Monday, February 27, 2012

Not-So-Secret Secrets From Our D&D-But-Not

Maybe it's a cleansing of the palette after so many Supers Game dishes. It could also be the result of the unseasonably warm weather here in New York. Perhaps it's an undigested bit of beef. Whatever the reason, I feel like posting some bits and bobs of meaningless trivia from my D&D-But-Not campaign universe, centered on the world of Aerth.

What follows are 15 not-so-secret secrets about the world, its inhabitants and elements of the campaigns set there that make it special to those who have played in it as well as myself. Some of these points of interest are known by some of the players. Others elements are known by other players. There is a least one NPC who knows at least one of these things as well. No one person knows every secret on this list.

Well, until now, since you do.


1) When the Elves, who are well known not to be natives of Aerth or it's Realm, arrived, they were divided into six tribes. One new tribe has formed, the Half-Elven. One tribe has died out. There are now nine tribes. The math is not wrong. Perhaps history was mistaken.

2) There are believed to be no more than five hundred Orcs left on Aerth. Most were killed in The Great Goblin War or The Aerth War. Many were hunted to near extinction by Men, Dwarves and Elves in the years that followed. The largest Orc settlement is on an island to the South of the old world continent. The Order watches the island to make sure the Orcs are left alone (with all that implies).

3) If you know a Mountain Dwarf and he is slain, be sure to gather all his parts and pieces and bring them to the Mountains at the End of The World. Your friend will likely be returned to life. Though he is unlikely to be your enemy because of such a gesture, he might not remain your friend.

4) While there are Half-Elves in the world, the Half-Elven of the Island of Corin are not all half Elven. Some are three quarters Elven. Some are one eighth. Most couldn't tell you how much Elf is mixed with how much Human. They are simply the Half-Elven of Corin, as inaccurate a name as that is.

5) To find the Cornerstone of The World, set sail for the North Western Sea until you see a triangular hole in the ocean. Continue on until you are swallowed by a storm that appears to pull you toward the hole. Turn your vessel facing away but do not try to sail back the way you came. Let your ship be pulled backward to its doom. This is difficult for anyone but so hard on the captain of the vessel that many of them go mad. If they don't and if you can do what is required, the storm will clear and you will find a triangular island of grey stone, pale sand, ashen plants and a small hill with a cave. This is the Cornerstone of the World. This is the last piece of Aerth left untouched from before the world was finished. The gods left it untouched because they couldn't decide what to do with it. The Steel Grey Dragon lives in the cave. He may help you. Or not.

6) Cooshee, also called Cu Sith, the Elven Hounds, howl at the Sun, not the Moon. They awaken Elven settlements much the same way roosters do on Human farms.

7) Dwarves, like Dragons, have Lantern Vision. When things get dark, their eyes light up, casting long, beams of light like those of a hooded lantern. This makes it very easy for them to see in the dark but it also makes them easy to see. The light comes from the fire in their souls.

8) Humans have both Spirits and Souls. Dwarves have Souls but not Spirits. Elves have Spirits but no Souls. Wilders, often called Halflings, have Spirits and Souls but usually one is stronger then the other. Gnomes are rumored to have both but only one at a time.

9) Elves don't have Souls and so they do not dream. This is why their sleep is called Reverie. When Elves Reverie they relive their entire lives up to the point where they went into that Reverie for the night. This is why Elves live so long and still remember so much of it. They see the events again and again every night. This is also why many of them seem melancholy and why they try to fill their lives with so many light moments.

10) The power of the gods is based largely on how many people worship and believe in them. Gods who are no longer worshipped become weak, warped and even mad. These 'Forgetten Gods' do not cease to existance however, even though that might be for the better.

11) Watch for falling stars. It is rare to see one but they hold great power and wonder and are well worth looking for. If you catch them at the right moment you can make a wish. If they fall to Aerth they often hold something marvelous inside them. Many are made of rock or metal with magical properties.

12) You can reach other Realms from Aerth in a number of ways. You can climb Mount Olympus, walk the BiFrost Bridge, walk down to the Gates of Hell or up to the Gates of Heaven, find the hidden monument to Sigil, The City of Doors or read from The Order's Codex of Infinite Planes (more commonly called Realms). Once on your way there may be complications with your chosen path.

13) Goblins are the most common and numerous of all the thinking creatures on Aerth. They exist in many varieties, shapes and sizes. Many similar looking types are given different names by those that dwell near by. There are big, furry ones (Bugbears), short furry ones (Bugaboos), man-sized, bestial and pale (Orc), man-sized, bestial and ruddy (Hobgoblins), medium to small with thick, armored hides (Norkers or Norkies) and dozens more. Ogres are not Goblins. Trolls are not Goblins. Kobolds are related somehow.

14) There are three species of Troll on Aerth and all are related. Legends say there was originally but one and something went wrong over the ages. The Jaette are larger then Humans, brutish, mean and extremely strong. The Huldra are so Human like as to pass for Humans except for some minor oddity they often try to hide but simply can not. Huldra women, for example, are usually quite beautiful but have the tails of cows. Many Huldra men have a third eye, pointed ears or oddly large eyes or mouths. Vitterfolk are the result of interbreeding of the Jaette and the Huldra and are remarkably intelligent, kind natured and clever. Many wonder if the Vitterfolk are what the original Trolls were like.

15) Dragons are not hoarding treasure. They are taking back what's theirs.

Barking Alien


  1. 1) Elves don't strike me as a math-focused race anyway

    2)In most other games the Orc population is out of control and needs culling. I'm glad to see your campaign world is more ecologically balanced than that.

    3) The real question here though is whether he is in your debt. I can see a profitable business developing here recovering dwarf parts on spec and then transporting them to said location.

    4) Again, math, elves - it's all pretty casual

    5) Have any of your players tried to do this?

    6) That name bothers me.

    7)I can see players having some fun with this. Probably when they should be doing it the least.

    8) Interesting but what does it mean in play? How does my human differ from my elf or dwarf when it comes to making and playing the character because of this?

    9)This sounds like a justification for some serious misbehavior - at least among a few players I know. And probably myself as well.

    10)I like this one and have used it some myself. Variable-strength gods gives you more flexibility in a long-term game and explains why all those clerical types are running around.

    11) Have your players had to deal with this before? I'd like to hear about that.

    12) I had "The Well of the Worlds" in one of my 3E campaigns. Sadly no one ever found it.

    13)...and the insect-winged ones are called "bugaloos" I suspect...

    14) This seems more folklore-ish than most and I like it. I usually keep mine as the top end of the big ugly humanoid food chain, but this is a nice change. Practical side: If I'm a Ranger and take "Troll" as favored enemy, do I get that against all three types?

    15) Well of course that's what THEY would say!

  2. New post responds to the response. Thanks for the idea Blacksteel!

  3. I read this some time ago and really enjoyed it, then misplaced the link and have been scrambling for months to find it, sorting through the dozens of blogs I follow and the dozens more I casually read from time to time.

    I find many of these consistent with my DnD style gaming world ideas, and a few inspired beyond my imagination.

    Thanks for sharing these inspirational secrets.