A Parallel World

noisms has an interesting post about a map created to scale of 1 mile = 1 mile. As suggested in his post, these map fragments could be a type of parallel world perfect for gaming. For me, it is a starting point to create unique gates, a new class of magic items, and a seed for "big bads" of all difficulties.

Here's the quote from Borges' One Exactitude in Science:

. . . In that Empire, the Art of Cartography attained such Perfection that the map of a single Province occupied the entirety of a City, and the map of the Empire, the entirety of a Province. In time, those Unconscionable Maps no longer satisfied, and the Cartographers Guilds struck a Map of the Empire whose size was that of the Empire, and which coincided point for point with it. The following Generations, who were not so fond of the Study of Cartography as their Forebears had been, saw that that vast map was Useless, and not without some Pitilessness was it, that they delivered it up to the Inclemencies of Sun and Winters. In the Deserts of the West, still today, there are Tattered Ruins of that Map, inhabited by Animals and Beggars; in all the Land there is no other Relic of the Disciplines of Geography.

Looking at any piece of the map (if you can unfold it) will help you navigate in the real world some of the time. The larger the piece, the more likely a PC will be able to use it to navigate. Let's say that if you take your piece of the map to the area it represents that a gate will open to a parallel world. Once characters travel through the gate, the map will change to represent the details of their new world. (This gives them a way back.) The downside is that the characters appear a random distance away from the place where they need to travel to reactivate the gate.

If the characters have an item from a parallel world, that item can help them travel to that world through one of these gates. It will require some divination magic to determine the path. I would set it as a second level spell (OSR/Swords & Wizardry) so that lower level characters will either be able to learn the spell fairly early in their careers or that it would be straightforward enough to hire the spell to be cast.

I have never liked Teleport spells, but in this world, higher level spells could teleport the caster from one point on the map to another. Again, this would work only when the caster is somewhere within the area represents by the map itself. To teleport any great distance would require a map larger than a horse-drawn carriage.

Doing some thumbnail calculations, a map made out of standard American 20 lb paper that displayed a square mile would weight about 3400 tons. Again, the material for the map would have to be much much lighter. In a way, this makes the back of map pieces valuable for anything requiring a lot of writing space. Imagine a spell book that is pages of magical formulas on one side of the paper, and a series of maps on the other side. In other words, take a spell book, and turn it over. Read from back to front to see a series of interconnected maps of a single room. (Each page is a little less than a square foot. A 100 page spell book would be about the same as a ten feet by eight feet room.)

Going back to the teleportation powers of the maps, let's say that a high spell level (4th or 5th) would allow the caster to teleport to the locale shown on the map. The caster would arrive anywhere within the area shown by the map. The risk in using the spell would be a chance that the caster arrives in a parallel world instead of his/her intended destination. Going back to the spell book made of paper from the great map, a wizard with his spell book could always manage to attempt to teleport to safety.

So let's set some definitions. The paper for the Relics of Geography looks like 20 lb modern paper but is exactly 1000 times lighter. One a small scale, that makes the 100 pages of a spell book weight 1/4 ounce. (The 3 lb weight listed in the d20 src must be the weight of the cover.) On a larger scale, a map showing a square mile weighs about 3.5 tons. This would require a team of three to six horses to pull. Folding the square map 17 times, should make it fit in a space that is roughly 20 feet by 10 feet, so it's a large carriage. Yes, it has to be many many times stronger than paper. It can still be stronger than anything, but easily cut.

I mentioned big bads earlier. These map fragments work to take things out of this world and to bring them in. Parallel worlds do not require any similarity at all to the standard campaign world. Considering the size of the entire map, pieces of the map are common enough that creatures of all kinds can travel around the multiverse looking for worlds that can be easily controlled and/or exploited. Since a spell is required to make use of the map fragments, the bad guys would most likely be intelligent.

Hopefully, more on this in another post. This was just too interesting to pass up. Thanks noisms! (Yes, visit his site. Always fun.)

Swords & Wizardry Spell Spreadsheets and More

Some time ago, I posted a S&W Spell Database in a spreadsheet shared through Google Drive. I've finished my work on them, so here they are. One spreadsheet for Clerics, one for Magic Users, and one spreadsheet that has all spells Both Arcane and Divine.

Here is some explanation to what the different worksheets mean.

The Cleric spreadsheet has many worksheets, the first one is named Total List.

This is a list of all the Cleric and Druid spells, with descriptions. Spells that have tables in the description were translated as best as possible, but some of the tables had to be left out. This worksheet is a straightforward list ready for folks to analyze, adjust, and add. It also serves as a database to do a mail merge into a Word document.

When I add spells to a particular campaign world, I make them common in a specific area of the world. Adding a column to denote a specific area of the world, I can not only make a list of spells available, but generate a list of potential scrolls that might be found as treasure in a specific geographic area of the world.

If you have Priests of Different Mythoi, you can add a column for the various deities/pantheons and have a ready resource for player handouts. The possibilities are endless.

