Sunday, March 31, 2019

Pamphlet Dungeon Jam: Labyrinth

My submission to Nate Treme's Pamphlet Dungeon Jam is live on and ready to be downloaded, printed, and played!

Here's the gist of the thing:

"The great Wizard Cull is a hero to the peasants and nobles alike, a man of honor who saves all those in need.

Little do they know, he has a darker side. The Magic User is a worshipper of Chaos, and uses his immense power and wealth to play games on unsuspecting travelers. The Labyrinth is his oldest game.

Discovered underneath his tall tower in the Hinterlands, the dungeon has been stocked with many terrible foes for Cull’s endless games.

If you can escape, great riches will be your reward. But if you cannot break free of this terrible place, your corpse will become just another on the pile!"

And here, take a look at the first page of the trifold dungeon! Available now as a PWYW title on!

Monday, March 25, 2019

The Barony of New Tower

At the Battle of Terric Hills, a skirmish between two quarreling Nobles, Duke Estone d'Lombard(Fighting-Man 13) was saved by one of his soldiers. A peasant from some far-flung village of his. In a moment of gratitude, he swore to the man that he would make him a lord for his actions!

Carrying out that promise was harder said than done, Duke d'Lombard may have no issue with granting just rewards to all, but his vassals didn't like being on equal footing with one of their subjects, and thus objected to every fiefdom with the Duke tried to grant him.

The Duke knew he could never grant a true fief to the man who saved him, but also felt a burning desire to keep his word. And so he found a compromise. Yorick(Fighting-Man 1), the peasant in question, would be granted a tiny plot of land from within the Duke's own domain, but would fall under the vassalage of the neighboring Duke Islay(Fighting-Man 9)so as to assuage d'Lombard's own vassals.

Duke Islay

That spec of territory to be given to Yorick was barren save for a village with less than thirty residents who barely eked out an existence farming the inhospitable climate for what food they can and selling the strange baubles they create in their small thatch huts.

To try and ease his mind about saddling Yorick with this excruciatingly poor land, so poor in fact that Duke d'Lombard had never once collected taxes from it, he had a tower built for him right outside the village. 

Thus the name of the fief, New Tower, the tower itself is a simple structure. A mere two-story building with a hall for attending to the Laird's business as well as a kitchen on the first floor, a trio of bedrooms on the second floor, and a ladder to the roof where lookout can be kept.

To help the Laird Yorick transition into his new ruling authority, he was given a small stipend from the Duke, as well as the aid of three competent men-at-arms. As well, a traveling knight by the name of Sir Colin Byrus(Cleric 4) swore himself to the young Laird out of respect for his heroism and is now teaching Yorick his letters, which he had never learned being a poor miner.

Sir Colin Byrus. Ladies everywhere curse his vows of chastity.

Usually, this small valley, nestled deep into a low mountain range, would be quickly forgotten by all involved. But, as he surveyed the lands for his Laird, Sir Colin discovered a cave, not on any maps, and none of the locals would dare speak of it. While Exploring the place, he quickly learned that there was far more to the cave than meets the eye.

He left the cave, not willing to risk leaving Yorick alone to rule without training, and with some danger bearing down on him. Instead, he sent word to the nearest town to the alert the Duke who would, in turn, alert the Prince at the capitol, Makara, who will then create a Quest and allow the Adventurer's Guilds to dispatch parties to inspect and deal with the menace.

Of course, this bureaucracy brings with it only more bureaucracy, and already Inspectors, Assessors, and even a Banker looking to set up shop have arrived in New Tower. It looks like this dungeon was just what the village needed to bring it into the world...

Monday, March 18, 2019

Silver Swords PDF live on Drivethrurpg!

Stronghold Press Games' first major product, the 40-page zine titled Silver Swords which contains over a dozen articles covering all aspects of role-playing games! You can find the zine here!

If you'd like a sneak peek of the contents of the zine, take a look at this free two-page PDF containing a side quest, a new monster, and four new magic items!

All backers of the Silver Swords Kickstarter should have received their PDF of the zine and of Maverick! through Drivethrurpg!

Here's a look at the articles contained within the zine itself! 

Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Banking in Makara

Everybody uses the Royal Bank of Makara to secure their funds and change their money. With branches in every town and countless villages, it is by far the largest bank in the country, even making it's presence known worldwide.

The Royal Bank offers a few different ways to store your wealth and get something back from it.

The first is that any money you deposit into an account will be used to fund dungeon delves and other profitable endeavours that will bring dividends back to BoM. All accounts receive a flat 1% guaranteed yearly return on investment.

The next is government Trust Certificates. Essentially, this is investing in the Royalty itself. This money goes directly to the Prince who uses it to fund many worthwhile acts. TCs receive a 1.5% yearly RoI for periods of 5, 10, or 30 years. You cannot request your money back before the end of the period.

In addition to these safe and insured savings methods, BoM also offers more aggressive, and dangerous, investment methods such as Plunder Funds: An investment in a number of dungeon delves with a 4% average RoI, but with some risk.

As well, Direct Plunder Investments allow people to purchase their own shares of dungeon delves. This method is reserved for those with lots of capital to start with.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Agriculture in Makara

While Makara's main export is trade goods, it also proudly grows enough good to provide for itself without the need to import food from another foreign power, who could then use it against them.

Makara has no singular main crop, instead choosing to diversify its agriculture to provide security against famine or crop blights. The three major foodstuffs grown are corn, wheat, and potatoes. These three crops make up the majority of Makaran farmland.

In addition to these, lemons and oranges are a very common cash crop grown to be sold at the nation's ports to sailors for their long voyages.

In the Northeastern Highlands of Makara another cash crop is grown, Tabak. The leaf of the Tabak plant, when crushed, packed, and smoked, causes a feeling of euphoria among those who use it.

The many minor highland lords who dot the hills and valleys of the inhospitable terrain often set their peasants to farm as little food and as much tabak as they can, so that it may be sold in the cities and towns of the Western coast and provide the noble with a much higher income than they could ever hope to earn otherwise.

Monday, March 11, 2019

The Makaran Census and Excise Office

An oddity in the world of Emberfell, the Makaran Census and Excise Office is a bureaucratic agency made to handle all issues relating to trade and census data. Including, but not limited to, levying tariffs, inspecting trade goods, recording immigration and emigration data, and detailing the total number of houses and inhabitants across the nation.

Every city and major border entrance is equipped with a Census and Excise Office, or CEO, and anybody coming through that location must make an appearance in the office before attempting to do any business.

"Manic Scribe" by Matthew Stewart

The first CEO was established in Makara shortly after trade with the Wood Elves was established and the volume of travelers entering Makara exploded to uncontrollable levels. The newly crowned Prince Raket Algot tasked some of the best and brightest minds with finding a solution to this problem. Thus the Office was born, and continues to serve a similar and important duty to this day.

The impact of the CEO should not be taken lightly, some estimates says that it raises tax revenues by almost double due to properly valuing and taxing all commercial goods which come through, as well as more adequately documenting every citizen of Makara, thus allowing taxes to be levied against them.

In addition to this, the CEO employs a large number of Makarans, providing them with work and a decent living, which allows them to contribute to the society in which they live.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Transportation in Makara

In a country as reliant on trade and commerce as Makara, roadways and adequate forms transportation is a necessity. This is why so many of the long roads across the country are paved. The main highway of Makara leads from the border with the Wood Elves in the Southwest to the Settled Lands in the North, and likely sees millions of travelers per years across the breadth and width of the long road.

The most common sight along the roads is the Road Vigils, Makara's own branch of law enforcement dedicated to patrolling and guarding the long stretches of highway and defending against the ever-present scourge of banditry which plagues any wealthy nation. Following them, the average traveler, whether wealthy or poor, on foot or horseback, are a common sight traveling for business or for pleasure to and fro the many destinations Makara has to offer.

Next are the freight and passenger wagons that, as their names would suggest, carry people and commerce across the realm. Horses are rarer this far south than they are in the Settled Lands, and are therefore more expensive. Causing wagons to operate by mule or oxen, instead. Many poorer merchants ply their trade with only a single mule to their name, thus the common moniker of "One Mule Business" often being used to denote a poorer businessman.

Art by David Lewis Johnson

Next to horses Elk are an even rarer sight. The species is closely guarded by the Wood Elves and it is rare to see any other race riding them, lest they be well respected by the Elves. An Elk can easily cost a wealthy merchant his whole fortune just to obtain one.