Part three of the Compendium of Lands Around Blackwater Lake, the gazetteer for the Northumbria campaign. These are being published out of order because the next Beckett family adventure takes place in the village. Part two, describing the keep, is coming later this month.
Agents of the Frangian Crown supposedly founded the village of Lakesend about the same time that they laid the foundations of the nearby keep, about one century ago. From a military standpoint, the sites seem odd in that they are located over one mile apart. Considered separately though, each site makes sense. The keep sits on the shore of the Blackwater Lake to control the Narrows, a narrow body of water at the southern tip of the lake. Ships going northwards or southwards any significant distance must pass through the Narrows, and a garrison there can control the river trade. Meanwhile, the village sits astride a small river that comes down from the hills and then splits, one part running northward into the Narrows and the other part running southwards to form the headwaters of the mighty Blackwater River. Considering the distance between the two settlements, one can see a weakness in the arrangement, for an enemy can isolate both settlements rather easily.
Why is this a problem? On the outskirts of the village are fertile fields, now the site of several small farms. It seems that the village provides most of the Keep’s agricultural stores. Though the Keep sits on the shore of the lake, its garrison may have difficulty feeding itself on fish alone, especially in times of war. In addition, flocks of sheep and goats graze on the nearby hills, providing additional food stores for the Keep in times of war. Loss of the village could be catastrophic to the Keep. Baron Blackwater should remedy this strategic weakness before an enemy army attacks either settlement. Read more
This Beckett Family Adventure follows Terror in the Tower, part 2.
The session began with the PCs at the ruined Temple of Pholtus, a few hours from small village of Lakesend. This was their third foray to the temple. The first time, they spotted harpies flying about the tallest tower in the complex. They entered the tower, but a battle with animated guardians inside caused them to return to the village. During their second visit, they fought a swarm of goblyns in the temple’s cellars. This time, they left the horses and a few of their party a half-mile away. The main group then made a thorough search of the ruins, finding evidence of recent inhabitation. The group now stood in the cloister, deciding what to do next. Read more
There are some characters that will develop multiple GIFTS. Functionally they are home in any of their Houses and are culturally viewed as a representation that all the Houses are to be united in their work in the world. Often they work as liaisons between the Houses. Not surprisingly, most often do not have time for any other organizations due to the tremendous responsibility expected of them.
Mechanically, GIFTS are obligations more than combat bonuses. A PC with two (or more) GIFTS will either find themselves occupied by duties related to those GIFTS or become a pariah viewed as greedy and self serving. While that may not always be the case, it is the cultural perception if the PC is unwilling to use those GIFTS in the manner they were intended. A player who rolls this should expect that many character actions over the character’s span will be absorbed by the role.
Last weekend I was invited to participate as a guest star in a session of Tales from the Loop (TFL), Simon Stålenhag’s RPG set in a science-fictionalized small town from the 1980’s. The Player Characters are a band of kids (12 – 15 years of age) who are caught up in mysterious events surrounding a secret maybe-government project called the Loop. Released on the heels of Netflix’s Stranger Things, TFL borrows from all of the adolescent fantasies of the ’80’s such as E.T., The Goonies, and Explorers with a healthy dose of Eureka mixed in. As a guest, I got only a small taste of the system and world, but what I saw definitely left me wanting more!
Mechanically, the system is fairly simple: Characters have four Attributes: Body, Mind, Tech, and Heart; and a number of Skills, each of which is associated with one of the Attributes. When the GM calls for a roll, a dice pool is filled with d6’s equal to the character’s Attribute + Skill, and any 6’s are counted as successes. A typical task is accomplished by rolling just one success, and “Nearly Impossible” tasks are accomplished with three successes. There is no failure or critical success mechanic—a 6 is the only result that matters, but in a game filled with young teenagers, everything is critical. Children don’t have professions, so the role of character classes is played by middle-school stereotypes: The Jock, the Rocker, the Popular Kid, the Geek. Each class allows the kid to specialize their Skills—the Jock, for instance, can take up to three points in Force (applications of physical prowess, such as fighting or opening stuck doors), Move, and Connections (the ability to get help from allies other than the PCs), but they can’t take more than one point in any other skill. Younger kids get fewer Attribute point, reflecting that they’re still developing, but they make up for it with Luck points, which can be used to reroll failed dice. Read more
Compiled for Lord Beckett
by Talvion Tulossa
of Clan Cormallen
in the Year 614
by Frangian Reckoning
The enclosed notes are for the use of Lord Winchester and his kin. The author hopes that they may provide some aid in his quest to locate his family’s ancestral lands, to reestablish the Winchester family, and to restore it to prosperity.
Blackwater Lake and its environs lie within a vast region that most people simply call Northumbria. This region, which stretches for hundreds of miles, is comprised mainly of forested hills and mountains, brimming with mineral resources, towering trees, and wildlife. The primary inhabitants of this rugged land seem to be either primitive human savages that dominate the lowlands, or wicked goblyn tribes that swarm over and under the hills and mountains. However, just over a century ago, explorers and adventurers arrived from the Kingdom of Frangia, perhaps the most powerful kingdom across the Great Sea. The Crown first established an agricultural colony called Southumbria, and, a few years later, it explored and claimed the vast tract of virgin wilderness to the north.
The Frangian Crown’s claim to ownership of Northumbria seemed ludicrous at first—and still does—given the sheer size of the region and the scarcity of royal settlers here. Settlement has been steady, but it will take decades before any semblance of control is established. Perhaps because of this uncertainty, daring Frangian settlers and freebooters have flocked northward, seeking opportunity and adventure. Read more
The House of Wold is possibly more uncommon than the House of Holma. They are often unliked and show up often to deliver bad news. Said to be messengers of God, they are often carrying burdens and always on a mission. Their temples are small, rarely visited and often in remote locations. As a Wold there are only two options: Either accept the Gift or reject it entirely. It is often a sobering life, constantly engaged with death and destruction. It is a life spent on the move. Those that reject it are plagued their whole lives with dreams and visions and knowledge of their refusal to aid those they could help.