The next three worksheets break out the spells by the three types of spellcasters in the S&W Complete rules. For Clerics and Druids, there is an extra column for Spheres. Spheres group spells together by a common theme. If a spell has more than one Sphere in the column, it belong to each sphere listed in that cell. For example, the Cleric spell Animate Object, is in the Summoning and Creation Spheres.

For Magic-Users, the worksheet adds a School column. This shows the 2e school or schools that the spell belongs to. Yes, it's on the Cleric Spreadsheet.

For all three of these tabs, I used the compendium of Wizard and Priests spells downloaded from dragonsfoot. When I cross-referenced the spells, I made no assumptions on where they belong. In other words, I didn't assume that a spell with the word Animal in the title would be in the Animal sphere. This was all done strictly by the compendium. This doesn't mean that I made no errors, just that I wanted these lists to be as close to a Swords & Wizardry to 2e cross-reference as I could. I did make one change here from standard S&W - if a spell is both a Cleric and Druid spell, it is listed as the lower of the two levels.

The next tab on the Clerics spreadsheet is labelled Spheres. If a spell is in more than one Sphere, it is listed twice, once for each Sphere. For example, the Animate Object spells is listed once as belonging in the Summoning Sphere and listed on a separate entry as belonging to the Creation Sphere. This worksheet allows for easy creation of spell lists by Sphere.

Until you reach the Statistics worksheet, the next set of tabs are the lists of spells by Sphere; each Sphere has its own worksheet. They are listed by order by level and there are some simple statistics on number of spells, average level of spells, and the standard deviation of spell levels for that Sphere. The Statistics worksheet shows the statistics of all the Spheres in one place.

I also included some work on assigning each Sphere a point value. If this looks like Players & Options from 2.5e, I'm not going there. This is intended to be preliminary work on creating Priests of Different Mythoi, but only the referee uses this system for worldbuilding. If you can use this work to build something, let me know. I'll flesh this stuff out in future posts.

The last worksheet, of course, is the OGL.

The Magic-User Spreadsheet is setup much the same way, except that Schools are used instead of Spheres. The Complete Spreadsheet has both the Cleric and Magic-User spreadsheets inside it.

Why do all this?

Primarily to provide tools to other gamers. Selfishly, it is because I like to create custom classes. To that end, I plan on adapting the system Keith Davies invented to Swords & Wizardry. From there, it will fit in with a class building system that I hope to finish one day.

Polyhedral Pantheons and Future Projects

Keith Davies has been working on a semi-random system of generating new gods and pantheons for a number of years. It began with using the faces and "corners" of a d20 to create entire pantheons.

Recently, he has been posting on G+ about using d12s and d10s. I have especially enjoyed the d10 method and I have been wanting to give it a try.

Somewhat related to this, I have been working on classifying Swords & Wizardry Cleric and Druid spells according to 2e spheres. (This also led to classifying the Wizard spells according to 2e schools.) The goal is to create a system for generating Priests of Different Mythoi that work with S&W.

Yes, it would be much easier to use 3e, 3.5e, and Pathfinder domains and schools to retrofit a bunch of spells, but the spheres and schools of 2e are just quirky enough to feel better to me. At the very least I want to make something as close to S&W Complete Rules as possible before I go after more modern stuff.

So while Keith is working with Pathfinder domains, I am working with something closer to OSR feel. Nothing against Pathfinder, one of my neighbors runs a weekly game. I even wrote a small bit of Pathfinder stuff many years ago at NevermetPress (with a lot of help with number crunching). In fact, the next few posts are going to use domains in the 3.5/Pathfinder SRD.

You're not against new games. You play in a Dungeon World group. You've done some post-Gygax D&D. You still hold a torch for S&W. We get it. You can stop being an apologist for what you play? Where is all this going?

Keith posted today about using other dice as models for generating pantheons. So I thought about how the d4 and d6 could be used with this model. I also thought about to adapt his system to create really interesting Priests of Different Mythoi in S&W. The system not only generates interesting deities and pantheons, it also generates interesting Clerics with different abilities.

I'm going to use SRD/Pathfinder domains to create pantheons from his system as examples. He asked me to post the d4 creation I am working on. I also plan to post about larger examples. After I finish my works with S&W spells and the 2e spheres, I plan to generate more examples with those.

Keith's Polyhedral Pantheon system is not necessarily game specific. It works in Pathfinder or any OSR game. You just need some categories of spells. I imagine it will work well in 5e (and I'll certainly try to make it work.) Heck, you can collect a list of 20 to 30 trappings and make an interesting set of spells for Savage Worlds.

Anyway, future posts will be:

  • a d4 example of Keith's Polyhedral Pantheon system.
  • expansion of the d4 pantheon with serious Pathfinder-based worldbuilding.
  • another d4 pantheon to provide tension (not a big bad) in the region
  • a complete set of S&W spell databases (with descriptions) grouped by 2e sphere (Cleric/Druid spells) and school (Wizard spells).
  • some examples of Priests of Different Mythoi using Keith's system
  • other examples of a modified system

That's a lot, but it will be fun.

For those that may wonder, I haven't forgotten about publishing the mecha rules for S&W in January. I'm also happy to say that the Sum Bach o Hud project is back in development. No set date for this huge project, but I am sufficiently inspired to get it done.