Sunday, November 19, 2017

Eldritch Progress

The penultimate volume for the Avremier 0e project is progressing toward publication. It is easily the most challenging supplement to-date, for a number of reasons.

The Arcanaflow magic "system" is being introduced and detailed for the first time in print. It hasn't been playtested in the strictest sense and will undoubtedly be targeted for criticism. That's okay. Arcanaflow casting is an option for the setting and might not suit everyone's style of play.

Along with the "new" magic rules come two "new" magic-user PC classes. Both treat Flowcasting in different ways and both are doubtlessly overpowered. Again, neither has really been playtested in depth. Honestly, I just really like arcane magic and enjoy tinkering with the entire concept within a fantasy setting. Future development might see significant changes to Flowcasting and those that utilize it. Or, we may just go renegade with it all.

For now, let's leave this entry with a partial list from the book itself.


During the course of the game, there  may not be many opportunities to consult selected tomes from a magical library for new spells. Even scrolls might be precious and few, or simply not of sufficient variety. An adventuring magic-user in search of new or replacement spells may have to stay sharp and take opportunities as they come. What follows are (D20?) suggestions for giving magic-users the chance to discover additional spells while “on the job.”
1.     Loose spellbook pages found with other treasure or the remains of a deceased adventurer.
2.     One or more spells scrawled by some mad wizard on a dungeon wall, door, or other surface.
3.     Pages of a spellbook used to line a monster’s nest or bedding.
4.     Spellbook used by some ignorant rube as a journal or notebook. Some spells have been ruined, but a few remain.
5.     The last great spell researched by some (in)famous wizard beautifully engraved upon the lid of his/her sarcophagus, in memoriam.
6.     Scrolls given as rewards by employers or patrons.
7.     Triggering ancient glyphs cause a spell to 'leap' into the closest wizard's mind, filling an equal spell slot (shunting another spell out if no empty slot is available). Must be scribed to avoid loss when cast.
8.     Trading with monsters or NPCs for spellbooks that they don’t understand or want.
9.     Malfunctioning magic item (such as a Ring of Spell Storing or Staff of Wizardry) discharges a spell directly into the user’s mind. The only way to release the spell is to scribe it.
10.  Imprisoned wizard has been blinded to prevent the use of the one or two spells tattooed onto his body.

Friday, September 8, 2017

The Avremier Metagame

The evolution of Avremier as a campaign setting came about partially due to attempts at making many of the rules-based game specifics a rational part of the game world. For example - why humans were able to pursue certain classes and demihumans could not. Avremier is, in part, an exercise in the mitigation of metagaming.

Many of the background elements and setting secrets exist as world-specific answers to player (and DM) concerns over what has been perceived as gaps or weaknesses in the rules. In Avremier, there are setting-based reasons for the following:

  • Human "superiority" in the adventuring classes.
  • Human "mastery" of arcane spellcasting.
  • Human cleric adventurers - while there are no demihuman cleric PCs.
  • The lack of half-human races (an Avremier standard).
  • PC level limits.
  • And others...
Not every rule or option is explained or incorporated into the setting - but, those that caught my attention are. The setting also was not created around these efforts - it was an organic progression that built upon specific needs and preferences. Avremier has been about 35 years in development, through almost every edition of the game. The entire campaign history of play has been incorporated into this development - meaning that there is actual played history to the campaign setting. The actions of countless adventuring parties have contributed to the history and evolution of Avremier as a game world.

So, Avremier is a combination of my own writing and preference combined with the choices and influences of many, many players of the game throughout the years. It has been my goal to use what works best along the way. That practice continues to this day. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Evolution and Development

I'm kind of afraid of the sea. The impossible depths. The sheer magnitude and fury. Drowning. Sharks. But, that's not really the point of this entry.

Avremier has been evolving and developing for over 30 years. I've been asked quite a few questions about my creative processes and source of ideas. I'm not sure I have a "process" and my ideas come from everywhere - and sometimes, I believe, nowhere at all. To truly answer such queries, I'd have to share my notes. In fact, maybe I will.

As I compile and compose the Avremier Setting supplements, there is a lot of reference and research into my extensive archives. Though much effort has been spent in editing and organization, the volume of information is sometimes staggering - even to me...the guy that wrote it all. I tend to add more as thoughts and ideas come to me. Sometimes, I'll delete a line or two that no longer work. Mostly, I just add. And, add.

What follows is a direct copy+paste of my concept notes for something called a Charybdan. I could try to preface it here, but it will probably be just as pointless to give you the infodump. The creature will make its debut in the forthcoming Eldritch Avremier supplement (currently in progress). When it does. you can see for yourself how all these notes (and it is ALL of them) and ramblings were distilled and streamlined into something relevant and usable. Hopefully.

