Monday, June 13, 2005


I have updated the front page of the Vellum website. In addition to adding actual content, I've linked a new screenshot there. Have a look.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Gnoll Chieftain's Hut

Dvethen ir'Wyran visited the Gnoll Chieftain's hut when he went back to the Gnoll Huddle to search for clues to his sister's disappearance.

Game Session, 2005.06.12

Published to Google Docs.

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Game Session, 2005.06.03

Published to Google Docs.

In addition, this took place.

Friday, June 03, 2005

Gods of Gabbent

Morrigan is the goddess of inevitable strife. In this role she has aspects of fate, war, victory, and the honor of meeting one's doom with head held high. She often appears, in mourning, to combatants as they go to meet their final destinies. Morrigan's statues and idols depict a naked woman with a fan of long spears in each hand and symbolic tattoos of power covering her breasts.

Morrigan's domains include: Chaos, Death, Destruction, Evil, Good, Strength, and War.

Her followers bear a disk with an engraved fan of spears as their symbol.
Oghma is the champion of knowledge and mastery of one's arts. He champions technology, useful deception, literacy, arcana, and rhetoric. He is most often depicted in painting or tapestries, as it is thought to be blasphemy to sculpt an image of Oghma. In these he is depicted as a hulking, disfigured giant with intelligent eyes. Oghma is sometimes called Silent Oghma because spells of divination, which are his specialty, are not always answered.

Oghma's domains include: Evil, Fire, Good, Knowledge, Luck, Magic, Mind, and Trickery.

A neckband, embroidered with words in the secret tongue of Oghma, is worn by Oghma's priests. The words vary from neckband to neckband, but all are passages taken from his holy books.
The Daghda
The Daghda is the god of ascendence of civilization over nature. He has aspects of protecting crop growth, ensuring fertility, and the building of roads and cities. Daghda is often depicted as a very tall rotund man, sometimes with a large protruding penis.

The Daghda's domains include: Earth, Evil, Good, Healing, Law, Protection, and Travel.

The Daghda's worshippers carry a shallow woven basket with a ewered edge as their symbol.
Mannannan Lir
Mannannan Lir is in many ways the antithesis of The Daghda. His dominion is over the natural realm, beginning from the sea and spreading outward. He personifies the ascendence of natural environs over civilization. He is thought to be responsible for the weather and natural disasters, as well as the growth of the forest, the movements of rivers and the abundance of fauna in the world.

Mannannan's domains include: Air, Animal, Evil, Good, Plant, Sun, and Water.

For a holy symbol, Mannannan's priests wear a 6'-long necklace of shells and lightning bolts carved from wood, wrapped around their necks several times.

These gods appear in many different aspects throughout Gabbent, usually with variant names and appearances. None of these gods is aligned; beings of all different alignments may worship the one with which they are philosophically compatible. Neither is there any restriction on race to worship one of these gods. Though they are known by different names, the same gods are constant throughout Gabbent.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Understanding Your Player Character's Role

Crom's player pointed this out to me so I thought I'd link to it in case anyone else finds it useful. It's a tool for figuring out what kind of character you're playing, by asking questions for the player to answer about her character.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

The Gnoll Huddle

The party enters the Conclave of Servants in Tulerohk to give an abstract of their adventure in Grimcatch. In the middle of their description, a council member by the name of Spyridon Dara publicly accuses Dev of committing the murder of his own sister. The heroes narrowly avoid a bloody fight in the middle of the meeting when Lucas, acting on a suggestion by Crom, invokes his right to accept Dev's surrender, and Spyridon backs down when he is magically charmed by Rade's surreptitious spell.

Having gotten away from the law, at least for now, the heroes are sent on a dangerous mission: free a large group of lowlander elves from the clutches of the gnolls, so the gnoll huddle can be destroyed without risking their hostages.

This is the plan they execute. First, they have Lucas' forces create a distraction by attacking the gnolls' hunting party. As soon as the hunting party is stopped, Lucas' troops move into position to the north of the camp and the gnoll huddle erupts in frenzied action. Then the PCs, invisible, sneak into the camp, deftly avoid the gnolls, dispatch the guards outside the prison, set the chief gnoll's hut alight, and end by locking themselves inside as a swarming mass of gnolls constrict on them.

