Cold Iron Blackmarsh Adventures

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ffilz

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So I keep wanting to get a Cold Iron campaign going... But trying to create my own setting just is not going to happen, so I'm looking for thoughts on a setting that is well supported that would be amenable to Cold Iron. Having been running two RuneQuest campaigns for some time., one in Glorantha, and one in the Free City of Haven and surrounds from Gamelords (Thieves Guild - NOT Robert Lynn Asprin's Sanctuary/Thieves World...), I find Glorantha easy to run in because it's well supported (well, and I've been running it for decades...). Haven is so sparse that I'm close to burnout on the campaign...

Now in the past I have run Cold Iron in the following settings:

Harn - This campaign ran for over a year, but eventually the disconnect between Cold Iron and Harn became too much to ignore. It did have an advantage that the gods were described well enough that I could write up Cold Iron style cults. On the other hand, the evil gods, particularly Agrik were way more cool to the players than the good gods... Contrast this to Glorantha which has a quite a number of fun "good" cults (Orlanth, Storm Bull, Humakt, Yelmalio, and more).

Ice World - A home brew frozen north setting that I ran for a change of pace from Harn. Not really sustainable - it was deadly... Adventuring happened in the winter, ice trolls would sneak into camp during a blizzard and take out two or three PCs before anyone else even realized anything was going on... (they DID start working up better camp strategies...).

Blackmoor - Another campaign that ran for a year or two. Ultimately not much background, just a neat map. Gods were just made up and were somewhat interesting but way too many and no real logic behind them.

Talislanta - It sort of worked, but it was hard to figure out what PCs should do in the setting. It was a drain dealing with a setting with no terrestrial animals and not even basic fantasy critters to provide grounding.

Tekumel - Sort of the same story as Talislanta...

So one of the issues is fit of the game system, so some features of Cold Iron that can be tough to fit into settings:

Class and level with a twist. Cold Iron characters have levels in classes. The twist is everyone has a Fighter Level (it may be piss poor...). Hit points scale with Fighter Level. Spell effects scale with Magic or Cleric Level. Casting is split between Magic User and Cleric, with 95% of the spells available to both classes, though Clerics never get the full list, having lists customized for the god/cult. Clerics do get some spells earlier than Magic Users and have the best healing spells (if they are the right persuasion - or they have cause spells though those are only useful in special circumstances). Everyone can wear armor and use weapons (which has created somewhat of a disconnect for Cold Iron Samurai Adventures, though it hasn't been too big an impact yet).

Magic is pretty common, though somewhat low power. Magic items are very common, often I start PCs with a couple potions and a charged item or two, but certainly purchasing such early on is likely. Intelligent opposition also uses magic items (treasure!). Magic is mostly never as powerful as D&D, most spells are single target. Magic items are MOSTLY personal, but anyone CAN use wands... Other than potions, swords, armor, and very high level magic items, all other magic items require the user to supply the power. There are lots of buffing spells. Every city or large town will have one or more magic shops, or at least it's easy to find wizards who will sell you magic items, and folks who will purchase your unwanted treasure.

The system is amenable to creating creatures as long as there is something that provides a grounding for size. On the other hand, creatures generally have limited special abilities, relying mostly on raw damage with some breath weapons and special effects like blur or shadow.

Combat drains enough resources that the adventures that work best have areas with at most a few different encounters so there is plenty of time to rest between encounters or groups of encounters.

I'm not looking to change the fundamental play style. On this note, I have yet to figure out a non-combat skill system that really pleases me, so the play style is better suited to those activities not being too dominant and no PC should be crafted as a skill hacker with little or no combat or magic ability.

I'm looking for a setting that describes religion in a way that is easy to write up a cult or a few cults. It should be easy to make inferences on what types of magic are appropriate for clerics. I'm not totally opposed to a setting where there ends up being one PC cult that focuses on healing magic but has some other combat useful magic. That can be countered with an evil cult. Necromancy could be a cult thing or it could just be evil magic users. Ideally, the setting would have plenty of adventures available, or be amendable to dropping in a D&D adventure.

I dunno, I think that's enough to start some discussion. If anyone cares to peruse the system to get an idea of what it does, here's a starting place:

 

xanther

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Following up on your post regarding a skill system

Class and level with a twist. Cold Iron characters have levels in classes. The twist is everyone has a Fighter Level (it may be piss poor...). Hit points scale with Fighter Level. ...

I believe this is a good start. My suggestion is to twist it a bit more, or perhaps abstract it a bit more.

The concept is there are a few very broad skills, or skill categories. I call them talents, but better distinguish them from the specificity often associated with the term skill. Classes are in turn built upon these talents, different classes being better at, and improving faster, in some than others.

Here are the 9 talents, or broad skill categories I use:
Athletic (would include climbing, mount, sneaking, throwing, etc. skills)
Combat (would be the most limited one in what it covers, pretty much weapons and shield)
Esthetic (art, song, language, intrigue type skills)
Intellect (alchemy, science, sage like skills)
Nature (would include survival, knowing animals & plants, animal training, but also climb, swim, stealth)
Magic (pretty much limited to spell casting)
Psionics (pretty much limited to psionic use if you have it)
Social (interacting with others, barter, culture, parley, bribery, etc.)
Technical (doing things with mechanisms and crafting, such as traps, lockpicking, smithing, etc.)

