Kobold Press

Grand Duchy: Adulterine Castles of the North

Claude Gellee - The Enchanted CastleA persistent, even nagging, feature of the Imperatrix’s reign has been the presence of adulterine castles, fortresses without royal license or outside the crown’s control. Across the great northern kingdom are scattered hundreds of castles, fortresses, and towers. These adulterine strongholds are something of an incongruity in a kingdom that is otherwise stable and secure.

Ancient Ruins

A few of these castles are ruins of the Great Retreat and the Mage Wars, imposing relics of a darker age, all thought to house things sinister and wicked. Many of these sites also feature a secondary fortification—a counter-castle erected outside bow range by opposing forces to establish a competing base or as a platform to launch siege attacks.

Lost and Forgotten Baronies

Far more common, though, are freestanding bulwarks that became forgotten and abandoned in the constant shifting and rearranging of Dornig fiefdoms and lesser holdings, all part of the land’s changing political landscape.

While these more numerous strongholds may lack the dark lore of their older brethren, they also have reputations as haunted places or serve as lairs for the fell races, bandits, and outcast sorcerers.

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Prepared!: The Ever-Burning Shrine

Fires of creation, fire in the soul, a fiery heart—why do we so often evoke flame when we speak of the essential?

—Archdruid Naqua of Tellwood

Travelers meet and discover the truth behind an unending blaze in today’s elementally imbued scene.

The Ever-Burning Shrine

Recent rains have made the road muddy and pitted. Traveling along it is a chore, and the gloomy mist settling over the area does little to ameliorate the situation. Further up the road, you see a column of smoke rising into the clouds. As you draw nearer, you hear the sounds of a crowd and, turning a bend, you discover a strange scene. A dozen local farmers and travelers have gathered in the mud and are watching fire consume a roadside shrine. “It’s been like this for three days,” says one oafish looking fellow. “Ain’t natural—what’s left to burn?” asks a severe woman dressed in an apron.

The shrine consists of three simple columns of stacked stones holding aloft a shallow bronze brazier. The charred remains of wooden roof lay smoldering on the ground. The flame is centered in the brazier; the heat makes it uncomfortable to approach closely. For a moment you think you see a face in the flames before it disappears into the smoke.

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Pulp Sorcery: The Secret Art of Better Spell Descriptions

Hugh Rankin - The People of the Black Circle“Sorcery thrives on success, not on failure.” —Robert E. Howard, “The People of the Black Circle”

When it comes to mechanical systems in RPGs—Pathfinder in particular—there are perhaps none more esoteric than the malleable rules that govern magic. Casters and their iconic spells have evolved over the various editions of D&D into what we know of them today, including the litany of arcane and divine spells found in the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook and beyond. And though the names and numbers may have changed, one axiom remains: these “one-time magical effects” can shape the game in extraordinary (and often unimaginable) ways.

Uncle Ben’s old words of wisdom ring true: “With great power comes great responsibility.” Keen observers may notice an extension of this notion at the tabletop, as spellcasting characters frequently rest in the hands of more seasoned players. After all, the ins-and-outs of the magic system can seem daunting—especially when each spell acts as something of a special case scenario. But I think there’s more to this than a simple aversion to lists and statistics. Thinking back to my earliest days as a player, I recall spells being the stuff of evil wizards and their foul minions. Sure, my half-elf fighter with his hackneyed name may have wielded a few wondrous items and a magic weapon or two; but raw magic was the unknown domain of the Dungeon Master. The more I played, the more I wanted to try those spells on for size. And, eventually, I wanted to reveal my newfound arcane diableries from the other side of the screen.

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