Game Session, 2005.05.21

Published to Google Docs.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

House Rules Updated

The house rules have been updated to note some changes to available PC races and classes.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

New Sorceror-Arcanist (Draft)

  1. Must carry spellbook(s) (one page per spell level, like a wizard). Other surfaces can be substituted for literal books of spells, as long as they can contain writing symbols. It is up to the DM's judgement how much of a surface is necessary to contain one spell level.
  2. Arcanists prepare for spellcasting by studying spellbooks for 30 minutes after each rest period. This study prepares the arcanist to cast any of the spells he knows, according to the usual spells per day table, in the usual fashion of a sorcerer.
  3. The details of each arcanist's spellbook are particular to that arcanist alone. Thus, finding another arcanist's spellbook is almost useless.
  4. When an arcanist is studying, he must choose a mood. In order to cast any spells that day, he must remain in or regain the mood he was in during the study period, or the symbols he memorized will not work. (This means he cannot attempt to cast a spell, not that the spell fails.) At his option, the mood might be different for different spells. For example, an arcanist might study in a placid mood, and he must be able to calm himself to placidity again in the heat of combat in order to cast spells. Or he might require an angry mood to cast magic missile, and a happy mood to cast charm person.
  5. The arcanist learns new "known" spells according to the following schedule.
    • At Arcanist level 1 the arcanist knows 6 L0 spells, and 3 L1 spells.
    • No new known spells are gained at Arcanist L2.
    • Each level thereafter, the arcanist learns new spells at a rate of one spell level per arcanist level, plus the arcanist's charisma bonus. These may be used to purchase spells at whatever level the arcanist desires. L0 spells may be purchased at a rate of 0.5 spell levels each.
    For example, an arcanist with 15 CHA (+2) will gain 3+2=5 spell levels of known spells at Arcanist L3, and 4+2=6 spell levels at L4.
  6. The new known spells acquired by an arcanist are limited by the same spell level progression as the sorcerer. At class level 4, the arcanist may take his first 2nd-level spell; at class level 6 the arcanist may take his first 3rd-level spell, and so on.
  7. Unlike the standard sorcerer, the arcanist may not swap spells.
  8. Arcanists can research new, undiscovered spells just like wizards, but to do so they must reserve some of the spell levels they gain upon reaching a new level, an amount equal to the spell level of the spell to be researched. These will be used when the spell research completes successfully.
  9. Arcanists who are ability damaged may find that some of the pages in their spellbooks no longer function, according to how many CHA points were lost. For example, a L5 arcanist with 14 CHA who is ability damaged to 11 CHA goes from +2 to +0, and so loses the use of 2*5=10 spell levels worth of spells. If the damage is temporary, the pages will work again when the effect ends.
  10. Arcanists who gain CHA points get additional pages according to their new bonus, but these new pages can only be written when an arcanist gains a level. For example, a L4 Arcanist who goes from 13 CHA to 16 CHA (+1 to +3) gains 2*4=8 new pages when he gains his next level, but only if the CHA bonus is still in effect. Temporary CHA bonuses can also increase known spells if they are in effect when the arcanist gains a level. But if the temporary bonus ends, the spells gained from it will no longer function.


The arcanist gets more spells known than the sorcerer, which makes him more flexible in the field. The new class also has two new drawbacks over the sorcerer. First, they must carry and protect spellbooks, but don't get the associated advantages of spellbooks (the ability to copy another caster's spells). Second, the character must be able to maintain control over their moods, which provides the player with some roleplaying challenges.


Sorcery is accomplished through befriending and collaborating with ethereal entities known as arcane crafters. Nobody knows what the arcane crafters are. Many think they are agents of divine or diabolic power. Another theory is that they are spirits of the dead, come to assist their descendents. Some whisper that the crafters are a part of the arcanist's own madness (for, do they not pursue the arcanist everywhere he goes?).

Whatever they are, arcane crafters are beings that respond to the spellcasting of arcanists. They seem to be intelligent and aware. They respond to blandishment, friendly overtures and personalities of a compatible nature. And each and every one of them has a name, which must be learned before they will obey the arcanist.

The arcanist succeeds in casting a spell by knowing the right name of the crafter. The entity he will bring out will be different each time he casts a spell, so the names must be learned and memorized each time the arcanist wishes to prepare his spells for the day. This requires 30 minutes after each rest period to prepare, but the arcanist need not choose particular spells to cast in advance, just figure out the names of the arcane crafters that will help him each time he needs one. When casting, the arcanist need not speak any names, merely recall the right one clearly, in addition to executing the other components (somatic, verbal, material) that the spell normally requires.

