Monday, April 29, 2013

Rob Donoghue says some nice things about Lords of Gossamer and shaodw.

This is copied from Rob Donoghue's post you can find the original HERE

So, the very first use of the Evil Hat brand was for running Amber.  Fred & Lydia had the chance to play in some amazing games up at Ambercon Northwest, and we decided to join forces and run some games.  "Evil Hat" was the umbrella that we ran these games under (and they were awesome).

Notably, the guy who ran the games that Fred & Lydia were most excited about was a gentleman named Jason Durall. They came back with props from these games, and excited stories, and largely created in me a profound envy.

I mention this because this Jason Durall guy is the lead writer on Lords of Gossamer and Shadow, an RPG currently being kickstarted.

Now, Amber is a weird (and awesome) community, so there are plenty of folks who already know who Jason is, and why an Amber-ish book by him is a big deal, but I want to take a moment to speak to you folks who don't already know why this is great.

So, the Amber Diceless Roleplaying Game was kind of a big deal.  It was never a huge game, but it was broadly influential and it inspired a very enthusiastic community. It was not the only diceless RPG, but it was fairly unique in what dicelessnes meant.  Previously, dicelessness largely meant some sort of non-random dice replacement (like spending tokens), but Amber went whole hog.  It's a game of GM fiat paired with very powerful characters that produces a strange and wonderful alchemy.  Perhaps most importantly, it put a huge emphasis on GM (and player)  *technique*, and that puts it in direct contrast with more system-centric designs.

I don't mention this in an attempt to assert superiority - that's nonsense.  Rather, I mention it as a valuable, potent alternative perspective, and one which I personally put a lot of stock in (even when I disagreed with specific implementation bits).

The kicker is, the IP end of the Amber DRPG has become something of a morass.  No need to delve into the details, but the bottom line is that it pretty much vanished from the world for a long time (though the PDFs are, I believe  now available on drivethru). The prospect of reviving the license was spoken of in hushed whispers.

Skip forward a bit, and you come to the Rite Publishing guys.  They had a fairly clever idea - pull out the mechanical elements of the ADRPG and serve them up separate from the Amber IP so that there was a framework for player contributions (a huge part of Amber culture).  The initial goal was modest - little more than a booklet - but it's grown.

Now, I have no insight into the why of it, but I can make a guess. One reason the ADRPG worked so well was that the mechanics were profoundly tied to the fiction of the books. Peeling out the rules from the IP is more than just an exercise of filing off serial numbers.

The solution was to build a new framework of fiction, one which captured thespirit of the original material (as well as its playability) without simply renaming known elements.  

Now, I'll totally cop to worrying about this.  Amber has a LOT of love, and any project that runs for a long time gathers a bit of a doom cloud (couhg FRPGcough), but that's only part of it.  See, Amber is almost defined by the multiple ways it might be interpreted, and some of those interpretations will not be to your taste.  Would LoGaS be so much someone's individual vision of what Amber "should be" as to make it useless to me?

And this is why we come back around to Jason Durrall being awesome.

I'll be writing some expansion material for one of the (already hit) stretch goals for the game, and that's meant I've had a sneak peak at the manuscript.

He nailed it.

It feels right.  It's full of grand sweeps and petty violence, but more, it feelsobvious to me that i can seize upon these pieces and make it my own game.  

It's not Amber, but that's a good thing, because It's Amber Plus all the things that have been built upon that foundation. It's a Well Favored Man. It's Merchant Princes. It's all the best parts of the Amber Legacy, and all the right bad parts too.

If you dig Amber, it'll be a good investment, and that's good.  But if you don'tknow Amber, and this whole dicelessness thing sounds interesting to you, then it's definitely a good investment.

Just my opinion, of course, but I'm all ready to start playing.