To determine your chance of success you use the talent value. I believe Cold Iron uses a d20 so a simple way to do it is each Talent level acts as a +1 to your roll.

What your Talent level is could depend on you class level. For example:

A Fighter may get a +1 to Combat every 2 levels, +1 to Athletic every 3 levels, and a +1 to something else of their choosing every 4 levels.
A Thief may get a +1 to Athletic or Technical every 2 levels, +1 to Combat every 3 levels, and a +1 to something else of their choosing every 4 levels.
A Wizard may get a +1 to Magic every 2 levels, a +1 to Intellect every 3 levels and +1 to something else of their choosing every 4 levels.

You could also generalize this to allow for custom class creation. Let the player decide what increases every 2, 3 and 4 levels; perhaps within limits like if Combat is every 2 levels you can't choose Magic as every 3 levels.) Technically this gives you 8x7x6 = 336 classes that all fit into a rationalized framework and not designed one at a time. (I removed Psionics from the count because suspect it is not a part of Cold Iron for PCs).

I'd say the important thing here is to make sure selecting Combat first is not the end all and be all, hence would alter a bit how HP are awarded (more later on that).

For example, a knight-type might want to focus first on Combat, second on Social skills (liker social skills needed for court and leading) and last on Athletic; while a barbarian-type might focus on Combat, Nature and Athletics, etc.

That is a first pass for the high level skill category. With broad categories you need never fear a PC is without some basic skill or have to create a list of skills everyone has.

Now for focus or specialization, that could be something on can increase in the in-between levels.

For example a fighter may be able to take a weapon specialization in the off levels, say +1 in Sword; which would add into the Combat skill. This basic approach could get out of hand very quickly so may want to limit the specialization to being no greater than the over-arching talent AND require to have a +2 specialization you need to have at least two specializations, so you would need to +1 specializations before you can raise one to +2. NOTE: one idea here is to be able to look at the character sheet right off and tell if it meets the rule.

Certain classes could well start off with specializations.

Another example, to tie it to level of spells ala D&D, the max level of spell you could cast would be equal to your Magic Talent, This will line up very well with AD&D as if your Magic Talent increases every 2 levels. If magic requires a roll to succeed you can use the Magic Talent for that. Specialization can be used then to cast spells of a certain level better, or memorize more, etc.

Last example, a Thief could focus on the sneak/climb/pick pocket side (which would be Athletic), or they could go the lockpicking and trap route (which would be Technical), etc.

On hit points, could give a base amount based on Talent. Would not make the greatest award be for Combat as that has other advantages, but perhaps Athletic or Nature. There are a lot of ways to do this. Could be a base number of points per Talent level, could be a number of die per Talent level etc.

For example, say you HP are determined by the level in your two highest talents. You get to roll a D6 for Combat, Nature & Athletic, and a D4 for everything else. Under this is would be easiest if you rerolled each level, but perhaps with the caveat you can't get lower than you had.

So if I had the following Talents, Athletic 2, Technical 2, Combat 1 (perhaps a 3rd level thief) . I'd get to roll a 2d6 and 2d4 and add them together.

Just an example, one could add in + per die, or die size increases based on class, etc. One could also make it an option to take extra HP instead of a skill specialization. Perhaps any CON bonus may only apply to certain HP dice, such as Nature.

Last but not least, talents could also be used as a bonus to saving throws. Magic may be the one for things magic users are good at saving at, Athletic for the ones where dodging is key, perhaps Nature for prettification, poison and the like.

In good measure what this is doing is abstracting a lot of the progression in the D&D type classes to progressions in talents, and then tying those talents to the classes.
 

ffilz

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I wasn't actually looking to talk resolution in this thread, but rather thoughts on settings that might be amenable to Cold Iron's general feel as a fantasy game.

See the thread over in Design for skill thoughts. I'm not looking to change the combat and magic stuff, it all works just fine as proven by two year+ long campaigns and various shorter campaigns. That's why I want to try and get folks interested in Cold Iron. It's got stuff that works well, at least it works well if you buy into the style of combat and magic that it presents. It's different from RuneQuest which I also like, but it works well for me so I enjoy both RQ an Cold Iron.

But to get Cold Iron going, I need a setting that it will work well in. I'm NOT interested in quite the same kind of scenario set ups as I used to use. I want a setting that can run as a sandbox where I can plug in places of mystery and wilderness regions full of encounters for players to engage with.

I had considered a West Marches style wilderness because the "level of region" would work well with Cold Iron's class and level approach.
 

Spellslinging Sellsword

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You could very easily make the Forgotten Realms work. I would do either the original boxed set with the Waterdeep and Savage Frontier supplements or the 3rd Edition campaign book as the base. You can also cherry pick stuff from the wiki website. You have plenty of info on the gods for cults with multiple books on priests for each god in multiple editions. I particularly like the 2E Forgotten Realms Adventures book, but there are many others.




 

ffilz

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Reasonable point that Forgotten Realms could probably work, and I even at one time owned the 1e stuff you suggested (well, maybe not Savage Frontiers, boxed set and Waterdeep for sure), but Forgotten Realms has a bad taste to me from all the stuff about Elminster. Plus, I'm not sure that using an Iconic D&D setting for a non-D&D game would be a good path... And I never really liked the maps. Also maybe TOO big a setting to try and absorb, though obviously one would pick a modest region to start a campaign in. But man, if you get the lore wrong... :-)
 

robertsconley

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My Blackmarsh plus Southland which will soon be expanded into the Majestic Fantasy Realms? In general, I error on the side of Harn's medieval fantasy but with a little more magic.

