An Introduction, and Of the Barony of Blackwater
Of Blackwater Keep, and the Inhabitants Therein
Of Lakesend Village, and its Commerce
The Blackwater, its Denizens, and the Lands Surrounding
Various Peoples of Northumbria, and the Cultures
The States and Rulers in the Western Lands
In addition to the materials in the above Gazetteer, here are some further notes and systems useful for adventuring in Northumbria:
Languages of Northumbria
The Moons of Northumbria
Rules for an Exorcism Ritual
Dungeon Master Michael Garcia runs two games in Northumbria. These are a few adventures featuring the Winchester family:
Screams in Store
Battle on the Beach
Here are some tales of the Beckett family:
Ants in the Darkness
Terror in the Tower, Part 1
Treasure Division (Still to come!)
Terror in the Tower, Part 2
The Investigation Falters
Terror in the Tower, Part 3
Trial by Combat
The Battle of Heinrich’s Horn
The Editor would like to extend his warmest thanks to Michael for sharing his setting and these play reports. We hope that many more are forthcoming! If you’re enjoying the adventures, please let us know in the comments sections!
Part two of the Compendium of Lands Around Blackwater Lake, the gazetteer for the Northumbria campaign.
Strategic Location of the Keep
The Keep is a large stone fortress—one of the largest in Northumbria. Situated on the shores of Blackwater Lake, it commands the Narrows at the southern tip of the lake, as well as the wide stream called the Norbeck, which flows down from the hills and spills northwards into the Narrows and southwards into the Blackwater River. This means that the garrison at the Keep can control river traffic flowing between former Varangian lands in the north to the Frangian port of Yarrvik. Any power that wishes to control Northumbria needs to control the river traffic and thus the keep. At present, no single known state is in a position to do so. Thus, the Baron of Blackwater remains independent and highly desirable as an ally. Read more
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
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
This piece follows ‘Ants in the Darkness,’ a Beckett adventure of the Northumbria Campaign.
The session began with the PCs in an underground tunnel on Wycliffe Island, located on Blackwater Lake. After stumbling into a nest of giant ants, the party desperately fought its way out. A few caverns away, as they recovered, they had a stroke of luck and found a calcified chest containing many gems. Exhausted and wounded, they returned to the surface and sailed back to the small village of Lakesend. There they planned to rest, heal, and divide their loot.
FROM THE DM:
I found this session, which lacked any real combat, memorable because of the role-playing and the dialogue between players. You know that you have a good group when they can find great amusement and engagement without rolling dice. I just sat back and watched the how, taking notes. In addition, I had recently asked each player to cast his character with some famous person or Hollywood actor. I think this helped each player really visualize his character, and the dialogue seemed to come easy. This session also served one additional purpose for me as DM. The party had been unwittingly abusing the identify spell, forgetting that it requires a pearl each time. The write up helped to make this clear. Read more
By far the largest house, Keen are gifted with any talents useful in the gaseous environment. Dealing with the classical element of air, they are often involved with gas mining or with the persistent monitoring of gas swells and other storms. A great number of Keen Houses are found with the Eminar living below the vapor line. Possibly the most utilitarian of the Houses, they tend to be work oriented with much to keep them busy on a normal day. Above the vapor line, the houses do have the responsibility of monitoring gas swells in most cities and maintain the alarm system.
Granted Power: Keen can sense gas swells and storms of all fashions one minute before hand per point of WISDOM. In addition, all penalties due to storms are halved.
- Obscuring Mist: Fog surrounds you.
- Wind Wall: Deflects arrows, smaller creatures, and gases.
- Lightning Bolt: Electricity deals 1d6/level damage.
- Air Walk: Subject treads on air as if solid (climb at 45-degree angle).
- Control Winds: Change wind direction and speed.
- Chain Lightning: 1d6/level damage; 1 secondary bolt/level each deals half damage.
- Control Weather: Changes weather in local area.
- Whirlwind: Cyclone deals damage and can pick up creatures.
- Storm of Vengeance: Storm rains acid, lightning, and hail.
The House of Beyan, along with the other three houses that deal with the classical elements, are numerous compared to other houses and have more mundane purposes. The House of Beyan, while associated strongly with earth, more accurate deals with all physical materials. Another way to look at it is that they have affinity and understanding of things in the solid state. They are farmers, gardeners and arborists but also stone masons, machinists and architects. Eapon is a hard planet to live on, and people seek out Beyans to build their homes, establish their orchards and quarry precious metals. Their temples and churches are found in every setting and of every manner. More often than not, they are a form of regulatory authority and labor agency, particularly if an area lacks other forms of government. On a spiritual level they tend towards family-like atmospheres, supplementing and supporting existing communities rather than forming a core. They number second only to the House of Keen.