Friday, April 26, 2013

101 Variant Monsters Update (77 total now)

[101 series] finished up 7 more Variant Monsters today its Fljót Linnorm (Linnorm, Fjord), Firebird (Phoenix), Broken Harut (Inevitable, Marut), Titanium Golem (Mithral Golem), Grendal (Troll, Jotund) , Harpoon Golem (Cannon Golem), Thrice-Crowned King (Gorynych)

Here is a preview of

Thrice-Crowned King (Gorynych)

Description This armless, three-headed golden dragon has massive wings and two tails.

Immune electricity, force, paralysis, poison, sleep this replaces a gorynych's normal immunities

Melee 3 bites +24 (2d8+8) 2 tails +23 (1d8+8) this replaces a gorynych's normal melee attacks

Breath Weapon (Su) 40-ft. line, 5d6 (half electricity, half force) push to end of line, Reflex DC 24 for half negates push, usable every 1d4 round. Each of a thrice-crowned king’s heads has its own separate breath weapon. When a thrice-crowned king uses its breath weapon, it can breathe with one, two, or all three heads. If the areas of two or more breath weapons overlap, a creature caught in that overlapping area has the Reflex save DC increased by +2 (or +4 if three breath weapons overlap). Damage done by overlapping breath weapons stacks and is considered to be a single source of electricity and force damage for the purpose of tracking resistance. Regardless of how many heads breathe, the thrice-crowned king can only use its breath weapon once every 1d4 rounds.
This replaces a gorynych's normal breath weapon special attack.

Hurricane Gust (Ex) As a standard action a thrice-crowned king can create a severe blast of air (approximately 75 mph) that originates from it, affecting all creatures in a 25 ft. radius burst, its effects last till the beginning of the thrice-crowned king turn.
  • A Small or smaller creature on the ground is knocked down and rolled 1d4×10 feet, taking 1d4 points of nonlethal damage per 10 feet. If flying, a Small or smaller creature is blown back 2d6×10 feet and takes 2d6 points of nonlethal damage due to battering and buffeting.
  • Medium creatures are knocked prone by the force of the wind, or if flying are blown back 1d6×10 feet.
  • Large creatures are unable to move forward against the force of the wind, or if flying are blown back 1d6×5 feet.
  • Huge or larger creatures may move normally within a hurricane blast effect.
All flames are extinguished. Ranged attacks are impossible (except with siege weapons, which have a –8 penalty on attack rolls). Perception checks based on sound are impossible: all characters can hear is the roaring of the wind. Hurricane-force winds often fell trees. In addition to the effects noted, a hurricane blast can do anything that a sudden blast of wind would be expected to do. It can create a stinging spray of sand or dust, fan a large fire, overturn delicate awnings or hangings, and blow gases or vapors to the edge of its radius.
This replaces a gorynych's bestow curse, charm person and lesser geas spell-like abilities.

Regeneration (Ex): A thrice-crowned king has a regeneration rate of 22. Its regeneration is only suppressed if it wills it so, which usually only happens when it is under some kind of compulsion.  It regenerates even if disintegrated, drown, or slain by a death effect. If a trhice-crowned king fails a save against an effect that would kill or destroy it instantly, it rises from death, alive 3 rounds later with 1 hit point, if no further damage is inflicted upon its remains. It can be banished or otherwise transported, but the method to truly kill it or destroy it requires some form of mind-affecting effect.
This replaces a gorynych's dancing lights, limited wish, message and mislead spell-like abilities.

Vulnerability to Mind-Affecting (Su) a thrice-crowned king suffers a -4 penalty to the saving throw of any mind-affecting spell or effect. 

Frustrations and Being Spoiled.

One thing that amuses me/frustrates the hell out of me, on the distribution side of my industry is the lack of immediacy when it comes to sales. When I worked in sales, you always wanted to close a deal as quickly as possible and when you got a lead you followed it up immediately.

 I am looking at two services right now to handle the print/distribution of Rite Publishing products and only one service has gotten back to me within 24 hours. The other I have even contacted back in 2010 and it took them 5 days to contact me, (and that was 5 days after the second email, I had sent them), so really it took them 22 days to contact me from my initial request. I have heard from many people that this is a good service, and many of my colleagues use it. Maybe I have just been spoiled by the electronic distribution sites contacting me within 72 hours.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

101 Variant Monsters update

101 Variant Monsters updates 7 more today (70 total): Blue-eyed Devil (Gelugon Devil), Typhoon Giant (Storm Giant), Hand of the Reliquary (Demilich), Heim Linnorm (Linnorm, Crag), Osmium Golem (Brass Golem), Prismwing (Nightshade, Nightwing), Oni, Metal Yai (Oni, Ice Yai)

 Here is the example of the Hand of the Reliquary (Demilich)

Hand of the Reliquary (Demilich)
Description Glittering bejeweled rings decorate this mummified hand as it floats up into the air on a swirling vortex of dust and shimmering magic. A Hand of the Reliquary is a remnant of an avatar’s body, an ascended saint, or demigod’s corpse. Yet these remnants hold great power and a visit a terrible wrath on those that disturb them. Traces of its divine power strengthen the hand, rendering it harder than any steel. Lastly, though only the barest remnants of the hand’s hallowed might survive, a hand of the reliquary aroused to anger still retains enough power to remove a creature from existence before it roused this monstrosities ire.

Rejuvenation: the hand’s reliquary takes the place of a demilich’s phylactery.

Ray of Temporal Entropy (Su) As a standard action with a range of 75 feet, a hand of the reliquary can cause a ray of liquid darkness to springs from its pointing finger. This ray is not blocked by anything. When it strikes an object, it passes through that object and continues on to the limit of its range. The hand must make a ranged touch attack (+14) against all targets within the ray to its maximum range. All targets struck by the ray take 200 points of divine damage. A successful Fort save (DC 24) results in half damage. If the spell slays or destroys the target, it consumes the remains and a creature’s soul utterly including any attended equipment or possessions. That creature can never be resurrected, raised or transformed into undead by any means, including miracle and wish. Only divine intervention from a deity whose portfolio deals with time can restore the creature to life. Artifacts are immune to the effects of this spell.
There is a greater side effect of using this ability. Any creature or object destroyed with this effect ceases to exist for 24 hours before he or it was stuck by this spell. That is, if a creature is destroyed, it is as if that creature never existed for the previous 24 hours. Memories of those actions remain, but the actual events of the creature’s life during the last 24 hours never occurred. For example, an opponent kills several allies but is later slain by this effect, the allies the opponent killed are later found alive, having a blurred memory of their death and at times others who were witness to their deaths express surprise at seeing them alive. The save DC is Charisma-based, and includes a +2 bonus for the Ability Focus feat.
This ability replaces a demilich’s devour soul special attack.

Venerable Anointing (Su) at will as  a standard action a hand of the reliquary can unleash of burst of temporal energy with a 20-ft.-radius spread centered on the hand, living creatures in the area of effect must make a successful Will save (DC 22) or become cursed and have their speed reduced by half, gain the blinded and deafened condition, and have their age categories become venerable. A victim’s age in years is the minimum threshold for a venerable creature, so an elf affected by a venerable anointing would be 350 years old. Old creature’s Strength, Dexterity and Constitution is decreased by -3.The Strength, Dexterity and Constitution scores of a middle-aged creature are reduced by -5. Creatures that have not reached middle age suffer the most. Their Strength, Dexterity, and Constitution are reduced by -6. Creatures do not gain any benefits from the increased age.  Venerable creatures as well as dragons, ageless, and immortal beings are unaffected by this effect. A successful save results in the creature becoming middle aged suffering –1 penalty to Str, Dex, and Con for 2 minutes. Middle aged and older creatures are unaffected by this effect. Any spell or effect that can remove a bestow curse can remove this effect though this effect adds +5 to the removal DC.
This special attack replaces a demilich’s wail of the banshee spell-like ability.

Wounding Susceptibility (Su) Wounding weapons of any kind ignore a hand of the reliquary's damage reduction.
This replaces a demilich’s vorpal susceptibility weakness

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Kaidan Project Update #33: Thank You; and Oniba Province (by Jonathan McAnulty

Its a busy week here for me, so the update was somewhat delayed. Sorry about that.
Michael wanted me to pass along that his first Haiku of Horror has been selling very well and he wants to thank all who supported it. Likewise, he's planning further releases in the line and would like to know what you would like. There is a castle setting planned, but it won't be the next release.

Today, we're going to share a look at Oniba province with you. Enjoy. -Jonathan

Oniba Province
Oniba, the chief province of Yonshu, is a verdant region of thick forests and fertile river valleys. The most heavily populated of the four Yonshu provinces, Oniba has profited greatly from the increased commerce in nearby Gaijinoshima, whilst simultaneously managing to keep itself mostly unsullied from gaijin influence. Farming communities are plentiful along the many streams and rivers, and logging continues to thrive north of the Anikigawa. As one heads further west into the province, into the foothills of the mountains of Gaijinaba, the forests become thicker and darker. The Kaidanese seldom venture into these mountain woods, for they are full of yokai and other dangers.

Cedar, oak, pine, together with elms and beeches, fill the woods of Oniba. To the south, mulberry is common, having been cultivated and encouraged by the silk farmers of the province. Other cultivated trees include nashi, kaki and peach trees. Bamboo is also plentiful. In the wooded region of the three brothers, there are numerous stands of giant bamboo The grasslands east of the forests is filled with smaller bamboo, a variety of small shrub plants, such as willow shrubs and privet, and a variety of grasses, of which susuki is the most common.

Black bears are common in the northern forests of oniba, though they are also seen sometimes in the south. Boar are also common, and dire boar can be found near the mountains. Some of the dire boar are thought to be intelligent by the yokai, and they do not hunt these animals. Wolves, of the smaller Anshu variety, are rare but not unknown in the forests. Spotted deer are plentiful, especially, in the northern forests and grasslands. Smaller mammals include rabbits, squirrels, martens, otters, and fox. Along the north-east coast of Oniba, one can sometimes see seals, especially in the winter.

 A variety of songbirds can be found in both the woods and the river-valleys. Black cranes, from the marshes of Gaijinaba, are sometimes seen also in Oniba, especially in the late spring and summer. Hawks, owls and sparrowhawks are common, as are, along the coast, gulls and albatross. In the deep woods, enclaves of giant spiders are a known danger. There seem to be very few poisonous snakes in Oniba, though there is a species of blue-banded, black-headed sea snakes which fishermen know to either avoid or kill on sight because of their toxicity. Green rat snakes are common, as are other small serpents such as keelbacks and oddtooth snakes.

Oniba is one of only two Kaidanese provinces which has no mountains of note (the other being Hatsuko on Anshu), though the eastern foothills of the Gaijinaba mountains begin within the province.

Rivers and Lakes
Oniba is full of rivers and streams. The three large rivers flowing through the center of the province are known collectively as the three brothers and Kaidanese legends say that they were formed by the spirits of the first three men who settled on Yonshu, Though the yokai dismiss this claim, saying that the rivers were formed by the souls of three yokai who swore allegiance to one another and to the land. The northernmost of the three river is the Anikigawa, the second is the Jikigawa and the third is theBatteigawa. The land between the Anikigawa and the Jikigawa is full of marshes and is known provincially as Komushioukoku, “The Kingdom of the Flies.” The Batteigawa is the slowest of the three rivers and Tsue-jo, the provincial capital, is build on a river island in the midst of it.
South of three brothers is the Kuwabara-gawa,named for the many mulberry-silk plantations along its length. To the north, theKurotsuru'no-gawa flows northward. This river is named for the black cranes which nest along its length in the summer, though these cranes winter to the north-west, in the marshes of Gaihinaba.

Oniba is the oldest of the Yonshu provinces, being the first of the regions subdued by the Shogun on the island, However, Lord Hachiwara no Otsuka has served as Daimyo of Oniba for only three hundred ten years. Prior to this, he had oversight of Hamato province and his success there prompted the Shogun to send Him to serve in Oniba, for there had been, to that point, continued rebellion in Taro and Oniba alike. Lord Hachiwara acted decisively to quell the rebellion and established order over all those parts of the island easily reached by Samurai. He repaired the main roads of the island and then began working to improve the economy. His success has been noteworthy, though his methods are brutal, cruel, and manipulative. Hachiwara is one of the most conniving and far thinking of all the Daimyo of Kaidan and he maintains contingency plans for nearly every undertaking and possibility, including the fall of the Kaidanese empire. Those who cross him can rest assured that their downfall is only a matter of time, and that their end will be unpleasant.

Oniba serves as the chief province of Yonshu, and records of nearly everything of note on the island, including births and deaths of all samurai (though not peasants or eta-hinin), are meticulously kept. Likewise, in keeping with the attitude of the daimyo, the daimyo collects taxes only from samurai, who, he expects, will in turn take from the lower castes, with whom he would rather not deal. Taxes are high, but not so high as to stifle further economic growth and all taxes are “regressive,” taking a higher percentage from those who have less. In this way, Hachiwara ensures sure that his samurai have a sense that if they but work harder, they can keep just a little more.

Samurai patrol the province regularly, and swift retribution is brought to all who are even suspected of insubordination or rebellion. Even more dreaded are the daimyo's assassins and private enforcers. It is not unheard for relatives of a suspected traitor to awaken of a morning and discover that whilst they slept, their kin was tortured and slain in the night, the body being left for all to see, a grisly warning.

Cities, Towns and Areas of Interest
The capital of Oniba, and the chief city of Yonshu is Tsue-jo, which is located in the midst of the Batteigawa, with some settlements on the northern shores of the same. Towering above the rest of the city, and with dungeons buried deep below as well, is the palace complex of Lord Hachiwara. The noble quarters of the city lie below the palace complex, and outside of this region are the businesses and homes of the rest of the populace. The city features a grand zaoist temple outside the palae, and a smaller, private zaoist temple in the palace. The city temple is the largest in all of Yonshu, and has a hundred priest and a hundred and forty trained soldier-monks.

Hara is a large town on the east shore of the Kuwabara-gawa and the center of silk production on Yonshu. Besides the manufacture of silk cloth, Hara also serves as an inspection gateway for merchandise coming into the province from Gaijinaba. A large contigent of samurai is always stationed in Hara, and the town boasts a half-dozen storehouses and armories for the daimyo's soldiers.

As in the region of the three brothers, so along the Kurotsuru-no-gawa, there are many small farming villages. While most of these are inhabited by peasants, the Byoudenchi samurai clan maintains three different villages, including the village ofHachikoyama, which has both the clan castle and the notable Kino Taisha, a shrine dedicated to one of the clan's great warriors. The clan protects the region from bandits, manages farms, and has, of late, began breeding horses, with the goal of achieving a larger breed suitable for both farm labor and carrying heavily armored warriors.

In the forest west of the river valleys, there are many small henge villages hidden from the eyes of men. One of the oldest of these is Kitsumura. Built around an ancient fox statue, the isolated village has 200 henge of various clans. To the north is the slightly larger henge village of Aspertamu, which serves as a training ground for henge warriors and as a minor commercial hub for henge and tengu goods, especially copper from the north, iron from the mountains and silk from the south. There are a half a dozen tiny henge villages north of the Kuwabara-gawa, which having stolen silk worms from the human villages south of them, focus on silk production. These villages are ever alert for the presence of samurai, but two sibling wizards of the rat clan use magics to help keep humans from finding them.

Without a doubt, Oniba is the most prosperous province in Genshu, comparing favorably with some of the more prosperous provinces of Anshu. It was not always thus. A hundred years previously, Oniba was still something of a backwater province,known chiefly for its exotic woods, but Lord Hachiwara has done much in recent years to improve the region, encouraging greater amounts of farming and financing silk farms in the region of Hara. Currently, more rice is grown in Oniba than in all of the other three provinces of Genshu combined, and Oniba rice, cultivated with a slightly rounder grain than rice grown elsewhere in Kaidan, is becoming quite popular in the imperial capital. Oniba silk is not quite so popular on Anshu, but it sells very well to the gaijin traders in Gaijinoshima, who buy over half of the silk manufactured in the province, readily trading steel and gold for the fabric. 

While the increase in economic wealth is only marginally felt by the peasant masses, the samurai families of Tsue-jo, and the province at large, are slowly amassing stockpiles of silk, rice and steel and the economic influence of these families continues to grow.

Secrets of the Region
Though it is only marginally a secret within the province, two of the leading samurai families of Genshu, the Kinhara and the Kumagawa, have each been siphoning steel and gold from the shipments passing through the region. The Kinhara oversee the traffic passing through Hara and are notoriously corrupt. The Kumagawa, who handle security and law enforcement in Tsue-jo, including handling oversight of the harbor, are only marginally better. Lord Hachiwara is aware of their thefts, but both families are very generous in their tribute to the daimyo and sometimes very useful to him, and so he abides their larceny without reporting it to the Shogun's officials.

Hidden in the marshy swampland on the northeastern Oniba peninsula, is an evil castle called Nakikabejou. This castle is filled with oni, the largest collection of the demons on the island of Yonshu. Led by a Hebi-no-onna witch, the oni use the castle as a base of operations from which they conduct raids and plot great evil for the Kaidanese. While the daimyo knows of the castle's existence, the oni's magic's keep him from discerning its exact location.

A hundred and seventy years ago, a bandit king named Ochoka waged war upon the forces of the daimyo, but was ultimately crushed. His castle, hidden in the northern woods of Oniba was rumored to be filled with great treasures, but it has never been found by the many would be treasure seekers that sought it. Recently, a peasant lad hunting boar came across the hidden entrance to Ochoka's lair and, upon entering, was possessed by the ghost of Ochoka. Now the bandit king, in his new body, is once more amassing followers with which to make war upon Lord Hachiwara.

Oniba province contains one of the three sacred bamboo groves of the yokai (the other two being found in Ika and Unori provinces). The bamboo of the grove has stalks five to ten feet wide, towering hundreds of feet into the air. It is kept by a small cadre of henge priests, who kill any humans who attempt to settle near to the grove.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Adventure Quarterly #4 Sneak Peaks

Just finished writing an article about Wide-Open Sandboxing called "The Dam War" for Adventure Quarterly #4.

Here is a sneak peak 

"I created this article for Game Masters that want a wide-open sandbox campaign without the risk of Player Characters getting lost. In a wide-open sandbox you are not going to know what the ultimate outcome of the campaign is going to be so you will need use a higher level of improvisation than a typical adventure. Instead of a railroad or amusement park of encounters, GMs will need to design one detailed encounter to provide the hook introducing the PCs to a series of Non-Player Character relationships and encounters triggered by the actions of the PCs. After the initial encounter, these character relationships and action drive the plot. The important part of these NPCs is each one needs to have its own agenda, the want something from someone else, and that these agendas conflict with the agendas of other NPCs."

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Kaidan Project Update #30: The Korobokuru Race (by Jonathan McAnulty)

Sorry for the delay in this week's update. My wife had surgery yesterday (she is doing fine today) and I was admittedly distracted for the day from Kaidan. I thought I would go ahead and the Korobokuru GM racial write-up. Many other asian flavored settings see the Korobokuru as a sort of dwarf and treat them as such. But other than the fact that they both have beards, Japanese Korobokuru and traditional Germanic dwarves have very little in common. My readings on the race in history and foklore put me more in mind of traditional hobbits/halflings, albeit more primitive than Tolkien's shire-folks, and so I chose to use that race as a basis for the Korobokuru, at least mechanically (and linguistically). While not a lot is known about the culture of the Korobokuru today (and I think the evidence points to the fact there was someone on the Japanese isles before the Anui settled there from Russia), I tried to be as true to what is known about them as possible; while still making them a fantasy race.  -Jonathan   

