Sunday 25 December 2022

Fortnightly Fiends: Moonwasp

 In the void between worlds, and in the silver-limned reaches of the Astral and Ethereal Planes are many variegated creatures, many fearsome and many utterly alien: imagine then, the sense of comfort the planar traveller feels upon first encountering the Moonwasp, so familiar in form, singing their everlasting mental hymns to the pleasures of friendship and the joy of the new. Despite their appearance - human-sized wasps with silver wings and white bodies and rainbow-hued multifaceted eyes - Moonwasps will almost always treat first encounters as a chance for a new friendship and sharing of stories. They are great travellers and singers - and occasionally defenders of those whose freedom and individuality is threatened by other, less benign planar forces. Thus they are betimes found opposing Devils, Demons and other such horrors.

Moonwasps can function in the void of space, and the Astral and Ethereal Planes without hindrance, although they do enjoy visiting the Prime Material Plane and its multifarious variants (not so much during the hours of daylight, however). They have some command of planar magic, and their powerful minds are opaque to magical control. They do not like to fight, but will do so if pressed, especially against Chaotic foes and the alien horrors that stalk the void. They prefer, however, to utilise their potent mental songs to defuse dangerous situations.

Moonwasp for Labyrinth Lord 

Saturday 15 October 2022

Fortnightly Fiends: The Mither

Out in the wild grasslands of the Fourwind Bleak, where the foul winds blow from the ruins of Aria, on the magequake-scarred veldts of Old Hyarenia, and across the wide plains flanking the alchemy-poisoned waters of the River Trebb, and in other grassy places where uncontrolled or corrupted magic has caused serious damage, there can be found the Mither. This - generally timid - small herbivore, which resembles an armadillo, but with lank ratty fur tufting up from between its little plates of armour, is a byproduct of such magical mishap. At about one foot in length, the Mither would normally be regarded as merely a nuisance, but it has several effects that make it somewhat more vexatious, especially for those who wield magic power. Their bite carries an unpleasant disease that is particularly debilitating for spell casters, forcing them to exert themselves to an unusual extent when looking to cast spells. In addition, Mithers are hard to affect through magical power, and their armour is difficult for many weapons to pierce.

Tuesday 11 October 2022

Kambyra: The Interior

"At last! At very long last! In Dylaro we find the true fruiting and glorious justification of the Imperial mission. Here, one may sit in the cool shade of graceful colonnades  and sup happily on sweet peaches, coated with creamy honey, cooked in a brandy that surely even the Emperor would envy. And in the evenings, the opera! One is made aware of the improvement Imperial rule has brought everywhere, once past the cheerful crudities of the Antiso region. Plantations sprawl like well-made rugs over the opulent green hills, with the Anumi toiling in the fields and the laughter of the ladies taking high tea makes pleasant music for a weary traveller. Here, if nowhere else in Kambyra, has the Empire fulfilled its promise and expressed its mighty and elevated nature." 

An excerpt from the Earl of Zastenuto’s “The Empire Abroad: An Exile’s Travels Throughout The Colonies”

"Everything one travels to the colonies hoping to leave behind: bigots gorging honeyed peaches in brandy, arrogant fools with no manhood warbling effete arias for other arrogant fools, ladies laughing vapidly over their whip-won tea, the Anumi toiling in the fields, their daily renewed stripes gathering flies in the unrelenting sun, the bones of elf and fey and indigene moldering beneath the velvet hills. And the laughing, the high pitched tittering that never ceases. A trained ear will find no mirth or conviction in it, for it is no more than a frenzied drawing of curtains across a broken window, revealing the fear of insignificance and sense of inadequacy it strives to hide." 

Calvid Rhoak, the Wandering Scrimshander

The Kambyran heartland abides in the dreams of the Empire's poor as a kind of perfected colonial endeavour, where the hardworking can become wealthy, thanks to some of the most abundant lands found on Verkhun and a mellow climate, warm and well-watered, but, in truth, there is no easy prosperity to be found. Most land is locked away in perpetual leases from the Emperor to the local nobility, and with their vast number of Anumi and indigenous Kambyran slaves, these parasitic plantation owners can out-compete in scale and price any smallholder. Sooner or later, the aristocrats drive any competition to the wall - quite literally, as a smallholder who can not pay for their lease is not only stripped of the lease, but all of their goods and chattels, such as they are, and sent to 'the Wall', the palisade of rough-hewn logs that divides the Interior Shires from the western parts of the colony, where they are sent out and forbidden to return for a year and a day. Should they seek to return after their period of debtor's exile, they must pay a large fine to do so. Those that manage to return often end up as tavern-keepers, servants, costermongers or petty-thieves in Dylaro, the colony's official capital.

