Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Picts and Armadillos

In the course of various discussions on the Swords & Wizardry message boards, Jim Raggi suggested that a better way of getting out the word when a Swords & Wizardry module comes out would be to create a blog. As it turns out, I already had one, with a single post that read, in its entirety, "Testing." Apparently, this was enough data to have been carefully preserved on my behalf for more than two years. Fair enough.

I don't like the idea of using a blog purely for announcements, though, so I'll leaven the sensationalism with some gaming ideas. The most recent idea is for a module I'm planning to write as a free download either for Swords & Wizardry WhiteBox, Core/Freestyle Rules, or perhaps for both of the two.

It started simply as the idea for a new monster: the Wrangadillo. I'm not done with the write-up yet, but we're talking large and intelligent (although not brilliant) armadillos that live in sprawling, shallow, tunnel systems in wasteland areas. Much as normal armadillos do. Since armadillos are one of the only animals other than humankind that can carry leprosy, and since giant armadillos featured prominently in TV commercials for Lone Star beer some years ago, it seems axiomatic that these guys drink beer to prevent leprosy. Actually, it's going to be mead, not beer, because I invented a plant from which they can make their booze, and it's more of a mead type of drink.

They are highly territorial, and are led by two leader-types: preachers and revenuers. The preachers are basically clerics, at least, at this point in time. The revenuers are the leaders of the burrows - they got their name simply because of the connection with the booze, but it occurred to me that a good reason for giant armadillos to raid human settlements would be because the armadillos decided to tax someone other than themselves. Frankly, this motivation is well paralleled in human history as well.

We're probably talking about a critter with an excellent armor class and about 3 hit dice. They herd some kind of giant beetle on the surface around their underground warrens, and they have some (very big) giant armadillos they use as bulldozers/tanks.

On to the next part of the situation. In the grand tradition, we have a human village inconveniently close to the Wrangadillo town. To avoid simply descending into a Western, the village is not named "Tumbleweed" or something like that. It is name Cho-Shen. It's not going to be a total knockoff of Chinese culture, but enough to let it break the "Western" feel. Also, in a somewhat Jack Vance touch, there are creatures called the Yirks who live at the outskirts of the village. They aren't human, and all they seem to do is go out into the wastes to sing and make masks out of sand. This apparently sustains them without food or water. Occasionally one of them will help with the Sapcane harvesting.

Sapcane. I forgot. This is what grows in the area to support the village of Cho-Shen. Whatever mineral makes the badlands unsuitable for agriculture is what supports the Sapcane. This cane-like plant is rich with a honey-like sap. That's how you make the mead, and that's why the mead-swilling wrangadillo raiders are a problem.

Enter the picts. Savages that are coming down from the mountains, the picts are clearly planning on doing what every stouthearted fantasy barbarian tribe does best: killing everyone and probably eating them for good measure.

I think the triad of village, picts, and wrangadillos creates a nice little wilderness area that can be used for an adventure or two. I just need to work up some details on the actual adventure (unless it's just a wide open free-for-all battle against anyone who looks like they might have loot). But I've got in mind the idea that the wrangadillos might be one of those monster-forts that could be used either as allies or enemies depending on how the players choose to make their approach. It might even create an interesting home base. Especially if the picts wipe out the village of Cho-Shen at some point....


  1. Very imaginative, Matt! But it seems more like a RuneQuest thing to me... ;P

    WHOO HOO! First comment on your newish blog!

  2. (not counting the "Test" post of course)

  3. (and the "First Post" post...)

  4. This is totally boardgameque, and that's a good thing. The description ranks right up there with the best of Tom Wham.

  5. Heh, I am totally unfamiliar with Runequest, so I plead innocent on that one. Is RQ the one with the duck character race?

  6. Isn't there a chant of power that is supposed to ward of the wrangadillo? I seem to recall it went like this: aye-nowabodda-jai-ant-armadilla!

    Heh! Word verification is "deaheadis". Which would make another great monster name.

  7. Cool stuff! Welcome to blogging!

  8. Matt, welcome to the blogging world. It's good to see you around :).

  9. Nice blog.

    Your soul is no longer your own, y'know. . .


  10. Welcome to blogging and good luck, indeed. Greetings from Poland! :)

  11. Hi Matt! Good to see this blog (back) in action. I've linked to it over at my little 'Akratic Wizardry' blog.

    Looking forward to reading your future posts! :)