Blackmarsh
In the days when man knew only the working of stone and fought for their existence against the orc and the goblin, the sky turned to ash and down fell the fiery mountain onto the land. The world tore open and the grey waters rushed in. Those who survived the impact were lost as boiling clouds rushed out in all directions leaving a wasteland in its wake.

The Mountain That Fell left a gift; magic. Near and far, those of learning and strong of heart discovered new powers to shape the world. In the desolation around the Smoking Bay the adventurous found viz, magic in physical form. And there was more, scattered amid the landscape were strange artifacts and stranger creatures that survived The Mountain That Fell. For a time men, dwarves, orc, goblins, and other races braved the dangers and fought each other in the wastelands. Then the elves came into Blackmarsh expelled the feuding races, drove the monsters out, and healed the land.

In the present day, many come to Blackmarsh to harvest viz, kill monsters, or seek the strange artifacts left by The Mountain That Fell. The only force that stands against the wilderness is the Blackmarsh Rangers. Anyone who is willing to defend the land and its people are welcomed into their ranks. Powerful kingdoms outside of Blackmarsh are beginning cast a covetous eyes toward the land's riches. Will the adventurers of your campaign become wealthy and powerful? Or will their bones join the many that have sunk into the swamps?

Southland
which is just to the south of the above.
Here on the wild frontier, adventurers struggle to push back the wilderness. Mile by mile they push back the monsters and move the boundaries of civilization forward. Opposing them are the Blood Fist orcs, the dark elves of the Underrealm, and renegades from the Grand Kingdom, yet there are allies to be found within the Southland
 

ffilz

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Yea, Majestic Fantasy Realms would probably be workable. Cold Iron doesn't as designed have "strange artifacts" though I have in the past, and am willing to consider now, having the occasional "strange artifact," some kind of more D&D-like magic item that doesn't fit the Cold Iron magic schema well. A very wild place might present a challenge when the PCs are ready to purchase some of the higher level magic items, but powerful wizards living alone in towers in the wilderness are always a possibility, of course they will want something more than just silver pieces in exchange for their enchantments...

I'll have to look over all your stuff in more detail.

Oh, and do you have any notes for using your settings with GURPS or other systems? Having stats in multiple systems can make it easier to convert to yet a different system.
 

ffilz

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Do you have any write-ups for religion in the Majestic Fantasy Realms, or at least Blackmarsh?
 

robertsconley

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Yea, Majestic Fantasy Realms would probably be workable. Cold Iron doesn't as designed have "strange artifacts" though I have in the past, and am willing to consider now, having the occasional "strange artifact," some kind of more D&D-like magic item that doesn't fit the Cold Iron magic schema well. A very wild place might present a challenge when the PCs are ready to purchase some of the higher level magic items, but powerful wizards living alone in towers in the wilderness are always a possibility, of course they will want something more than just silver pieces in exchange for their enchantments...

I'll have to look over all your stuff in more detail.
Most of the stuff is done with a light touch so details can be tweaked to suit the tenor of how you approach things.

Oh, and do you have any notes for using your settings with GURPS or other systems? Having stats in multiple systems can make it easier to convert to yet a different system.
For GURPS see this
Just keep in mind most of what I have are paper notes that are more reminders on which sections to GURPS to use rather than something sharable.
While the above is written for the Wilderlands, the Majestic Fantasy Realms is basically my original content with the Judges Guild serial numbers filed off.

But closer to how I am doing thing with the Majestic Fantasy Realms is the 5e stuff I worked on.

The above focus more on the different kinds of characters I have. And a lot of it is in rough draft form.

Hope this helps.
 

ffilz

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I was giving this some more thought. I just had a look at Palladium Fantasy, remembering that I have the Bundle of Holding, but I think that setting is just too expansive. Thinking back on the how I run games, and the things I like about them, some basic thoughts:

The designers notes for Cold Iron come with a handful of monsters and some guidelines for creating your own. It turns out that it's not too hard, and I mostly ran with a small stable of monsters, mostly undead and humanoids with a few more beastly monsters, normal animals, and things like giant ants. I do have some pages where I worked up some 100 odd monsters, but not actually in much detail and I rarely used more than a small selection. This actually turns out to be rather similar to RuneQuest where I rarely use monsters not in the RQ1/2 rule book, and mostly use undead, trolls of various sorts, and broos. I think this is actually a good model. One factor is that neither game gives monsters the range of special abilities and such that D&D monsters get. So using a setting that somehow depends on lots of different kinds of monsters probably is not what I want. This same factor extends to PC races where the selection should be modest.

Another factor for Cold Iron is that I don't think I want a huge selection of gods/cults, at least not for PCs. If there are weird odd NPC cults that are off in the shadows and end up being the feature of an adventure, that's fine. Of course having a small number of dominant enemy cults will be fine. Here actually my preference for Cold Iron is probably to have fewer cults than Glorantha has. Of course one motivation is the effort to write cults up in a usable fashion for Cold Iron, part of which includes preparing an extensive spell list. The spell list is also the primary thing that defines a cult in Cold Iron, though this time round, I'd like each cult to have a better defined social position, but cults aren't going to grant all sorts of unusual magics or special abilities or the like.