This small city, prettily situated on Lake Merryndin, nestled at the foot of the greatest heights of the mighty southern mountains gives a dramatic display of all that is admirable and awful in the Empire's high culture. The architecture is universally magnificent: there are no shanties, no run-down poor districts. Even the poorest folk live in seemingly well-appointed tenements. The divergence between appearance and reality is vast, however. The tenements are all façade, for the tiny rooms where the poor dwell are dark, damp and bereft of any pleasurable appurtenances.

Dylaro is, in fact, not a rich town: the region's wealth is concentrated in the magnificent villas of the aristocracy, and the folk who dwell therein are well-served by itinerant traders, entertainers, courtesans, physicians and their own chaplains - the marvellous Basilica of the Blessed Throne in Dylaro is seldom full. Aristocratic society in the Interior Shires mirrors that of the Empire itself, without the gravitational urge towards the Imperial Court. In an endless round of balls, feasts, tourneys, hunts and assorted "merriments", the nobility, high and low, circulate from one villa to the next, pursuing their political and financial maneuvers and their interminable, multiple and largely superficial romantic endeavours.  

Thursday 1 September 2022

TONK Turns 100: Reflections and Prognostications

So this is actually the hundredth post for Tales of the New Kingdoms, which is kind of a cool thing, and about ninety more than I expected to do. I can't claim that this blog has taken off, but it does seem to get a little attention now and then, and hopefully provides some enjoyment or interest. I don't know what amount of views constitutes success, and, in any case, that's probably not the best metric: putting this stuff online - a species of thinking aloud - has been enjoyable in its own right, and has enabled me to consider many different gaming systems as well as refining my own ideas about the New Kingdoms themselves. A lot of what's been presented here has found its way into my own campaign (one way or another), and I hope that some of the ideas have been adopted elsewhere. That pretty much ticks all the boxes for me, as a niche writer in a niche hobby. 


Of those hundred posts, some have been very minor, whilst some have required a very great deal of thought. Oddly enough, some of the high effort posts have gone unremarked, almost unviewed, and a few of the posts that were almost automatic in their production seem to have attracted a quite high - for this blog - number of views. The Callac, Grommel and the Winter Gnomes seem to have been very popular, as have been the Petty-classes and there seems to be some need for converting Rolemaster skills to Pathfinder skills and vice versa. 


Conversely, some of the posts that have been most important to me have passed without much of a ripple: the material on broadening the possibilities of RMFRP professions through Talents and skills for OSR games seems to be overlooked, and certainly passes without comment. But, as I noted above, its the act of writing, and thinking about all this stuff that is intrinsically rewarding, so in many respects, the popularity contest aspect of blogging about TTRPGs, is, if not wholly irrelevant, mostly so.


ANYhoo, I've been gratified to have struck a chord every now and then, and hugely appreciative of anyone who reads this stuff - even if they come away thinking it's not all that good. Thanks very much for your time and attention.


OK, so that's looking back: what about the future direction of this generally directionless blog? I suspect that there will be less and less material for OSR systems outside a select few. There are so many that I suspect I'll confine myself to Blood & Treasure and Labyrinth Lord. As to RM in its various guises, it remains my first love in tabletop gaming, so I doubt I'll stop making up material for previous editions, when I care to. So far, so more of the same. I've also recently re-engaged with Fantasy Hero, and Against the Darkmaster (and the Open00 License!) and discovered Legend. Quite what that means for this blog, I'm not sure, but I suspect material influenced by those systems, or even directly related will seep in over time. Pathfinder probably won't get an awful lot of love, but the mountains of content out there for the game will doubtless see some conversion and adaptation.   