When the arcanist begins casting a spell, he will become aware of personalities approaching him. They seem to float toward him from the void of other, and when they arrive they whisper and coax and encourage, but they are not visible or audible to anyone else but the arcanist. They come in great masses. Any single spellcasting will bring at least a dozen of them, capering and gibbering in the arcanist's ears and in his mind. Most spells will bring even more of them, hundreds or even thousands, washing over the arcanist's awareness as if every one of the ocean's creatures had a voice that was trapped in a bubble of foam on a wave. Only by concentration can an arcanist stay focused on the task at hand in the face of this benign riot.

Finally, with the summoned entity's name held in his mind, the arcanist cajoles and befriends the entity with his high charisma, and through their collaboration the spell is cast. In game terms, this works exactly like the
usual method of spellcasting for standard sorcerers.

When an arcanist gains a level, he gains new pages of names in his spellbooks. He seeks the council of the arcane crafters, who will automatically come to him and dictate new pages. Arcanists with greater charisma attract more crafters or crafters who are more forthcoming, and more spells will be added. The arcanist listens to the murmur of the arcane crafters and, in a trance-like state, copies their words onto the pages of the spellbook. Arcane crafters are loyal to a particular arcanist alone, so the names cannot be read from another arcanist's spellbook and used.

It is rumored that there are other ways for an arcanist to harness and use more arcane crafters than his Charisma permits, by gaining their allegiance in dark, coercive rites.

More on Spellbooks

Spellbooks are typically leather-bound paper or parchment books, what one traditionally thinks of as a book. However, this need not be the case. Any surface that can contain writing symbols can be a page in a spellbook. Use your imagination. Bangles worn by the character, stone tablets, even tattoos on the visible areas of the character's body might be spell pages. Some of these will be able to contain more spells than others. For the purposes of this discussion, we will think of spellbooks as literal books, and call pages pages.

Spellbooks are not merely lists of names, one to a page. Every page is covered with symbols arranged in arcane patterns and read according to rules that the arcanist memorizes during training. The symbols combine to form the names of arcane crafters. Reading them usually means years of scholarly training, but other cultures might devise different ways of reading the symbols that don't require as much rote learning. For example, the character might carry a mnemonic device such as a piece of jewelery or necklace, and the marks on this device help the arcanist determine what symbols combine to represent useful crafter names.

The form taken by the symbols on page therefore may differ greatly depending on the teaching method used to train the fledgling arcanist. Still there will be many, sometimes dozens and dozens of rules for how to read each page. Some rules pertain to the time of day, to the weather, to astrology, to recent important events. Some pertain to the arcanist himself, his actions, his gender, his height and weight, the garments he's wearing, and his attitude toward law and morality (alignment). His mood also affects which symbols will be effective.

Monday, May 09, 2005

Tulerohk - Conclave of Servants

After returning from Grimcatch, the characters find themselves embroiled in political drama. The High Council has called another joint meeting between the Jeraslan and Tulerohk councils, and wants the warriors there to testify.

Game Session log 2005-05-07

Published to Google Docs.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Grimcatch (map)

The home of the grimlocks. When an earthquake cracked Jeraslan in half, the heroes descended into Grimcatch to heal its roots. There, they found a large tribe of grimlocks preparing to make war on the surface! With daring and determination, they killed the grimlocks and burned their home out to keep the orulin and the elven lands safe.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Game session, 2005.04.23

Published to Google Docs.

Friday, April 08, 2005


Hit Dice: 1d4 (3hp)
Size: Tiny
Type: Aberration
Initiative: +1
Speed: 30 ft.
AC: 19 (+2 size, +1 Dex, +6 natural armor; 13 touch; 18 flat-footed)
Attack: Bite +1 melee (1d4-1)
Grapple: -7
Full attack: Bite +1 melee (1d4-1)
Space: 2 1/2 ft.
Reach: none
Special Attacks: Spell Regurgitation (Su)
Special Qualities: Spell Storing (Su)
Saves: Fort -1, Ref +1, Will +1
Abilities: Str 8, Dex 12, Con 8, Int 13, Wis 8, Cha 4
Skills: Hide +4, Move silently +5
Feats: Stealthy
Environment: Underground
Organization: Solitary
CR: 2
Treasure: no coins
Alignment: Chaotic Evil
Advancement: 1 HD (Small), 2 HD (Medium)

Synopsis: The smileworm is a 1' to 2' long, black or brown slug-like lifeform. It is covered in tough scales and its body is nearly pure tough muscle. On the back of a smileworm is a humanoid face, with closed eyes, lips, a chin, and so on. The face is made of the same dark scales that the smileworm is covered in.

