* ROB KUNTZ, Special Guest at ARNECON 2 GAMING CONVENTION 2024, Minneapolis MN, See You There! *

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Entering an E. H. Until the New Year

I'm entering an "Event Horizon" until the New Year.  Work, some Holiday Play, but mostly work.

I hope everyone has Happy Holidays! And please drive safely!  I will be, just look at my transport, below!  :)

Monday, December 17, 2012

Fairyland Map

This is for all like Dave who love Wonder & Enchantment!

Anciente Map of Fairyland
By Bernard Sleigh

I forget where I ordered a reproduction from, but it was fairly inexpensive and measures 6-7 feet in width.
There are other repros, but not as large and, I believe, on a red background.
This image was obtained from the Library of Congress where it is viewable online.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

World of Kalibruhn, 2nd Iteration

Kalibruhn Supplement cover as imagined
by Grendlewulf.  Unpublished.
I have worked on my World of Kalibruhn™, in both forms as it now exists, since 1974.  This grew out of my conceptualization of it while DMing Castle El Raja Key and Lost City of the Elders for the LGTSA members 1973 onward, and continued into co-DMing of Greyhawk with my counterpart, E. Gary Gygax, over the same time period.

Lost City of the Elders old conceptual sketch
for Garden of the Plantmaster
I have covered most of those general histories in a greatly expanded article for the upcoming combined project of mine, the latter article entitled, "The First Living Campaign" (Parts 1-4).

This led to my first iteration of it in 1976, this in conjunction with material I'd been collecting for another OD&D Supplement, entitled, Kalibruhn.

The key features of its 1st iteration are consonant with the 2nd, as I broke with established bottom-up creative patterns and instead concentrated on making the world my own through a top-down approach as first inspired by Tolkien, Clark Ashton Smith in his "world/area cycles" fiction and the then emergent M. A. R. Barker with his glorious Tekumel.

Old first version map of World of
2nd iteration done in pencil and
 pen with old dot matrix
print out framework for mountains.
Notable key design features were:

*No central dungeon.  This was accomplished by making a re-imagined Castle El Raja Key magical in its contrivance.  Its history became very granular and attuned to the events that spawned its making.  In essence, and due to this exact history in the making, its unstable magic caused it to appear and disappear throughout time and space. Its reappearance would thereafter be considered an ominous event and lead to legends about it from among those places in which it occurred.  This allowed me to "place" the castle within the ongoing storyline wherever I wished and to extrapolate a building story as to why it was thus occurring.
World of Kalibruhn 2nd iteration.
From my original via an old paint program.
*No central city feeding said dungeon.  Instead I literally sank the namesake city, Kalibruhn, through a tidal wave, and this in its pre-game-start history, thus making it a forlorn and dangerous place to adventure in afterwards (8th level upwards, approximately, but that level was no guarantee in itself).  It had no stable range for adventuring levels.  It was meant to be high risk and the legends surrounding it were well dispersed among the populace to inform the players of such risks.
*Dispersal of adventure areas both large and small.  These comprised numerous leveled, other areas related to each indigenous area--the Elkin Copper Mines and the Temple of Reh-Pog, for example, in the 1st iteration, both having 1st-12th level range potential for adventure, but also having definite reasons beyond mere adventure for tackling same.
Wold of Kalibruhn 2nd iteration sample.
Current Phase 1 Map as rendered in Photoshop
by Andy Taylor.
*Top-Down creation of all world matter. Spells, monsters, deities (cosmology), minerals, plants, etc.
This is consonant with creating an interwoven and living world.  It included a 1/4 campaign area partial map, regional maps, village, town and small city maps as well as a map of Dimensions that linked back to the Lake Geneva Original Campaign setting (this as I note in the upcoming article referenced above). In all I'd say I've drawn well over 400 maps of all sizes, many of them coming from the need to create areas in advance of adventuring parties taking turns this way and that throughout my world's landscape.
Castle El Raja Key Cover Art.
*De-emphasis of the adventure for adventure sake only.  As noted above.  There are reasons why everything exists and a definite pre-history vibe ongoing throughout all matter relating to the world, and this manifests at all levels within it.