CHARYBDAN: Possibly the ultimate expression of the Shaukoru lines. Primordial aberration similar to a gibbering mouther. Able to devour anything. Can form a powerful whirlpool/whirlwind with maximized bite attacks. Charybdis > Dis > Dispater. Probable progenitors of the koru species, these are terrible monsters of voracious appetite and insatiable curiosity. A member of this species generally appears as a large chitinous globe of gnashing mouths, but is able to alter its general shape to suit its environment or needs. One default shape resembles a gibbering mouther with a gleaming exoskeleton, while another common form looks something like an armored roper or yochlol with lashing tentacles. In any shape, the charybdan is slate blue in color and has gleaming white teeth, has no visible eyes and is able to devour nearly anything with its numerous mouths. The creature has an odor similar to oily clay and can secrete a non-flammable mineral oil that is exceptionally slippery, acting as a grease spell. Any strike against a charybdan has a (yet undetermined) chance of hitting an open maw, which gives the creature an opportunity for an immediate bite against the item. Conversely, an attack by a charybdan will also inflict a bite attack, as a toothy maw may open on any part of the creature’s surface at any time. It is possible that a charybdan’s bite will ignore item hardness, at least up to 15 or 20. Hitting the creature’s mouth, and having the item devoured, inflicts no damage upon it. 
   A few moldering texts speak of the charybdans as the survivors of a Creation that died to birth the current one. It is written that these creatures cannot be truly destroyed - only contained. However, since they can consume just about anything, it remains to be seen what material is capable of confining a charybdan for any length of time. These same accounts claim that a charybdan may even devour space and time to open dimensional vortexes between the planes through which they may steal forth into the furthest reaches of the Vastness.
   Though the creature lacks visible eyes, it may perceive its surroundings by a variety of stimuli acquired through the absorption of energy wavelengths, sonic wavelengths, and changes in pressure as well as temperature. The charybdan’s body is formed of cells that each constitutes a complete organism and the genetic structure of the monster is enormously complex. This gives each cell all of the knowledge and essential traits of the entire organism and makes the charybdan practically immortal. Additionally, a charybdan may split itself into two distinct entities of equal size – both one size category smaller then the “parent.” This is a common maneuver attempted by the creature when it wishes to flank an opponent and the charybdan may rejoin separate parts of itself at will.
   The monster’s form is capable of enduring nearly any extreme of temperature, pressure, energy, or deprivation – allowing it to survive in a total vacuum or the heart of a star. It is theorized that surviving the destruction of an entire universe has given the charybdans a physiology that endures any punishment dealt by this one. Possibly, this fact could change if the Vastness underwent another catastrophic change, but none can say for certain.
   A charybdan may devour nearly anything and digests it all. They leave no waste behind and precious little survives consumption by these creatures. As a creature that consumes all and gives nothing in return, the charybdan lies firmly outside of the ecology of the Vastness and has always been an alien presence within the current Creation. For game purposes, the charybdans are certainly an epic-level threat – at the very least. It is thought that there are six charybdans in existence and that they lack any means of true reproduction. One charybdan seems to have spent a number of centuries in a meditative and largely inert state. It was thought to have been an exceptionally large bag of devouring, until it awoke and ate its way out of a hidden vault.
   Charybdans will probably have the earth subtype and the earth glide ability. It is thought that xorns and similar creatures are descended from the charybdans. The charybdans themselves are the progeny of the ancient creature known as Charybdis – spawn of the Effluvium. The Effluvium’s most ancient name is Charybdis – or simply Dis.
   The hideous abomination known as Charybdis is said to have spawned from the Effluvium – or could be a manifestation of the Effluvium itself. The Effluvium is a morass of dark and decayed planar energies that  forms a bottomless whirlpool at the center. It lies at the bottom of the Planar Axis and the whirlpool that drags everything within this benighted sewer leads below and beyond to…no one knows where. Perhaps to the true Charybdis. Perhaps it is the maw of Charybdis. Some planar scholars speculate that Erebus is somehow related to Charybdis – or that Erebus once devoured this entity in an age long past.

Friday, August 4, 2017

Avremier Fiction

I'd like to address this long-running topic in an open and comprehensive manner.

For years, it has been suggested that I write novels based upon my RPG setting and campaigns. Some people want to be in a book. Some people don't play, but would like to follow the adventures. Others do play and want to see more of Avremier. That's all good.

But I still have no plans to write Avremier novels. Avremier is but one milieu for my creative endeavors. It is meant for gaming. I know there are famous writers that have made their fortune by translating game to novel. I know how much interest there is in Avremier - that's why Mothshade Concepts is publishing supplements at a brisk pace.

Tell you what we are planning to do...

Avrethology. A collection of short tales, journal entries, amusing dialogues, and expanded scenes - collected and organized in a single volume. No rules or stats - just story and color. Avremier for the masses. We hope you'll join the adventure.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Homage du Jour

The Avremier 0e project started as an homage. In numerous ways, the booklets have honored the earliest days of the game. That trend is not likely to change anytime soon. The latest tribute is to the late, great Dave Trampier - specifically, his AD&D Monster Manual rendition of the rakshasa.

In the course of my research, I was reminded that the rakshasa did not always have the backward hands we all know and love today. That seems to have come from a Dragon Magazine #84 article. The accompanying illustration also may be the first non-tiger rakshasa I'd ever seen.

Starting with the 2e Monstrous Manual, these traits were included with the standard rakshasa description. Still, just about every piece of rakshasa art I've ever seen has the thing with a tiger's head. The rakshasa of Avremier are different - this one in particular.

  • Nycaniculus: The rabbit-headed rakshasa of Black Rabbit Manse – the ruling seat of Duskfell Glebe. White-eyed, he often pretends to be blind. Has a talent for manipulating luck, and known to be something of a gambler. Dressed in severe black garb similar to traditional clergy. Lord of the Duskfell Glebe al-mi’raj. Known as the Black Rabbit or the Black Hare.
Upon deciding to render a portrait of the villain, I was reminded fondly of Tramp's iconic version. My sketch, with DAT's for comparison, is pasted below.