A smileworm feeds on magical spellcasting and seeks out spellcasting situations such as battles, so it can stay on the fringes and absorb sustenance.

Combat: A smileworm's primary attack is a bite. It can use this when it crawls into range, and it can crawl startlingly fast given its size and anatomy. A smileworm generally attacks with its special attacks.

Special Attacks:
Spell Regurgitation (Su)
With this ability, a smileworm can cast captured spells (see Special Qualities, Spell Capturing). This works exactly like invoking spells stored in a Ring of Spell Storing.

Special Qualities:
Spell Capturing (su)
A standard tiny smileworm can absorb up to 7 spell levels of spells. It only has to be within 20' of the caster of a spell. This works whether the casting is from a spellcaster, a Ring of Spell Storing, a staff, a scroll, etc. The smileworm must prepare to absorb a spell; absorbing is (at least) a full-round action and the smileworm must begin the action of capturing spells before the spellcasting actually begins. To capture a spell, the smileworm must not take any actions, and must continue to concentrate on capturing from the beginning until the final moment of casting. Spells with an instantaneous casting time cannot be captured. Captured spells have no effect, and become stored in the smileworm, available for regurgitation later.

Larger versions of a smileworm may be able to handle more spell levels of energy.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Game Session, 2005.03.18

Published to Google Docs.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

House Rules

  1. Official SRD rules say that each round a character is Dying, they get a 10% chance to stabilize. This rule is amended: to stabilize, a character must make a DC 19 Fort save.

    Justification: Makes characters with stronger constitutions more likely to survive grievous wounds; at high levels it makes stabilizing easier to do, but then, at high levels it's far more likely that a powerful attack will kill the character outright anyway.
  2. Leveling up requires 2 days spent "in town", reviewing the skills of their new class level with another skilled adventurer's assistance. This person does not need to be a member of the class, they are merely helping the character concentrate. The buddy can also be training at the same time, it is not a fulltime job; therefore, both buddies can level up simultaneously if they both have enough XP. If a "mentor" can be found to act as buddy, the time is reduced to 1 day. A mentor is a character at least 2 class levels greater than the character leveling up in the same class.

    Justification: Makes a more realistic transition for the PC, and puts a higher premium on keeping an escape route open to town. It's short because the PC has really been training for the next level the entire time they've been adventuring, and the training session merely represents an effort to concentrate on what was learned.
  3. Alternate unbalanced multi-class penalty. There is no 20% XP penalty for class levels that are not within 2 levels of the primary class. Instead, the penalty is that the "leveling up" period, described above, is doubled to 4 days for classes 2 or more levels apart from the primary class. Even with a mentor, an unbalanced class takes 4 days to level up, not 2.

    Justification: Simpler rule. The 20% XP penalty means it is impossible to "work backwards" and figure out a character's class levels from his XP, which is one of the best things about the new XP system. The amended rule means it will always be possible to work backwards.
  4. Official SRD rules say that drawing or sheathing a weapon is a move action, unless you have a BAB of +1, in which case it is a free action when done simultaneously with a regular move. This rule is amended: Drawing or sheathing is still a move action, but it may be done as a free action during a regular move, by anyone. This also applies to readying or loosing a shield.

    Also, a clarification: this rule also applies to swapping one weapon or shield for another. It does not take two move actions to swap a bow for a sword, for example, only one. Swapping a bow for a sword and a shield is still two move actions.

    Justification: This is much easier to adjudicate by the DM. There's no reason why BAB would affect this.
  5. The following PC races and classes are not found in the Nest of Candles world: Gnome, Halfling, Wizard (and specialists), Sorceror. An adapted version of the sorceror called Arcanist is available. Gnomes and Halflings simply do not exist in the world of Gabbent. Wizard becomes an NPC-only class, and is simply a scholar with some of the abilities of the arcanist. New variants of PC races and a new prestige class will be available to play further into the campaign. (More details on this to come.)

