A shard to call home

June 22, 2019 at 5:06 pm

“As the daydreams grew longer, the distinction between what was real and what was imaginary grew less. Soon I existed in a blissful world of my own creation.”

― Fennel Hudson

In our last entry we introduced the Cidrian Shards, a vast number of worlds floating in a rarified space around a central star. This benighted void, known as the Scintillance, is all that remains of what was once a single world and was somehow broken in ages past. Only dragons and the intrepid sailors of the sky ships call the Scintillance home, and all the other people claim one shard or another as their own.

Let’s take a look at one such shard. One that is large enough to provide adventure, but not so huge that a character would feel insignificant. One with secrets of its own, and opportunities for players to carve their own paths to glory and power. We call this place Almeri.

Of all the shards drifting through the Scintillance, Almeri is far from the most distinctive. It is smallish, measuring only 4,000 miles on the equator and maybe twice that on its egg-shaped axis. Nor is it one of the most visited locations. In fact, it seems little noticed by those who traverse the Void and almost unheard of by those who frequent the Gates the connect so many worlds.

Its isolation may be one of the most distinctive features of the Almeri shard. That, and the abundance of sturdy, lightweight Hartwood trees that tower over the landscape in many of its temperate regions. It is this wood — molded to the dragon-bone core — tat form the decking and hulls of most of the skyships that ply the Scintillant seas.

Another major feature of Almeri is the Thessalan Expanse, commonly known as the Middlesea, that encompasses the entire shard around its midsection. This wide-open waterway splits the world between north and south, and with no landmass to slow their progress is prone to large, violent storms that lash its coastlines.

The major continent is also known Almeri and it lies south of the equatorial band. Most of the shard’s inhabitants are here, as are the major political powers. The mighty Venetine Empire holds sway over much of the land, although its power and control have been fading from weak-willed emperors and factional in-fighting over the past centuries.

While the Venetii falter, others rise to claim their lands. The wizards of Sycorax — the godless realm — have seemingly stopped their endless squabbling and have begun challenging the Endless Empire on its western fringes. While to their south, their borders are threatened by the wild Uglauth tribes.

The elves of the vast Arástavar control the harvest of the Hartwood, and maintain tight control over advancements not their lands. While not aggressive, their formidable skyships and strike teams of griffin-riders defend their borders with impunity. They willingly trade with the lands of men, but they do not give up their secrets easily.

North of the stormy Middlesea lie the islands and rugged coasts of the Einen — fierce dark-skinned warriors and daring sailors of the frozen seas. But even they fear the Kivilim who live beneath the cliffs and snow-capped mountains above the fjords. These are the dwarves of legend, the small, broad, bearded bearers of the secret of steel. Their skill is unmatched, and their greed is nearly as great. They will not share their secrets, but their wares can be had if the price is right. While dwarves can be found in many mortal kingdoms, the working of the Kivilim is held in highest regard. It is said that even the giants bow to their skill.

Beneath the surface of Almeri lies the Shadowrealm of the goblins. There are three monstrous cavern complexes known to surface-dwellers, but the crystalline interior ways is a secret known only to the goblins and their ogre slaves. Some goblin groups live quite close to the surface — and the strength of their word makes them values trading partners — but little love is loss between these two worlds.

Next: Up close and personal

On the first day…

June 13, 2019 at 3:58 pm

“Just remember life is all an illusion…..it’s your creation and you can dismantle it and re-create at will.”

Nanette Mathews

Now that we’ve had the chance to get reacquainted with the Fantasy Trip again, we at the ‘aerie were looking for new ways to tell epic stories and stage great adventures with these rules. The background material from ‘In The Labyrinth’ is a start, but we wanted something a little more distinctive for our new setting.

Further, we wanted to break out of our own creative comfort zone and not revisit the ideas that inspired the countless fantasy games we’ve ran since the first Fantasy Trip hit game store shelves. So, we turned to fantastic illustrator and friend of the ‘Aerie Billy Beuthien and asked for some drawings that he thought might make for an interesting world.

This is what he sent:

We’ve got massive trees and towers, flying ships, bird mounts, goblins on spiders, and enough bizarre details to fuel our nightmares for weeks. in other words, a great starting spot. We are also going to (loosely) follow Patricia C. Wrede’s world-building questionnaire as an outline. So come along as we play god and spin a world from our (and Billy’s) imagination, and feel free to chime in and your ideas into the mix.

Welcome to the Cidrian Shards.

1. The Concept

The Cidrian Shards are less a world than a stream of worlds, bobbling along in a celestial current in glittering space. It is said that the shards were once all one world, built by a long-vanished race. But either time or strife broke this world apart and left its shards swirling in the void.

Some shards are truly massive, the size of our own Earth, while others are no more than islands. Between them is the Scintillance — rarefied space of swirling mists, glittering crystal radiances, and the lairs of the night dragons. Few dare ply the currents of the Scintillance, but the sails of the skyships or sweeping wings of gryphons can sometimes be seen in the skies.

The Scintillance itself is a band circling a central star. It is not the true void of space, but holds a thin atmosphere and even a small amount to gravity. Objects in the Scintillance will ‘fall’ toward the nearest substantial shard or, barring that, toward the star itself. Shards do not all share the same orbit, or even the same point along the Scintillance. Some race through at speed seemingly dart between slower objects, while others continue at a ponderous pace as if they are locked in place.

Each world is distinct, and may not even be aware of others outside of shimmering points in the sky. Each is unique, and they are widely varied in climate. culture, and geography. But there are some aspects shared by most. Their gravity, while similar to the reader’s world, is limited to the surface and below, and dissipates quickly as you rise above the ground. At 100 feet up you will feel noticeably lighter, and by 500 feet gravity is less than half. This allows for the growth of massive vegetation and the raising of dizzyingly tall towers. It also allows for creatures of great bulk to fly with only limited magical assistance. Rocs, manticores, and other monstrous flying creatures lair in these huge trees and other high places to make use of lighter gravity, and the sky ships moor atop lofty towers to aid their left.

In addition, many of the shards are all but hollow, honeycombed with caves and passages that open into massive crystal spaces that open like underground plains and seas. These have become home to goblins and other creatures that abhor the light.

If there is true power over the shards, it is held by the Keepers, wizards who use ancient Gates to travel between worlds and extend their will by force or trade. The Keepers hoard knowledge as well as power, and know many secrets of the past.

Next time: A world to call home.

Knight of the Iguana: Playable reptile men for TFT

May 23, 2019 at 3:57 pm

“I am the Lizard King. I can do anything.”

— Jim Morrison


One of things that always drew me to the Fantasy Trip was its flexibility. Heroes with spells? Check. Wizards with broadswords or healing skills? No problem. So I was a little disappointed when the player races in the new revision removed the reptile man from the list. So let’s take a look at how we can make the reptile-folk a fair player race, and a few ways to make them even more interesting.


Reptile Rules

Not to obsess about ‘game balance’, but it would be difficult to compare the TFT reptile man as written with a typical starting character. The statistics are equal, but the reptile man gains +2 damage for its claws, DOUBLE the HTH damage, and an extra attack for their tail. The only offset is a -1 reaction penalty.

If we use the Drawback system outlined here, we can give them Outsider (minor social hindrance) to reflect how society sees them. And since they are cold-blooded, we could make them Vulnerable to cold (minor physical hindrance) to better offset their other advantages.

New Racial Drawback: Vulnerability (minor physical) reflects that a figure has a particular weakness to a particular element. All effects (attacks or environmental) form, this element are doubled, and the figure seeks to being in its presence. For example, a figure vulnerable to cold would take twice the damage from cold-based attacks and face twice the ST loss from being exposed in a cold environment without the Woodsman talent. Particularly common vulnerabilities (like fire or steel) should be considered major Drawbacks.

This would better offset the benefit of the +2 damage with their claws. One could also argue that merely having long claws could give you the All-Thumbs (minor handicap) Drawback.

As far as their other combat abilities, we can use a variation of Unarmed Combat, using the Kick rules for the tail attack, but only for side and rear hexes.

New Racial Talent (IQ 9): Natural Weapon Training (2) This is the ability to use the saurian’s claws and tail as effective combat weapons. A figure with this skill can:

  • Claw. Does +1 damage with bare hands in either HTH or regular combat. If their base bare-hands damage is 1d-1, they do 1d. This stacks with the +2 claw bonus.
  • Tail swipe. In regular combat, roll to hit at -4 DX, but do +2 damage compared to your bare-hands attack to an enemy in a side or rear hex. If used along with another attack, both attacks are at -4 DX.

This stacks with other unarmed combat talents, but does not require the figure to be unarmored in itself.


Scaled Society

The saurians are a race apart from most of the peoples of the world. They share little with their small, soft colleagues and care about them little more. Early saurian history was plagued by violence and warfare, with no check on the naturally aggressive nature of the species. This kept them primitive and desperate in a constant struggle to survive.

This changed with the arrival of the philosopher Xi and his ‘Path of Shifting Stones’, which taught the saurians to question before acting. Following the Path has transformed a primal, rapacious people into a thoughtful and disciplined one, and has greatly increased their contact with other races.

The main tenets of the Path is internal discipline and examining the repercussions of an action before taking it. This also involves meditation and precise movement drills designed enhance internal balance. Outwardly, this makes the saurians appear slow, distracted and unconcerned with the small matters of the day. But do not confuse this with indecision, because once committed a saurian will follow a course to its conclusion regardless of opposition.

Nor has this completely reined in their natural aggression. A saurian may lash out against assaults to its possessions, or even its pride, with a violence few others can match.

Saurians are largely solitary, and their communities are often little more than trading camps. Their technology is not up to the level of other races, but they are quite gifted at wringing every bit of value out of their environment. Their weavers, herbalists, fishers, and hunters have secrets unrivaled by more civilized peoples.

They have also mastered the use of volcanic obisidian in tool- and weapon-making. These extremely sharp weapons do an additional +1 damage, but will be unrepairable broken on a roll of 17 or 18. Saurian Sha-ken are widely sought out by all.

The typical saurian stands 7-feet tall and is covered in green and mottled brown scales similar to the colors of its home environment. There is little difference between the sexes, but the males have a larger crest on their heads that can be brightly colored, or ornamented with gems. Couplers share the duties of child-rearing, but once a saurian has matured (in 5-7 years) the couples usually separate and leave the offspring to fend for themselves. The Path teaches that these bonds must be respected, but there is little family life beyond maturity.

Saurian Starting package (Hero)
ST12 (+0), DX10 (+2), IQ11 (+2) Talents: Natural Weapon Training (2), Thrown Weapons (2), Sha-ken (1), Common Tongue (1), Toughness (2), Naturalist (2) . Suggested advancements include Woodsman, Climbing, Unarmed Combat II-V.

Saurian Specialists

Some reptile men have adapted to their environment in very specific ways. While not entirely different species, these regional variations can provide interesting flavor to reptilian encounters.

Guarrans are hardy, heavily-scaled saurians from dry steppes and desert lands. Dun-colored and covered in thick plates, their hides act as AD1 against attacks and they can go twice as long without water before losing ST. Their MA is only 8.

Varani are smaller, quick-moving saurians adapted to forests and wetlands. They gain the climbing talent for free, and can use their tongues as keen senses even in total darkness. The Varani are the most social of the saurians and have been known to hunt in packs. Their starting ST is 10.

Khamm’do are the largest of the saurians, and are found in the most fetid swampy regions. They are primitive even by saurian standards, and rarely use tools or weapons at all. They use their fearsome jaws in combat (-2DX to hit, ST-2 damage), and their bite is painfully poisonous. Those bitten must succeed in 3d/ST save or lose -2DX for one day or until treated by a physicker. In addition to their bite, the khamm’do are also extremely foul-smelling.

In the shade: Digging up the octopus’ garden

March 28, 2019 at 3:57 pm

“The fact that three-fifths of an octopus’ neurons are not in their brain, but in their arms, suggests that each arm has a mind of its own.”

–– Sy Montgomery

Another of the most distinctive creatures from the Fantasy Trip is the Octopus — fierce, sword-wielding cephalopods that can move upright on dry land. But beyond “greedy, dishonest, and cowardly” and a taste for treasure and human flesh, we get very little to flesh out what could be a creepy and dangerous enemy. Which, we like to think is more an opportunity than a problem.

So let’s take a crack at adding a little more flavor to these killer calamari.

Real-world octopus are extremely adaptive creatures, even capable of rewriting their own genetic code to adjust to changing conditions. Perhaps their fantastic counterparts are even more flexible, ranging from the deep oceans to marshy wilderness, ripe for interaction with delving heroes.

Let’s aside the truly aquatic octopus for now, although its easy to imagine coral-fashioned fortresses filled with clever octopus wizards and protected by massive eight-legged guards. But we might come back for them in a deeper discussion of underwater adventuring.

Land ho

Land-based octopus are amphibious, hunting on land but returning to the water with their catch to recover. It is thought that prolonged exposure to the open air has turned them into a degenerate version of their kind, lacking in some of the intelligence and subtlety of ocean-dwelling octopi.

An octopus is usually a solitary hunter, only mingling with others of its kind for mating. But with proper conditions and a plentiful food source, a dozen or more octopus have been known to combine into a ‘consortium’. These communities are often volatile and short-lived, as competition for supremacy or resources can turn violent quite quickly. Females dominate these groupings, with the more-aggressive males hunting and protect the nest. Octopuses have no compunction against eating their own, and devouring a rival is the supreme show of dominance.

Talk to the tentacle

Octopus do not have a spoken language, but communicate by shifting the colors and patterns of their skin. This is augmented in personal communication with gestures and intertangling their tentacles. Very few outsiders have been able to decipher even the rudiments of the octopus language, but it is widely known that flashing dark colors and rising up to loom over other creatures is a threatening stance.

It is interesting to note that they do have their own form of magic that has practiced through gestures and creating shifting magical patterns on their skins. This kind of spell-casting is always silent. Transferring spells with octopi wizards has not been successful, although they are quite capable of using magical items created for humans or other races.

Tools and trade

In fact, it does not seem that the amphibious octopi have any level of craftsmanship of their own. Their nests are usually natural formations of flooded constructions, with only minor modifications made by their inhabitants. They have no woodwork, pottery, or metal-smithing. However, octopus seem quite clever about utilizing the tools of others, and are eager to collect and use the tools of others.

This seems particularly true when it comes to weapons and armor. Octopus seem quick to understand and make us of swords, spears, axes, shields, and even bows and crossbows. Frighteningly, and octopus can throw twice the number of shaw-ken per round at the same DX penalty with their many tentacles.

One weapon that they have been loathe to take up is fire. Octopus fear flames, and will not use torches, molotails, or even black powder weapons.

The octopus’ desire for tools and weapons is the reason for most non-violent contact between the reclusive creatures and other races. While it usually frowned on to trade weapons to such violent creatures, some merchants care more about gold than the safety of travelers. Octopus have also been contracted to perform tasks (usually raising or killing) in exchange for weapons, but they care little about the words of grass-walkers and are unreliable partners.

In addition to the strength of their tentacles, the octopus’ suckers release a paralytic poison. It can not be transferred to weapons or get passed through an unarmed attack, but if a person is unlucky enough to be enveloped by an octopus, the poison may spell its doom.

Special attack: Paralytic grasp. If an octopus engages in HTH combat with a non-octopus, it may try to pin the enemy in its many tentacles. If they succeed, the victim must make a 3/ST save against paralytic poison that seeps from its suckers. Failure causes -2ST to escape the pin. This poison will continue to affect the figure each round, and if the victim falls to 0ST, they are completely helpless. This tactic is usually combined with dragging a pinned enemy underwater in hopes of quickly drowning them.

Alternative Octopi

Marshstalker. This breed of octopus has perfected the use of their color-shifting ability to provide camouflage in their swampy hunting grounds. In this environment, the octopus can remain unnoticed unless the viewer is actively searching for enemies and makes 3/IQ roll. They can evade pursuit as if they they had the Stealth Talent. Marshstalkers are gifted climbers as well, and like to lie in wait in trees, dropping on unsuspecting prey to pin them, while still being able to attack with a free hand weapon.

Noctopus. Lurking in murky waters and drains below the city streets, these sneaky octopus (also known as ‘gutter wraiths’) have adapted perfectly to their dark and fetid domain. They are deep black, mottled with the colors of mold and ooze, and are nearly invisible in the sewers. Even an active observer would need to make a 3/IQ test to see a noctopus slink by. They hoard items that have fallen into the sewers, and occasionally trek into the upper world to retrieve an object that catches their attention. Boneless, they can squeeze through nearly any opening and bypass most locks and then disappear back into the drain — leaving the theft untraceable. They have also adapted their defensive ink into a fine airborne mist that act as the Shadow spell in their hex and each surrounding hex once per day. This mist lasts for 1d rounds, and is usually used to cover the noctopus’ escape. There are many known instances of noctopus wizards as well, ruling over smaller creatures who live in the depths.

Puppeteer, or Deathshroud octopus. This very rare type is perhaps the most dangerous of the land octopi. They are smaller, rarely over four-feet long, and are mottled blue and gray. If a puppeteer octopus attacks a victim’s head — either with a -6DX attack or by pinning its foe and making them helpless — it will use its strong poison (4/ST or paralyzed) to disable them and burrow into its head cavity. After 10 full rounds, the creature’s body is stretched over what was what they head, and several of its tentacles are deep within the corpse. From there, it can command the body as if it was its own, using its movement, fine muscle control, and even its voice. A puppeteer usually will not keep a body from than two weeks, as this control does not stop the host from decomposing.

Bringing Bugs Back

March 14, 2019 at 6:00 pm

“Not all ants use violence to dominate their world, some use more subtle methods.”

– E. O. Wilson


One of the stranger aspects of the original In The Labyrinth book were the Hymenopterans, or “Bugs”. As a kid their inclusion fascinated me. In a game that was so simple there were a ton of different types, and they seemed like a grab bag of insect tropes. Not to mention that they had their own society and complex hierarchy that seemed to have nothing to do with the more typical fantasy of the rest of the creatures.

It was not until years later that I learned that they came from the Metagaming wargame Chitin. This added even more weird details (and a lot of cannibalism), as well as some pretty trippy Jennell Jaquays artwork. I never really made use of them in games, but they always seemed like a big part of the Fantasy Trip.

So, I was pretty disappointed when I saw that there were no bugs at all in the reprinted TFT. Whether it was because of copyright issues or just lack of love for the poor hymenopterans, they ended up on the cutting room floor. To rectify this oversight, I created the Formyx. They are more like ants than the old bugs, and there aren’t as many varieties (sorry, Termagant and Phlanx), but hopefully they are a workable options to fill lost hives in Cidri or wherever your heroes delve.


The formyx are a race of hive-dwelling insectile humanoids, greatly resembling upright ants. They are most commonly seem in lush tropical rainforests, but their colonies have been spotted in a variety of temperate environments. Formyx typically use their four rear legs for movement and stability, reserving the front two for manipulating objects and simple tools. A typical Toiler stands four feet tall, with the Martials slightly taller and bulkier. The winged Lancers and Harridans stand roughly six feet, and the massive Dories are easily 12 feet at the shoulder. Their color can very from light tan to deep red and occasionally black, depending on their environment.

Formyx Toilers and Martials have little intelligence and must be guided for the good of the colony. Most groups encountered will have at least one Driver in their number. A Driver can command one lesser formyx for each point of IQ it has within 6 megahexes. This command is absolute, and even if an order is dangerous or suicidal the Driver need only succeed at a 2/IQ test to demand it. If left without a Driver, a lesser formyx will gather what food is available (including fallen comrades) and return to the colony.

Lesser formyx fight with claws and mandibles, while Drivers and Lancers use primitive spears as well. Winged formyx have stingers they can use when striking from above. These creatures secrete a kind of venom that makes these wounds extremely painful. Figures taking hits must succeed at 3/ST save or –2DX from the pain of each wound. This effect is cumulative.

Unlike most ants, formyx colonies do not have queens. Rather, they have a number of fertile females called Harridans that vie for dominance over the colony. There are rarely more than a half-dozen of these crafty, winged females in one place, and when one is forced out they will take an escort of Lancers and set out to found a new colony.

The huge, load-carrying Dories are not formyx at all, but a type of subterranean beetle that has been bred into a kind symbiotic relationship with the colony. They are normally docile, but can be commanded to attack (and even ridden) by Drivers or Harridans. They do double damage with a charge, but must defend on the following round. They can also sweep all their front hexes with their massive horn, taking -2DX for each attack beyond the first.

The motivations of the formyx are alien to other races, and most mind-affecting magic and illusions do not work on them. Even their form of communications is undecipherable, although some have had luck creating a simple sign language with them. They only seem interested in food and expanding their colonies. Those that invade their territory, or live in area claimed by a new colony, learn quickly how aggressive they can be.

Encounter Group: 2d
ST: 10
DX: 8
IQ: 6
MA: 10
AD: 1
Damage 1d‒2 (3/ST or -2DX per hit)
These are the workhorses of the formyx colony. While small in stature, they can carry 3 times their ST in Encumbrance.

Encounter Group: 1d
ST: 12
DX: 12
IQ: 6
MA: 8
AD: 2
Damage: 1d+1 plus Poison (3/ST or -2DX per hit)

Often found accompanying Toilers on gathering missions, the Martials are slightly taller, bulkier and have a heavier carapace. They, too, can carry 3xST in Encumbrance.

Encounter Group: 1
ST: 6
DX: 10
IQ: 12
MA: 10
AD: 1
Damage 1d‒3 plus Poison (3/ST or -2DX per hit) or javelin (1d-1)

Drivers are the leaders of small traveling groups, and speak for the colony’s goals. They are smaller even than the toilers, but their oversized heads differentiate them. Drivers are known to use Dories as mounts and pack-bearers.

Dory (3 space)
Encounter Group: 1d‒3
ST: 24
DX: 10
IQ: 3
MA: 8
AD: 3
Damage: 2d+2
Talents: Charge

Dories are monstrous beetles used as transport as well as in combat. They have long, horny projections on their heads and can charge for 2x damage.

Encounter Group: 1d
ST: 12
DX: 14
IQ: 8
MA: 8/16 Flight
AD: 1
Damage: 1d or sting (1d+2) plus Poison (3/ST or -2DX per hit)
Talents: Fly-by attack

Lancers are winged formyx that accompany harridans when forming colonies. They have a curved stinger in their hind quarters that they can use to dive down and impale enemies as a flying charge for 2x damage. A Lancer is capable of limited independent action, but will always succumb to the Harridan’s commands. An airborne Lancer can make a stinger attack at any point in its movement, and continue to it maximum MA.

Encounter Group: 1
ST: 12
DX: 14
IQ: 14
MA: 8/16 Flight
AD: 1
Damage: 1d or sting (1d+2) plus Poison (3/ST or -2DX per hit)
Talents: Fly-by attack

Harridans are the female leaders of former colonies, and constantly work to attain dominance over the others. In addition to its painfulness, a Harridan’s sting will drive all lesser formyx nearby into a berserker rage centered on the victim. Harridans can make fly-by attacks in the same manner as a Lancer.

Playing the race card: Goblins

February 28, 2019 at 7:12 pm

“Now goblins are cruel, wicked, and bad-hearted. They make no beautiful things, but they make many clever ones.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien

Another less-common race listed as a character race in The Fantasy Trip is the goblin. These are not the rapaciously destructive goblins of the Hobbit, or even the disposable stock adversaries of adventure gaming. The TFT goblins are closer to the Harry Potter mold than Tolkien’s.

According to In the Labyrinth, goblins are short green-skinned humanoids with large noses and long fingers. They are “proud, intelligent, and crafty.” Most notably, a goblin can never go back on his word. That alone is more flavor than the other races listed.

Goblin characters start out with a higher IQ than any other playable race, standard DX and ST just slightly better than halflings. This gives the character a lot of flexibility, but its reputation as the “GM’s bad guys in the labyrinth” is going to follow it. How can we make our craft goblins a little more interesting? Here are a few packages that attempt just that.

Goblins claim (and it might be true) that they were created by the mighty pact demons as servitors, and their forefathers were released from this obligation at the end of their contracted term. The most important (and secret) holy works of the goblins are said to come from the stipulations of this contract. While they do not have to relinquish their souls at death like others bound to the pact demons, they do revere these mighty powers and work to emulate them.

Structure is the critical tenet of goblin philosophy. No success can come without a well-drawn plan, and knowing a foe’s weakness is more important than honing your own strength. A goblin is always true to its word, but word is never given lightly, and it is wise to question even the smallest details when it is given. When forced to fight, goblins prefer ranged attacks or weapons like fire or nets that immobilize or scare off enemies.



These goblins can be found in small mobile groups or even large caravans roaming civilized lands. They are merchants, tinkers, moneychangers, and sellers of mysteries; bringing goods and special skills to even the smallest hamlet until they move on. Few folks truly welcome them, but they are widely known as excellent craftsmen and reliable merchants. Some people claim that the Rollers are spies for far-distant goblin kings planning to invade their lands.

Rollers freely mingle in other societies, unconcerned about what people think of their green skin or small stature. But they rarely share their true feelings with those they do business with. Goblins listen well, and are not above using what they hear to gain advantage in a negotiation. They believe that other races are thoughtless and gullible, and try to use this to sell them empty dreams or mortgage themselves for false hopes. These tactics have enriched the roller caravans, but leave most communities wary of their motives.

In larger cities stable Roller communities can form, usually centered around banking or specialty crafting (gunpowder and jinxes, below). These goblins are often heavily involved in racketeering and blackmail as well, but even then stand by their word.

Roller Goblin Starting Package: ST9 (+3), DX11 (+3), IQ12 (+2) Hero. Talents: Knife (1), Driver (1), Acute Hearing (2), Recognize Value (1), Streetwise (1), Business Sense (2), Mundane Skill (1-3), and Detect Lies (2). Suggested advancements include Skill Mastery, Assess Value, Writing, or even Pickpocket. While all goblins would be bound by their world (Minor Social drawback), Rollers can often be Greedy as well.



This is a uniquely goblin kind of wizard, often found traveling in Roller caravans. They are creators of minor magicks and performers of small miracles — for a price. Jinxers are one of the few groups that claim to know the secrets of black powder. They can repair all manner of tools and devices, and some can even create items and weapons of great power.

Some jinxes claim to be healers, and create elixirs and poultices to treat all manner of ailments. All of them are very secretive about their craft.

Jinxer Goblin (Hero) Starting Package: ST6 (+0), DX12 (+4), IQ14 (+4) Talents: Mundane Talents (1-2), Mechanician (2), Naturalist (2), Physicker (2), Chemist (3), Alchemist (3). Suggested advancements include Master Mechanician, Master Physicker and Expert Naturalist. .

Jinxer Goblin (Wizard) Starting Package: ST6 (+0), DX12 (+4), IQ14 (+4) Talents: Chemist (6), Alchemist (3). Spells: Staff I and II, Repair, Scour, and Explosive Gem. Suggested advancements include Restore Device, Enchant Weapon and Armor, Lesser and Greater Enchant Item, and Dissolve Enchantment. Jinxers commonly have the Secretive drawback, and their experiments can often lead to physical drawbacks (lame, one-hand, poor eyes, etc.).

New IQ 12 Talent: Cryptonaturalist (2) A figure with this talent is familiar with the exotic ingredients needed for chemical formulae and magical items, as well as general knowledge of magical uses for plants and animals. A cryptonaturalist can make a 3/IQ test to determine (a) special items needed for a formula, or (b) the common magical uses of an exotic ingredient. When pressed, a cryptonaturalist can make a 5/IQ test to determine a substitute for an ingredient in a formula or potion, or a 7/IQ test for a substitute ingredient in a lesser or greater magic item.



Following the footsteps of their pact demon forebears, Binders are goblin wizards focused on forcing summoned creatures to their will, and subverting the free will of their enemies. Their magic comes from the power of contracts, and they delight in dominating others. Most being their careers as lawyers, and are encouraged down this path by a secretive hierarchy of superiors.

Beyond collecting magical powers, the Binders (like all the gobbling types, their true titles are not widely known) seek worldly power as well. They use secrets to try an manipulate others, and work through cats-paws and subterfuge whenever they can. If there is an organization that unites the Binders, no one is willing to admit it.

Binder Goblin Starting Package: ST8 (+2), DX11 (+3), IQ13 (+3) Wizard. Talents: Mundane Skill/Lawyer (3). Spells: Staff I and II, Aid, Drop Weapon, Summon Scout, Summon Myrmidon, Persuasiveness, Control Elemental, Control Person and Summon Gargoyle. Suggested advancements include Summon Bear, Pentagram, Unnoticeability, Summon Demon and Create Gate. Binders feel like always need to win, leading to both Vindictiveness and Arrogance and (Minor or Major Psychological Drawbacks).

New IQ14 Spell: Blood Pact. This ritual spell allows the caster to create a magical contract with a willing target. It requires consideration on both sides, but the caster’s requirement is not specific. When complete, the caster spends ST as if casting the Control Person spell (3ST +1ST per additional turn). At any later time, the caster may destroy the contract to enact the spell. The target gets not IQ save unless ordered directly act against their nature (i.e, harm themselves or a love one). If they actions are specified in the contract, the caster need not be in the presence of the target for the spell to take effect.

Playing the race card: Orcs

February 14, 2019 at 9:29 pm

“You must dig swift and deep, if you wish to hide from Orcs. “

— Legolas, Fellowship of the Ring


Its an interesting thing that the Fantasy Trip lists goblins and orcs as basic playable races. However, they do even less than the others to make orcs interesting or distinctive. Basically, they are humans with bad attitudes.

The game describes them as similar to primitive men, but potentially with fangs or claws. They don’t seem to have much civilization of their own, but can be bullied or forced into military service by others. This is pretty typical treatment for the orcs, who are usually portrayed as ugly, brutish anti-elves. This definitely fills a niche in most fantasy settings, but what can we do to add some meat to these beefy brutes? Here are a few packages to try on your next orc:


These are the prototypical warrior orcs that most adventuring types will come across. Whether they are part of militaristic raiding tribes that prey on the weak, or enslaved shock troops for a local warlord, battle and bloodshed is all they know. For them, power is derived from strength, and orders are never to be questioned. Bullying and petty violence is a constant reminder to respect the hierarchy, and tormenting the weak is merely a fact of life for them. They are not inherently evil, but a life of constant struggle and scarcity has left little room for empathy.

Crafting and building are not common skills among the Urkhai, and skilled masters are almost unheard of. But they respect and maintain the equipment they do have, and covet the well-made good of others. There is little differentiation between the sexes, and once a child is born it is left for the old and infirm to raise if the mother is still fit for duty. They may fear their overlords and torment their inferiors, but they reserve true hate for the outsiders (basically everyone outside their tribal circle) who keep them cold and hungry. Adventuring urkhai who leave their tribes or troops may have wide range of attitudes about life, but the lessons of early life are difficult to erase and they be volatile and prone to rages.

Urkhai Orc Starting Package: ST14 (+6), DX10 (+2), IQ8 (+0) Hero. Talents: Ax/Mace (2), Brawling (1), Shield (1), Mundane Skill: Menial/Soldier (1), Thrown Weapons (2). Suggested advancements include Carousing, Horsemanship, Pole weapons, and Toughness. While a source of pride, Berserking can be a minor social drawback, as well as Mean.

New weapon: Orc Double Axe (ST14): This unwieldy weapon allows an orc (with the 1-point IQ10 talent) to strike twice in one round for 2d damage. The second attack is at -4DX. An orc with both this talent and two weapon fighting can use all the benefits of the two weapon talent (ITL p.41) with the axe.


These are the wilder cousins of the Urkhai, less disciplined but no less dangerous. They live in deep forests or natural cave networks, building little civilization beyond hunting. gathering, and raiding. While this life might seem harsh and distasteful, the Gundarr believe that this is the best way to live, and that they have been chosen for it. Strength and guile are their most prized attributes, and their tribes are usually led by the best hunters. Occasionally these groups can be recruited as skirmishers and scouts by powerful figures, but they do not have the same respect for order as Urkhai and often prove unreliable.

Gundarr society is filled with rituals, spirits, and portents. They believe that the word is alive with invisible threats that must be appeased, and these same spirits give them the power to prevail over all. Most events — good or bad — are attributed to these spirits. Some say these absolves them from feeling any guilt about their wrongdoings.

Gundarr Orc Starting Package: ST12 (+4), DX10 (+2), IQ10 (+2) Hero. Talents: Sword (2), Bow (2), Thrown Weapons (2), Tracking (2), and Naturalist (2). Suggested advancements include Acute Hearing, Silent Movement, Running, and Lasso. The Gundarr superstition can range from a simple habit to a phobia, and could even lead to Overconfidence.


Not as bulky or rangy as some others, the Skragg have learned skills to help them get by in the more civilized areas of Cidri. Rarely are they truly welcome, but the Skragg find a way to make their homes in most cities, eking out a living on the fringes.

They live in extended family groups or small clans, uniting in defense of themselves against all others. They are employed as bodyguards and bouncers, or make their own way as muggers, toughs or sneak thieves. A few learn skills, or salvage and repair cast-offs from others. They seen pathetic to outsiders, but they are as proud as any orc, and are awaiting the day to rise up and claim dominion over all those who try and keep them down.

Skragg Orc Starting Package: ST12 (+4), DX10 (+2), IQ9 (+1) Hero. Talents: Knife (1), Carousing (1), Area Knowledge (1), Alertness (2), Streetwise (1) Silent Movement (2), and Pickpocket (1). Suggested advancements include Detect Traps, Bola, Recognize Value, and Remove Traps. Skraggs are often destitute and prone to poverty, as well as being wanted by the authorities for crimes real or imagined.


The ‘ghost orcs’ speak for all the spirits, powers, and restless ancestors that surround all their kind. They feel the spirits’ desires and try to appease their demands to guide the orc tribes to the greatness they are due. Most large orc groups have at least one Fendi, but they rarely gather more than a few in any one location. There are legends of sacred orc pilgrimage destinations that where many ghost orcs gather, but no outsider has ever witnessed such an event. And while their words and rituals are important to the tribes, they are usually treated as outsiders even among their own kind.

Fendi are sensitive to the spirits closest to them, so a forest orc might summon a bear totem while a city-bred Fendi might focus on shadows. But all orcs see them as conduits of greater powers and grant them deference.

Fendi Orc Starting Package: ST9 (+1), DX11 (+3), IQ12 (+4) Wizard. Talents: Priest (2), Knife (2). Spells: Magic Fist, Detect Enemies, Summon Scout, Minor Medicament, Analyze Magic, Persuasion, Pathfinder. Suggested advancements include Detect Traps, BolaB;lur, , Recognize Value, and Remove Traps. Fendi usually have a commitment to the ways f their people, and can be Haunted (minor psychological drawback) by the voices of the spirit world.

New spell: Read Portent (IQ10): This ritual spell allows the caster to use a divining device (runes, cards, entrails, etc.) to get a sense of how the future will unfold. Casting requires one minute and 2ST, and then the GM rolls against the caster’s IQ. Success will give a general idea of the the outcome (positive, negative, or neutral) of as future event within the next hour. Critical success may impart more specific indications, and a critical failure will deliver an incorrect and often dire result. Note that magically enhanced divining devices exist that can add improve the outcome.

If you have an orcish background you’d like to share, or have any ideas on how these concepts could play out on a gaming table, let us know in the comments below.

Playing the race card: Halflings

February 1, 2019 at 7:31 pm

“You have nice manners for a thief and a liar”

– J. R.R. Tolkien

Nothing epitomizes the scrappy underdog more than the halfling. Small of stature, but stout of heart, countless stories are told of these doughty little guys overcoming great odds and prevailing over much bigger and stronger enemies. But is there anything more to the halfling than the cliché? And even so, is there quick and interesting way to create halflings with both grit and character?

In the Fantasy Trip, halflings start with extremely low ST, high DX, and a bonus to reaction from all they come across (even animals!). They also gain the Thrown Weapons talent for free, but are burdened with fewer points to spend in creation than other races. That is more detail than most races are given, and it seems tailor-made for a sneak-thief or mana-fueled wizard. But neither construct could really create a society, so here are a few packages to make your next halfling even more unique.


These are your traditional country-bred smallfolk, well-fed, well-mannered, and well-respected. Not living off the work of others, each Bottoms halfling is expected to do all they can for the success of their communities. They are the masters of the win-win negotiation, a deal with a halfling is not complete until both sides are satisfied and ready to toast one another. A Bottoms’ nature is generous, and they expect that level of generosity form others. those that take advantage, or do not live up to their end of a bargain are quickly singled out in halfling communities and ostracized. As much as they appreciate a job well done, it pales in comparison to their appreciation of the simple luxuries in life. A well-set table, a perfectly poured pint, or a lively tune are as value to a Botttoms as any painting or gilded temple.

Magic is not as restrictive in their villages as in many places, and hedge wizard is as much a figure on the village square as the baker or cobbler. It is not uncommon for even workaday Bottomses to know a spell or two. They are also quite curious, and are open to new thoughts and experiences. This is the motivation that sends some Bottoms halflings to seek adventure.

Bottoms Halfling Starting Package: ST6 (+2), DX13 (+1), IQ11 (+3) Hero. Talents: Knife (1), Mundane Talent, Simple (2), Charisma (2), Recognize Value (1), Detect Lies (2) and Toughness (2). Suggested advancements include Business Sense, Bard, or Missile Weapons. If you use Drawbacks, Bottomses curiosity can become a drawback, and their lifestyle can lead to obesity.

New Racial Talent: Luck/IQ9 (2). A halfling with the luck talent can re-roll any test once per session (or once every 4 hours if you play very long sessions) and take the better result. However, if the same number comes up on both rolls, a bad luck result occurs, as determined by the GM.


Not all halflings are village-dwelling, tea-sipping burghers, some stalk the game trails of the wilderness. Wealders live in the forests, working as hunters, wood-cutters and trappers. Their quick wits and deft hands help them make a home in the wild, and live in harmony with nature. Wealders may be less social than other halflings, but their trade gatherings can be as raucous as any village pub. They feel as as close to the animals of the woods than the folk in towns. Wealders also feel that they are the protectors of other halflings, and have a sense of superiority because of it.

Wealder Halfling Starting Package: ST8 (+4), DX12 (+0), IQ10 (+2) Hero. Talents: Knife (1), Missile Weapon (1), Shield (1), Animal Handler (2), Woodsman (2), Tracking (1), Silent Movement (2) and Toughness (2). Suggested advancements include Naturalist, Bow, Vet, and Mimic . Wealders often feel a Commitment to their woods and can even be Heroic in its defense.


Between the wilds and the halfling boroughs, and between them and the cities of men, there are often rivers. And plying those rivers, carrying goods to customers, you often find the rillflings. They are a little taller and a lot slimmer than the typical Bottomses. They live their whole lives on the rivers, even making their homes on barges or stilt houses on the banks. Always on the move, they can be among the most gregarious of halflings. They love games and challenges, and will rarely pass on a dare. Many folk consider the rillflings shady, and prone to thievery, and this may have some basis in fact. While their mobile lifestyle limits the amount of possessions they can carry, they share the love of quality and homeyness of their kind. Pipe tobacco is one the great obsessions of the rillflings.

