Developing Rhukaan Draal

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Beoric
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Developing Rhukaan Draal

Post by Beoric »

In one of my campaigns the PCs are spending a fair amount of time in Rhukaan Draal. They currently have a month of down time as they wait for a party member to recover from serious injuries. Ultimately they will likely be taking their injured comrade to a former githzerai monetary in the mountains (which I think is now being used by Flayed Hand monks) for a healing McGuffin, but in the meantime, I would like an adventure (if I had time I would create a sandbox) that will reveal something about Rhukaan Draal.

I have been trying to think about the character of the city and what sets it apart from, say, Greywall or Zarash’ak. At a high level there is politics, of course, but I am wondering about the more street level, day to day stuff. I know at least one other poster here has had campaigns touch on the city, and I was hoping to get some ideas to flesh it out, and comments on what I have been developing so far.

Rhukaan Draal is interesting in that, although it is to a large degree lawless, unlike Greywall or Zarash’ak, it is the capital of a Thronehold nation. That means there are diplomats from the other Thronehold nations, and from the Dragonmarked Houses, all of which will require dragonmarked and non-dragonmarked services. Since the crafters tend to be the goblins, they supply most of the non-dragonmarked services.

I see Rhukaan Draal as the birthplace of a fledgling goblin mercantile class. Leaders among the goblins recognize the potential to gain wealth and position through trade which the hobgoblins and bugbears are not interested in pursuing, but recognize a need to do so quietly so that nobody realizes what they are doing.

Their most immediate problem is crime, perpetrated partly by the poor and dispossessed, but also by low-ranking hobgoblin warriors bored by peacetime postings, and for whom harassing goblins is a culturally acceptable pastime. There is a tension building among educated, middle-class goblins, who are no longer willing to accept oppression but recognize how dangerous it is to do something about it.

How do they protect themselves and their businesses without offending their hobgoblin overlords? For the most part, they hide their wealth, and try to make sure profits outweigh losses from robbery and vandalism. Some curry favour with one clan or another, hoping for protection. Others arrange for the worst offenders to quietly disappear, or die in drunken brawls or muggings gone bad.

I thought they might approach the Silent Clans, but I am not sure (and perhaps the goblins are not either) how the Dhakaani would view a goblin merchant class. Would they sympathize, or be strictly mercenary, or disapprove? The goblins would be wary of using Deneith for security, but might approach Tharashk or Phiarlan, depending on the work. I also thought there might be a role for Daask, in providing protection that the merchants actually want.

The other tension I see is religious tension, generally between followers of the Sovereign Host and followers of the Dark Six, with a third faction being the atheist Dakaani who see the others as superstitious zealots. I have a vague notion of religious hate crimes being perpetrated against Sovereign Host worshippers, with Flayed Hand monks at the centre of it, but it hasn’t quite gelled yet.

Since the players aren’t murder-hobo types, it would be helpful if there were some events that will make them feel like the end justifies the means if they have to kill a few Flayed Hand monks in search of the healing McGuffin.

For other elements, I have an NPC, a goblin food vendor who is a peaceful devotee of the Devourer (he has a bowl beside his food cart to accept offerings of a portion of the meals he sells, which he then dumps into the storm drain, which takes the offerings to the river and eventually to the sea), who could be affected by both areas of tension.

I have an unlikable cleric of Olladra running the Jorasco enclave, who doesn’t give a fig for goblinoid suffering.

I have Lord Zoratesh (why does he always make me think of General Zod?) planning a secret invasion of Darguun. The PCs have evidence of the invasion but are not certain who is behind it.

I just haven’t figured out how to tie it all together. Thoughts, anyone? I could use some ideas to riff off of.
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Re: Developing Rhukaan Draal

Post by AvonRekaes »

Hey Beoric,

Have you read the Heirs of Dhakann trilogy by Don Bassingwaithe? (The semi-sequel to the Dragon Below trilogy) A significant portion of the story takes place in Rhukaan Draal... but it's been years since I read it so I'm not sure I can provide much else.

I think slavery is legal in Darguun? Maybe an adventure dealing with that somehow, juxtaposed with a Dragonmarked House as a symbol of more "civilized" territories and how they clash with the goblinoid culture. (Maybe an unmarked house heir is sentenced to slavery for a crime?)
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Re: Developing Rhukaan Draal

Post by enderxenocide0 »

I second the Heirs of Dhakaan trilogy. It was absolutely invaluable to me when my players stopped by Rhukaan Draal for a bit. One thing I'd note is that Rhukaan Draal isn't altogether that lawless. It is the head of Darguun's government and Lhesh Haruuc is aiming to make the country "civilized". That is to say, he has dealings with other governments and some Houses. He is trying to regain the glory of the Dhakaani Empire. Not everyone wants what Haruuc wants, thinking he's too weak, too much like the Five Nations. I played up a sense of false civilization. Haruuc united clans together here and they struggle to be like old Dhakaan. Many are violent and bloodthirsty, slavery is legal, but they need to tread carefully because if they upset the balance that Haruuc has managed to maintain, he will not be pleased.

Regarding religion, the novels did also play up the Dark Six being the dominant religion in the city without it being an"evil" religion. On a related note, the Dhakaani worshipped the Nine and Six and One. When humans came from Sarlona, they recognized the Nine as being versions of the gods of the Pyrinian faith and added the Six into their pantheon, birthing the Sovereign Host and Dark Six. The One is a mysterious figure that has been lost to time and many scholars debate who or what it represented. I think this first was mentioned in the Draconic Prophecies trilogy, but I believe Keith mentioned it in one or more blog posts at some point.

Lastly, a big part of my Rhukaan Draal is that I've had them establish dealings with the Library of Korranberg. They've let the Library work alongside Darguun scholars to help uncover the history of the Dhakaani Empire, much to the chagrin of the Kech Volaar. The overall theme I established was "Lost History" and "Reclaiming Glory". The people still remember Dhakaan and want to be like that again... but it's been 9000 years and Dhakaan is little more than a fanciful tale to many these days. Times are changing and Darguun is torn between evolving into something more like the Five Nations or returning to their roots.

EDIT: It should be the Legacy of Dhakaan trilogy, rather than Heirs.
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Re: Developing Rhukaan Draal

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AvonRekaes wrote:Hey Beoric,

Have you read the Heirs of Dhakann trilogy by Don Bassingwaithe? (The semi-sequel to the Dragon Below trilogy) A significant portion of the story takes place in Rhukaan Draal... but it's been years since I read it so I'm not sure I can provide much else.
This is why I seriously need to sort out my Eberron novel wishlist and start hunting down novels that can improve my Eberron-fu. (Some D&D Novels come up for 1p + postage, from time to time, so I might be able to grab a number of the books cheap and have spare cash for anything that is expensive.)

In the meantime, I'm really glad to see the number of Eberron gurus here increasing. If I can learn from you lot, I should be able to improve my Eberron-fu a lot faster than if I have to do all the research on my own. :)
enderxenocide0 wrote:I second the Heirs of Dhakaan trilogy. It was absolutely invaluable to me when my players stopped by Rhukaan Draal for a bit. One thing I'd note is that Rhukaan Draal isn't altogether that lawless. It is the head of Darguun's government and Lhesh Haruuc is aiming to make the country "civilized". That is to say, he has dealings with other governments and some Houses. He is trying to regain the glory of the Dhakaani Empire. Not everyone wants what Haruuc wants, thinking he's too weak, too much like the Five Nations. I played up a sense of false civilization. Haruuc united clans together here and they struggle to be like old Dhakaan. Many are violent and bloodthirsty, slavery is legal, but they need to tread carefully because if they upset the balance that Haruuc has managed to maintain, he will not be pleased.
Dealing with Lhesh Haruuc and his supporters has got to be an interesting plotline for a GM.

On the one hand, PCs from outside the region can help create trade-links that bring in money and support the idea that Lhesh Haruuc's way is better for business. On the other hand, if there is any sort of scandal created by the enemies of Lhesh Haruuc, the PCs could quickly go from being an asset to a liability to quietly get rid of. So getting involved in the politics of the region could get some goblin patrons flocking to the PCs to encourage the to stay in the area and other people working against the PCs if they associate with the wrong people.
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Re: Developing Rhukaan Draal

Post by NelsonNelsor »

Heirs of the Ashen Crown spends a fair bit of time on Word Bearer / Blade Bearer factional rivalry. You could drop that in pretty much unchanged.
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Re: Developing Rhukaan Draal

Post by Beoric »

Thanks for the help. I am familiar with all of the sources cited, but they all have limitations in respect of describing the city itself. I really want to make Rhukaan Draal live, so I am trying to figure out what makes it tick at street level.

The Legacy of Dhakaan books deal almost entirely with the upper echelons of society; with some very limited exceptions there is little information about the common folk. These PCs don't rub elbows with warlords, ambassadors or dragonmarked viceroys, so the novels don't help.

It was actually the Bassingthwaite novels that gave me the impression that the city was more or less lawless, which may be overstating things; by cannon the laws are "simple" and the city is a haven for criminals fleeing other jurisdictions. I suspect the law is aimed more at order than justice or fairness, and by order I include social order.

There are rigid racial roles, and outside the Dhakaani clans the goblins the goblins don't receive much respect. For this reason, I expect the laws would be stratified by race. I can't see hobgoblin jurists getting excited over some young warriors with "high spirits" harassing a few goblin merchants, particularly if one is the nephew of a warlord whose support the lhesh is courting. I extrapolated on these elements for the "disgruntled goblin" faction.

Ender, the lost god you mention is mentioned in the PGE, and is lost because of a relentless campaign by humans to "strike its name and visage from any written record they could find". That was one of the elements that had me thinking of religious tension as a plot device.

Anyway, I’m looking for input as to how Rhukaan Draal feels, what sorts of people are found there, what makes it different, not just from other cities, but from the rest of Darguun. Faction ideas, NPC ideas, quirks of the local economy, what people do for entertainment, etc.
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Re: Developing Rhukaan Draal

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All that said, I’m going to give you what I always ask for when I’m responding to one of these questions; more information about the campaign.

The composition of the party changes a lot. The current iteration consists of a githzerai monk and a githzerai psion, pulled into Eberron by a planar event caused by the Mourning; a Kech Volaar duur'kala; a Kech Volaar goblin artificer; and a bugbear fighter, formerly of the Marguul tribes, who is a Deneith mercenary. None but the duur'kala have any social standing, and she is too young and inexperienced to have any pull. The psion is laid up in the Jorasco enclave with a long-term injury. While she recovers, the duur'kala is attending on the local ambassadors of the Kech Volar, the monk and the artificer got jobs in the market weaponsmithing, and the bugbear has gone back to mercenary work. There is a reasonable chance that the duur'kala will be sequestered with her superiors for a level or two.

(This is why I don’t do a slavery story: more than half the party are Darguul, so no one is going to get very worked up about it).

The "A" Plot involves the discovery of Lord Zoratesh's invasion plans. That has been running for a while, and I would like to take a break from it. The “B” Plot, unbeknownst to the party, involves the psion.

Once upon a time, the Deevourer of Dreams faced a dilemma. It believed it could eliminate all of the hosts of Taratai on Eberron, but was concerned that Taratai’s spirit, once unbound, would return to the Dal Quor and infect other quori, and perhaps even Quor Tarai, with its subversive characteristics.

It had a number of schemes to prevent this from happening, one of which actually worked. A changeling agent of the Dark became pregnant by a kalashtar of the line of Taratai. During her escape, her party became lost in a manifest zone and found themselves transported to Kythri.

When her child was born, it was tied to the spirit of Taratai. In order to prevent the spirit from manifesting, the child was bound into a single gender, female, and to mimic the form of a single non-human, non-kalashtar race, the local githzerai. This was continued for generations, with the changeling children never knowing that they were anything other than githzerai females. When the rest of the line of Taratai died out, it lived on, unable to manifest, in this changeling line.

The psion is one of that line. Her handler died in the accident that transported her to Eberron, and neither she nor her companions know what she is. She suffered a head injury on an adventure, and it interacted badly with the mental binding that keeps her from changing form; as a result, she is not healing well. The McGuffin in the Flayed Hand monastery will remove the binding, which will (a) allow her to heal, and (b) reveal that she is actually a changeling.
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Re: Developing Rhukaan Draal

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The one place where I've used Rukhaan Draal was in the original draft of Shadows of the Last War. Here's what I wrote.
It is mid-morning when the Orien coach finally arrives in Rukhaan Draal, the City of Goblins. Rukhaan Draal was built on the ruins of a Cyran city, and at the heart of the metropolis many of the old stone buildings are still in use. But for the most part Rukhaan Draal is a crazy architectural tapestry. Mud and timber huts are interspersed with canvas tents and pavilions. A few goblin families have formed makeshift burrows out of piles of wood and garbage. The roads are bare earth and there are no everbright lanterns or everburning torches to provide light; in a city where most of the inhabitants possess darkvision, what would be the point? Amidst this ramshackle city, a single building dominates the skyline – a enormous tower of red stone that rises up from the very center of Rukhaan Draal. Clearly the work of skilled magewrights, this is the tower of Lhesh Haruuc Shaarat'kor, the Hobgoblin King.