Granted Power: Beyan’s ignore terrain penalties to movement while on foot and once per game session can double the damage dealt to anything they sunder.
- Shillelagh: Cudgel or quarterstaff becomes +1 weapon and deals damage as if two sizes larger.
- Soften Earth and Stone: Turns stone to clay or dirt to sand or mud.
- Stone Shape: Sculpts stone into any shape.
- Spike Stones: Creatures in area take 1d8 damage, may be lowed.
- Wall of Stone: Creates a stone wall that can be shaped.
- Stoneskin: Ignore 10 points of damage per attack.
- Earthquake: Intense tremor shakes 80-ft.-radius.
- Repel Metal or Stone: Pushes away metal and stone.
- Iron Body: Your body becomes living iron.
The House of Arocon is concerned with the preservation of knowledge from the past age and cataloguing the present age. Unsurprising their temples and building often serve as a type of library, while many who are part of the House run actual libraries or deal in information. While some may view them as purely academic,there are a significant numbers who scour all the globe in search of lost knowledge or to discover new knowledge. As would be expected a large number of Wardens belong to the House of Arocon.
Granted Power: Autodidact: Once per game session the player may substitute their levels in the House for a bonus to ANY skill roll, even if they do not have ranks in a trained skill.
- Detect Secret Doors: Reveals hidden doors within 60 ft.
- Detect Thoughts: Allows “listening” to surface thoughts.
- Clairaudience/Clairvoyance: Hear or see at a distance for 1 min./level.
- Divination : Provides useful advice for specific proposed actions.
- True Seeing : Lets you see all things as they really are.
- Find the Path: Shows most direct way to a location.
- Legend Lore : Lets you learn tales about a person, place, or thing.
- Discern Location: Reveals exact location of creature or object.
- Foresight: “Sixth sense” warns of impending danger.
The House of Holma is the branch tasked with healing. Despite what would be expected, Holma is one of the most highly criticized Houses. Naturally, their abilities are in high demand which has often made them the targets of extortion, kidnapping and bribery. Due to those realities they are secretive and mostly nomadic. Their own temples are unmarked, located in difficult to reach areas or out of sight in dark alleys. These serve as reprieves and safe houses for them. Everywhere they go they are in high demand if their GIFT is discovered. Instead, they work with the other Houses and travel to where they are needed for a few days before moving onto the next.
GM Note: Holma is intended to be a difficult House to play. If the PC’s identity is discovered they will be pursued. Sometimes the need is legitimate and sometimes it is born out of greed. The player should feel cautious any time they reveal their GIFT
Granted Power: Once per game session the character can use any talent they have without fuel or tokens.
- Cure Light Wounds: Cures 1d8 damage +1/level (max +5).
- Neutralize Poison: Immunizes subject against poison, detoxifies venom in or on subject.
- Cure Moderate Wounds: Cures 2d8 damage +1/level (max +10).
- Remove Blindness/Deafness: Cures normal or magical conditions.
- Cure Serious Wounds: Cures 3d8 damage +1/level (max +15).
- Remove Disease: Cures all diseases affecting subject.
- Cure Light Wounds, Mass: Cures 1d8 damage +1/level (max +25) for many creatures.
- Heal: Cures 10 points/level of damage, all diseases and mental conditions.
- Regenerate: Subject’s severed limbs grow back, cures 4d8 damage +1/level (max +35).
Guild member R.C. Brooks returns with more Lands in the Clouds, a home-brewed OGL setting and system.
The House of Ascen, or simply Ascen, is the sect devoted to that which is good. More specifically, good is that which edifies. It heals the soul. In the world they are often the shelter for those dealing with grief and loss. Mechanically they are the House that deals with SPIRIT damage and combating evil entities. The House of Holma may heal the body, but SPIRIT wounds are more dangerous and can fester.
Typical temples are humble buildings often in poor or otherwise troubled areas as that is where they are needed most. Almost all carry low level tokens.
Once per game session, a character of the House of Ascen may use his SPIRIT score as an attack, defense or damage reduction vs SPIRIT opponents/damage.
- Protection from Evil: +2 to AC and saves, counter mind control, hedge out elementals and outsiders.
- Aid: +1 on attack rolls, +1 on saves against fear, 1d8 temporary SPIRIT +1/level (max +10).
- Shelter (Magic Circle against Evil): As Protection from Evil, but 10-ft. radius and 10 min./level.
- Holy Smite: Damages and blinds evil creatures.
- Dispel Evil: +4 bonus against attacks by evil creatures.
- Heroes’ Feast: Food for one creature/level cures and grants combat bonuses.
- Holy Word: Kills, paralyzes, slows, or deafens non-good subjects.
- Holy Aura: +4 to AC, +4 resistance, and SR 25 against evil spells.
- Grace: Removes all STRESS points for any willing up to 1 character/lvl in the House.