Rillfling Halfling Starting Package: ST7 (+3), DX13 (+1), IQ10 (+2) Hero. Talents: Ax/Mace (1), Carousing (1), Swimming (1), Boating (1), Charisma (2), Area Knowledge (1), Alertness (2), Streetwise (1). Suggested advancements include Business Sense, Captain, Quarterstaff, or even Stealth. Rillflings often fall victim to thrill-seeking and gambling (minor psychological drawbacks), or just have big mouths.

New weapon: halfling cant hook (ST7): The cant hook is a variation on the standard logging hook, with a short staff and curved point on the end for grabbing, spinning or freeing cargo. It does 1d-2 damage, and can be used (at DX–4) to disarm an opponent. Requires the ax/mace skill.

Tinker Sprites

Less a class of halflings and more an obsession among a subset of them, tinker sprites are oddballs even among their own kind. Starting from the tradition of well-made craft goods, tinker sprites take it to the extreme, reinventing and repurposing objects into ever-new forms. Some even spin a bit of magic and alchemy into their creations. Even with their eccentricities tinker sprites are valued members of halfling communities, making repairs or crafting complex items. On the darker side, they are often employed to create traps and defenses, or bypass them for their own gain.

Tinker Sprite Halfling Starting Package: ST5 (+1), DX12 (+0), IQ13 (+5) Hero. Talents: Crossbow (1), Mundane Talent, Simple (2), Detect Traps (1), Armourer (1), Engineer (1), Remove Traps (2), Locksmith (1), Mechanician (2), Chemist (2). Suggested advancements include Business Sense, Master Mechanician, Alchemy, or Assess Value. Tinker Sprites can be easily distracted (minor psychological drawback), or have any number of absurd obsessions and habits.

Playing the race card: Dwarves

January 21, 2019 at 7:18 pm

“All dwarfs have beards and wear up to twelve layers of clothing. Gender is more or less optional.”

― Terry Pratchett

Of all the prototypical fantasy races, dwarves seem to suffer most from stereotyping. I think the good folk a TVTropes summed it up pretty well here. The Fantasy Trip (both old and new) did little to add to this base, leaving them as shorter, stronger, less dextrous figures that can carry great weights.

On a lot of levels, I find the stereotypical dwarf to be fun. Loud and boisterous, quick to anger and loyal to a fault, dwarves are a natural fit for a lot of RPG players. But how can we kick-start dwarven character builds without reinventing the wheel every time? Here are a few ‘packages’ to help add flavor to your next dwarf.


Gold Dwarf–

The golden dwarves — or guldendvaerg — are the dwarves most commonly encountered by other races. They are the craftsmen and traders, and the lords of the great dwarven delves. In the Duchy of Dran, they would most likely be found in areas like Rubydelve or Highdeep . Their workmanship is only exceeded by their greed, and those that deal with them rarely have the advantage. The gold dwarves can also be very conservative, and their societies are rigorously structured and slow to change. Those that choose a wanderer’s life might be slightly more flexible, but will seem very set in their ways by the standards of other races. And if any dwarf was to take up the wizard’s path, it would probably be a gold dwarf.

Gold Dwarf Starting Package: ST 11(+1), DX 10(+4), IQ 11 (+3) Hero. Talents: Ax/Mace (2), Shield (1), Crossbow (1), Engineer (2), Armourer (1), Business Sense (2), and Recognize Value (1). Suggested advancements include Shield Expertise, Master Armourer, Architect/Builder, and Assess Value. Their ability to carry great weight inclines them toward heavy armor, hammers and heavy crossbows, emphasizing force over mobility. If you use Drawbacks, gold dwarves tend to be greedy, stubborn, or live by a strict code (minor Social commitment).


Iron Dwarf—

The other main branch of dwarf is rougher, even sturdier, and less civilized then their golden cousins. The iron dwarves (jardendvaerg) live on the edge of dwarven lands, carving out new delves (like New Delve in Cidri) or seeking a strike of their own. They are at home in the wilds, and are used to competing for resources with orcs, goblins and other denizens of the dark places. They prefer axes and spears in combat, and are experts in tunnel-fighting tactics. Perhaps because of the harshness of their daily lives, they revel in their enjoyments, heartily embracing strong drink, loud songs, and contests of strength.

Iron Dwarf Starting Package: ST 12 (+2), DX 10 (+4), IQ10 (+2) Hero. Talents: Ax/Mace (2), Shield (1), Pole Weapons (2), Mundane Skill, Menial/Miner (1), Underdeweller (2), and Toughness (2). Suggested advancements include Weapon Expertise, Climbing, and Detect Traps. Prolonged time underground might give an iron dwarf bad eyes, or they might have a Hatred (minor psychological drawback) against orcs, or be just plain mean.

New Talent: Underdweller/IQ10 (2). Similar to the Naturalist talent, but for the underground world. A figure with this talent is familiar with the creatures and plants that naturally occur underground, and can make 3/IQ save to spot natural dangers like potential cave-ins before they enter the area.


Crag Dwarf—

Beyond the furthest reaches of civilized lands lie the frozen domain of crag dwarves. These ice-shrouded peaks and wind-swept tundras are a forbidding environment and breed a formidable type of dwarf. Crag dwarves are slightly taller than their cousins, and tend toward paler coloring and silver-white to blonde hair and beards. Simple survival takes a tremendous effort, and crag dwarves do not have the luxury of embellishment in their crafts. But the items they do create — from tanned hides and ironwork from meteors that fall in these regions — are elegant in their practicality and durability. Crag dwarves are skilled hunters, and their groups work together seamlessly to bring down the most dangerous predators. They wear lighter armor than the iron dwarves, but carry massive weapons and fling javelins and spears with great accuracy. Between the harsh outdoors and long, dark winters, crag dwarves tend to be dour, brooding sorts than can carry grudges for decades.

Crag Dwarf Starting Package: ST 14 (+4), DX 9 (+3), IQ9 (+1) Hero. Talents: Ax/Mace (2), Shield (1), Thrown Weapons (2), Spear-thrower (1), and Alertness (2). Suggested advancements include Area Knowledge, Mundane crafting skills, Naturalist, and Tactics. Their environment leads crag dwarves to be loyal to their own, and vindictive toward others, and they may be seen as outsiders in civilized realms.


Tempered Soul—

While it is often said that dwarves are obsessed by creating and hoarding fine objects, there are a few who turn that perfectionism inward, and try to craft their minds and bodies as solidly as an any axe or breastplate. These dedicates are known as tempered souls, and eschew the material world in favor of rigorous honing of their internal resources. They live apart from mainstream dwarf society, but can be seen guarding important persons or sacred locations. While they do not practice a craft, they do collect information and protect the knowledge and legacy of the dwarves. Occasionally, a tempered soul will take up a quest to find a piece of history, capture a new method, or simply view something never before recorded. It is rumored that she cloistered tempered souls are some of those most skilled wizards alive, but this has never been proven.

Tempered Soul Starting Package: ST 10 (+0), DX 11 (+5), IQ11 (+3) Hero. Talents: Unarmed Combat I and II (2), Thrown Weapons (2), Literacy (1), Writing (1), Silent Movement (2) and Toughness (2). Suggested advancements include additional Toughness, Unarmed combat III and IV, Scholar, or a focus on an area of knowledge. The life of a tempered soul requires a (minor)commitment if not a (major) vow to its ideals, and can cause a dwarf to become cautious or overly conservative.

Do the dwarves in your games have a unique set of skills or interesting outlook? Or did we just overlook some important aspect of dwarfishness. Let us know in the comments below.

Playing the race card: Elves

January 4, 2019 at 9:11 pm

It would be interesting to find out what goes on in that moment when someone looks at you and draws all sorts of conclusions.”

― Malcolm Gladwell

We mentioned in a previous post that the race rules in The Fantasy Trip were a little lacking, even if they have not changed much from the previous edition. They are so stripped down that they can be easily summarized by this table:

Race ST DX IQ Pts. Benefit/Drawback
Human 8 8 8 8 n/a
Elf 6 10 8 8 MA12 unarmored /-3DX vs. insects
Dwarf 10 6 8 8 Double carrying capacity
Halfling 4 12 8 6 +1 Reaction, Thrown Weapons talent
Orc 8 8 8 8 n/a
Goblin 6 8 10 8 n/a

As you can see, other than a few shifts in starting attributes the races are virtually indistinguishable. They did write some fluff about the greedy nature of dwarves and how obnoxious an orc can be, but no real rules to back any of it up.

At first this struck us as a real failing. But we have had a change of heart. What could seem like a failure of design, could also be an opportunity to make something more personal to your campaigns and your players. Should every elf really be afraid of spiders? Are all halflings really that likeable?

In a series of previous posts we created a number of ‘packages’ to guide players in making the more standard types of fantasy characters without limiting their choices. After all, the true strength of TFT is the ability to fully customize a character. We thought this same process could for fantasy races as well.

Flavor for elves: are they magically delicious?

By the listed rules, elves are more dextrous, faster, and weaker than baseline humans. The text adds that they are an ancient race, aloof, and not very business savvy. But lets dig a little deeper into some of the typical varieties:

High Elf–
Most commonly thought of in terms of Tolkien or the Norse Ljósálfar. They are proud, haughty, and arrogant, and purposefully keep their distance from lesser races. They are perhaps the most magical of elves, and would more often become wizards rather than heroes. Without a major investment in ST, their martial choices are limited, but they would take advantage of their dexterity with fencings and missile weapons. They would lean toward artistic skills, over practical concerns, and have a natural affinity toward ste

High Elf Starting Package: ST9(+3), DX14(+4), IQ9(+1) Hero. Talents: Sword(2), Bow(2), Fencing (3), Alertness (2). Suggested advancements include master fencer, courtly manners, poet, missile weapons. If you use our Drawbacks system, High Elves are often afflicted with Overcondfident or the minor social flaw of Aloofness.

New Racial Talent: Magic Affinity (1), prerequisite: Elf. A figure with this Talent has a natural ability to work magic even without long training. A Hero can learn one spell for one points as if they were a Wizard. This Talent can be taken multiple times

Wood Elf—
This is the wilder, if not lesser, cousin of the high elf. They tend to be smaller and stealthier than the high elves, living closer to other races but staying hidden in the deep forests. They very much keep to themselves (and the creatures around them), choosing the natural world of the artificial nature of civilization. They, too, never magic, but in a morte practical manner.

Wood Elf Starting Package: ST10(+4), DX13(+3), IQ9(+1) Hero. Talents: Sword(2), Bow(2), Missile Weapons (1), Naturalist(2), Silent Movement (2). Suggested advancements include increased ST for larger bows, Stealth, Woodsman and Tracking. Wood Elves are often Distrustful (minor psychological Drwaback) of non-elves.

Deep Elf–
Whether they are a fallen branch of the high elves, or merely elves that have chosen to seek power in the depths of the Earth, deep elves (known as Drow or Svartálfar) are often portrayed as villains. They are deep blue-black in coloring, and covet power more than anything. They live deep underground mining and working gems and precious metals, subjugating all they come across. They are as fleet as any elf, and often more intelligent, but they use their wits for cruelty and manipulation. Deep elves are masters of chemistry and use the secrets they have unearthed to create powerful poisons and potions.

Deep Elf Starting Package: ST8(+2), DX12(+2), IQ12(+4) Wizard. Talents: Knife(2), Chemist (3),; Spells: Staff I & II, Magic Fist, Dark Vision, 3-Hex Shadow, Silent Movement, Drain Strength. Suggested advancements include Alchemist, Thrown Weapons, Invisibility and Control Person. Deep Elves are Outsiders away from their lands, and are often Mean or Vindictive.

Cobbler Elf–
Contrary to their reclusive kin, these elves seek out other societies and work with them, even if they do not blend in. They adopt the clothing and mannerism of those around them, but maintain their elven goals and aspirations. Many become sought after craftsmen and artisans, bringing their long years of skill and deft hands to good use creating objects of near magical wonder. These elves may not often take up the adventuring trade, but occasionally curiosity gets the better of one and the leave the workshop to see the world.

Cobbler Elf Starting Package: ST10(+4), DX11(+1), IQ11(+4) Hero. Talents: Sword (2), Crossbow (1), Mundane Skill, Professional (3), Literacy (1), Charisma (2), Diplomacy (1), and Recognize Value.(1) Suggested advancements include additional mundane skills, Assess Value, and even Mechanician. Cobbler Elves are known to be curious, and can be Perfectionists (minor Psychological drawback).

New Talent: Mundane Skill Mastery (IQ10). Gives a figure complete mastery over any mundane skill they already have. A master can usually demand 50% higher wages (on the Table of Jobs), and uses one less die on any roll regarding the use of a skill. A skill master can make an IQ test to create objects for 50% higher value, or in 50% less time.

Do guidelines like these help players create characters with flavor and personality without having to start from a blank slate every time? Are elves in your campaign different in a cool, new way? Or have we missed the mark on this completely? Let us know in the comments below.

"Packages" is our in-house terms for collections of Attributes, Talents, Spells, and optional Drawbacks to create a particular type of character. These are not restrictive, and are presented merely as suggested structures for easy, flavorful character building.