I will write more on Kalibruhn in the future.  This is the first time that I've felt inclined to parade forth my world.  There are many who have queried me about it in the past, and I have exchanged some rather large e-mails over the years regarding many points concerning it.  Among its champions are Allan Grohe and Scott Greg, and many others. Among its players, in its parts, or all:  Gary Gygax, Donald Kaye, Terry Kuntz, Allan Grohe, Paul Stormberg, Joe Goodfellow, James F. Goodfellow, Joe Fischer, Tim Jiardini, Tom Champeny, Bill Corey, Martin Wright, Tom Wham, Mary Dale, Tom Christiansen, Neil Christiansen, James Ward, Ernie Gygax, Dave LaForce, Mark Ratner, Bruce Fuller, Brett Fuller, and so many others I cannot now exactly recall.

Old concept cover illustration for CERK that I did in Photoshop.

Friday, December 14, 2012

You Gotta Love Maps!

Especially this one by Jason Thompson

The Lands of Dream

Also note the B&W at his link.

The color version as posted is for sale at his store (click through)

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Sample of Ssa Magic: Upcoming Combined Project

All text copyright 2012.  Robert J. Kuntz.  All Rights Reserved.

The Ssa is a nearly extinct race of serpent people that was almost eradicated during the time of the Great Devastation that laid low the Suul and their opponents.  Record of them cease after that time, though rumors persist to this day that they survived by relocating to one of three underground locations [detailed in the main text concerning them, following—RJK]. -- NS

Ssa ancient magic has over aeons become innate.  This allows them to wield each part as an intrinsic power.  Because of this their casting times are for the most part instantaneous.

Two 2nd level powers sampled from the 21 I am detailing for their mages and priests:

Scale of Ssura (Pr):  When invoked this causes the Ssa’s scale to shine a flaring red tinged by flecks of brilliant gold.  This has two effects:  1) It creates an eyestrain for attackers within a 10’ radius of the Ssa, causing them to misjudge his exact location and thus conferring a +2 to the latter’s AC (note that some spells, items or powers, i.e., true seeing, etc. would negate this effect); and 2) It deflects attacks that are less than magical +2 for up to ½ of its base hit points.  For example, if a Ssa’s base hp are 40 then it could deflect 20 hp of damage of less than +2 in origin. Thereafter this magical protection is negated and the Ssa can be damaged through normal means.  Range:  Self.  Duration:  1 turn/level of the Ssa; and/or until the deflection portion is negated through melee.

Imitate (Mg):  When invoked the Ssa immediately alters its form (c.f. polymorph self) to a form viewed within the last hour.  After that elapsed time these memory images lose their facility to be usable for imitation purposes.  Beings imitated must approximate the Ssa’s general physicality in most respects: they must be more or less bipedal and human/humanoid.  The Ssa must have viewed the being it will imitate for at least 1 turn and can be no more than 20’ from them in order to capture and retain a clear mental image.

Ssa favor imitating their racial enemies (q.v.).  It is considered a grievous social faux pas to imitate another Ssa without permission or a dire need to do so.  The indiscriminate use of this power in that regard has in the past been punished by banishment or death. Range:  Self.  Duration:  1 hour/level of the Ssa.

Image copyright Wizards of the Coast.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Imagine This

Text Copyright 2012.  Robert J. Kuntz

The Denizens of Fomalhaut
(and Their Eurthly Worshippers)

An excerpt from Volume #16 of Reflections from the Black Pool by Nym Slevvus

Fomalhaut is possibly one of the most studied planets of our time.  Ancient texts have variously referred to it as Vulcan’s Brow, The Misbegotten Fire and Inferno’s Tail.  Esoteric sources, as is noted in the following extract from Empires of Dream, elucidate upon its nature in relation to our sphere”:

