Archive for May, 2010

Meet the Hand

Adventurers wanted to bring a heinous criminal to justice!  A strong and just Noble with ties to the King himself has been accosted by a common thug.  The man, now known only as “The Hand” due to his grievous injury, was robbed of both his powerful magic sword and the hand he used to wield it!  The victorious party will be handsomely rewarded with gold and the sword itself, which is no longer of any use to its former owner.  If the criminal is brought in alive to face his victim, the bounty shall be 800 gold pieces.  If the thug is killed in the course of apprehension the reward shall be 400.  Any interested parties should send their  resumes to aspiring Dungeon Master Trey Hollen for consideration.


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Welcome to Cormyr!

The Seal of Cormyr

Kingdom of the Purple Dragon

Welcome to the Kingdom of Cormyr! As nations fall and the Realms sink into darkness Cormyr remains firm. It serves a beacon of light and is a source of hope for those who hate evil. Good King Foril, at seventy years of age, rules with an ever lighter hand. He has been on the throne for just over 30 years and his son, the dashing Prince Azoun, looks to be a better ruler in his day. At King Foril’s disposal is a large cadre of knights called the Purple Dragons. In addition to these stalwarts are the famous War Wizards of Cormyr. Adventurers provide aid to the overstretched Cormyrian military, though they must be sponsored by a noble house or provided an official license by the government. It is a land where fame and fortune can be made in the name of good and civilization.

The current year is 1479. Cormyr was founded nearly 1500 years ago, in 26 DR. Its first king was Faerlthann Obarskyr, son of Ondeth Obarskyr and Suzara Obarskyr. The kingdom was initially formed because the elves and humans in the region needed to get along with each other. Since that time, Cormyr has grown by absorbing the realms of Esparin and Orva and claiming the Stonelands as its own.

Some time between 376 DR and 432 DR, Cormyr was invaded by many dragons, including Thauglor, the purple Dragon , so salled because his scales went purple with rage, who laid waste to virtually all of the settlements in the country. It was then raided by orcs from the Stonelands, who occupied the King’s Forest until they were finally driven out in 429 DR by King Duar Obarskyr. By 432 DR, many noble families had left Cormyr for either the Dalelands or Waterdeep, or split into small factional bands. The city of Suzail was sold to Magrath the Minotaur and his pirates by a traitor to the crown around this time, and it was after Magrath’s death that the Purple Dragon was adopted as the nation’s official symbol.

In 1352 DR (the Year of the Dragon) Gondegal, also known as “The Usurper King” and “The Lost King”, attempted to establish a separate kingdom centered on the city of Arabel. He was overthrown, after only eight days in power, by an allied army composed of forces from Tilverton, Sembia and Daggerdale, along with the Purple Dragons, led by king Azoun IV.

Shortly before the Spellplague, the Goblin Wars (1370 DR-1371 DR) did significant damage to the kingdom, and internal and external struggles threatened to tear the kingdom apart.

In post-Spellplague times, the influence and reach of Cormyr has changed somewhat. Cormyr now controls the part of the Dragon Coast between Easting and Westgate, including the cities of Proskur, Priapurl, Elversult, and Teziir. Cormyr has also gained a stronger presence in the west. Maloren’s Rest is Cormyr’s foothold in the Tunlands. Troops in Castle Aris help goods pass safely through the Farsea Swamp on their way west. In the East, Highdale is now a protectorate under crown rule. Daerlun once welcomed the protection of Purple Dragon troops, but gained its independence from both Cormyr and Sembia about forty years past. Recently, the prosperous river port of Wheloon was declared forfeit by King Foril. Its entire population suspected of demon-worship, Wheloon has been declared a prison city. It has been left under the control of the King’s nephew, Prince Ezouard.

Laws of the Kingdom

Cormyr has been ruled by a monarchy ever since it was founded. There are some in recent times who would like to see the nation run by council. The ruling monarch has an advisor, who has the title (amongst others) of High Wizard, and who is in charge of the War Wizards.

By 1368 DR, the following laws have been posted at all major entry points to Cormyr:

  1. All persons entering Cormyr must register with the officials of a border garrison.
  2. Foreign currency can only be used in certain locations. Please exchange your coins for Cormyrean Lions at your first opportunity.
  3. Adventurers must acquire a charter before undertaking any operation as a group.
  4. All weapons must be peace-bonded. The only persons exempt from this law are members of chartered adventuring groups and members of mercenary groups that can offer proof of employment.
  5. Harming cats is forbidden.
  6. Bow your head to royalty and the local nobility.
  7. Purple Dragons have the right to search you upon request.
  8. Hunting on private land is forbidden.


Often referred to as the “Forest Kingdom”, Cormyr was once covered in thick forests. Due to commercial logging and clearing for farming, however, the once great forests are now restricted to the King’s Forest in the west, the Hullack Forest in the east and the relatively small Hermit’s Wood to the south between Wheloon and the Dragonmere. The Dragonmere, an expanse of water connected to the Sea of Fallen Stars, borders Cormyr to the south. The Storm Horns mountains form a boundary to the north and west of Cormyr, with the Thunder Peaks to the east. The Vast Swamp separates Cormyr from Sembia in the southeast. The Wyvernwater is a large lake in the middle of Cormyr. Cormyr itself is dotted with beacon towers, used to quickly relay messages across the land.

