Saturday, January 29, 2011


Halflings are not a true race, but rather an unfortunate phenomenon that has visited the humans generations. A halfling is born of human parents, a sickly, deformed, thing that is looked upon as curse. Those couples that bear a halfling baby are said to have angered the gods or committed a sin they had yet to repent for. While some compassionate parents will raise the child, despite its ill omen, most put their child out into the woods to die from exposure. Many halflings suffer this fate, yet some survive. Those that did wait, just outside human settlements, for more of their kind to be cast aside so that they can take them in and raise them to adulthood, for halflings are born sterile and can never produce anymore of their kind.

Halflings are usually not welcome within human communities, some may tolerate their presence, while most will drive them out of town, or worse. Some may be hired by nobles to act as entertainment or picked up by troubadours to become an oddity in their act, but most are looked upon as a walking curse. Because of this, halflings tend to be self reliant, and while they may work with others, they trust very few besides themselves.

Physical Description: Halflings vary greatly in their look, though all are much smaller then humans and most are smaller still then dwarves averaging under four feet tall and weighing less the 90 lbs. All halflings are born with some number of physical deformities, which can be as subtle as an unnatural skin color to as terrifying as having claws instead of hands or vestigial wings or atrophied limbs. No two halflings are ever exactly the same and those with more extreme deformities stay far away from human lands (if they survive for more then a few years). Halflings have no uniform age range, many die young due to complications because of their physical anomalies while some have been reported to be alive for hundreds of years.

Why They Adventure: Most halflings adventure because they have no other means to support themselves. While many are content to live off the land outside civilized regions, a halfling still has a human sense of curiosity and desire to be part of a group (even if he believes he is fully self reliant). While some can find work in more tolerating towns, most find adventuring the only option left for them. Adventuring parties are far more tolerating then most, they’ve been exposed to things that would drive a normal man mad, a halfling that is willing to fight by their side is never taken for granted. Also, traveling with an adventuring party may allow a halfling to enter towns and other civilized areas as a group of adventurers can certainly prove intimidating for those wishing harm to a halfling (though few adventuring parties can handle an entire town mob, so they should not be so quick to test this theory).

Role-Playing Tips: A halfling should play up the fact that he relies on only himself. After all, humans think him a curse, elves find him disgusting, and while dwarves don’t seem to mind him, he’s pretty sure they’re snickering at him behind his back. A halfling has had to struggle to survive as long as he did and will always have to continue to do so, this often makes halflings gruff and without mirth. A halfling’s physical deformity is always a hindrance, never a boon, it is often painful or causes problems doing things others may take for granted, be mindful to always remind the rest of the party just what a halfling has to struggle with everyday.
The rest of the party should remember the stigma of the halfling as well, they were raised to see them as curses. For all intents and purposes, the halfling should not be alive. Even though adventurers are much more accepting of others then most (after facing the horrors they’ve faced, anyone fighting by their side is welcome, no matter how they appear), it is hard to shake off generations of belief.

Rule Changes: Halflings retain all the features as presented in Labyrinth Lord with the follow exception: Languages: Halflings speak Common and one Monster Language of their choice.

Thursday, January 27, 2011


Elves are not from this land, they had migrated here generations ago (by human standards) from the Land of the Fae. Home of such creatures as sprites and pixies, the elves claim this land is “beyond the horizon,” though whether that means it is simply beyond the reach of the Valadian Empire or it exists on a whole different plane of existence is unknown and the elves are not sharing. Elves live in the unsettled wilderness of the land, among the vast forests yet to be cleared by human expansion. How they live is a mystery, no non-fae has ever entered elven lands and lived to tell what they saw.

Elves retain much of their fae origins, they are immortal, no elf has ever succumbed to old age. Because of this, they are able to think in long terms, allowing plans and actions to play out over hundreds of years, something beyond the scope of shorter lived races (even those that live longer lives, such as the dwarves). They are not nearly overcome by emotion as other intelligent species, often coming across as cold and distant. They are not totally devoid of emotion, they just do not let short term events affect those emotions like other races do. Elves have an alien mindset, their sense of morality for creatures with finite lifespans is next to nothing, and most elves look upon the short lived races the same way a human would look upon an ant.