Now so far, I think Rob's Majestic Realms will work just fine from this standpoint.

I'm also still open to other suggestions...
 

ffilz

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Another one I was looking at is the setting for Forbidden Lands. Has anyone used that setting?
 

SJB

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So I keep wanting to get a Cold Iron campaign going... But trying to create my own setting just is not going to happen, so I'm looking for thoughts on a setting that is well supported that would be amenable to Cold Iron. Having been running two RuneQuest campaigns for some time., one in Glorantha, and one in the Free City of Haven and surrounds from Gamelords (Thieves Guild - NOT Robert Lynn Asprin's Sanctuary/Thieves World...), I find Glorantha easy to run in because it's well supported (well, and I've been running it for decades...). Haven is so sparse that I'm close to burnout on the campaign...

Now in the past I have run Cold Iron in the following settings:

Harn - This campaign ran for over a year, but eventually the disconnect between Cold Iron and Harn became too much to ignore. It did have an advantage that the gods were described well enough that I could write up Cold Iron style cults. On the other hand, the evil gods, particularly Agrik were way more cool to the players than the good gods... Contrast this to Glorantha which has a quite a number of fun "good" cults (Orlanth, Storm Bull, Humakt, Yelmalio, and more).

Ice World - A home brew frozen north setting that I ran for a change of pace from Harn. Not really sustainable - it was deadly... Adventuring happened in the winter, ice trolls would sneak into camp during a blizzard and take out two or three PCs before anyone else even realized anything was going on... (they DID start working up better camp strategies...).

Blackmoor - Another campaign that ran for a year or two. Ultimately not much background, just a neat map. Gods were just made up and were somewhat interesting but way too many and no real logic behind them.

Talislanta - It sort of worked, but it was hard to figure out what PCs should do in the setting. It was a drain dealing with a setting with no terrestrial animals and not even basic fantasy critters to provide grounding.

Tekumel - Sort of the same story as Talislanta...

So one of the issues is fit of the game system, so some features of Cold Iron that can be tough to fit into settings:

Class and level with a twist. Cold Iron characters have levels in classes. The twist is everyone has a Fighter Level (it may be piss poor...). Hit points scale with Fighter Level. Spell effects scale with Magic or Cleric Level. Casting is split between Magic User and Cleric, with 95% of the spells available to both classes, though Clerics never get the full list, having lists customized for the god/cult. Clerics do get some spells earlier than Magic Users and have the best healing spells (if they are the right persuasion - or they have cause spells though those are only useful in special circumstances). Everyone can wear armor and use weapons (which has created somewhat of a disconnect for Cold Iron Samurai Adventures, though it hasn't been too big an impact yet).

Magic is pretty common, though somewhat low power. Magic items are very common, often I start PCs with a couple potions and a charged item or two, but certainly purchasing such early on is likely. Intelligent opposition also uses magic items (treasure!). Magic is mostly never as powerful as D&D, most spells are single target. Magic items are MOSTLY personal, but anyone CAN use wands... Other than potions, swords, armor, and very high level magic items, all other magic items require the user to supply the power. There are lots of buffing spells. Every city or large town will have one or more magic shops, or at least it's easy to find wizards who will sell you magic items, and folks who will purchase your unwanted treasure.

The system is amenable to creating creatures as long as there is something that provides a grounding for size. On the other hand, creatures generally have limited special abilities, relying mostly on raw damage with some breath weapons and special effects like blur or shadow.

Combat drains enough resources that the adventures that work best have areas with at most a few different encounters so there is plenty of time to rest between encounters or groups of encounters.

I'm not looking to change the fundamental play style. On this note, I have yet to figure out a non-combat skill system that really pleases me, so the play style is better suited to those activities not being too dominant and no PC should be crafted as a skill hacker with little or no combat or magic ability.

I'm looking for a setting that describes religion in a way that is easy to write up a cult or a few cults. It should be easy to make inferences on what types of magic are appropriate for clerics. I'm not totally opposed to a setting where there ends up being one PC cult that focuses on healing magic but has some other combat useful magic. That can be countered with an evil cult. Necromancy could be a cult thing or it could just be evil magic users. Ideally, the setting would have plenty of adventures available, or be amendable to dropping in a D&D adventure.

I dunno, I think that's enough to start some discussion. If anyone cares to peruse the system to get an idea of what it does, here's a starting place:

“Class and level with a twist.

Magic is pretty common, though somewhat low power.

The system is amenable to creating creatures as long as there is something that provides a grounding for size.

Plenty of time to rest between encounters.

Describes religion in a way that is easy to write up a cult or a few cults.”

With those desiderata The Vault yielded these suggestions:

  1. Blood & Bronze/Ancient Mesopotamia
  2. D&D/Spears of the Dawn
  3. D&D/Scarlet Heroes
  4. Crypts & Things/Zarth
  5. Blood & Treasure/Land of Nod
  6. Savage Worlds/Dread Sea Dominions (worth a look despite the base system)
  7. Dragon Heresy + GURPS/Northlond
  8. D&D/Liberation of Wormwood (really a framework generator)
 

ffilz

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“Class and level with a twist.

Magic is pretty common, though somewhat low power.

The system is amenable to creating creatures as long as there is something that provides a grounding for size.

Plenty of time to rest between encounters.

Describes religion in a way that is easy to write up a cult or a few cults.”

With those desiderata The Vault yielded these suggestions:

  1. Blood & Bronze/Ancient Mesopotamia
  2. D&D/Spears of the Dawn
  3. D&D/Scarlet Heroes
  4. Crypts & Things/Zarth
  5. Blood & Treasure/Land of Nod
  6. Savage Worlds/Dread Sea Dominions (worth a look despite the base system)
  7. Dragon Heresy + GURPS/Northlond
  8. D&D/Liberation of Wormwood (really a framework generator)
How many of those settings are well fleshed out? While I welcome procedural content generators, my experience with trying to build a setting from purely procedural content has been somewhat a disaster. Also I probably should have tagged "pseduo-european medieval" (heavy on the pseudo just like D&D any many other fantasy games...). While I worked up Cold Iron Samurai Adventures and am so far pleased with things, for my next Cold Iron campaign, I want to work off the default rules rather than having to adapt to different weapons culture (not that Cold Iron maps to anything real any more than D&D does...)
 
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SJB

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How many of those settings are well fleshed out? While I welcome procedural content generators, my experience with trying to build a setting from purely procedural content has been somewhat a disaster. Also I probably should have tagged "pseduo-european medieval" (heavy on the pseudo just like D&D any many other fantasy games...). While I worked up Cold Iron Samurai Adventures and am so far pleased with things, for my next Cold Iron campaign, I want to work off the default rules rather than having to adapt to different weapons culture (not that Cold Iron maps to anything real any more than D&D does...)
Got you.

That leaves:

  1. Blood & Treasure/Land of Nod. B&T is a D&D derivative so the class/level is all in place. John Stater has lovingly detailed the setting in his Nod magazine, there are about 35 issues, all available digitally.
  1. Dragon Heresy + GURPS/Northlond. Northlond is a Viking type setting from Gaming Ballistic. Dragon Heresy is their D&D version, so the initial impulse was class and level, which contains light background. However most of the setting supplements and scenarios have come out for the DFRPG given that SJG have licensed the products as official. The production values are high, including some really good maps from Glyn Seal.

The main difference, apart from the fact that Stater and Coles are different individuals with different passions, is that Nod glories in the kitchen sink approach whereas Northlond is tightly focused on a specific culture. I admire them both for their imagination and industry.
 

ffilz

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It may also be worth noting that while Cold Iron is class and level, the twist is that there aren't lots of classes. Really the classes work as mega-skills so there's basically Fighter, Magic-User, and Cleric. I added Expertise to define a progression for non-combat skills (I used to have additional classes like Thief and Scout, but I no longer really like that idea). The main reason I call it a class and level system is that it has the level effects of increasing hit points with level, and magic power is tied to level (more powerful spells, bigger effects for some spells).

How kitchen sink is Nod? What form does it's kitchen sink take? Lots of unique monsters are going to be a drag, and will mostly end up boring, the system doesn't tend to rely on lots of monster special abilities.

On monsters, part of Cold Iron's class and level twist is that all monsters have levels also. I limit most animals to 4th level Fighter (higher levels of Fighter really starting to become monstrous/heroic). With that, a few humanoid monsters with various levels (and some casters) serves well. Cold Iron doesn't need D&D's kobold, goblin, orc, hobgoblin, etc. progression. Goblins, orcs, trolls, and maybe giants serve well.
 

SJB

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Nod is kitchen sink inasmuch it is a continent a bit like Eurasia. The magazines each cover a region, so one can pick and choose the cultures one wants. It’s not kitchen sink as in looney tunes.

The overall guide is free:

 

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Quick questions - how important is the presence of demi-humans (elves, dwarves, etc) to what you want in terms of setting and gameplay, and once you've chosen a setting, how important is it to you to remain faithful to what is 'official' to the setting in question?
 

ffilz

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Quick questions - how important is the presence of demi-humans (elves, dwarves, etc) to what you want in terms of setting and gameplay, and once you've chosen a setting, how important is it to you to remain faithful to what is 'official' to the setting in question?
Non-humans are not necessary. In some ways, the game might be better without them. Cold Iron Samurai Adventures is running just fine with all human PCs.

No setting run by me will stay "official" very long, that said, as I mentioned, continuing with Harn as it became more defined just felt off. It WAS easy to drop Harn because many of my players graduated or otherwise moved on to different things, so by the time I was starting Cold Iron again several years later, I didn't feel a need to use Harn (though I did continue to use a silver standard and prices from Harn...) and switched to Blackmoor.

I want to keep close enough to the setting that any support material that comes out isn't rendered useless.
 

ffilz

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Nod is kitchen sink inasmuch it is a continent a bit like Eurasia. The magazines each cover a region, so one can pick and choose the cultures one wants. It’s not kitchen sink as in looney tunes.

The overall guide is free:

Hmm, looking over a few freebies for Nod, it looks like it's not going to be that helpful to me, the material focuses on a lot of new classes, new spells, and new monsters. That kind of material isn't going to be very useful for Cold Iron.
 

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Non-humans are not necessary. In some ways, the game might be better without them. Cold Iron Samurai Adventures is running just fine with all human PCs.

No setting run by me will stay "official" very long, that said, as I mentioned, continuing with Harn as it became more defined just felt off. It WAS easy to drop Harn because many of my players graduated or otherwise moved on to different things, so by the time I was starting Cold Iron again several years later, I didn't feel a need to use Harn (though I did continue to use a silver standard and prices from Harn...) and switched to Blackmoor.

I want to keep close enough to the setting that any support material that comes out isn't rendered useless.

Maybe Lankhmar, then? There's plenty of support out there, from multiple game lines. Not to mention the original stories, of course. One of the main changes would be the gods actually giving out cleric-style spells to cast, which really isn't a thing within the official setting, but you can always just handwave that away by saying that such blessings are kept subtle and on the down-low.
 

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Hmm, looking over a few freebies for Nod, it looks like it's not going to be that helpful to me, the material focuses on a lot of new classes, new spells, and new monsters. That kind of material isn't going to be very useful for Cold Iron.
I wonder if the Codex Martialis/Europe 1456 setting by fellow pubber Peter Von Danzig Peter Von Danzig might be the kind of thing you are looking for? There are some monsters but the main threats are human.
 

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Maybe Lankhmar, then? There's plenty of support out there, from multiple game lines. Not to mention the original stories, of course. One of the main changes would be the gods actually giving out cleric-style spells to cast, which really isn't a thing within the official setting, but you can always just handwave that away by saying that such blessings are kept subtle and on the down-low.
The setting might be amenable, but I would not particularly consider Cold Iron a good system to reflect the stories. Actually, I am starting to think that role playing in a book, TV, or movie setting is not something I want to tackle. Game system will (almost) never match the stories (certainly not the game systems I like) and then there's the problem if creating new stories in such a setting.
 

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Honestly, it sounds like robertsconley robertsconley 's Blackmarsh/Majestic Fantasy might be the safest bet for you to go with. I seriously doubt that he'll be offended if you edit/delete some of the stuff that doesn't fit the Cold Iron schema for your game.
 

robertsconley

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Honestly, it sounds like robertsconley robertsconley 's Blackmarsh/Majestic Fantasy might be the safest bet for you to go with. I seriously doubt that he'll be offended if you edit/delete some of the stuff that doesn't fit the Cold Iron schema for your game.
Nope no issues with that at all which is why not only why I have an SRD but supplied a editable doc as well.

Appreciate the shout out as well.
 

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Honestly, it sounds like robertsconley robertsconley 's Blackmarsh/Majestic Fantasy might be the safest bet for you to go with. I seriously doubt that he'll be offended if you edit/delete some of the stuff that doesn't fit the Cold Iron schema for your game.
It is looking like that. I do appreciate all the suggestions because they help me narrow down what I want and what I don't want.
 

ffilz

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Now to start hacking...

I'm still interested in discussion of how to better handle the non-combat skills. See my thread in the design forum.
 

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Nope no issues with that at all which is why not only why I have an SRD but supplied a editable doc as well.

Appreciate the shout out as well.
Looking through Blackmarsh, I see that viz is somewhat important to the setting.

I'm not quite sure what the best way to convert it for Cold Iron would be. I guess on one level it could just be stuff that helps make magic items. As such, PCs wouldn't be immediately able to use it, but could trade it to wizards (or priests) to make magic items. It would reduce the time for creation. It's also mentioned that it can be used directly to cast spells. Maybe it can be so used directly a bit like a potion, but the "cost" in viz would be double the amount of viz that could be used to make the same magical effect in a potion form. Advantage would be that the caster may cast any spell they know where a potion is fixed at creation time. Also the viz can be used to cast a targetted spell (potions only affect the consumer, or oils applied to weapons and armor). Hmm, that's actually pretty powerful in comparison to Cold Iron magic items (wands that can cast ranged targetted spells are pretty expensive and the caster has to use their own mana). So maybe viz is just usable for magic item creation. I'd also suggest that viz perhaps can at best contribute 1/2 the time cost of making a magic item.

On religions, traditional Cold Iron clerical cults are built by selecting several associations (domains) that are ranked as strong, normal, or weak. A strong association grants the spells from that domain a level earlier, weak a level later (some spells are power adjusted instead of level adjusted). The cults are sort of built with points, usually about 21 points with a strong association costing 5, normal 3, and weak 1. White and Black magic associations cost double. A typical cult with have 2 strong, 3 normal, and 2 weak. A White magic cult might have White and one other strong, and either 2 normal, or a normal and 2 weak (or they might "cheat" and get 22 or even 23 points, 2 strong including White, 2 normal, and 2 weak). I see the Majestic Realms religions each have a single domain though at least some of them look like they might translate to two or three Cold Iron associations. A bunch of work to do there.

Hmm, and Rangers... Cold Iron wouldn't have a Ranger class, but their spells might be wrapped into a clerical cult. I have some rules that allow weaker cults than 21 points that then also don't impact fighting ability so much (typically a cleric gets 4 combat skills to a pure fighters 5 combat skills, or a magic users 3 combat skills - there's more to it than that, but that's a simplification). So the Ranger cult might end up with 4.5 combat skills. Beyond that a Ranger would have Fighter levels, Cleric levels, and Expertise levels, using the Expertise for ranger skills. I'd have to look at the other benefits granted Rangers and see if anything makes sense.

Druids... Hmm... Some work to do there... Or leave Druids out...

That's some quick thoughts...
 

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Looking through Blackmarsh, I see that viz is somewhat important to the setting.