Granted Power: Deux ex Machina. Once per adventure the player may reroll a failed attempt after the result is known or make a different choice within the past 6 seconds. They see the failure or outcome just before it happens in essence.
- Identify: Determines single feature of magic item.
- Augury: Learns whether an action will be good or bad.
- Divination: Provides useful advice for specific, proposed action.
- Scrying: Spies on subject from a distance.
- Commune: Deity answers one yes-or-no question/level.
- Legend Lore: Learn tales about a person, place, or thing.
- Scrying, Greater: As scrying, but faster and longer.
- Discern Location: Reveals exact location of creature or object.
- Foresight: “Sixth sense” warns of impending danger.
The Beckett family ventures into the Temple of Pholtus described in part 1 of this adventure narrative.
The session began with the PCs at a ruined temple of Pholtus, not far from the western shores of Blackwater Lake. They had already explored one outbuilding, where they found some hidden valuables in a buried stone vault. One such bauble was a silver decanter that slowly filled with fresh water. Daniel discovered this the hard way when it leaked through his backpack and breeches, giving the group a laugh.
Cast of Characters
Most party members are part of one large extended family—the noble Beckett family. A few are retainers. Characters in gray text were not present during this encounter.
Granny Beckett: Witch, eccentric matriarch of the family
Jade Cormallen: Half-elf ranger, distant relative to most
Lord Roger Beckett: Ranger, new family head
Acolyte Denston Beckett: Cleric of Pholtus, grumpy and dour
Daniel Beckett: Assassin, passionate and protective
Sir Callum Beckett: Cavalier, burly and jovial
Sir William Beckett: Cavalier, sarcastic and brave
Brother Lewie: Cleric of St. Cuthbert, erratic but insightful
Sven Ragnarsson: Barbarian, bastard of Granny, Bjorn’s twin
Bjorn Ragnarsson: Barbarian, bastard of Granny, Sven’s twin
Brother Liam: Cleric of St. Cuthbert, comrade of Brother Lewie
Sir Raynard: Cavalier, handsome and witty
Raymond: NPC (Fighter 1), stoic and responsible
Owen: NPC (Ranger 1), introverted and self-sufficient
Kieran: NPC (Magic User 1), gentle and intelligent
Sergeant Blaine: NPC Fighter, porter to the Beckett family
Dagis: NPC (Fighter 0), new squire to Sir Callum
The House of Foura is an odd house by comparison to the others. The House is closely associated with the Aruman, dreams and destiny. They are sought when a way must be found. Despite their good fortune, they often don’t accumulate much wealth or seek fame. They instead seek to fulfill their purpose. To a one they are driven towards one goal or another and become focused on that need. Their temples are usually in disarray, but some are places the desperate seek when all else fails.
Granted Power: Providence. Once per game session the player may pick either an attack, skill or save. The results will be the best possible outcome. If an attack, not only is it automatically a critical but it will also be maximum damage.
Luck Domain Spells
- Entropic Shield: Ranged attacks against you have 20% miss chance.
- Aid: +1 on attack rolls, +1 against fear, 1d8 temporary hp +1/level (max +10).
- Protection from Energy: Absorb 12 points/level of damage from one kind of energy.
- Freedom of Movement: Subject moves normally despite impediments.
- Break Enchantment: Frees subjects from enchantments, alterations, curses, and petrification.
- Geas/Quest: As lesser geas, plus it affects any creature.
- Control Weather: Changes weather in local area.
- Moment of Prescience: You gain insight bonus on single attack roll, check, or save.
- Miracle X: Requests an intercession.
In this series of articles, Michael Garcia shares various custom rules and handouts related to his worldbuilding for his ongoing Northumbria campaign.
It is well known among scholars that the world has at least two main continents and countless islands, surrounded by at least four seas. Of these continents, the vast region known as Northumbria is the northernmost. While civilizations on the other continents are not the focus of this work and the savage inhabitants of the countless islands are rather unimportant, the heavenly bodies, at least those visible in the northlands, are of great interest and concern. We must study these bodies—those that move and those that are fixed—to understand Astrology and the secrets of the universe. Read more
Eapon is a giant planet, and travel is a major part of life. The house of Curren is well known for being involved with vehicles and living mounts of all types. Further, their temples serve as inns, visitor centers and other places that accommodate those on the road. Small Curren Houses can often be found along travel routes to supply fuel, food and other needs.
Granted Power: Any penalty for terrain or environment to movement is halved whether they are on foot, flying an aircraft, or riding a beast. Additionally they always know which way is north.
- Longstrider: Increases your speed.
- Locate Object: Senses direction toward object (specific or type).
- Phantom Steed: Mundane mount appears for 1 hour/level from the local environment. Stats may vary by creature.
- Freedom of Movement: Subject moves normally despite impediments.
- Shadow Walk: Step into shadow to travel rapidly. Instead of walking the border between shadow and material it is the border between the physical and spirit realms. Spirit encounters may be greatly increased. If in a vehicle, the vehicle’s speed is doubled.
- Find the Path: Shows most direct way to a location.
- Phase Door: Creates an invisible passage through wood or stone.
- Freedom: Releases creature from imprisonment.
- Summon Monster IX: Calls natural creature that you may ride and that may fight for you. The creature must be plausible for the area. Known for calling birds of great size. Duration is 1hr/lvl