Physical Description: Elves are tall and lithe, with both males and females averaging over 6’6" yet weighing barely over 125 lbs. They have long, pointed ears and their skin is a smooth white, like porcelain. Elven hair ranges from stark white to a variety of shades of soft yellows (with rare light blues sometimes seen as well) and their eyes are often a similar light color. Elven eyes seem to twinkle in the softer glows of moonlight and fire at night, as if reflecting the stars above, even when they are not outdoors.

Why They Adventure: An elf that is adventuring with a party is often doing so for himself or his people, not for the sense of glory or to protect those in need. Their reasoning is not always explained to those in his party, but his prowess in both magic and martial abilities means few adventurers bother asking as long as he brings his skills to bear. Even those elves that do share their reasoning with the rest of the party may not always be telling the truth, but instead simply coming up with a reason to get the others to stop asking him questions.

Role-Playing Tips: Elves are not simply humans with pointy ears and faux haughty British accents. An elven player should really play up the alien mindset and sense of superiority elves have over “lesser creatures” (read: anything not fae). Elves have no problem using others to get what they want and are very dismissive of life (save for their own and those of other fae). While an elf may have no problem sacrificing an entire human village to facilitate a plan, they obviously find the adventurers they travel with useful and therefore are not so quick to sacrifice them. Adventurers are a rare breed and not to be so trivially wasted.

Elves tend to speak little, only when their is important information to get across. When an elf must debase itself to speak the Common tongue it is often quick and to the point, with no flourish, embellishment, or tact. They find little need to waste breath on idle chatter, which means they maintain a constant disdain for dwarves, who don’t have the common decency to shut up.

In combat, elves look to end things quickly and efficiently, just because they are immortal does not mean the cannot be killed. With the knowledge that death can only come from an outside source and not the passage of time, elves try to avoid it as much as possible (atleast until they get bored of living) and therefore look to end things quickly and not take needless risks.

Rule Changes: Elves retain all the features as presented in Labyrinth Lord with the follow exception: Languages: Elves speak Common and Elven only. 

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


The dwarves are dying, each year more leave the world then are brought into it. For the past one hundred years more and more dwarven children are stillborn and more dwarven females find themselves barren and unable to conceive. The vast dwarven clanholds dug deep into the mountains have begun to fall silent, whole clans have disappeared, lost to time. The dwarves, ever stubborn and proud face this new threat like they do any other, through stoic silence and glorious battle.

If a dwarf cannot be remembered by the offspring he leaves in the world then he will be remembered by deed. Dwarves now wander the world, looking to right wrongs and save the helpless. For a dwarf, to die in glorious battle, his name forever linked to bravery, honor, and unmitigated violence against his foe, is the only way to die. Dwarves are now eternal wanderers, never settling in one place very long and often joining up with adventuring parties to face evils. Most communities welcome dwarves (save for the local alehouses and taverns that have to keep up with their voracious appetite for food and alcohol), knowing that they will root out any ills and danger that the community faces, as long as it is worthy enough of the dwarves attention that is. A vast goblin horde poised to attack is far more glorious then a problem with giant rats after all.

Physical Description: Dwarves average four feet in height, with squat, broad bodies and a thick mass, often averaging 150 lbs for males and 130 for females. Dwarves have a vareity of hair and eye color depending on the clan they originally hailed from and its location. All tend to have skin of earthen tones, usually tan or dirt brown. Male dwarves grow thick facial hair, a sign of pride among their people. It is often a sign of extreme sadness and mourning for a dwarf to shave his beard. Females of the species grow beards as well however they are never as full as a male’s and most will shave it after marriage as a sign of being betrothed (a dwarven female made widow will grow back her beard when ready to take a new mate, and no male would dare approach a female with a shaved face with the offer of courtship). Dwarves live an average of 350 years, though most will never live to see old age.