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Map of Olemheiden

The forest home of most of the PCs, this is where the Nest of Candles campaign begins. Olemheiden is unique for its orulins, mile-high trees where half a dozen elven tribes spend their entire lives.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Campaign: The Precarious Earth


The Precarious Earth: From the Forest

Who leaves the pine-tree, leaves his friend,
Unnerves his strength, invites his end.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, "Woodnotes"

This is a tale of a world called Gabbent. It begins in a forest named Olemheiden. This forest is unlike almost all of the other forests on Gabbent. In Olemheiden grow the orulins. Imagine a misty-topped mountain made of oak, with bark so thick elves carve homes in it without reaching the hard wood, and branches so wide pigs and poultry are ranched there and gardens are grown there. Imagine a tree which, if you climbed to the very top, the highest redwoods in the forest below would be no more than blades of grass, and mountains a hundred miles away are clearly visible. Imagine a tree that is unreachable from the ground without climbing a staircase a thousand feet high that wraps round the trunk 5 times. Before you've even reached the lowest living area of the orulin, you are far, far above the treetops. Once you do reach them, you are protected by unassailable defenses manned by the tribe's defenders at all hours of the day and night.

And for five of the six tribal trees of Olemheiden, this still holds true. For the sixth, tragedy has struck. A massive earthquake of unprecendented force ripped Jeraslan in half. In this home of the most influential tribe, the strength of nature overwhelmed the tightest defense and tore these people from their home by tearing their home apart at the roots. For most of the trees of the forest, their roots only reach into the soft earth. The singular earthquake shook them, tilted some, displaced others, killed but few. Jeraslan, on the other hand, has roots that reach down to the very bedrock. And when that bedrock split, Jeraslan tried to go with it in two different directions.

The aftermath was swift and violent. Branches a quarter mile long fell from the tree, destroying elven homes and tossing elven bodies like leaves dropping onto the distant forest floor. The trunk, splitting up the middle, sliced elven homes in half as if cut with a razor. The Jeraslan tribe panicked. Those who could flee with magic did, perhaps taking the older and infirm with them. Others had to build rope bridges just to climb down the stairs. Jeraslan's fabled Cataract was washed out by the shifting earth which meant that the pulleys the elves normally used were useless. The entire tribe evacuated in two directions. Some went south to the smaller orulin named Kellingeth. Most went north, to Tulerohk.

Lucas, a battle-worn Paladin from Jeraslan, took his granddaughter with him to watch the last of the refugees. Their task was to escort these stragglers from Jeraslan to Tulerohk, through a forest filled with enemies. As if this weren't hard enough, the breaking of the Cataract flooded most of northern Olemheiden. The weary travellers had to fight hard through gnoll-infested swampland to reach their destination.

In Tulerohk, the statesmen called a joint council of the two orulins to discuss what to do about the Jeraslanders. Tulerohk, now badly overcrowded, needed many new dwellings built for the Jeraslanders; and who was going to pay for this? Who would provide the labor? The council of Jeraslan agreed that in exchange for the concession of room to live in Tulerohk, Jeraslan's engineers would reroute the Showerhair canal and build a new Cataract for Tulerohk, giving them the economic advantages Jeraslan had before the earthquake.

At this same council meeting, an expert in the caretaking of orulins revealed a surprise: that Jeraslan was alive, but dying. Steps would have to be taken to rescue the tree. This arborist by the name of Haft made a motion to bring a party of warriors with him back to Jeraslan and try to heal the breath roots, the vital stems which regulate the growth and are necessary for the survival of an orulin. When it was agreed that this would be done, one more proposal was made: send forces to stamp out the gnolls, once and for all. It was Lucas who proposed this, and his proposal to lead these forces was enthusiastically accepted.

The characters chose to accompany Haft and heal the breath roots, despite the rumors of an infestation of creatures living in the caverns underneath Jeraslan.


Welcome to the Nest of Candles blog. I am creating this so I can use the Internet for the duty of explaining my world to new players.

Important links for players:

Game Sessions Calendar (updated link): Nest of Candles Calendar

We play approximately 3 sessions a month, usually on Saturday evenings (PST).

RPTools Maptool:
Make sure to download Version 1.2 of Maptool. Our game sessions are conducted using Maptool.


A character creator. This is the preferred way to make a PC, as it interoperates well with Vellum (the name of the bot), it has a lot of features, and it's free.


A Paper & Pencil RPG client/server. The implementation will allow GMs to use maps and miniatures, coupled with an IRC bot for role-playing and tracking the combat actions with our rich character model. Emphasis is on ease-of-use, fun and robustness. Eventually you will need to download the client to play with us. For now, you only need Maptool.
And, if you're curious about my maps and want to make your own: