surface-dwellers they are seen as pests or plague-spreaders regardless to any truth on that matter. When one does join up arms with humanity, they do so often with ambitions to start their own warren or as exiles of a warren which cast crimes against them. 

They're not the most well-loved creature to walk the world, but Brackenwolders have seen worse and Havenlanders have better things to fear. Grimalkin personally dislike the whole of the Ratling race based on a folkloric dispute wherein a Grimalkin was once made stumbledrunk on tipple and robbed of an estate by the Ratlings. 

Prime Requisites: A Ratling must have at least 13 in one or the other prime requisite in order to get a +5% to experience. The character must have a CON and DEX of 13 or higher to get a +10% bonus.


Combat: Ratlings may use any type of armour, but it must be tailored to their small size. Similarly, they may use any weapon which is appropriately sized to their stature. They cannot use longbows or two-handed swords.

Defensive Bonus: Due to their small size, Ratlings possess a lower Armour Class (-2 bonus) when attacked by creatures larger than itself.

Hiding: Ratlings have an uncanny ability to disappear from sight:
        In bushes or other outdoor cover, a Ratling can hide with 90% ability.
        In dungeons, a halfling can also hide in shadows or behind other forms of cover, so long as he or she remains silent and motionless. The chance of success is 3-in-6.
        If nude, a Ratling may pose as a rodent of unusual size rather than a sentient being, succeeding at a rate of 4-in-6 so long as those viewing the Ratling don't know they're on the lookout for the creature. 

Listenings: Ratlings have a 2-in-6 chance of hearing noises at doors, and in conversations or gathering gossips they have a 2-in-6 chance to determine if the information they're receiving is deceptive or intended as a secret.

Teeth of Iron: Ratlings may make unarmed attacks by biting, dealing 1d4 damage. Their teeth can pierce stone and metal with enough time. This damage increases to 1d6 at level 4, and 2d4 at level 6.

Secret Woodsigns: Ratlings may take a minute to read the whorls of a tree's trunk or the roughness of a stone to discern secrets. Once per day, a Ratling may use their woodsigns to do the following:
        Determine the location of nearby edibles or water. The chance-of-success is 3-in-6.
        Determine something said by a passerbyer in the last 24 hours. The chance of the information being relevant or useful is 10% per character level, to a maximum of 80%.
        Conceal a message for others who can read woodsigns, up to 20 words. This message remains for a number of days equal to the Ratling's level.
        Determine if another Ratling has made use of the woodsign, and if so what message they have concealed with it.

Stronghold (Warren): When a Ratling has sufficient funds, secrets, and time, they may construct a stronghold. These strongholds will be built deep beneath the roots of an ancient tree, constructed of stone along dirt tunnels when properly finished. Ratlings who have heard of the character's deeds and wisdom will make their way to the stronghold, and over time they will expect the Ratling to become either broodmother or Rat-King.

Dark Heather from Mouse Guard is a good base for a Warren

Level Progression/Saving Throws: As Halfling.

Randomized Appearance (Head, d8)
  1. Pudgy, slight-eared and tooth-bearing, like a gopher.
  2. Large-eyed and larger-eared like a vole.
  3. Long-snouted and squinty-eyed like a shrew.
  4. Tiny-eyed with large ears, like a house mouse.
  5. Large fleshy ears and bulbous black eyes, like a wood mouse.
  6. Slanted snout and small ears, like a common black rat.
  7. Jovial black eyes and chubby cheeks, like a doormouse.
  8. Large-headed with small black eyes, much like a musk rat.
Randomized Appearance (Colors, d10)
  1. Pink, nude and wrinkly, with flaking dandruff as if diseased.
  2. Pale white, with eyes that blaze red when concerned.
  3. Brown and black, like the bark of a tree towards the forest duff.
  4. Black and grey, like the smoke from an elder's pipe.
  5. Black as a cold winter night without stars.
  6. Red as fallen maple leaves, hints of orange.
  7. Pale grey, like a stone dove.
  8. Powder blue, like the Wood-King's jael stones.
  9. Wheat blond, like the autumn grains before the harvest.
  10. Stony grey, like an outcropping in the woods.
Randomized Coat (d6, don't roll if a nude)
  1. Straight-haired coat.
  2. Curly-haired coat.
  3. Wavy-haired coat.
  4. Velveteen coat of furs.
  5. Long silky coat of furs.
  6. Long straight-haired coat of furs.
Randomized Pattern (d8, reroll on Colors, if nude it's a mark on the flesh)
  1. Completely solid coloration, white upon the feet.
  2. Solid with different coloration upon the belly and hands.
  3. Blaze of a different color upon the face.
  4. Capped upon the head in a different color.
  5. Hooded in a different color upon the head and back.
  6. Masked in a different color over the eyes.
  7. Of roan pelt, with initial coloration fading into a different type as the seasons change.
  8. Varegated in different colors.
The Midderlands are very unkind to Ratlings.

Midderland Variety Mutations (d8)
  1. Covered in caustic green boils which rupture when struck with critical damage.
  2. Three eyes of murky jaundiced pickle green.
  3. Teeth like needles which pierce through the snout at odd angles.
  4. Slime-leeks from pores rather than sweat. 
  5. Vomits luminescent slugs when speaking too long.
  6. Forever twitching and speaking in double-double, hacking cough when trying not to.
  7. Fingers and toes of misshapen lengths, vaguely arthropod in digit appearance.
  8. Secondary rat-head growing out of back. Has nothing good to say.
Starting Outfit (d8) (Coinage/Wealth as a Halfling, its the whole of your warren's wealth.)
  1. Brata cloak of ochre red, clay-handled dagger, fine leather belt with beetle-buckle.
  2. Tunic of blue and white, carpenter's hammer (as mace), leather pouch with brass aglets.
  3. Long nightgown and sleeping cap, zig-zag dagger (your mother's), a smoking pipe (no snuff.)
  4. Cloth gambeson with fish patterns upon it, woodcutter's hatchet, tricorn hat.
  5. Pig-leather culottes bleached white, yellow-and-red beaded sash, walking cane (as staff.)
  6. Long Tartan with serpent torc, ancient brass shortsword (Goman make), bag of hash.
  7. Artisan's smock-frock, leather jackboots, and a tack-hammer (as mace.)
  8. Surtout of deep clay red, with a torc of ancient rat-king tails. A black hand ax.
Names (d20)
  1. Clundoder / Mosswater
  2. Basilmac / Gingi
  3. Methuselah / Prudencia
  4. Mac Luch Mor / Bea Luch Beag
  5. Kimkarnagie / Clarymulch
  6. Bromaine / Celdana
  7. Rocksorrel / Gabwhacker
  8. Quillhaver / Cloggswalk
  9. Craiken / Cavelhome
  10. Swiftlysung / Mumblerock
  11. Saynavain / Viluna
  12. Bigglebones / Bucklescutt
  13. Shoggwallow / Horsewalma
  14. Logalwealth / Buskerback
  15. Eulail / Biskpaw
  16. Clayulton / Doomhaver
  17. Reginald / Miramoore
  18. Broggleton / Constantia
  19. Wellbuckle / Limewater
  20. Reynard / Wilffenleaf
Why do you adventure with humans? 
  1. The Watchers made dark work to steal the bones of our ancient rat-kings. I must see them returned to my deeply-delved warren.
  2. The warren flooded, leaving few of us behind. I seek funds so I might rally kindred in distant warrens to help reclaim it from the water wyrds that've come.
  3. The Hag stole away my kin, humanity and grimalkin don't care for her muchly. They'll be honorbound to help me if I provide services in kind.
  4. The glint and glitter of gold warms my belly with mead and meat; to live under a tree is no life for a young blood like myself.
  5. I was chosen to join the Rat-King, but I feared the ritual. I can never go home, nor face my kind. I must find work among the tall-ones.
  6. In dreams I was haunted by the sword of  Saint, one of the Church of the One True God's sort. Upon his shoulders sat a head like mine own, and from his mouth he spoke of my destiny. I must seek such a thing.
  7. Kin mined too deep, found blue stones that laugh, found green stones that cackled. I made it out alive, but they're not my kin under that hill no more.
  8. Wolves routed us, devoured us, and faerie folk watched and laughed. Good neighbors my arse. Met enough men-folk who in words don't care for neither crowd. Figure we can kill a bunch of them together, have a day of it.

Next: I was putting together some random encounter lists, but Ratlings caught my interest. 

An Attempted Framework Conversion for: The Hole in the Oak set in Dolmenwood

The Hole in the Oak is a low level adventure about venturing into the Mythic Underworld for Old-School Essentials , and though it features s...