  • Suzail (Capital), Population: 55,000.
  • Arabel, Population: 30,606.
  • Dhedluk, Population: 936.
  • Eveningstar, Population: 954.
  • Immersea, Population: 1,170.
  • Marsember, Population: 38,000.
  • Thunderstone, Population: 1,800.
  • Tilverton, Population: 0 (Since the Spellplague this has been declared Plagueland and not fit for life.)
  • Waymoot, Population: 1,980.
  • Wheloon, Population: 6066. (Thought vastly reduced since its forfeiture.)


Cormyr writ small.

Cormyr writ large. Click to enlarge.

A Note on Coinage

Thumbs are copper pieces
Falcons are silver pieces
Lions are gold pieces
Tricrowns are platinum pieces

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A long time ago, in a land far far away, two brothers from the race of Munchkins built the Arena.  Their names were Min and Max.  They had a vision of an epic battleground where the most powerful heroes would prove themselves in parties of four.  Both of them had very strong ideas on how best to achieve their goal.  In the end, they were able to compromise on almost every facet of the mystical locations construction.

Luck was determined to be the enemy of true competition.  So powerful enchantments were built in to the foundation that eliminated the effects of critical hits and misses.  Magical items were also accounted for in that they lose all of their powers when summoned to the Arena.  The contest is between the combatants and they must stand on their own!

Being summoned to the Arena is a great honor bestowed only upon those deemed worthy.  Nobody knows for sure how exactly one goes about drawing the attention of the Arena, or even whose attention it is.  Some whisper that the brothers are immortal and that their spirits govern the place.  Others believe that the ghosts of the champions haunt the hidden stands watching and silently cheering.  What is known is that participants never truly set foot in the arena.  If a hero chooses to answer the call, an avatar of their form is summoned at the entrance chosen for them.

There are two opposing pairs of entrances to the Arena, The Min Way and The Max Way.  Min felt that the battle was solely between the contestants. His way consists of a straight hallway leading to a shimmering curtain through which the Arena proper awaits.  The Max Way is the more difficult path.  Max felt that a single battle did little to demonstrate the overall tenacity of an adventuring party.  To travel The Max Way is to battle through three waves of Kobolds and even a Dragon before confronting your competitors in the Arena itself.

Will you answer the call?

The Max Way Entrance

In Max’s astral entrance to the Arena, shadow formed Kobolds strive to waylay contestants before they even get a chance to prove themselves.  The Slingers bomb away with their special pots while the minions attempt to swarm any intruders.  Anyone can retreat from this battle at any time if they are too faint of heart, but the brave must lower themselves into the hole by way of the rope ladder…

The Max Way Statue Hall

This battle is very straight forward as the Wyrmpriest sends forth his shifty servants to swarm and surround the party as he supports them from behind and fires orbs of shadowy energy.  He does have a chilly surprise for those that manage to close in on him!

Dragon Throne Room

The Dragon is the final barrier to competition in the Arena.  Those that prove themselves against the wyrm are worthy of Max’s championship.  Snowflake will send out her minions to trap the group and will not hesitate to sacrifice them and unleash her breath weapon if she believes it will do more harm to the invaders.

The Arena

Whether The Min Way or The Max Way was the road to The Arena, the fire lit stage is the stuff legends are made of in all the worlds.  Each party enters the contest from opposite sides.  Ranged attackers are well advised to stay back on the gently sloping steps while the melee brutes charge forth to mix it up in the center square.  All combatants would be wise to avoid the braziers, as their ethereal flames are the one danger in this place that can cause true and instant death to a contestant.

Let the games begin!!!!!!!!!!

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I created The Right Wing to prove a point in a discussion about the role of Controllers and how little I valued them.  The exercise was quite fun and led me to discover a great deal about the Dragonborn and even a few class abilities.  I’ve become enamored with another concept and have built a new party around it.  I introduce the newest super rap group SWA, Shorties Wit Attitude.

The Arena will be a place to discuss these and any other submitted theme groups.  The only submission guidelines will be that they include four members and use WoTC hardcover bound source material rules.  The point of the exercise is to explore cool or goofy ideas and to learn more about the possibilities in the D&D game.  And if two people get attached to different groups then let the PvP games begin!

So now for the first poll!

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The Ranger is one of my favorite classes…

Ok, you all knew I’d have to post a bit about Rangers after Brandon opened the floor.  From Hank the Ranger in the animated series to Drizz’t, Rangers have been a staple in the D&D game for a long time.  In fact, I think it is appropriate for the Ranger to be examined at the same time as the Paladin since they both began as upgrades to the original Fighter class.  You could make the argument that these two were the first templates!

