Thursday 29 July 2021

The folklore of Faerun: Lathtarl's Lantern

I've been thinking about writing something like this for a while so I thought I'd take the plunge. This is potentially the first in a series of posts where I speculate and create folklore around regions of Faerun, likely just the Sword Coast, since that's a big part of where 5e is set so it's going to be useful to more people. The idea here is to present some rich folktales, legends, art, songs, foodways and other types of folklore into the setting to add a new element to the D&D game. Also D&D is more popular than anything at the moment and I want the views.

Today we start in the tiny fishing village of Lathtarl's Lantern. The village was founded by the pirate Lathtarl, who attracted various slavers, pirates and brigands to the location. 


Every year in the winter the villagers come together to recreate the crashing of Lathtarl's ship against the rocks in the bay. A procession led by a lantern-carrying 'captain' wearing a false beard and bells parades through the streets all the way to the cliff where the ship crashed. Children are dressed as 'rapscallions' in paper hats, representing the sailors who survived the wreck. At the end, a bonfire is lit with driftwood representing the old ship and the children throw their hats into the flames.


The traditional fishing nets are crafted from strong seaweed found along the shore, spun carefully by older artisans who worry the craft is dying out. Each net is given a blessing before it's sold in order to ensure a bountiful fishing haul. The blessing involves sprinkling salt over the net, followed by a splash of vinegar wine called Kalut (a strong delicacy here) and a prayer said to Umberlee. In game terms, the chances of a good catch are increased by 50% with a blessed net. 


A type of dark crusty bread sprinkled with salt. To finish, a copper piece is baked into the middle of the cob to represent good fortune. Salt cobs are a popular food to bake in the summer months when the waft of baking bread wafts through the village, almost enough to mask the smell of sea and pilchards. 


The village is often overrun with a thick fog, making fishing impossible without the aid of magic. Pebble fogging is a tradition where three concentric circles are painted onto pebbles from the beach and tossed into the sea as an offering to Umberlee. The circles are said to represent the sun that has come to burn away the fog. 


As a result of the number of shipwrecks around the coast there is widespread belief of a large hoard of treasure belonging to the legendary halfling captain Old Yoney. The treasure is said to be enough to make a king or queen of anyone able to carry it, but the story goes that should you escape with the treasure in tact you will be hunted by the ghost of Old Yoney and her crew. 


At midnight of a new year many villagers head out to wade in the freezing cold water, believing the act to bring prosperity for the year ahead. The custom has grown less popular due to lizardmen attacks. Sometimes out of towners are hired to protect the waders from would be attackers. 


- Whistling on a boat 

- Taking a pig or mule on a boat 

- Three ravens 

- Spilling Kalut 

- Stepping on a net

- Keeping the smallest fish of the catch 


Romance of the Perilous Land background: Sword Dancer

In Norhaut the Rapper Sword is a folk dance that requires dexterity, mental awareness and rhythm. Dancers wear percussive footwear to create a drumbeat while dancing with flexible steel blades, often hooked together in a star-like pattern with their fellow dancers. One wrong move can have a dancer's ear off...or worse. 

Recently the Rapper Sword has been outlawed under Mordred's rule in Norhaut, but some dancers still gather in secret to carry out these culturally important dances.

Skills: Acrobatics, History

Equipment: Dancing sword (ceremonial), percussive shoes, dancer's jacket, long socks, 2gp

Saturday 24 July 2021

Hand of glory for Romance of the Perilous Land


The hand of glory is a grotesque but useful magic item, particularly sought after by thieves and scoundrels. The left hand is cut from the body of a hanged murderer, squeezed of all its blood and pickled in a mixture of salt, pepper and nitre for two weeks. A candle is prepared using the fat from the murderer's hand and set within the gory grasp of the disembodied appendage. Lighting the candle upon entering a household acts as a potent sleeping spell, which is the reason a burglar would go to great lengths to get their hands on it. 

Preparing the hand of glory in a fashion that the magic will work requires a tough magic knowledge check at the end of the two weeks of preparation. If you fail by 5 or less the magic is retained but to a lesser potency. Failing by any more and the hand is entirely inert. 

When the candle is lit anyone within 100ft who is currently sleeping will not wake unless physically harmed. With the less potent version the range is reduced to 25ft. 

Order your copy of Romance of the Perilous Land from Osprey Games.

And hey, you can now grab the Map of the Perilous Land for free.

Wednesday 7 July 2021

So many ideas for Romance of the Perilous Land

 I'm percolating, Jerry. I mentioned on Twitter that I had something like 19 releases for RotPL planned over the coming years. It's stupid how much I want to do with this game, so I thought I'd share with you some of what I'm thinking. These are by no means final, but could be released in some form or another:

- Sacred sites: basically the natural sacred places in the world. I'll probably fold this into the Gods of the Perilous Land book.

- City books: probably for the key cities, but it feels like at least Camelot needs something. My next favourite is Ascalon, so I'll probably do something there.

- Faction books: a more in depth look at each faction.

- Book of the Otherworld: I've only really hinted at what's in the Otherworld, but it would be really cool to explore.

- Book of Valour: I want to do a full courtly knight thing. Codes, tournaments, how Knights operate. 

- Book of Beasts: there are SO many more creatures of British folklore to write about, so I'll definitely do that. 

- Campaign book: I don't like the idea of writing a big fat campaign, but I'd like to do a book of 20 short adventures that somewhat tie together. Maybe I'll check out the Prince Valiant campaign book for inspo.

I've got a Google Keep file full of monsters, locations and NPCs. A lot of these get posted here, but I'd imagine most will also make it into a book or two. 

Sunday 4 July 2021

Hearts and Scales out now


My brand new Romance of the Perilous Land quest Hearts and Scales is out now on DTRPG and Itch

This 16 page full colour adventure sees the heroes venture to a village terrorised by a foul worm. But with a rumour of a witch in the woods all may not be as it seems. 

I've based the quest on a real folk ballad, which features at the end of the adventure in a behind the scenes page that goes into a little detail about how the actual folktale plays out. 

I've included art by the wonderful Dean Spencer along with some lovely public domain illustrations. Enjoy your adventure in the Copperwood!