I’ve done minimal spruiking of this site, and it’s not linked to any major forum in particular but I think I’ve got a few decent posts out and generated some ongoing concepts and themes that will keep me going for the month to come.
Due to some family issues, I’m going to take a short break for a few weeks, generate a few prescheduled posts to sustain a weekly update schedule and then try and return once the ground beneath my feet has stabilised.
The first module of the second Adventure Path” “Curse of the Crimson Throne” written by Nicholas Logue back in 2008, before the advent of the PFRPG proper, this module is set in Korvosa, in the northern country of Varisia.
The adventure features a small derro contingent at the finale, the first appearance of the race in the Pathfinder series. As such, it’s a seminal work and set the scene for a lot of the thematic flavour of the derro of Golarion, casting them in sharp contrast to their previous incarnations as former Suloise slaves in the 2E Flanaess or the irrevocably warped escaped mind flayer thralls of the 3E Forgotten Realms setting.
Yes, the derro beneath Korvosa are something different again…
This is the first in a series of short posts about possible derro lairs, guard posts, enclaves and other settlements, based on maps I’ve sourced.
I’ve modified this map using just Preview as I haven’t got the hang of GIMP and currently lack access to Photoshop – it’s based on the excellent Dyson style “Mountaintop Science Facility w/ Temple Facade” (link in image to original) from the guy over at Megadungeon. I’d originally intended to use unchanged but on reflection feel that splitting it into different themed sections works better as I’ll explain below.
A rogue-like game set in a bizarre underground environment linked to their previous Fallen London offering, the player controls a ship that ventures through the subterranean ocean or “Unterzee” in search of profit, adventure and reputation. As a game it good but definitely requires patience and a sense of fatalism, tempered by persistence – it’s not an easy games or one for the novice or faint-hearted.
As a setting though it’s pretty interesting.. and reminiscent of the Sunless Sea from D1-2 or the Night Below, but with a further Lovecraftian element refracted through a Victorian perspective.
And just who would be crazy enough to captain a ship on a subterranean ocean littered with massive stalagmites and unseen horrors.
The article “By Any Other Name: Races of the Underdark, by Owen K.C. Stephens first appeared in DRAGON #281 (March 2001).
It’s first section contains some example prefixes for derro names, but the player is encouraged to mix and match with name fragments from other articles in the series (dwarves, elves) or alternatively combine with the duergar and svirfneblin name fragments on the other tables within the article.
I’ve listed the derro name prefixes here for reference:
Thus the two main derro deities with names of Diirinka may mean “treacherous wizard” or “lucky savant” whereas Diinkarazan may be loosely translated as “lost cursed brother” and secari is an “ornamental dagger” as described in early derro descriptions.
Other supplements have used other naming conventions with variable consistency, which I aim to compile as a list at some stage as a resource.
As discussed in my first post, I’m planning to talk a lot about derro savants, drawing on both the older Gygax material of 1E/2E and the later versions and setting based variations for inspiration, while pushing some of the existing concepts in different directions, whether they be Shaverian, Lovecraft inspired or just intersting.
This little guy on the right, Y, from the 5E Out of the Abyss, is part of the inspiration – a seemingly sane Neutral savant member of the Faerun Underdark’s “Society of Brilliance”
Before we start looking at variants, let’s get some basics out of the way.
In the previous post I speculated about the horde of albino apelings from Sea of Death and their relationship to the Suloise derro of the Greyhawk setting.
I think the cross bred origin, while somewhat distasteful admittedly, does fit with the original derro concept and is an expansion on the folklore. To that end, modeling the albino apelings as single minions or a swarm seems like a fun project, so I’ll present some of my design thoughts here.
A living wall of albino apes was coming through the doorway. Their faces twisted in snarling expressions, showing their yellow canines but making no sound, the mute, baboon-like things began to plow through the opening. The front wave had impacted the partially open door and pushed it inward. Because they had paused outside the door and thereby lost their momentum, and because the portal was heavy and not easily moved, the beasts’ initial entry was slow. The apes behind the first wave had an opportunity to build up some speed in the corridor, and they ran over the ones in front of them. The result was that a few of the apes were stunned or injured by their allies, and the haphazard nature of the charge gave the adventurers inside the room a few valuable seconds to prepare for the onslaught.
– Chapter 12, Sea of Death, by Gary Gygax 1987
An evocative scene from the 3rd Gord the Rogue novel (the first one after Gygax’s falling out with TSR) where the heroes are attacked by a reckless horde… nay, a swarm of angry albino apelings led by “pale midgets”.
I was originally going to title this post Derro Clerics, Seriously?, but given the focus of the discussion is really going to be about derro as Divine spellcasters that most use Wis as their primary ability, it’s probably worth expanding on to include all these:
Plus quite a long list from the other major core PFRPG sources readily available on the PFSRD:
Note an Oracle (APG) uses Cha however… more on that later.
Overall it’s an idea almost as crazy as this guy here:
This landmark article, written by Roger E. Moore and published in DRAGON #241 (Nov 1997) is one of my favourite pieces of roleplaying history, with extensive 2E mechanics on playing PCs from the lost albino Lerara tribe (first tantalisingly mentioned in the original Greyhawk boxed set), derro, the diminutive jermlaine or even a unique albino su-doppleganger.
The fiction material in this piece forms the basis of much of the Greyhawk derro lore, detailing and expanding on the now classic Suloise slave origin story first hinted at in Gary Gygax’s third Gord the Rogue novel, Sea of Death, which details the exploration of the Forgotten City.
Much of the background fiction is in the form of a letter: