New on Desk #71 — Physical Cultivation

Routine week here in Eeroland. Trying to write, making some minor progress. Lacking any particularly timely newsletter topic, I’ll keep discussing ongoing Coup game development. We usually have some specific topics that come to focus in the campaign at a given time. This week it’s been muscle wizardry.

“Cultivation” fantasy in D&D

So, back to cultivation fantasy, xianxia… a recurring topic in the newsletter’s history. I’ve developed some pretty solid rules for cultivation-style magic systems in the Coup campaign, which is perhaps not the most intuitive thing to do for D&D.

“Cultivation magic” refers to a specific fantasy concept with roots in Chinese religious history. It’s basically the fantasy version of the real cultural practice of qigong, similar to how the “divine magic” of western fantasy is vaguely related to Christian religious practices. Cultivator wizards practice a system of gymnastics that allows them to infuse life energy (qi) into their bodies, causing a miraculous transformation into a magical being. It’s a fun, distinct fantasy subgenre with a different kind of magic.

You could get pretty far in doing “xianxia style” magic in D&D as a flavour extension of the game’s western-occultism inspired standard magic system, no doubt about that. There are two main reasons why you might want to do cultivation with its own magic rules, though:

Cultivator magic tends to be superpowers. The D&D magic system is very focused on “wizard as artillery”, with wizards preparing and throwing individual, powerful spells. Cultivator wizards are more about constant ongoing effects than about prepared power spikes, so there’s a strong structural contrast in what the magic does. The cultivator wizard is less of a human being directing supernatural powers than a human being infused by supernatural powers, such that they become a superhuman, godly figure themselves.

Cultivator fiction is about downtime commitment. This isn’t so much a difference in the core fiction, as western wizards also spend long periods of time in study and seclusion. D&D as a specific cultural strain, however, traditionally pretty much disregards this concept, minimizing wizard downtime as much as humanly possible. Cultivator wizards have to go the same way, or the game’s structure has to bend to retain the specific flavour of cultivation fantasy.

The challenge of developing cultivation fantasy magic systems for D&D has inspired me to create a couple distinct ones: the “divine cultivation” rules are an extended spin on Mentzer Immortals (itself arguably a weirdly cultivation-compatible work from the ’80s), while the “physical cultivation” rules are inspired by D&D’s monster rules. I’ll do a quick overview of this latter system here, as it’s been under some practical scrutiny in the game this week.

The physical cultivation magic system

“Physical cultivation” is the name of a specific magic system in the Coup campaign, intended to evoke a martial arts-y, physical cultivation atmosphere. The ideas involved in it were featured in the newsletter last year, in… the Monstrous Week, so maybe read that if you want to see where we’re coming from here. Think of sitting meditating in a waterfall or having helpers whip you to toughen up your skin. In Flanaess the system is mainly used by Monks and lycanthropic dark cults, in some Baklunish cultivation societies and primitive Flann warrior societies. The power level of the system is potentially pretty high, and arguably you don’t absolutely need to advance in character Level to attain a great amount of personal strength. The type of power in physical cultivation tends to lean towards “monstrous” in that you attain capabilities and strengths more commonly seen in the Monster Manual than in character class writeups. Achieving great power, however, also requires long and disciplined training periods.

Basic physical cultivation magic theory is that the practice works by the magician infusing Life Force (positive energy) into their body. This is achieved by an activity called “cultivation”, which in this magic system means isometric exercise yoga performed for long periods of time under the influence of specific diet, training music and other circumstance modifiers. Performed correctly, the practitioner slowly develops their body into a kind of hyper-reality familiar with e.g. superheroes: they grow stronger, faster, inexhaustible, and may develop specific “cultivation gifts”, or super powers. High-level practitioners claim being able to see and actively influence Life Force to settle in their bodies.

Mechanically physical cultivation runs on Improvement Points (IP), a quantification unit intended to represent Life Force accumulation in the body of the practitioner. An untrained commoner doing general “physical exercise” without any particular advantages gains 1 IP per day for their effort, provided they devote practically the entire day to it. Every skipped day of practice deducts the character’s IP total by a single point, or more if they are in ill health. In practice a commoner will never gain meaningful numbers of IP like this; even were they able to cultivate every day without interruption, it would take about three years for them to catalyze to the 2nd rank of cultivation development.

The serious practitioner improves their IP gain by the means of a concerned cultivation program that provides “cultivation factors”, multipliers to their IP gain. Each distinct cultivation factor multiplies the practitioner’s gains by a specific number, and when taken together, it is possible for the cultivator to draw scores, or even hundreds or thousands of IP from a day of cultivation. Successful, prominent cultivation traditions in the setting are generally capable of granting a serious pupil a total multiplier of ×20 or so to start with, with even higher multipliers necessary to achieve truly prodigious amounts of power.

Cultivation factor is expended for cultivation benefits, foremost among them cultivation “rank”, which is mechanically the same thing as monster HD. Human cultivators start at 1st rank, being 1 HD creatures. As rank goes up, so does monster HD, with all the game mechanical benefits this implies: extra hit points, attack bonus, saves, whatever. Accumulating rank also provides cultivation gifts, exceptional powers reminiscent of monster special traits.

Gaining cultivation factor

Each distinct physical cultivation tradition has its own ideas of what practices are helpful in cultivation. Some practices are alchemically contrary, such that mixing and matching cultivation practices from different traditions can result in injury, sickness or outright mutation of the cultivator’s flesh into something, dare I say it, monstrous.

While there are strange exceptional cultivation factors as well, some basic ideas pop up independently again and again in different traditions, which makes them I guess the default building blocks of physical cultivation. I would consider the following cultivation factors to be “common” as types, even if particular implementations can be and usually are specific to the tradition. Most importantly, they are each of them considered distinct and independent from each other, which means that a character can benefit from each separately, compounding their gains greatly if they manage to combine many of them!

×[Monk Level] — The Monk class has a class feature, Cultivation Edge, that makes them better cultivators, which in case of physical cultivation allows them to add their Monk level as a cultivation factor. Very generic in that a Monk can usually join any cultivation tradition and benefit from their level.
×[Talent Factor] — Many cultivation traditions believe in an ephemeral idea of “cultivation talent” that causes some people to simply be better suited to cultivating than others. This would be something distinct from motivated hard work, and may have something to do with the character’s ability scores. (See divine cultivation concept of “Talent” for hints.) Talent is ill-understood even in traditions that believe in its existence, and usually won’t begin much higher than ×2, or perhaps ×3 for an exceptional genius. A cultivation fantasy protagonist will of course start with a ×10 at least, assuming they don’t have anything more imaginative to cheat with.
×[Medicine Level] — Most cultivation traditions believe in some herbs or alchemical medicines that improve cultivation efficiency. Such a medicine regimen might multiply the gains by ×2 for a basic protein powder treatment, with exceptional and personally tailored doping having very high ceilings of potential, up to ×10 or so. Notably, a new medicine regimen of factor N is a spell of level N for the purposes of spell research rules, to give an idea of the possibilities for wizards and witches. Medicines can very easily have unintended complications, so it’s a type of cultivation factor that does not translate easily between cultivation traditions.
×[Site Rank] — Because physical cultivation relies on the ubiquitous Life Force (which surrounds us, penetrates us…), performing the cultivation exercises in a particularly favourable location (a holy place) can easily make them much more effective. Multipliers range all the way up to maybe ×8 for most favourable locations in Flanaess. Many such sites are elementally flavoured (so not just Life Force, but also Fire Force, Earth Force, etc.), which needs to be accounted for in the cultivation planning as an opportunity and danger.
×[Technique Rank] — While basic cultivation can be performed in any position, a more sophisticated program of yoga postures may improve Life Force infusion. This almost never conflicts with other cultivation factors, making it an easy add for those with access to the knowledge. Such practices are usually specific to a tradition and even a specific cultivation gift being attempted, but then an individual tradition often has a variety of alternative postures to choose from. Notably physical cultivation postures are also considered martial feats, with a posture of rank ×N associated with a martial art of rank +N, so that gives some idea of the possibilities — a martial art of e.g. rank +5 isn’t all that impossible.
×[Spirit HD] — Some cultivation traditions use a helper spirit (incorporeal ethereal being) to improve cultivation gains. (Ancestral spirit, nature spirit or demonic spirit would be typical.) Normally the spirit’s HD is directly added as a cultivation factor, which could get very potent, as spirits of HD 10+ certainly exist in the setting. However, gaining the spirit’s cooperation is a different matter. Spirit assistance is usually compatible with most cultivation practices, mainly having complication chances with more “spiritual” practices such as rare spirit-infested cultivation sites or medicines.
×[Monster HD] — Physical cultivation is fundamentally about raising your HD up to monstrous heights. For this reason most physical cultivators can actually benefit from consuming the monster core (heart, usually) of a higher HD monster. HD gained from level does not usually work here, and the practice can easily conflict with medical regimens or spirit cultivation. Many practitioners will face horrible consequences for eating other practitioners, although fundamentally the practice works. In any case, successful consumption gains a cultivation factor equal to the prey’s HD, which can again be quite potent, as there are some monsters with very high HD counts out in the world.