However, I've not given up on the idea of gifting the New Kingdoms their own system, for reasons I've given previously (and often! My apologies). It may well be that this blog transmutes over time into a TONK-system only blog. Of course, that will require finishing - and releasing - the system, so that's taking the longue durée with a vengeance. A true TONK ruleset would incorporate lots of the material around Petty-classes (and OSR content in general), some facets of RM, WFRP or vs.D and incorporate it all under a single percentile mechanic, but with some use of other kinds of dice (why? I like different kinds of dice, especially in odd combinations in character creation. No other more serious reason).


The other thing a true TONK ruleset would have is skills GALORE. I’m a mostly unapologetic fan of skills, and, indeed, finicky arithmetic (in any case, a TONK ruleset would not see release without a viable spreadsheet for character creation, so, arithmetic shouldn't be a barrier to entry). I find myself thinking that everything in a TONK game could plausibly be reduced to skills, including magic, unique talents and so on. I rate skills higher than I do classes/professions, so I’d possibly go classless, and let the characters express themselves through their choice of skills.


Much to think about, and, I hope, much to look forward to. Thanks again, so very much, for checking out Tales of the New Kingdoms over the last hundred posts and – almost – five years. More to come!

As a late addition, I decided to celebrate by releasing the first ever Tales of the New Kingdoms product on DTRPG. It's PWYW, so feel free to check it out!

As another late addition, posts may be even more sparse than usual here at Tales of the New Kingdoms for a while: this weekend just gone has been busy ("Men's Health Weekend", when five of us. friends since school and university, hire a house somewhere and spend a weekend playing Rolemaster and board games, as well as hurling good-natured abuse at each other and solving the world's problems), and also there are family medical issues that will be taking up a likely huge slice of time over the next month or so. I have a bit lined up - just needs editing - for the next few weeks, but once that's cleared up, there may be something of a hiatus.

And, in the final update, I'm happy to share that the family medical issues mentioned above have been surmounted for the while, and a period of chaos at work is hopefully abating for now as well, so I can hopefully start getting content out again. 

Monday 29 August 2022

Fortnightly Fiends: Muck Elves

"Perhaps it is the outcome of some vile experiment in hybridization, or some Shroud-induced degeneration. I know not. I know only that the Elves who dwell in the Dragonmirk and the swamps that fester around the shores of the Bay of Olkos are the least pleasant, and least predictable of their kind, and all the worse for their strange powers. I deem them a poor prospect as trading partners, for all that they can source many interesting and rare commodities. Even the Marsh Goblins understand - nay, embrace - trade. These creatures, on the other hand, see it as an opportunity for malice."

        Abrusk Aardys, Commodore 1st class, Ghelbur Trading League, Report X-I_323c, submitted and filed Year 451 of the New Reckoning.

The so-called Muck Elves are not, as is commonly thought, Elves modified by the sorcerous pressures of Shroudfall (or at least, not wholly so). They have, in fact, existed for far longer. Takan'zekki, the Absinthe Dragon of Eltmire won a disaffected tribe of Elves to her service over 1800 years ago and spent considerable time and effort 'adapting' them until they were fit for her realm and their duties. They were, however, unable to reproduce Simple attrition had reduced their numbers from over 300 to just 35 when Shroudfall struck. By the time Eltmire had returned to some semblance of normalcy, the surviving Muck Elves were aware of two changes: Takan'zekki was gone, her whereabouts unknown, and the Muck Elves were now capable of breeding. 

Always licentious and devoted to pleasures - they did, after all, serve an Absinthe Dragon - they now bred and bred, until there were too many for the Eltmire to support. They spread out then, in search of new homelands. Eventually, some found their way to the New Kingdoms, particularly the swamps created by the sinking shores of the Bay of Olkos and the collapse of old Venara into the sea. Their rampant reproduction rate is now somewhat outmatched by the fury with which they are hunted by other swamp-dwellers: Moss Trolls, Marsh Goblins, Mugwumps, and many others loathe the Muck Elves, and often seek to drive them right out of the swamplands. 

Muck Elves tend to be a little shorter than other Elves, as well as being oddly pudgy - they are in fact quite muscular, but have a small layer of subcutaneous fat around much of their torso and limbs, an adaptation introduced by Takan'zekki, possibly with the aim of increasing their buoyancy in the swamps. Their colouring is usually a loamy brown, with twinkling eyes of bright green, whilst they are almost hairless. Of greater remark are their iridescent dragonfly wings, which they use to hover, zip and dart like, well, dragonflies.