Why They Adventure: For Dwarves, adventuring is their only way of life. The danger and honor from rooting out threats to the innocent and discovering and vanquishing ancient evils is the only way a dwarf will ever be remembered in their minds. There are very few dwarven settlements any more, instead the dwarves wander the world, adventuring until they finally face the threat that will put them in the annal of history.

Role-Playing Tips: Glory and Honor by combat, protecting those that cannot protect themselves, and being remembered for heroic deeds, these are the things a dwarf lives by. Negotiations with those of evil intent, taking prisoners, and showing mercy to those that would not do the same to you are unthinkable actions to any dwarf. This does not mean a dwarf is a ruthless killer however, he believes in honorable combat, facing a foe head on so they know who it is that brought them down. Dwarves will always protect the innocent and show a great deal of common courtesy and manners, except when a dwarf has too much to drink (which is often, a dwarf has a heard time saying know to good food and good ale).

Dwarves are antsy for action, not wanting to waste time that could be spent rooting out evil. While they understand studying a foe is necessarily, they’d much rather be studying what’s left of it after it has met the end of a sharp axe. Dwarves are not stupid however, they will not blindly rush into rooms or face clearly superior numbers. A dwarf wishes to be remembered by his deeds, and a poison needle trap or being hacked to bits by a dozen kobolds is not the type of memory he wants to pass on.

Remember to play up the stoic nature of dwarves, they are not emotional beings in most situations, though they are known to let loose in combat. A dwarf in combat shouldn’t be standing still swinging his axe, he should be charging opponents, taunting them as he cuts them down and smearing their blood on his armor to unnerve the opponents allies. A dwarf will only retreat if he knows the battle is lost, and many times that is not the same time as his allies. Between combat, a dwarf should talk about potential glory that could gained in upcoming encounters and often grows bored with discussions about why a particular statue is where it is. One thing a dwarf is not, is quiet, be it in battle, after having one too many drinks, or when swearing oaths and speaking of past deeds. A dwarf should never walk around silence, a trait that annoys the elves and many humans to no end.

Rule Changes: Dwarves retain all the features as presented in Labyrinth Lord with the follow exception: Languages: Dwarves speak Common and Dwarven only.

Keeping Things On the Blog

While Obsidian Portal is great to keep things organized for gaming purposes, I think actual article stuff needs to go here. It's a convenient source and allows others to see, comment, and point out errors on things written, like a design and development blog should be.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Back From Vacation!

In hindsight, I suppose I should have said I was going on vacation... live and learn.

Progress continues however, languages are over and done with and I'm turning to doing parts of the DM section of the Monthly, getting all my thoughts down for a synopsis and level by level summary so DMs have a good feel for what's to come.

Meanwhile, the God of Law section is taking shape from my "freelancers" while a few other ideas are on the drawing board for future issues so we can try to keep to a monthly release date.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Languages of Valador: Monster Languages

Monster Languages

The Valadian Empire considers any race that is not dwarf or elf as a "monster," decreeing they should be eliminated on sight. Though some places may be more accepting of halflings, or a shopkeeper may have a goblin slave, they are still always considered nothing more then monsters. However, many of these "monsters" have cultures and societies of their own and with them, a development of language. While most Valadians and their allies would have no use for learning such languages, many adventurers study and learn these tongues, as they are more likely to run into such creatures out in the wilderness and dark places they explore.

Fey: Fey is the basis of the Elven tongue, so much so that those that speak Elven can often understand the basic concept of something spoken in Fey. However, while the elves codified and shorten the language to more effectively communicate with the shorter lived races, Fey have had no need for that. Fey remains a lyrical, floating, long language, beings that live forever have no need to speak in clipped phrases and sentences. Ask a fey how it is feeling and it may be an hour before she finishes her answer, explaining each nuance in her feelings, allowing each word to resonant and carry on the wind. Fey are also ever changing, like nature herself, they are always changing and their words change with them. Words change in tone and strength, flow and length, making the language hard to pin down accurately. Unlike the pure Chaos tongue, however, words generally maintain the same ideal, meaning that when one learns the root of a word, they cause usually adapt to any changes after hearing it a few times. Still, the length of the language and its massive vocabulary so depending on pitch, tone, and cadence makes Fey one of the least learned languages, often requires decades to master even the simplest structure.