I'm not quite sure what the best way to convert it for Cold Iron would be.
1 viz equals one magic point. Keep in mind that viz started out as ephemeral 1 pt Powerstones in GURPS. If I read your rules right, MP is an attribute. But compared to GURPS Humans get 6d6 MP roughly double the amount of fatigue a GURPS Mage gets. So it is slightly weaker but still in the ballpark.

As for helping with magic items you will have to establish what viz is worth in sp. But it should sub in for part (or all if there is enough) of the creation cost. In GURPS you expended buckets of fatigue (100s) to make magic items. It is rare you can make anything decent in one go so often you the slow and steady method which means 1 mage expends 1 Fatigue per day to make the item.



On religions, traditional Cold Iron clerical cults are built by selecting several associations (domains) that are ranked as strong, normal, or weak. A strong association grants the spells from that domain a level earlier, weak a level later (some spells are power adjusted instead of level adjusted). The cults are sort of built with points, usually about 21 points with a strong association costing 5, normal 3, and weak 1. White and Black magic associations cost double. A typical cult with have 2 strong, 3 normal, and 2 weak. A White magic cult might have White and one other strong, and either 2 normal, or a normal and 2 weak (or they might "cheat" and get 22 or even 23 points, 2 strong including White, 2 normal, and 2 weak). I see the Majestic Realms religions each have a single domain though at least some of them look like they might translate to two or three Cold Iron associations. A bunch of work to do there.

Hmm, and Rangers... Cold Iron wouldn't have a Ranger class, but their spells might be wrapped into a clerical cult. I have some rules that allow weaker cults than 21 points that then also don't impact fighting ability so much (typically a cleric gets 4 combat skills to a pure fighters 5 combat skills, or a magic users 3 combat skills - there's more to it than that, but that's a simplification). So the Ranger cult might end up with 4.5 combat skills. Beyond that a Ranger would have Fighter levels, Cleric levels, and Expertise levels, using the Expertise for ranger skills. I'd have to look at the other benefits granted Rangers and see if anything makes sense.

Druids... Hmm... Some work to do there... Or leave Druids out...

That's some quick thoughts...
I will look at your list of domains and give suggestions. One thing to keep in mind is that my deities and their religions are all universal not specific. Each god espouses a general philosophy broad enough to base an entire culture around despite their monikers as a God of X. I will explain more in a follow-up post.
 

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1 viz equals one magic point. Keep in mind that viz started out as ephemeral 1 pt Powerstones in GURPS. If I read your rules right, MP is an attribute. But compared to GURPS Humans get 6d6 MP roughly double the amount of fatigue a GURPS Mage gets. So it is slightly weaker but still in the ballpark.

As for helping with magic items you will have to establish what viz is worth in sp. But it should sub in for part (or all if there is enough) of the creation cost. In GURPS you expended buckets of fatigue (100s) to make magic items. It is rare you can make anything decent in one go so often you the slow and steady method which means 1 mage expends 1 Fatigue per day to make the item.
I think there's a difference in relative magnitude between ephemeral power and resource to make a magic item between GURPS and Cold Iron. Note that a Cold Iron magic user with 36 MP (an above average roll and a few levels) generates 6 MP per hour that can be used to power spells. Well, OK, someone with 36 MP will never get to power 6 MP/hour of spells because they need to use some MP to start the spell... So they use some MP to cast spells and then can sustain 5 MP/hour of spells. So a viz giving a character 1 MP to use isn't much of a big deal, players would much rather save the viz to use to make or trade for magic items.

Older magic item creation rules required 100s of MP to make a magic item. I changed the rules at some point so it's mostly time (maybe that made pricing items easier, I'm not sure, someday I need to really look through all my old stuff and try and understand my progression). I think my implication was the creator was still putting in lots of MP and that I just changed to pure time to simplify (assuming the creator has a reasonable amount of MP and thus MP they can produce per day). Now a challenge is does the viz replace a set amount of MP, time, or cash value. If either of the first two, viz will be more valuable when used by a higher level magic user, so my thought would be that it's a set cash value even though that makes less mechanical logic. Maybe higher level magic users can transform the viz into magic item using less time so they take less time but charge more per day, the result being the same value produced (and then basically maybe viz doubles the productivity of the time spent, so using viz gets you a magic item in half the time).

I will look at your list of domains and give suggestions. One thing to keep in mind is that my deities and their religions are all universal not specific. Each god espouses a general philosophy broad enough to base an entire culture around despite their monikers as a God of X. I will explain more in a follow-up post.
Ah, I like that so cultures are not necessarily polytheistic.
 

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I didn't read the whole thread, but I saw that I have been invoked. If you are interested in having a look at a 15th Century historical setting, PM me and I'll send you a PDF copy of our Player's Guide (mostly system agnostic setting book) or our Baltic book (historical setting data with no game system in it) whichever you prefer. Or if you are more focused on magic we also have Codex Superno which is magic based on historical sources.
 

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I didn't read the whole thread, but I saw that I have been invoked. If you are interested in having a look at a 15th Century historical setting, PM me and I'll send you a PDF copy of our Player's Guide (mostly system agnostic setting book) or our Baltic book (historical setting data with no game system in it) whichever you prefer. Or if you are more focused on magic we also have Codex Superno which is magic based on historical sources.
Thanks for the offer but I'm not particularly interested in historical settings (well, OK, so Cold Iron Samurai Adventures is set in Heian Japan, but...).
 

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Rob, do you have a map of the area to the West of Blackmarsh and the Southlands you could share? Blackmarsh is a bit close to the edge of the map for me to trust players wouldn't wander West off the edge...

Though I might want to start the PCs in the Southlands, it looks somewhat more settled (but I haven't actually looked at population numbers).

I need to start pulling together ideas of what kinds of Cold Iron NPCs are where and some ideas for immediate adventuring...
 

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ffilz ffilz I sent you a message.
For everybody else this is a preview of the Majestic Fantasy Realm I been working on.

1667865068096.png

As for the big big picture. The white area are stuff I have made already. Some areas may be tweaked that are far from the white area but the general gist will remain the same.

Master Map Rev 7sm.jpg
Finally a combined map of the Blackmarsh and Southland done in a style consistent with the original release.

 

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By the way, I'm recruiting for a play by post campaign on Unseen Servant.
 

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I thought I'd continue some discussion here...

I've been thinking a bit about what makes Glorantha easy to run with RuneQuest, and part of it is the ease of running wilderness encounters. With the relatively short list of "monsters" (anything other than humans...), it's easy to get a handle on what the danger is. I heavily use broos and troll kind as dangerous encounters. Undead are found in certain places. Then there's a few more iconic monsters that I use much of the time. And if I use an encounter table, while there may be other monsters to encounter also, it seems like it's easier to figure out how such an encounter relates to the world so the game can have a bit better feel than just random arena battle setups. Thinking about this led me to thinking about my grad school Cold Iron Blackmoor campaign. In that campaign, the primary "monsters" encountered were swamp trolls (regenerate, don't use weapons, sneak into camp at night, nasty, often the first encounter of expeditions heading West from Vestfold), goblins, and mountain trolls (smarter, use weapons, nasty). There were also giant ants swarming out of the Hellpits of Nightfang (a re-purposed RQ adventure, I don't remember if they ever even got past the giant ants or gave up and looked for adventure elsewhere). Oh, and ghouls, and skeletons, wights, and wraiths.

So my trick for adapting to a new setting is finding the core creatures and understanding them enough to develop consistency that the players can learn (or can be shared with them). I read through Blackmarsh listing the creatures that are mentioned so this would be a start. I don't feel beholden to not changing any creatures (I often reskin modules that I convert to RuneQuest or Cold Iron, no reason I can't reskin a setting a bit).

Challenge with this is part of why I think my Rune Quest Thieves Guild campaign may not survive. The PCs have left the city, and I have no damned idea what is out there or how it relates. Sure I could make it up, but I'm tired of making everything up for a setting. Of course the other part of the likely burnout is that yet again, in absence of something to drive adventure I hinted at a conspiracy that I have no fucking idea what's actually going on, so I can't drive clues or respond to investigation, why do I keep doing this to myself?

So to make a Cold Iron Blackmarsh campaign work for me, I'm going to have to repeat what works for me for Glorantha and what worked for Blackmoor all those years ago (note that the Blackmoor campaign WAS cooked up out of almost nothing... Part of why I didn't use many monsters is that Cold Iron only comes with a small handful of monsters otherwise it's make your own, and the monsters it comes with don't include things like goblins). Over the years I've statted up tons of monsters for Cold Iron, but like RQ, I don't think it actually needs that many. They just have to have a well defined place in the world so even a random encounter still drives the campaign forward.
 

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Challenge with this is part of why I think my Rune Quest Thieves Guild campaign may not survive. The PCs have left the city,
Dammit, players! What part of "urban thief campaign" do you not understand?!
 

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ffilz ffilz You've probably realized by now, and I mean no offence, that trying to find a setting for a system is kind of like trying to climb a tree with your arse pointing upwards :angel: Achievable, but sweaty business... :sweat:

Have you given thought about making your own setting? Or at least borrowing the parts from various sources you like and gluing them back together.
 
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Dammit, players! What part of "urban thief campaign" do you not understand?!
Well, part of the incentive was they made a huge haul and felt like they would get the best money selling it elsewhere. The other part was that honestly I've never been successful at running an urban campaign... And we sort of ran out of Thieves Guild scenarios.
 

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ffilz ffilz You've probably realized by now, and I mean no offence, that trying to find a setting for a system is kind of like trying to climb a tree with your arse pointing upwards :angel: Achievable, but sweaty business... :sweat:

Have you given thought about making your own setting? Or at least borrowing the parts from various sources you like and gluing them back together.
Actually Blackmarsh is looking like a pretty good setting for Cold Iron... Yea, there was a bunch of work deciding how Clerics were going to work (sparking a lengthy PM conversation between Rob and me), but I was going to have to do that no matter what. As to making my own setting, that has never worked for me, it just isn't where my creativity shines. I work better when I have some constraints. Even a map can be enough if it's got some good stuff on it, thus my grad school Cold Iron Blackmoor campaign worked out pretty good, on the other hand, it was a pure murder hobo campaign. In looking for a bit more than a murder hobo campaign I work best when I have some stuff already there to work off. Glorantha has worked well for me in that sense. I think Blackmarsh will also though I need to grasp a bit more of the larger picture conflicts and stuff that are going on (Rob - anything I should be looking for there?).
 
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