They retain most of their Elven abilities, but have several improvements: they can belch forth a 20' line of caustic goo, and may cast the spells acid arrow and stinking cloud (though only on a limited basis, see above). In addition, when lolling around in mud, they regenerate 1 hp of damage per round. The RMFRP version is detailed below:


Friday 26 August 2022

The Knife Master: a Training Package for RMFRP


This one very much belongs in the "bit of fun" category. It's basically an old file I found in an old folder. 
It's a mere bagatelle, but kind of neat.


Myrdan was tired and annoyed: things had gone poorly in his meeting with that bumptious bureaucrat, Dennant. In the end, Myrdan had exploded with temper and issued threats, threats he fully intended to carry out. He hastened along the Hawker’s Way, almost oblivious to the milling crowds as he savoured his revenge. When he bumped into the nondescript little chap in a workaday smock and pants he barely halted, but the impertinent fool had the temerity to pluck at his sleeve. Myrdan wheeled back to face him, saw that he was unarmed and sneered.  “What do you want, churl?” The man’s wry smile was almost apologetic as he suddenly lunged forward, so close – too, close – to Myrdan, who reached, in vain, for his sword.

“Dennant sends his regards, sir,” the man murmured, and Myrdan was transfixed by the short cruel blade that suddenly bloomed, as if by magic, and danced, almost quicker than the eye, in the man’s nimble fingers. Then the blade thrust forward…


The Knife Master is an individual who combines swiftness and stealth to wield small blades with great skill. They specialise in misdirection and the concealment of their chosen blade, fully aware of the possibilities of an easily hidden weapon in a world of cautious nobles, merchants and crime lords. In combat they strive to keep more powerfully armed foes from wielding their weapons, using feints, disarms and quick movements to get inside their opponent’s guard.

Time to Acquire:

19 months

Starting Money:



Weapon (+10 non-magic)………………………………………………………………………..……...….…………………30

Sheath (+10 to Quickdraw)……………….…………………...………………………………………………....…..….……30

Sheath (+10 to Hiding Item)………………………………..................................................………..................….…………15

Rival (equal or better skill)…………..………………………...……………………………………………………..………10

Sheath (+5 to Quickdraw)………………...…………………………………………………………...…………….…..……15

Weapon (+5 non-magic)…..………………………………….................................................……………..…................…100

Category or Skill:

Weapon•One-handed, Edged skill category


one Short Blade*


Subterfuge•Mechanics skill category


Hiding Items


Special Attacks skill category


Disarm Foe, Armed


Feint, Armed


Combat Maneuvers skill category






Reverse Stroke


Weapon Trickery


* includes Dagger, Dirk, Knife or Misericorde.

Cost By Profession







Warrior Monk




















Lay Healer




























Channeling Alchemist




Zen Monk


Essence Alchemist




Mentalism Alchemist




Taoist Monk




Shao-Lin Monk
























Warrior Mage


Priest (Channeling/Essence)




Priest (Semi)




Priest (Channeling)


Priest (Arms)


Priest (Channeling/Mentalism)










Thursday 18 August 2022

Wolves of War: The Ulfarga for Blood & Treasure (& RMFRP)

 Ulfarga (Lupine Beastkin)

Wild-hearted but honourable wolf-like humanoids, Ulfarga represent one of the largest populations of any Beastkin. They can be found almost anywhere in the rural regions of the New Kingdoms, and, although they are no lovers of city life, some dwell in the darker corners of the more derelict cities and towns. 

For the Ulfarga, loyalty to the clan was once all: although they were fierce in defence of their individuality and personal freedoms, they would almost always work to further the standing and wealth of their clans. Clans extended across whole kingdoms, steadily building their influence.

But this is no longer the case: Ulfarga have adopted worship of the Urdrinn pantheon, particularly Avraki and Jureus . This has led to an increasingly unified people and a gradual fragmentation of clan loyalties (and a reduction in strife between the clans). Many observers now fear that the Ulfarga will carry this unification to its logical endpoint, and begin founding their own kingdoms. In fact, this has already begun in some places: those Ulfarga clans who support Venrik, Prince of Wolves in the Southern Shores region are slowly preparing to spread his suzerainty, whilst in the Northerwylde region of Old Hyarenia, several Ulfarga clans have united to establish the Confederation of Norge. Although these two realms are not yet strong enough to do more than plan their expansion, they are harbingers of things to come - if other nations cannot find a way to come to terms with the Ulfarga. The Ulfarga have one significant disadvantage in the pursuit of their expansionary visions: they struggle to master the power of arcane magic, producing only Priests, Clerics and Sorcerors. Ulfarga Sorcerors and Warlocks are limited to a level equivalent to 8 plus their Charisma bonus.

Ulfarga average 64” in height and have a movement rate of 40’. They are covered in thick grey or black fur that silvers as they age, with pale eyes, prominent wolf-like ears and long muzzles filled with sharp teeth. Most Ulfarga prefer a Neutral or Lawful alignment. They live for 120 years. They commence play knowing one human lingua franca (usually Hyarene, Kanastasi, Urdrinn or Avronakiyan). 

Ulfarga are agile and robust, but are prone to a lack of imagination and have a daunting presence. They add +1 to Dexterity and Constitution, but subtract 1 point from Intelligence and Charisma. They have the following minimum/maximum ability scores: STR 5/18, INT 3/17, WIS 3/18, DEX 6/18, CON 8/18, and CHA 3/17. They roll 3d4 +3 for their Heritage score. 

The wolf-folk are master trackers, adding +2 to all Tracking checks (and a further +2 where scent is involved). They are surprised only on a roll of 1 on a 1d6.

They also have a powerful bite attack (1d6 damage) and gain a +2 to all bull rush, grapple and overrun maneuvers if they are unarmoured. This last is often the case, as the Ulfarga have heavy pelts that grant them a natural AC of 12.

Ulfarga can, once per day, issue an eerie, prolonged howl that saps at the willpower of those within 50’. All those who can hear this howl must pass a saving throw or be frightened.

Ulfarga may select any of the following classes:  Acrobat, Assassin, Barbarian, Beastmaster, Blackheart, Bounty Hunter, Cleric, Defender, Dervish, Druid, Fighter, Monk, Priest (Fighting, Guardian), Prophet, Ranger, Scout, Sentinel, Shaman, Sorceror, Thief, Tomb Raider, Valkyrie, Warlock, Woodsman. 

They may also pursue the following multiclassing options: Assassin-Monk, Cleric-Defender, Cleric-Fighter, Cleric-Ranger, Cleric-Sentinel, Cleric-Scout, Cleric-Thief, Druid-Defender, Druid-Fighter, Druid-Scout, Fighter-Priest (Fighting), Fighter-Scout, Fighter-Shaman, Fighter-Thief, Monk-Shaman, Scout-Shaman.

Wednesday 17 August 2022

Kambyra: The South-West


"There is little enough to love in the southwest of this accursed isle: before I took my tour there, some spoke highly of the wildness of the southern coast, esteeming its beauty, but beauty I did not see, merely savage cold storms and the hostility of a landscape created, seemingly, to stand in opposition to civilisation and human majesty. That the inhabitants were crude should scarcely occasion comment. They knew little of the imperial glory that sustains them, and less of the civility and proper sentiment that upholds that glory."

An excerpt from the Earl of Zastenuto’s “The Empire Abroad: An Exile’s Travels Throughout The Colonies”

"The southwest has few admirers, being mostly empty, wild and dangerous. But what of that? It has no need of them, being, as I say, for the most part empty, wild and dangerous." 

Calvid Rhoak, the Wandering Scrimshander

The southwestern quadrant of Kambyra is but lightly settled, with most folk dwelling in the sun-soaked north-facing foothills beyond the River Menner, where vineyards and sheep-farming prevail. Somewhat isolated due to the Fens of Vastroy north of the river, the folk who dwell here are stoic and independent. Their lands, save for a small area between the villages of Mennerley and Kemley Bridge, are not ruled by nobles, being instead administered by the colonial government through village councils and warded by local militias. 

At the westernmost point of this region, a lightly wooded range of low hills forms a small peninsula protruding into the open sea. Unprotected from the mighty winds that roar from the south, it is home to a few hardy crofters and woodcutters...and not a few brigands. Pirates sometimes lair in the lee of the hills. The colonial administration built the keep and lighthouse of Balepoint in the hope of suppressing piracy and banditry, but, starved of funds, it has lain empty for decades.

South of this quiet land, great peaks rear up, rising dramatically to heights in excess of 8000', with passage only possible in a few places where swift-flowing streams have carved narrow valleys. Even in these locales passage is precarious, where steep, rough-cut paths ascend to exposed cols and saddles - often blocked for weeks on end by heavy snows.

The mountains are home to several unfriendly lineages: Snow Ogres, Goat Men and Harpies plague travellers and those whose sheep stray into the higher valleys, whilst Peryton, Gyres and Wyverns contend for mastery of the western cliffs that lour above the savage seas. Only one path through the mountains is truly safe: that running from Kealey Bridge to Shatterspar Bay. It is protected by a small tribe of Cyclopeans, who have contracted with the merchants of Kambyra Town to keep the passage open. Led by the formidable witch-warrior Hekus, they are left unmolested in return for protecting the road and those who travel upon it.

South of the mountains is a region of windswept plateaus and towering cliffs. Safe anchorages are scarce, and there is only one settlement of any significance: Shatterspar Bay, where a deep harbour - the best in the colony, once one navigates the treacherous reefs and brutal winds that defend the mouth of the bay - can be found. The isolation and difficulty of the harbour means it is mostly ignored by trading vessels. The Imperial Navy sought to develop it as a naval base: a few collapsed earthworks in the lower harbour offer mute testament to the failure of the venture.

Shatterspar Bay would be almost completely ignored were it not for the incredibly rich fishing grounds directly south of the bay and the fact that a rare breed of sea-snail (akin to the historical murex of ancient fame) is found in the bay. The dye it produces fetches staggering prices, and thus the merchants of Kambyra consider it well worth the cost of keeping the road open. The snails themselves are harvested by a family of Merfolk. These folk jealously guard their monopoly - and protect it from over-exploitation. The merchants of Kambyra Town - led by the cruel and greedy Yehan Yon Vago - have long desired the overthrow, or, at the very least, the enslavement of these stalwart folk.

East of Shatterspar Bay there are no human settlements, and the colonial government - though nominally sovereign - has neither authority nor power. This heavily wooded and mountainous land is home to various tribes of indigenous Kambyrans locked in perpetual struggle both with each other and with hostile Fey, Forest Goblins and a particularly pernicious brood of Svarts beholden to the ancient and dwindling Raven-priests of Drakeheyr, last remnant of a once-powerful cult that dominated much of the island.

Drakeheyr itself, an extensive complex of towers and caverns honeycombing a rocky headland on the south coast was once a resting place for migrating Giant Ravens. When those mighty, amoral monsters lost their millennia-long feud with the Sea-drakes (who, in their turn, were driven almost to extinction by the Baal-rukh of Mriros and his minions), the Cult's influence rapidly dissolved, until its sway barely reaches beyond the quiet, decrepit towers and tunnels of the Priests.

Northeast of Drakeheyr lies Gaelhorn, an abandoned dwelling of the Koryato Elves - a vanished sea-faring Elven culture, destroyed in conflict with both the Raven-cultists and the Shokottu Elves of Kambyra's eastern regions. A mighty stone tree carved from a cliff-face standing at the head of a long, fjord-like harbour, it is heavily eroded, its vaulted halls mostly ruined, its subterranean docks empty of ships. Rumours abound of treasures and sea-faring lore stored in hidden chambers, but if any have tested the truth of such tales, they remain silent. 

What is known of Gaelhorn is that even the Raven-cultists and their Svart minions do not dare approach the empty dwelling, and that the oldest lore of the Shokottu Elves links their own descent into barbarism with the defeat of the Koryato, as if that proud folk were cursed and diminished by their own victories. And indeed, the arrival of the Imperial Navy followed hard upon the heels of that conflict, and the colonial contagion soon swept the Shokottu away, leaving them a tattered vestige at the eastern margin of the Island, their storied history reduced to nothing, their heroic songs and epics now meaningless laments, maps of a land that no longer exists. 

Wolves of War: The Ulfarga for Blood & Treasure (& RMFRP)

  Ulfarga (Lupine Beastkin) Wild-hearted but honourable wolf-like humanoids, Ulfarga represent one of the largest populations of any Beastki...