Goblin: While goblins are scattered into numerous tribes throughout Valador and their languages has hundreds of dialects, it does come from a common root. Goblin has a distinctive rhyming quality, with many of their words ending in vowel sounds and a short range of consonant, mostly hard sounds. Many words in Goblin also features swallowed sounds and clicks of the tongue and emphasis is given to certain words and commands by repeating a word twice. Goblins have a very simple vocabulary and because of this, they often steal words from other languages to identify things they don't often come into contact with. These words tend to still take on a Goblin sound however as goblins often inject vowels to separate syllables in their borrowed words, particularly "u" sounds. While dialects vary, it is often in terms of borrowed words, making each dialect easy to figure out if one knows the root and what other races exist around them. Goblin is one of the most often learned "monster tongues" because of the simplicity and large number of goblins found in Valador.

Gnoll: The Gnoll tongue is, unsurprisingly, mixed with a many canine traits; yips, howls, growls, even posture, showing of teeth and rising of hair factor into the gnoll language. Gnolls, being a slaver and raider race, have a lot of words used to describe people and items taken from others, words based on their worth, usefulness, and selling price. Conversely, gnolls have few words for working and creating things themselves. Art, as a whole, is a foreign concept to gnolls and they have few descriptive words in their vocabulary besides base emotions and primal urges. Gnoll is a particularly hard language to learn, for it is much like learning the language of a wolf or dog. While figuring out the intent of a word is simple, the need to be expressive in body and fur dynamics as well as vocal sounds makes it difficult to discern the actual words. Gnoll is only learned on a very simplistic level by those races that bother to try it, as some concepts, phrases, and words are simply impossible do to without a thick coat of fur. Most of the Valadian Empire and their allies would rather kill a gnoll then trying to talk to it anyway.

Orc: Orc is a deep, harsh, guttural language, punctuated with growls and fierce delivery. Much of their words relate to killing, death, and the glory of bloodshed. While this is not unexpected given the orc's nature, what does surprise scholars is how much the language resembles early human tongue. Not quite Valadian and not exactly what was used by humans before, Orc certainly shares some common ancestry with these languages. For many scholars this poses a question if orcs also share a common ancestry with humans, something hard to determine with a lack of written or coherent oral history of the orcs. However, the similarities makes this an one of the easier tongues to learn by many humans. Along with Goblin, this is the most common of the "monster tongues" learned by adventurers.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Project Update

So, MegaDungeon Monthly is in full swing, and things are coming together for Issue 1 as I speak. I don't have an ETA on it yet, I'm going to wait until we not only have all the articles for it done, but also several more in order to be prepared for a monthly release schedule.

Here, however, is the proposed ToC of the first issue:
Player's Section:
Classes in Valador: Looking at the Labyrinth Lord classes and how they fit into the world of Valador (Finished)
Languages of Valador: Giving a brief overview of the potential starter languages the PCs have (2/3 Finished)
Faiths of Valador, The Church of Law: Name subject to change, being written by my good friend Sean
Valador, The Telstara Region: A brief overview (and wilderness map) of the area surrounding the megadungeon

DM's Section:
Campaign Background: What happened in the past to make the dungeon what it is in the present
Campaign Overview: A synopsis of the levels and what's to expect.

As you can see, Issue 1 is sorta a preview issue, getting people ready to play without providing the actual dungeon to play in. Issue 2 would see the first level of the dungeon as well as several more player focused articles to help bring Valador to life.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Faiths of Valador: The Three Alignment Gods

The Valadian Empire's official religion is built around three primary deities, higher powers representing Law, Neutrality, and Chaos. It is the only recognized religion in the Empire and as it expands, it looks to abolish or absorb other religions into their own. In terms of other information... well I don't have it yet.

In a show of true cooperative world building, the full look at these gods and the religious practice built around them is actually being left up to some of my players. It shall eventually be turned into an article for our first published work. It's just exciting to see others working on this as well and I just wanted to share that.