“Beyond the currents of mist and near the beginning of far night burns the ever present eye of fire, Fomalhaut.  Its mysteries are veiled in secret rites that many obscure sects of Eurth have practiced.  Predominant among these is the Rite of the Searing Eye of the brown skinned savages in the Ameedo Jungle. Their priests tend to an immortal fire that is legended to consume living human flesh, this to allay the temper of the god, Tuga, who is believed to be imprisoned in Fomalhaut.  Lesser known worship of this “god-planet” persists in both local and far-flung respects: among the priest’s of the Crimson Brotherhood who offer fist-sized rubies to it in a sympathetic ritual of bonding; among the elementalists of Brass, who claim that its roiling fires are mysteriously related to the birthing activities of their volcanoes; and by the Ssa, the primordial race of rubescent serpent men that worship Meta-Fir, greatest of all fire drakes and messenger of Tuga. The latter betokens a fiery wrath bourn from Tuga’s hatred for all living things.”  -- Saharian the Shaman

“The Seven Cryptic Books of Hsan reveals additional matter regarding one of its nearby satellites”:

“I have identified a moon of external origin to Fomalhaut and unrelated in composition to the dust belt encompassing the latter.  How it came to be in its orbit is a most puzzling concern; and such an occurrence is unequalled in astronomical histories. … I have named it the “F-Moon.” My studies are now fully given over to this anomaly and especially to its strange shadowy surface that traps light within it.” – partial of a testimony presented to the Sage’s Guild at the Free City of Hawks by Hsan Ezemryr.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Welcome to my World

It is a world of unchained imagination.  And I invite you to partake in it.  It not only celebrates one of the greatest gifts that man has and that distinguishes himself from animals with, but it points ever onward as to why I must, like the child of my youth, continue that exploration.  In doing so I freely expand upon the limits that it teases me with and therein expose matters never before seen.

So side with the improbable and the impossible and make it real. No Arthurian legends to be had here, but instead, and as my favorite fantasy author, Clark Ashton Smith, intoned:

Tell me many tales, O benign maleficent daemon, but tell me none that I have ever heard or have even dreamt of otherwise than obscurely or infrequently. Nay, tell me not of anything that lies within the bourne of time or the limits of space; for I am a little weary of all recorded years and chartered lands.

Tell me many tales, but let them be of things that are past the lore of legend and of which there are no myths in our world or any world adjoining. . . . Tell me tales of inconceivable fear and unimaginable love, in orbs whereto our sun is a nameless star or unto which its rays have never reached.

To the Daemon, A prose Poem by Clark Ashton Smith

And to punctuate that, a quote from one of the Greats who continued in that tradition of exploring the unknown, and this time through games:


There should be no natural laws which are certain. Space could be passable because it is filled with breathable air. On the other hand the stars could be tiny lights only a few hundred miles away. Some area of land could be gates into other worlds, dimensions, times, or whatever. Mars is given in these rules, but some other fantastic world or setting could be equally as possible. This function is up to the referee, and what he wishes to do with it is necessarily limited by his other campaign work. However, this factor can be gradually added, so that no sudden burden will be placed upon the referee.

Gary Gygax' quote from OD&D, Volume 3, page 24

For there are many worlds left that we have not explored...

Are you game? If so, follow along.  And in between consider the many imaginings I will be bringing to you, this among them:

Though I set these words to vellum with a certainty of intent, just as the moons above offer themselves to the astronomer to be counted, as well as to be counted on, I do so with a darkened soul. I fill my space in time with the visions that accompany me now, and moreover when they depart from me to linger about the shadows of my camp, there to inform me of what memories cannot and should not do.  These singe me like a fire not so close or far, yet tempt me to burn them none-the-less, burn them from my very eyes!

For I, the lucky-one, am the last one. And even as the mind guides my tongue to refute what I’ve seen, it sometimes allows the hand to move as a gesture to it all.  But I still cannot inscribe that name, as the silence congeals about me then, just as the shadows do at those times.  Beware! it says to me.  And so said, I must again deny the images of courage and blood stamped out by the silent terror it knows I’ve seen within that crypt. 

There are now more than moons that alight my path; there are more than shadows that conceal my thoughts; and there are more than voices now that I must heed, so near to the boughs of my home, to my womb in the Gnarled Woods…  The Seven Cryptic Books of Hsan--RJKuntz