So, seven “basic categories” of cultivation factor, all told! A character who managed a basic ×2 in all of them would have a 2^6 = ×128 total factor, which would already be rather imposing for the setting if not necessarily for individual adventurers. (Matches the power of mainline wizardry traditions in the setting, if I’m any judge.) In practice physical cultivators tend to be held back by an individual tradition rarely focusing on more than 3 different factors in their cultivation. A given monastic community might be all about drugs, kungfu (postures) and Monk leveling, for example.

Special cultivation factors will usually overlap or be incompatible with some basic factors so as to not outright just create an extra speed multiplier for cultivation. For example, here are a couple of demonic cultivation factors and some notes on how they do not immediately combine with the above factors for instant godhood:

×[Worship Level] — Demonic patrons (as well as some other supernatural beings) can grant fell empowerment in the form of cultivation factor to their ritualists. The effect is basically the same as the ×[Spirit HD] spirit cultivation factor, except it’s produced by a rite of worship instead of a locally present spirit being. As with medicines, I would assume that a rite worth ×N is basically a spell of level N for spell research purposes.
×[Cannibalism HD] — Outright mass consumption of human blood and souls in a dark vampiric rite is the ultimate darkness underlying the magical-economic infrastructure of physical cultivation, reducing human lives into nothing but fleeting gains of the left-hand path cultivation program. Very high ×factors are possible, as a cultivator’s cannibalism factor equals the total number of human HD consumed by their fell rite. The effect however has very short duration (a single day, multiplied by any Power involved with the victims), and it overlaps with the ×[Monster HD] factor, so one can’t take advantage of both at the same time.

As one might expect, the various cultivation factors have different durations and maintenance requirements from each other; some are easy to maintain for long periods of time, with others less so. It’s up to the cultivator to figure out how they cultivate; while a strategy of doing it all the time every day, being supported by community resources, is possible, a character could also strive for a “crash course” strategy with a higher efficiency factor over a more limited time period. This is all, of course, fodder for adventures.

Various kinds of further nuance are easily possible here, of course: old age and injury can cause negative factors, and some factors can have an additive relationship to each other rather than multiplicative. And of course the details of the character’s cultivation program influence the second part of the magic, the expenditure of the Improvement Points.

Spending Improvement Points

The basic goal of physical cultivation is to improve your cultivation rank (monster HD) by attaining sufficient Improvement Points to trigger a physical rank-up. The rank-up can be a slow and subtle change, or sudden and violent, depending on the tradition, but in all cases it’s brought about by the IP total surpassing the rank requirement. The cultivator can try to delay the rank-up when they’re ready, for whatever reason, but it’ll either end up with them bleeding IP (such waste!) or ranking up anyway. The wise cultivator will have some awareness of their own improvement point totals, particularly for PCs managed by players, so they’ll know when the rank-up is close.

The formula for how much IP you need to rank up is familiar from experience leveling, comfortably geometric, like so:

1000×[current HD]2

So one thousand IP for the normal human cultivator’s first rank-up, which takes them from 1 HD to 2 HD. Double that for every further rank-up. Unlike with experience points and experience levels, the IP are actually spent in the rank-up, usually losing any overflow as well, so the cultivator normally begins their development from scratch after reaching a new rank.

Ranking up is pretty straightforward, and we understand what it gains you (monster HDs, which should be pretty obvious as to what they do). Whether as an inherent property of Hit Dice, or something having to do with the practice of physical cultivation itself, cultivators have a tendency towards gaining “cultivation gifts” as they rank up. These gifts are game-mechanically similar to monster special qualities or AD&D Monk class special features. Some cultivation traditions want to avoid gifts, considering them a taint or distraction; others follow a specific program of self-empowerment, trying to gain specific gifts at specific points in the cultivation process.

Cultivators do not typically manage to gain gifts at every rank-up; the tendency is more towards at most one gift every two ranks or so. Gifts at higher ranks may be more potent than at lower ranks. There is no guarantee that gifts are necessarily positive from the viewpoint of the cultivator themself. Cultivation traditions generally understand the process of gift bestowal as a mystery (a black box event that can be triggered, but not understood), and respond to the inherent perils by being very conservative and dogmatic about the means of cultivation; deviating from the known program of cultivation is a great way to gain an undesired cultivation gift, or generally go astray in a way that leaves you unable to predict your future mutations at all.

The framework of rank-ups and gifts does not prevent there being other things that Improvement Points could conceivably be expended on in a specific cultivation tradition, if inspiration strikes. I like how the forced rank-up means that if I say that e.g. erasing an undesired cultivation gift costs 10k IP (utilizing a specific technique of a specific cultivation tradition to do so, of course), that implies a minimum cultivation rank at which a character can try it, as there’s only so much IP one can store without triggering yet another rank-up.

All in all, the end-game of physical cultivation is for the character to build themselves a monster stat block. Monster HD do not compound very effectively with adventurer levels (e.g. you use the better hit dice of your natural HD and level-based HD, rather than summing them up), but adventuring in search of better cultivation factors gains you XP anyway, so perhaps there is a reasonable character development plan hiding in all this. Or maybe physical cultivation doesn’t really work very well for player characters, after all; the practice inherently requires you to spend long time periods sitting still instead of adventuring, so trying to be both an adventurer and physical cultivator is anti-synergic in an interesting way. It may be the case that the best thing to do is to dip a handful of rank, what you can get from a really quick downtime body-building program, and leave it at that.

Practical example of physical cultivation: Grodd’s Gym

One of the things we’ve been doing in Coup recently has been exploring an actual physical cultivation school of sorts that the adventurers have stumbled upon: Gorilla Grodd, a human-intelligent exceptional gorilla, has developed his own physical cultivation tradition and proved its efficacy by building himself into an imposing 12 HD super-gorilla. (Not so much large, though he is an imposing specimen even for a gorilla; Grodd’s HD are largely hidden “internal weight” similar to how a Dark Elf in D&D can manage to have more HD than a human despite not being any larger.)

Grodd is another one of these DC supervillain expies the Temple of Doom is filled with.

Grodd himself is a heaven-defying talent, as the xianxia phrase goes, but despite his being a gorilla rather than a human, his cultivation factors seem to work for human disciples as well. Grodd takes on followers and patiently guides them as part of his troop, as he plans to use the sect he’s raising to help him conquer his homeland, the Isle of the Ape, and avenge himself on the formidable denizens therein. It’s all fun and games, Grodd’s not nearly the most awful sect leader at the Temple of Doom, but you’re still utterly fucked if you join the guerilla troop, as your options are to either defect and get ripped apart by Grodd, or go get fucked at the Isle of the Ape, one of the dumbest Gygax adventures ever, as soon as Grodd finishes with his training. Even just the training trips to Isle of Dread (Grodd likes his tropical islands) can be a killer.

Grodd’s cultivation program is pretty light-hearted in flavour (in case you didn’t notice, this is a talking gorilla who runs a gym), mainly involving literal weight-lift body-building, eating bananas and making the occasional excursion to the Isle of Dread to hunt dinosaurs for cultivation properties. Here are the basic Gorilla Cultivation factors:

×2 Weightlifting technique: Grodd’s actual cultivation technique is only semi-distinct from his mundane body-building, as it involves using extra weights in isometric exercises; basically, standing still while holding a big barrel above your head. A side-feature is that the cultivation practice itself also counts as normal STR ability training when combining this technique with the following location.

×2 Gym Location: Grodd’s gym itself is an artificial Life Force nexus of sorts, unintentionally developed. (Unknown to himself, Grodd’s tapped into some Ogrish cultural patterns here.) The distinct homosocial bodybuilding atmosphere makes it an efficient place to train.

×4 Volcanic Steam Vent: Grodd also has a second cultivation site underneath the Temple of Doom, a fire-aspected cavern with unhealthy air. While potent for cultivation, breathing the air in the place is unhealthy, requiring CON checks and whatnot, so only stronk cultivators with plenty of HP should train here.

×[STR bonus] Cultivation Talent: An exceptional cultivation factor unique to Grodd’s cultivation style; cultivators in this style form a Talent equal to their STR bonus, usable as a cultivation factor. Grodd himself understands this in terms of growing strong to grow strong, so nothing weird in that. He’s an inhumanly strong gorilla, which has allowed him to push this particular cultivation factor to imposing heights. (STR 23, STR bonus +8 right now.)

×2 Dreadful Herbs & Spices: Grodd has learned over the years that eating certain flowers and grasses that grow at the tropical D&D islands improves his cultivation. It’s a medicine factor. Grodd also knows of a ×3 version, the “heart-shaped herb”, but that’s not easy to find and has its complications.

×[dinosaur HD] Eating a dino heart: Grodd himself considers this his foremost secret to success in growing stronk: he takes a trip to the Isle of Dread every year, hunts down a dinosaur, eats its heart and then enjoys a hefty cultivation multiplier for the rest of the year. For some reason it needs to be a dinosaur, not just any animal, but fortunately dinos are heavy on HD. You have to hunt the dino yourself and eat the heart warm, but luckily friends can help with taking down the beast.

×Monk Level: This isn’t really so much part of the cultivation tradition (Monks always get to add their level!), but I’ll mention it here that Grodd is actually a 4th level Monk. Self-trained.

Pulling all that together, Grodd actually has a pretty hefty cultivation package. Most of his cultivation factors are kinda basic, the dinosaur hunting is outright dangerous, and the Talent bonus is highly contingent on you actually having a high STR score to make anything of it, but it works for Grodd: he’s pulling like ×10k or so with what he’s got. Grodd needs a bit over 4 million IP to improve further, though, so it would take him over a year of diligent training to gain his 13th HD at this pace; either Grodd manages to add some new cultivation factors, trains patiently, or decides to call himself ready and goes looking for his white whale at the Isle of the Ape. I’ll be rolling for his choice at some point, no doubt, once he realizes what a slog he has ahead of him for increasingly marginal gains.

Grodd’s cultivation tradition is relatively natural and doesn’t cause as much cultivation blessing as some other schools do, particularly for himself: as the tradition is tailored to his own physiology, Grodd doesn’t really mutate much by following it. What it does cause is, of course, the practitioner turning more gorilla-like; you’re emulating a gorilla here, after all. Here’s my current sketch of the likely progression of cultivation gifts for members of Grodd’s guerrilla troop:
Beast Flurry: The character can do the swipe/swipe/bite thing that many D&D beasts have in melee combat. Only works unarmed or with lightest of weapons.
Heavy Fur: The character starts growing a gorilla-like fur coat. +2 natural AC, of course,. as one does.
Crushing Grip: Automatic 1d6 damage each melee phase when grappling, on account of inhuman upper body strength.

I imagine Grodd has a few other tricks as well, and it’s possible that starting to use the volcanic vent for his cultivation will cause him to start farting fireballs later on, but I’ll worry about that in detail later. (Grodd’s rather over-level compared to PCs here, he’s more of a quest-giver and trainer NPC than an active playing piece; I can get by without a quite thorough stat block for him, as long as I know how his cultivation tradition works so player characters can join him at the gym.)

Monday: Coup de Main #45

We continued the Castle Greyhawk adventure from last time, with the party finding their way through the Castle Woods to witness the imposing Castle itself in all of its glory. Unknown to the party at the time, they kinda slipped through the observation net of the bandits living in the barbican (gate fortress) of the Castle. Being careful, the party approached the barbican unnoticed and managed the unlikely feat of conquering it; the bandits had just outright failed to close the damn doors of the otherwise entirely intact, formidable little fortress.

The combat encounter with the main force of Captain Cooper’s Merry Men was short and brutal. Kinda risky, could have turned awry for the adventurers, but they pulled it off. I appreciated the tactical awareness of the party in that they were very consistent about capitalizing on the open doors policy, hurrying to assault the bandits in their own quarters. It did lead to a chaotic combat encounter against a numerically superior force, but the alternative to that would have been to allow the bandits to gather themselves and man the chokepoints, and in that case the party wouldn’t have had a chance in hell.

Unfortunately for the party, it’s not immediately obvious whether they’ve actually won anything of value by the risky play: they have control of the barbican in the main, but the leaders of the bandits are still loose (up on the roof of the barbican, securely barricaded there?), and there could be more of them out there. No treasure so far. Unless the party likes the idea of being stuck defending a fort they’ve conquered just for the sake of the real estate, it’s possible that they executed a risky yet successful commando strike here to no particular advantage.

That was kinda short, but sometimes things are simple. I kinda assume that the players will want to continue figuring this out in the next session, although we do have that Mist Marsh adventure to consider as well…

Session #46 is scheduled for tomorrow, Monday 10.5., starting around 15:00 UTC. Feel free to stop by if you’re interested in trying the game out or simply seeing what it’s like.

Tuesday: Coup in Sunndi #21

The face-to-face team, meanwhile, was just coming off a TPK in the last session, when their “good party” failed in vanquishing an elven vacation resort. Our bold recovery move was to send the “evil party”, Beast Society, on a tropical expedition to the fabled Isle of Dread. The conceit is that one of the faction leaders at the Temple of Doom, Gorilla Grodd, arranges and annual dinosaur safari at the Isle. It’s a relatively safe way for low-level characters to go visit an island they have no business approaching on their own.

The journey itself was simplified (we had the dread pirate Captain Manta sailing the expedition to the target, he knows his business), so we spent most of the session settling in at the Isle of Dread with the local pirate slaver community. Nice people. It was a total mule-counting session, but I personally liked it a hell of a lot. Isle of Dread is an excellent adventure for TSR, and I felt like the logistics concerns here were really on point. The player characters are members of various Temple of Doom factions, with their own concerns, so putting together an actual safari to penetrate the inland reaches of the island requires matching goals and formulating a travel plan that takes all into consideration. Like, check out these concerns:

Grodd’s great hunt: Grodd, the leader of the overall expedition, is planning to settle at the northern end of the island to hunt some large dinos until he finds one with enough HD for his prodigious cultivation needs. He’ll take at least three weeks, possibly more, but the ship will leave when he’s finished, so that’s the deadline: if the PCs want to achieve something at the Isle of Dread, they need to do it before Grodd and Manta pack up and leave for home.

Cultivators want dinosaurs: Three PCs are members of Grodd’s guerrilla troop, so they presumably want dinosaur hearts of their own to speed up their cultivation. Maybe they should join Grodd’s safari, or would it be better to try to catch some smaller dinosaurs in the southern reaches of the island?

Pirate concerns: Captain Manta and his pirates are really just here for slavery purposes. They have boats to get from the pirate camp (the expedition HQ) on one of the smaller islands to the actual Isle of Dread, but hiring them for maneuvers costs money. There’ll be a chance to join a pirate attack on the native populations later, too, if the PCs want to forgo the safari angle and play it safe. A couple of PCs are even members of the crew themselves, so they’ll get better rates from Manta for transporting any loot (slaves, the loot would be native slaves) back home.

Contacting the Kopru empire: A couple of the PCs legit have a side quest they got from Sinister Thaal, the blackguard grandmaster of the Order of Fear. Thaal would like his squires to travel to the interior of the Isle to seek the mythic civilization of the Kopru, who apparently once were allies of Sunndi’s ancient regime. Thaal, as befits his pulp Nazi theme, wants an inhuman alliance of his own. But that requires committing to a serious journey deep inland, with no guarantee of success. Might be smarter to sit this one out?

Maybe just try to find some treasure: The entire conceit of the adventure here is that the PCs have three weeks (or more) to do whatever they want at the Isle. It’s a TSR adventure, what do you think, maybe there’s some treasure in there somewhere? Bold assumption. Maybe the smart move is to try to find some low-hanging treasure somewhere and not get too greedy.

The part I like so much is the fateful freedom of the sandbox. The players really are the pirate captains of their own destiny here, choosing how to relate to this tropical island opportunity. They’ll have to choose some goals and equip their own safari (or join Grodd’s, with all the operational limitations that implies) out of what building blocks they happen to have on hand.

The great thing is that I’m not doing anything particularly special here; the evil party is starting from a slightly different perspective compared to a less piracy-oriented crew, but a similar pattern of expedition planning would apply to any party tackling the Isle. Good stuff. The place is pretty dangerous, so it might not be wise to commit too deep; I’ll be interested to see what the players decide to do here. It could even be the case that the best move is not to play now that they’ve learned more about the local circumstances on the Isle. Just sit tight with the pirates for a few weeks, and return back home alive. Come back to the Isle if they ever hit mid-levels and thus have a better chance of tackling the formidable megafauna of the Isle in a martial way.

State of the Productive Facilities

Eh, not the best of weeks. I did again write like 1k words of Muster, but that doesn’t feel like such an accomplishment; I should be doing more, and specifically being more excited about writing it. Get into the heart of why I even wanted to create this thing in the first place; I feel like I’m getting lost in the weeds a bit, instead of discussing the actually exciting parts of D&D.

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