Also in keeping with the theme of examining class roots in literature, it would be appropriate to say that Rangers are a representation of the Dunedain from Middle-Earth.  The people of Gondor did in fact refer to them that way.  But the class has been defined in several ways by different settings.  My personal favorite was the version presented in the CRPG Ultima III.  That Ranger gave up heavy armor proficiencies for moderate access to both Wizard and Cleric spells.  I’ve always identified the Ultima settings “Avatar” with the Ranger as well.  The aforementioned Hank the Ranger was an early range attacker with a very cool magic bow.  In the early AD&D days the class seemed to be just Fighters with a few more skills and a penchant for Giantslaying.  But R.A. Salvatore probably did more to change that than anyone with his iconic character, Drizz’t D’Orden.  After Drizz’t it seemed to be a full season of dual wielding for the remainder of 2nd Edition.  The exception to the Driiz’t rule is another favorite of mine, Minsc, a heavy armored two-handed weapon fighter with a miniature giant space hamster that broke all kinds of stereotypes!

3rd Edition seemed to mold the Ranger into more of a Fighter/Druid/Rogue class with a clear choice to pursue either the bow and arrow or a dual wield build.  The class was significantly broken from a mechanical sense, but was corrected in the 3.5E revision.  Still, thematically, the magic using aspects of the class always took a significant back seat to the skill-based portion.  The intrinsic value of nature has always been a core component of the Ranger though, throughout all editions of D&D and almost every other iteration.  World of Warcraft definitely continues this theme with the Hunter.

I’ve personally always been somewhat averse to the rules pushing my characters in any direction with role-playing.  I prefer to play a Human Ranger as more of a paramilitary type, not necessarily with any strong ties to nature.  In this regard I further emphasize the Rogue aspects a great deal almost to the point of ignoring the watered down spell casting.  I often multi-class into Arcane abilities to regain a little of the flavor I enjoyed from the Ultimas.  But the 3.5E changes that lowered the hit points while boosting skill points were right up my alley.  4E has taken this approach quite a bit further.  Rangers are now all out Strikers, which is synonymous with DPS.  They still have an above average skill set as compared to most classes.  But the spell-casting portion is all but abandoned.  Several of the Paragon paths do allow for an arcane flavor to return though.

The latest iteration of the Ranger offers the flexibility to play a character in many ways.  The class offers the best options for snipers and beast master hunters.  The D&D staple dual wielding tornado of death is still plenty viable as I can attest.  I think the only thing I really feel is missing is the slaying aspect of Rangers.  They’ve always been treated like more intelligent killers that gain an advantage over their foes in previous editions.  I’d love to see a return to the Favored Enemy mechanic.  I think this offers wonderful roleplaying opportunities and a nice little situational combat bonus.  I would wholeheartedly recommend playing the Ranger in every campaign you play that doesn’t already have a character named Treyolen!

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The Paladin is one of my favorite classes.

And I think it’s almost always played wrong.

In fact, I think they’ve usually been played wrong for the majority of their class history. Every time someone talks about them along with their lawful good alignment it makes them sound boring and terrible. The play archetype seems to be a magic knight who ends up being a jerk and ruining it for everyone else.

Everybody knows what I’m talking about. The paladin who refuses to ever get paid for actions and who attacks the rogue because he’s a rogue. The paladin who prevents anyone from doing anything but the most white-washed of acts because he’s a pure douchebag. Worst of all, there’s the paladin who has never had a bad thought in his incredibly boring life and is somehow arrogant about it.

This is not what paladins are and not how they should be played.

Paladins are easily traceable to the Knights of the Round Table. These guys are the first paladins, ruled by a strict code and doing holy miracles and finding the holy grail. This is an extremely useful role-playing resource, because they all have rich, deeply detailed traits. Using them as a  base we can do a comparison and figure out how to make really cool, interesting characters.

Let’s take the granddaddy of them all, Lancelot. In a lot of ways he is like the jerko paladin I describe above. He’s holy, he does magical healing, he never accepts rewards (except when he does, wink-wink), and he’s always praying at the drop of a hat. That’s ok, though, because he’s also very flawed. First of all, in the T.H. White version he’s a massively sadistic bastard who basically hates himself.


Yeah, Lancelot is totally evil inside. He lives by his code because he wants to be good, if he was truly good he wouldn’t need a code. He always grants mercy when asked, because his nature is to just lop off some heads. He fights evil ogres and barons because they do all the stuff he wants to do but which he wont allow himself to indulge in.

Meanwhile, he’s ends up fucking the queen. He thinks about her all the time, and becomes consumed by these thoughts. This is not the “I’m immune to lust” paladin you’d expect. He rescues a woman, Elaine, from a magical boiling pot, and then he ends up banging her while thinking he’s doing Guenevere. In fact, the whole reason he’s adventuring is to get away from the queen. As a result of all this, he spends the next few decades convinced he has done wrong, is no true knight, etc. He’s still treated like the greatest knight, but that only serves as a constant reminder that he’s living a lie. For instance, when he ends up healing a man whose wounds can only be tended by the greatest knight living, he weeps “like a child who has been beaten”.

There’s nothing black and white about this character, and it would be very rewarding to play and play with a character designed to this type.

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