The bulk of the population are goblinoids. Timid goblins scurry out of your way while hobgoblins and the occasional band of bugbears swagger about, seeming to dare you to get in their way. A few humans and demihumans are scattered throughout the streets – merchants and smugglers looking for goblin gold, or fugitives who have fled to Darguun to escape the justice of their homelands.

Finding the Bloody Market is simple enough. While most of the inhabitants have an unfriendly attitude towards strangers, any merchant will provide directions to the vast marketplace. The Bloody Market takes its name from the violent haggling that is commonplace among the goblinoids – although guards will defend the merchants if blood is actually shed (the merchants, mind you – the customers are on their own). The marketplace is an ocean of tents and milling goblins. The goods are not of the highest quality, but almost anything (within the gp limit) can be found here – poisons, drugs, and other goods that are outlawed in more civilized nations are sold in broad daylight in the goblin city.
I wrote this thirteen years ago, and if I had the opportunity to explore it in more depth today... say, if the DM'S Guild were to allow it ... I might go in a different direction. But for what it's worth, that's what I wrote back in the dawn of Eberron.
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Re: Developing Rhukaan Draal

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HNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNG cannot get Eberron open on DM's Guild fast enough!
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Re: Developing Rhukaan Draal

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HellcowKeith wrote:I wrote this thirteen years ago...
I often forget just how long it's been since Eberron came into this world.
Beoric wrote:It was actually the Bassingthwaite novels that gave me the impression that the city was more or less lawless, which may be overstating things; by cannon the laws are "simple" and the city is a haven for criminals fleeing other jurisdictions. I suspect the law is aimed more at order than justice or fairness, and by order I include social order.

There are rigid racial roles, and outside the Dhakaani clans the goblins the goblins don't receive much respect. For this reason, I expect the laws would be stratified by race. I can't see hobgoblin jurists getting excited over some young warriors with "high spirits" harassing a few goblin merchants, particularly if one is the nephew of a warlord whose support the lhesh is courting. I extrapolated on these elements for the "disgruntled goblin" faction.
Yeah, I would agree with that, to an extent. I would say their laws are just and fair... from their point of view (or ideally are). Different culture, different concept of morality. I would liken it to Hindu law, as the concept of honor to the Dar (muut vs. atcha) is nuanced, much like the Hindu concept of Dharma. Likewise, the Varna / Jāti caste system dichotomy in India could be a good source of inspiration for a Darguul caste system.

Other random idea: I believe there is a gladiatorial arena in the city. I used this for entertainment in my campaign.
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Re: Developing Rhukaan Draal

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enderxenocide0 wrote:Different culture, different concept of morality. I would liken it to Hindu law, as the concept of honor to the Dar (muut vs. atcha) is nuanced, much like the Hindu concept of Dharma. Likewise, the Varna / Jāti caste system dichotomy in India could be a good source of inspiration for a Darguul caste system.
It probably goes without saying, but there's a huge cultural difference between Rukhaan Draal and the traditions of the Dhakaani. In my opinion, the Dhakaani are an extremely "lawful" culture; we have always emphasized their military discipline. This is supported by the caste system; people have a clear role in society.

The Ghaal'dar, on the other had, are far less developed as a culture; Lhesh Haruuc is in the process of forging a unified nation from scattered tribes and races who all have all developed their own traditions in the wake of the Dhakaani collapse. In Dhakaan, the bugbears had a clear caste role that defined their place in society; but good luck trying to convince one of the Lhesh Marguul to follow that path. As I see it, it's not that Rukhaan Draal is entirely lawless as much as it is that Haruuc knows the limits of his power. As such, guards work to protect damage to the infrastructure of the city; they don't care about crimes between unimportant individuals. Thus, if you try to butcher merchants or start burning things down, the watch will intervene. If you get into a random fight with a bunch of rowdy bugbears, they couldn't care less.
enderxenocide0 wrote:Other random idea: I believe there is a gladiatorial arena in the city. I used this for entertainment in my campaign.
I agree with this both among the Ghaal'dar and the Dhakaani. For the Dhakaani it's a celebration of martial skill. I suspect you'd have both lethal bouts as a form of execution, and nonlethal bouts that are about champions honing and displaying skill; not killing your opponent would be a proof of that skill, and there's no need to waste a good soldier in the name of sport. Among the Ghaal'dar I'd expect things to be less formal, more let-the-dice-fall-where-they-may.
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Re: Developing Rhukaan Draal

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HellcowKeith wrote: As I see it, it's not that Rukhaan Draal is entirely lawless as much as it is that Haruuc knows the limits of his power.
This is where I was going. Crimes involving the upper classes (those close to warlords) are a political matter, or a matter of politics and honour. Crimes involving the lower classes are largely ignored unless they turn into something disruptive like a blood feud. Crimes involving middle classes may get more attention, as long as they are not perpetrated by upper classes. The Lhesh knows the importance of trade, even if more traditional clans do not.

So it looks to me like justice is stratified by race and social class (to the extent that race does not equate to social class). The city is going to look very different if you are a goblin merchant or a bugbear labourer than if you are a hobgoblin and the nephew of a warlord. One of my NPCs is a hobgoblin swordsmith of the Mur Talaan clan who lost a leg in military action. I bet he gets way more respect than the goblin with the food cart (no matter how good his noon balls are).

The other thing I note is that, if we follow Bassingthwaite's novels, Rhukaan Draal is technically under the jurisdiction of the Mur Talaan clan. They are highly honoured, but don't carry much in the way of muscle. It is unclear how much policing they could do if they wanted to, and if I recall correctly, the Rhukaan Taash need to limit their visible military presence in the city because it is supposed to be neutral ground.
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Re: Developing Rhukaan Draal

Post by NelsonNelsor »

Something I suspect will help answer, 'What's Rhukaan like?' is for you to create an answer to, 'Why is Rhukaan Draal there in the first place?' The city's old and on one of Darguun's two major rivers, so it could be a goblinoid Paris or Rome. Depending on the point in their history you look at, Paris/Rome were one industry boom towns, crony-capitals full of power-seekers, or kleptocracies run by whichever oligarch best simulated actual government services.

Rhukaan's a little too old to be a boom-town, but if you assign it some specific strong economic interest: maybe the Bloody Market is the hub of all commerce for the region, you'll have something for classes & races to scrabble over.

Tying that back to your B plot. Maybe your Gith psion's injury is manifesting in ways that affect how/what people buy & sell. Maybe the haggling is unusually peaceful or violent, or there's unreasonable demand for tulip bulbs. The psionic effect could draw attention from whatever threat level you like, local bully, gang lord, trade association, police group, etc.
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Re: Developing Rhukaan Draal

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HellcowKeith wrote:
enderxenocide0 wrote:Other random idea: I believe there is a gladiatorial arena in the city. I used this for entertainment in my campaign.
I agree with this both among the Ghaal'dar and the Dhakaani. For the Dhakaani it's a celebration of martial skill. I suspect you'd have both lethal bouts as a form of execution, and nonlethal bouts that are about champions honing and displaying skill; not killing your opponent would be a proof of that skill, and there's no need to waste a good soldier in the name of sport. Among the Ghaal'dar I'd expect things to be less formal, more let-the-dice-fall-where-they-may.
Trial-by-combat, blood sport, and ancestor/region veneration, might be the three legs upon which sporting violence always rests, but the expression varies from culture to culture:
- One place wants you to kill the bull & make it look beautiful.
- One place wants you to leap over the bull & make it look graceful.
- One place wants you to sit on the bull & make it look easy.

Substitute, 'Valenar rider' for bull up there, and you've got a lovely day at the coliseum.
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Re: Developing Rhukaan Draal

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I think I know where I’m going with this now.

I’ve had a quori plot going on in the foreground, although the PCs don’t know that its quori (or even of the existence of quori). There are all of these tensions, which the quori are going to try to inflame to destabilize the region.

It is three months after the Mourning, and aberrant creatures have been coming out of the mists in numbers. The Lesh has therefore travelled east to observe the situation and defend Darguul’s borders, accompanied by a reasonable number of troops and a young Dagii Mur Talaan. Fenic Mur Talaan is completing some administrative tasks and will be following. In my Eberron, the administration of Rhukaan Draal falls to the Mur Talaan, because (a) it is their territory, and (b), the lhesh is more concerned with national matters.

Before leaving Fenic will temporarily pass the leadership to another, in this case his cousin Kuurac. This customarily takes place in a short ceremony in the Bloody Market, where all the Mur Talaan can see if they wish. At the ceremony, a quori sponsored assassination attempt will be made on Fenic, which the PCs may or may not foil if they choose to be there at that time. If it succeeds, well, now we know how Fenic died. If it fails, Fenic will complete the ceremony and leave to join the lhesh.

The assassination attempt increases the tension in the city, although it does so more slowly if it failed. Kuurac is a lesser man than either Fenic or Dagii, and ruffles feathers in his desperation to discover the culprits. Meanwhile, because of Kuurac’s weak hold on the city, incidents begin occurring among various opposing factions in the city. All of them are egged on by the quori, who meddle in the dreams of them and their advisors.

The primary factions are:

Kuurac: He is primarily interested in maintain order, but is a poor leader. The more things slip through his grip, the tighter he squeezes.

He sees the Flayed Hand monks as challenging his authority, and Thiera Riak as a troublemaker. He suspects Thiera is behind the theft of slaves and destruction of slave pens, but doesn’t know how to prove it, and doesn’t know what he would do if he could prove it. The frequent petitioning of Tezee is a great source of irritation to him and a reminder of his failings in keeping order. He has an additional problem with his own troops, some of whom are among those who throw their weight around with the goblin merchants.

Galtaaj: Leader of the Monastery of the Flayed Hand, and de facto spokesperson for the various sects of the Dark Six, he is primarily interested in maintain Darguul tradition. In part this means religious tradition: he is very opposed to the Vassals of the Sovereign Host, and will act against them when possible. However, he is also a proponent of non-religious traditions, as he understands them, including some Dhakaani traditions which he believes to have existed but which probably did not. (The Kech Volaar in the city view him as superstitious and ignorant of the traditions he tries to espouse.)

Galtaaj uses trickery to undermine the Vassals of the Host and inflames passions against them. He is also not afraid to use intimidation to enforce his view of cultural traditions; the goblin traders often receive the brunt of this. He views Kuurac as ineffective and generally ignores him and his guards.

Thiera Riak: a priest of the Soverign Host, she is a proponent of Galifaran values, and has a particular hatred for slavery. She is a kindly and condescending bigot who is unaware of her own bigotry, believing that she is only trying to help these poor, ignorant people.

While not as influential as the priests of Dol Arrah, Dol Dorn or Boldrei, she is outspoken and a poor diplomat, frequently ruffling the feathers of slave-owners and Vassals of the Dark Six. Her prosthelytizing in the Bloody Market is bad for business, stirs of the resentment of many goblinoids, and tends to stir up fights in the crowd. She is suspected of sponsoring attacks on slavers and slave-owners and the rescue of slaves. Galtaaj thanks the Mockery for her presence every day.

Tezee: unofficial leader of the goblin traders, she is primarily interested in security, by which she means the freedom of goblin merchants and tradesmen to trade unmolested by criminals, Flayed Hand monks and errant members of the hobgoblin upper classes and the guard. Thiera Riak is a thorn in her side at the moment. While the goblins value their own freedom and are often ambivalent or opposed to slavery, the goblin slaver Vinari is a wealthy and influential member of their association, and contributes a great deal to their cause.

Meanwhile, a treatment has been found for the injured psion PC, but it is expensive and they need to raise funds to bring a higher-level Jorasco adept from another centre, along with her Deneith security detail. They are trying to raise money while all of this is going on in the city. Depending on what actions they take, they may be approached by (or targeted by) one or more faction. Thiera wants to hire them for her covert operations, and they may discover that Galtaaj also has access to magic that can heal the psion.

I may also post a reward for information leading to the identification or capture of the people behind the assassination. That should get things moving.

Any other thoughts?
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Re: Developing Rhukaan Draal

Post by Beoric »

Since this is going to be a sandbox I thought I’d better build a roster of NPCs to interact with. I built a spreadsheet that randomly generates names and characteristics and picked and chose from there.

EDIT: revised and completed.

If anything doesn’t make sense (like an elf in love with a dwarf, for instance), feel free to point it out.

Fenic, LG male Hobgoblin Lhevk of the Mur Talaan. Beloved Lhevk of the Mur Talaan, father of Dagii (who is currently Lhurusk-Rhu).

Kuurac of Mur Talaan, LN male Hobgoblin Lhurusk. Poor leader charged with maintaining order. The more things slip through his grip, the more he tightens. He sees the Flayed Hand monks as challenging his authority, and Thiera Riak as a troublemaker. Tezee's petitions irritate him and remind him of his failings.

Galtaaj, NE male Hobgoblin Archimandrite-Rhu of the Flayed Hand Monastery. Hot tempered leader of the Monastery of the Flayed Hand. Primarily interested in maintaining Darguul tradition. Very opposed to the Vassals of the Sovereign Host. Uses trickery to undermine the Vassals and inflames passions against them. Not afraid to use intimidation to enforce his view of cultural traditions; the goblin traders often receive the brunt of this. Views Kuurac as ineffective and generally ignores him and his guards.

Thiera Riak, NG female Human Priest of the Sovereign Host. Priest of the Soverign Host. Proponent of Galifaran values. Hates slavery. Kindly and condescending bigot who is unaware of her own bigotry, believing that she is only trying to help these poor, ignorant people. Outspoken and a poor diplomat, frequently ruffling the feathers of slave-owners and Vassals of the Dark Six. Prosthelytizing in the Bloody Market stirs things up. Suspected of sponsoring attacks on slavers and slave-owners and the rescue of slaves. Galtaaj thanks the Mockery for her presence every day.

Tezee, CG female Goblin Merchant. Non-descript, blustering. Appears even shorter because of a kink in her back. Leader in the Goblin Traders movement. Dislikes Vitari the slaver but remains a reluctant ally. Sees Thiera as a nuisance who is bad for business. Opposes bullies in the guard and the flayed hand monks.

Vinari, LE male Goblin Slaver. Has two different eye colors. Overbearing and grim. Lost a relative to the slave trade, entered it in hopes of tracker her down and buying her back. Has an uneasy relationship with the Goblin Traders. Close friend of Rhazaar the horse trader. Buys his whips from Jhakaat the leatherworker.

Reskiit, N male Goblin Food Vendor. Centered and enigmatic. Secretly one of the Dhakaani Silent Eyes. Married, wife makes good sweet noon buns. Has become close to Eldeth Soldorak - genuinely likes her, but real intention is to infiltrate the Aurum. Also has ties to the Goblin Traders through Jhaakat the leatherworker.

Vani d'Jorasco, LN female Halfing Baron of the Jorasco enclave and Healer. Shrewish and intolerant leader of the Jorasco enclave. Speaks loudly. Feels a need to prove herself. Supportive of Thiera's prostheletyzing, but doesn't really care about the slavery issue except with respect to the common races.

Voxuuc of Mur Talaan, LG male Hobgoblin Blacksmith. Unusual eye color for a hobgoblin. Soft-hearted. Very anxious to help Ezhelya recover. Is a trusted friend of both Fenic and Kuurac, having gone on campaign with them and served in the same unit. Will support Kuurac in his intrigues.

Eldeth Soldorak, NG female Dwarf Armorsmith. Missing a tooth. Sober and quietly arrogant Vassal of the Host and bitter enemy of Vinari the Slaver.

Tatha d'Ghallanda, N female Halfling Innkeeper. Very pale. Overly polite. Hates the Flayed Hand Monks and everything they represent. Has a serious crush on Garret Jorasco and has become his lover despite the edicts against the relationship; she knows nothing about his criminal activities. Is very close friends with Shenta the cook, who helps her cover up the romance.

Shenta d'Ghallanda, LN female Halfling Cook. Clothing is ragged and covered in fresh food stains. Courteous and mischievious. Wants to be known and respected for her culinary skills despite the less than ideal environment in Darguun, and is constantly trying to prove herself in that regard. Active supporter of Thiera Riak and the Vassals. Gets kickbacks from Rhazaar the horse trader.

Jhazaal, LN female Goblin Maid. Large, hooked nose. Even tempered. Wife of Guriid, the turner. It is a union of convenience, rather than love. Used to work at the Golden Spider until Niskeg fired her for forgetting to water the drinks.

Guriid, NE male Goblin Turner. Lisps. Even tempered. Makes handles and hafts for weapons. Holds a grudge against the bartender Niskeg for firing his wife, Jhazaal. Although it is a marriage of convenience, he does not dislike her, and it created financial difficulties for quite some time.

Wrogar Tarra'az, NG male Human Tailor. Stares into the distance. Unflappable. Works at the Cannith Outpost. Rival of Wroya Cannith in love. Knows the paladin Thian Jalan somewhat, and likes her.

Jhaakat, LG male Goblin Leatherworker. Frequently uses the wrong word. Compassionate, sensitive individual. Part of the Goblin Traders. Dislikes the silversmith, Niiguul, and frequently disagrees with him regarding Trader matters.

Kriishis, LE male Goblin Carpenter. Picks ear. Hawkish personality. Resents competition from Guriid the turner in some products, including staves, hafts and handles.

Wuud, NG male Goblin Bowyer. Taps fingers. Grim. He and Voxuuc are good friends and refer work to each other.

Geskoj, CG male Goblin Fletcher. Is prone to singing quietly. Modest, friendly disposition. Thinks Rezoon the outfitter cheated him on a deal; he refuses to do business with her, and will discourage others from doing so.

Garrak, NG male Goblin Pursemaker. Has a tattoo of a winged eye with a slit pupil on his left arm. Even Tempered. Was in the same unit as Thaahuuj the card dealer. They remain good friends.

Rezoon, N female Bugbear Outfitter. Slurs words. Cowardly. Knowlingly provides Thiera Riak with information and supplies for her raids, partly because of her bitter hatred for the slaver Vinari, who was at one time a member of a rival adventuring party.

Drakhiil, CE female Goblin chandler, and adept of the Shadow. Squints. Prickly, takes offence easily, which can result in violence or curses if she thinks he can get away with it. In addition to candles, she sells minor magical supplies. The guard Kronil has come to her in the past for minor charms.

Gikuuk, NG male Goblin Cabinetmaker. Scratches crotch. Sarcastic; tends to be insulting. Heavily involved in the Goblin Traders, but plots to undermine Vinari the Slaver.

Tazees, CE female Goblin Ropeseller. Prone to humming quietly. Irreligious. Has a stall in the Market. Hot tempered. Sells rope bags in competition with the pursemaker. Involved in the Goblin Traders. Brother-in-law is Wuud, the bowyer.

Nentar, CG male Goblin Glass Blower. Bites fingernails. Foolhardy. Has gone on some dates with Jhazaal the maid.

Niiguul, NG male Goblin Silversmith. Looney laugh. Moody. Has been abused by Flayed Hand monks in the past.

Alla Caris, LG female Gnome Bookseller. Has lots of piercings in her ears. Diplomatic and even tempered. Fought against Reskiit in the wars, and developed a deep hatred for his unit, but has not recognized him. Works out of the Sivis Outpost.

Taruuzh, CE male Goblin Tinker. Stiff bearing, fearless disposition. Supplies lab equipment to the healer Shunee.

Mardred d'Gheden, NE female Dwarf Locksmith. Thinning hair. Avaricious. Member of the Aurum. Recognizes Galtaaj's influence, and has been courting him as a friend and customer.

Kronil, LN male Hobgoblin Guard. Fidgets, nervously. Finicky and overly formal. Acquaintance of Fenic. Moonlights as a guard for Vinari the Slaver; he was already opposed to the Vassals of the Host, and having taken a few lumps in one of Thiera's raids, he likes them even less now.

Niskeg, LE male Hobgoblin Bartender. Always quoting religious texts of the Keeper. Greedy. Works at the Golden Spider, a gambling den.
Thaahuuj, LG male Goblin card dealer. Bald. Abrasive. Works at the Golden Spider, a gambling den. Flayed Hand Monks had something to do with a failed romance.

Rhazaar, LG female Goblin Horse trader. Constantly makes jokes. Unforgiving. Close friend of Vinari the Slaver. Has Durula, the priestess of Dol Arrah, bless her horses, and has Shunee the healer heal them. Sold a horse to Soranda Fain, the Broken Blade monk, which he was satisfied with.

Rhuzaluur, LE female Goblin Stabler. Wears flamboyant clothes which Galtaaj would think are above his station; is occasionally harassed by Flayed Hand Monks over this. He is aloyal patriot of the Mur Talaan, the Lhesh, and the Ghaal'dar, in that order. However, business is business, and he buys his equipment from Wroya Cannith because he thinks it has more consistent quality. The Flayed Hand Monks wouldn't like that much if they knew of it.

Shunee, LN female Goblin Healer. Wears braids. Provides salves to Durula the Priest, who administers them to the poor. This could make her a target of the Flayed Hand Monks.

Jhuudiic, LN male Bugbear Bouncer. Missing a finger. Insensitive and unfeeling. Works at the Golden Spider, a gambling den. Has crossed Kroni the Guard before, and holds a grudge.

Krootad, CN (CG) male Hobgoblin Priest of Dol Dorn. Aloof. Shrugs in answer to any question. Has a friendly rivalrly with Durala, the Priest of Dol Arrah, over the number of Vassals who show up for sermons, and Durala's goody-two-shoes god. Thiera is just as offensive with him as she is with Durala..
Soranda Fain, NG (CG) female Human Monk of the Broken Blade.

Durula, LG male Hobgoblin Priest of Dol Arrah. Superstitious and prone to interpreting coincidences as evil omens. Bites fingernails. Is an acquaintance of Fenic and has fought side by side with in the past. Has a difficult relationship with Thiera; her disapproval of goblin culture spills over into her dealings with him. Disapproves of Thiera's prostheletyzing, and is not aware of the raids she is sponsoring.

Thian Jhalan, LG female Half-elf Paladin of Dol Arrah. Exceptionally beautiful, religious fanatic who tries to convert others. Believes in Thiera's sermons. Friend of Jhaakat the leatherworker. Has has a run-in with Kronil the guard before.

Mazaan, LN (N) male Bugbear Priest of Balinor. Loud and friendly. Formerly of one of the Marguul clans, he does not entirely understand the more cilivized cultures (including the Ghaal'dar) and is entirely oblivious to the intrigues of Rhukaan Draal.

Enaluur, LN female Bugbear Porter. Passionate (for a bugbear) but taciturn. Feels a need to always be chewing on something: gum, toothpicks, etc. Works at the Golden Dragon Inn.

Ori d'Sivis, NG female Gnome Scribe. Meticulous and neat. Opinionated supporter of Thiera's prostheletyzing. Works at the Message Station in the Sivis Outpost.

Shuduluur, CN female Bugbear Courier. Tends to pace. Works at the Message Station in the Sivis Outpost. Reskiit the food vendor slips her sweet noon buns so she will stop at his stand often; he can usually get her to tell him what she is delivering, and to whom, without her realzing he is doing it.

Wroya Cannith, LE female Human Clerk. Drug addict. Uses long words. Works at the Cannith Outpost. Agent of Cannith South. Likes the same girl as Wrogar Tarra'az.

Garret Jorasco, CE male halfling orderly at the Jorasco clinic. Nervous eye twitch. Hedonistic. Is in a romantic relationship with Tasha d'Ghallanda purely to get information about her customers as potential targets for thievery. May be tempted to steal from rooms in her Inn (in which case the maid will likely be blamed).

Chiishik, N male hobgoblin guard. Has a "sinister" tattooed on his knuckles. Irreverent. Partner of Daakhaas. Tends to shake down Goblin Traders, and has targeted Tazees the Ropseller, Wuud the Bowyer, and Kriishis the Carpenter in the past. Not friendly with the Flayed Hand Monks.

Daakhaas, N male hobgoblin guard. Foolishly brave. Partner of Chiishik Tends to shake down Goblin Traders, and has targeted Tazees the Ropseller, Wuud the Bowyer, and Kriishis the Carpenter in the past.

Takhun, LE female hobgoblin priest of the Dark Six. Overbearing, speaks loudly. Ally of Galtaaj and enemy of the Vassals of the Host in general and Thiera in particular.

Shaad, LE male Flayed Hand monk. Liar. Cakling laugh.

Neruut, LN male hobgoblin Flayed Hand monk. Unfeeling. Unkempt. Voxuuc the smith knows him through friends. Has had run-ins with Thian the paladin.

Tars Lorrea, CG male human Monk of the Broken Blade. Suicidally brave. Birthmark on his face. Good friend of Eldeth the Armorsmith. Friendly rival of Soranda the Broken Blade monk. Generally supportive of Thiera; unaware of her raids.
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Re: Developing Rhukaan Draal

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Completed the roster, and edited it.
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Re: Developing Rhukaan Draal

Post by enderxenocide0 »

That's some nice work, Beoric! Did you pick Jhazaal and Taruuzh specifically because of the historical Dhakaani with those names?
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Re: Developing Rhukaan Draal

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enderxenocide0 wrote:That's some nice work, Beoric! Did you pick Jhazaal and Taruuzh specifically because of the historical Dhakaani with those names?
I made a random generator to create Dhakaani names. I parsed all of the goblin names I knew from various sources into chunks in a consonant/vowel/consonant pattern, and it spits out randomly generated names that have a consistent "sound". It also gives me back existing names every once in a while; I just treat those as common names.

I actually built a random generator to create the personalities, quirks and relationships as well. I particularly enjoy the relationships one: it randomly selects three characters on the roster, and suggests relationships with them. I pick what I like and work it into the description. Once the random spreadsheet was built, NPC generation was actually quite fast.

Although I didn't write it into the descriptions, it also randomly spits out the NPC's reaction to the PCs, and a reason why a given NPC might not want to help the PCs with whatever the PCs are asking for (to guide roleplay in case the PCs are trying to convince them of something).

E: I've been reading a lot of OSR blogs recently, which made me conscious of the qualities of 1e adventures that make me generally them to anything that came after. It made me want to come up with a way to quickly build a sandbox.
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Re: Developing Rhukaan Draal

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I'm working on a Rumor/"Things overheard in the Bloody Market" Table. Here's what I've got so far:

1. Some of these merchant taat forget their duty. A generation ago many would have been slaves; most of them are the children of slaves. Now they claim more honour than they are owed. They should be careful, or someone will teach them their place.

2. I’m tired of that woman coming round and going on and on about how much better the human gods are than ours. And she needs to give the slavery thing a rest. I don’t like the slavers either, and they make the customers nervous, but she’s worse for business than they are!

3. No no, don’t blame the Mur Talaan. Most of their warriors fight for the lhesh under Fenric’s banner. They help out the guard when the lhesh isn’t on campaign, and their lhurusk command it, but most of the actual guardsmen are from other clans. A lot of them are there because they couldn’t make it in the military.

4. I honour the Mockery as much as the next goblin, but those monks need to learn to live in the world as it is now. The days of hiding in the mountains and attacking caravans are over. Darguun needs trade if it is going to be strong enough to compete with the humans. And that Galtaaj is the worst of them. Oh, gods, did they hear me?

5. It was a mistake to let these human chaat’oor in, with their soft gods and their weak ways. Now the lhesh worships their gods and forsakes our own, and the goblins trade in petty power and speak of rights like they were rat-men. We are becoming weak with the taint of Galifar, and stand as less than children next to the legacy of our ancestors.

6. Pfft! What do the guards know of war? They became guards to escape war. Oh, they’re passable when Fenic is here to whip ‘em into shape. But Kuurac doesn’t have the teeth for it.

7. Aw, they’re just goblins, serving hobgoblins is their duty. So I give ‘em a hard time sometimes, its no big deal. They sure don’t mind having me around when there’s thieves in the Market, or the monks are leaning on them too hard, I’ll tell you that.

8. Those Flayed Hand monks aren’t so tough. Oh, sure, they’ll tell you, “my body is a weapon”, but what are they really doing in that monastery? Praying! So they been in the wars once or twice. I coulda been in the wars if I hadn’ta busted up my knee. “Robes made from the skins of their enemies”? That’s a load of tiger scat! Leather dresses is more like it.

9. Aw, the humans ain’t so bad, ‘cept for that lady priest who comes around stirring it up sometimes. Lhesh likes ‘em fine, and Dol Dorn’s my kinda god. Yeah, they get a bit preachy, but at least they don’t all think they’re levks, not like those damned monks. Some of ‘em like a good scrap just as much as the next guy.

10. I think it’s disgusting, the way they worship evil gods openly in this city. Grand public temples to them and everything! At least half of them still openly worship them, and half of the rest do it in secret. Thank the Sovereigns the lhesh has seen the light! Our priests certainly have their work cut out for them.

11. Oh, the crime here is appalling! Okay, well, it’s orderly enough. But they openly sell drugs and slaves in the Market, and they don’t seem to care what crimes you’re committed, they just let criminals wander around freely. I swear, last week I saw three men who were listed in the Chronicle as wanted by the Sentinel Marshals. They only thing they’re missing is prostitution. Well, outside the foreigner’s district, anyway.

12. I don’t like the hobgoblins much, and the bugbears are just mean, but I kinda feel for those poor goblins. They get it from all sides, you know? Everyone tries to rip ‘em off, they get treated like scum by the humans, the bugbears bully ‘em, the monks harass ‘em. Sure they can go to the guards, as long as they’re a merchant – unless it’s a guard who’s the problem; or a monk, cause the guards are scared of ‘em; or the son of some hobgoblin mucky-muck, cause no-one will touch ‘em.

13. I hate this city, and all these filthy monsters with their barbaric ways. I can’t wait to get back to civilization. As soon as my transfer comes through, I’m outta here.

14. If you’re looking for some work on the down low, meet me at the crossroads near that busted statue of the horseman. Yeah, the one just outside the foreigner’s district. Lady’s paying good for rough work. You don’t ask questions, she don’t ask question.

15. I've been in the dungeon levels of Khaar Mbar’ost. It doesn't just go up ten stories. It goes way down too. I've only been down three levels, but I've heard it is as deep as it is tall and that the lowest level comes out in Khber itself.

I decided that no self-respecting hobgoblin warrior actually wants to be in the guard. Keeping the peace isn't sexy. So the guard tends to be filled with rejects from the military. They are supplemented by the lhesh's troops and Mur Talaan troops when they are around, which keeps them in line, but when the actual warriors are away on campaign, they revert to type.

I'm trying to round it out to 20, and I'd like to throw in a few false ones. Suggestions would be welcome, and feel free to get your gonzo on!
Last edited by Beoric on Sun Sep 04, 2016 10:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Developing Rhukaan Draal

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HellcowKeith wrote:The one place where I've used Rukhaan Draal was in the original draft of Shadows of the Last War. Here's what I wrote.
It is mid-morning when the Orien coach finally arrives in Rukhaan Draal, the City of Goblins. Rukhaan Draal was built on the ruins of a Cyran city, and at the heart of the metropolis many of the old stone buildings are still in use. But for the most part Rukhaan Draal is a crazy architectural tapestry. Mud and timber huts are interspersed with canvas tents and pavilions. A few goblin families have formed makeshift burrows out of piles of wood and garbage. The roads are bare earth and there are no everbright lanterns or everburning torches to provide light; in a city where most of the inhabitants possess darkvision, what would be the point? Amidst this ramshackle city, a single building dominates the skyline – a enormous tower of red stone that rises up from the very center of Rukhaan Draal. Clearly the work of skilled magewrights, this is the tower of Lhesh Haruuc Shaarat'kor, the Hobgoblin King.

The bulk of the population are goblinoids. Timid goblins scurry out of your way while hobgoblins and the occasional band of bugbears swagger about, seeming to dare you to get in their way. A few humans and demihumans are scattered throughout the streets – merchants and smugglers looking for goblin gold, or fugitives who have fled to Darguun to escape the justice of their homelands.

Finding the Bloody Market is simple enough. While most of the inhabitants have an unfriendly attitude towards strangers, any merchant will provide directions to the vast marketplace. The Bloody Market takes its name from the violent haggling that is commonplace among the goblinoids – although guards will defend the merchants if blood is actually shed (the merchants, mind you – the customers are on their own). The marketplace is an ocean of tents and milling goblins. The goods are not of the highest quality, but almost anything (within the gp limit) can be found here – poisons, drugs, and other goods that are outlawed in more civilized nations are sold in broad daylight in the goblin city.
I wrote this thirteen years ago, and if I had the opportunity to explore it in more depth today... say, if the DM'S Guild were to allow it ... I might go in a different direction. But for what it's worth, that's what I wrote back in the dawn of Eberron.
First draft? Did this stuff get edited out? I've not read Shadows of the Last War so I can't tell if this is a "DVD extra", so to speak.

I know four things about DMs Guild that may be of interest:
  • It is legally possible to do crowdfunding to raise the cash needed to make products for DMs Guild (although most of the "gold plated dice" and "limited edition brass doornob" nonsense done to make rich collectors throw in $500-$1000 USD in regular Kickstarter campaigns would be blocked by the DMs Guild rules), :)
  • It is technically possible to make Print on Demand products at DriveThru RPG/RPG Now/DMs Guild (and the DMs Guild rules do allow PoD products) but so far everyone has made PDFs and not gone the extra mile on the PoD quality versions, :)
  • If you can work out how to get Twogether Studios to run an Eberron Kickstarter that gives you enough cash to build Eberron content that is legal in DMs Guild (with backers getting early access to PDFs and maybe helping to find errata ahead of a Print on Demand release*) I'm in and I'll do my best to help promote it and :mrgreen:
  • If you hire someone like Anna Mayer to improve the Eberron map (and sort out the broken pole problem) I'll back a map Kickstarter/or Kickstarter stretch goal too. :cool:
* = Perhaps a year or six month delay between PDF release and PoD release, with people being given "bugspotter" credits for finding errata would be a way to get fans to help remove errata ahead of a PoD release.
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Re: Developing Rhukaan Draal

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Beoric wrote:
enderxenocide0 wrote:That's some nice work, Beoric! Did you pick Jhazaal and Taruuzh specifically because of the historical Dhakaani with those names?
I made a random generator to create Dhakaani names. I parsed all of the goblin names I knew from various sources into chunks in a consonant/vowel/consonant pattern, and it spits out randomly generated names that have a consistent "sound". It also gives me back existing names every once in a while; I just treat those as common names.
That's great. Would you be willing to share the chunks and the method you use to combine them (maybe in a different topic). I wonder if people could use random (d100) tables to roll up their own Eberron-ish names. :)
Beoric wrote:I actually built a random generator to create the personalities, quirks and relationships as well. I particularly enjoy the relationships one: it randomly selects three characters on the roster, and suggests relationships with them. I pick what I like and work it into the description. Once the random spreadsheet was built, NPC generation was actually quite fast.

Although I didn't write it into the descriptions, it also randomly spits out the NPC's reaction to the PCs, and a reason why a given NPC might not want to help the PCs with whatever the PCs are asking for (to guide roleplay in case the PCs are trying to convince them of something).
That sounds like a great tool. Is this something you have on your computer or something you could put on a webpage?

(I wish there was an area on The Piazza, where we could upload your tool...if you were willing to share it. :( )
Beoric wrote:E: I've been reading a lot of OSR blogs recently, which made me conscious of the qualities of 1e adventures that make me generally them to anything that came after. It made me want to come up with a way to quickly build a sandbox.
I think there are pros and cons to every edition of D&D. That's why I quickly came to like the fact that The Piazza is a "no school" forum that discourages "Edition War nonsense". I think it's great that you have been able to raid an interesting concept from 1e gaming.

It would be fun to stick Keith Baker in a TARDIS*, as a thought experiment, send him back in time to 2e, 1e, BECMI, B/X and OD&D and find out what differences those systems might have had on the creation of Eberron. :)

* = He already looks the part with that awesome hat. ;)

And, for the record, I would still love to see someone have a punt at an Old Edition Eberron retro-conversion, as it would be great to open the setting up to OSR fans.
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Re: Developing Rhukaan Draal

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Beoric wrote:I'm trying to round it out to 20, and I'd like to throw in a few false ones. Suggestions would be welcome, and feel free to get your gonzo on!
Not sure if this fits the canon, but you are welcome to add it to your collection:

15. I've been in the dungeon levels of Khaar Mbar’ost. It doesn't just go up ten stories. It goes way down too. I've only been down three levels, but I've heard it is as deep as it is tall and that the lowest level comes out in Khber itself.
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Joined: Sun Oct 25, 2015 2:51 pm
Location: Calgary, Alberta

Re: Developing Rhukaan Draal

Post by Beoric »

Done!

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