The short-statured korobokuru once had settlements scattered across the whole of Kaidan, but today they are a race in decline, pushed further and further into the dark recesses of the forests by the encroachments of the Kaidanese. The korobokuru have never, as a race, been aggressive. They prefer to respond to true threats passively. They retreat rather than fight and some say their original journey to the shores of Kaidan was made as a retreat from evil elsewhere and that such a mentality has always been their cultural marker.
Much like the Anu, the korobokuru are a simple, people dwelling in primitive villages deep in the woods and subsisting primarily as fishermen and hunter-gatherers; although they do grow small herb and vegetable gardens in the areas around their homes. Unlike the Anu, the korobokuru prefer fish and vegetables, especially wild gourds, fuki and sukanpo, to red meat, though they readily eat the latter when it is what is available. The korobokuru make their homes in the ground, digging out their houses and covering them with bamboo or wooden ceilings, which they then bury beneath domes of earth. In many villages, the homes are connected by narrow tunnels so that the korobokuru can easily travel from one dwelling to another without ever venturing out into the open. It is quite common for korobokuru to allow gourd plants and fuki alike to completely overgrow their earthen homes, providing both camouflage and food.

Physical Descriptions
The korobokuru are a short, slim humanoid race, standing only about two and a half feet tall. They possess slightly pointed ears, and large eyes, but are otherwise very similar in appearance to humans, excepting their diminutive size. Korobokuru grow thick hair atop their heads, which the women of the race traditionally wear long, with braids. The men, for their part, are heavily bearded. Korobokuru skin color tends to be a pale almond color, and their hair is most often a dark shade of brown. Eye colors tend towards hazels and greens.
Korobokuru do not often wear shoes, preferring the feel of the earth beneath their feet, and the soles of their feet are quite thick. They dress in loose fitting tunics and leggings made from either leather or tree-based fabrics. Clothes worn at home are died either red or green, but clothing meant for traveling or work outside the home will be colored so as to better blend into the environment. Korobokuru heavily utilize small, dried gourds as both containers and as canteens, and most korobokuru met away from home will have several on their person. Additionally, korobokuru are very fond of head coverings and very rarely venture forth from their houses without something upon their head, whether that be a hat, scarf, or the like.
Many korobokuru, especially in the northern regions of Kaidan, make extensive use of tattoos upon the arms and face. They prefer geometric patterns of blue or black ink. While some korobokuru shaman imbue their tattoos with mystical energies, for most korobokuru these tattoos are merely cosmetic body markings.

Hierarchy within korobokuru society is determined solely by age, with the younger being subordinate to the elder. Within families, this means the oldest surviving member of a family, whether male or female, is head of that family. Within the village, the oldest member is village chief, again regardless of gender. Korobokuru are very respectful towards age and consider that the oldest are both the toughest and the wisest of their number.
In matters other than leadership, gender roles are very much the norm, with the men serving as hunters, fishermen and scouts, while the women occupy themselves with gardening, clothes making, and tending to the homes. Some occupations, such as pottery work and cooking, are done by both men and women, often collectively. Korobokuru are monogamous, with each couple typically having between five and eight children. Despite their high birth-rate, a high mortality rate, among both infants and adults, keeps the korobokuru population stable and most grown korobokuru have only one or two living siblings.
A key feature of korobokuru society is the drive to avoid conflict, in almost all its forms. Korobokuru have no love of warfare and master weapons solely for the purpose of hunting food. Their folk heroes are those individuals who through cleverness, stealth and discretion avoid situations of strife. Korobokuru are especially bothered by the idea of intelligent individuals killing other thinking beings. A korobokuru who break the social taboo against killing other sentients, even in defense, is shunned by all his family and friends and is forced to leave his village. Korobokuru legends teach that they fled across the ocean to avoid war and they do all that they can to uphold their legacy of pacifity. Being a carefree, easy-natured people, major familial disputes are rare, and when they do occur, the disgruntled party, if there can be no reconciliation, leaves to begin a new home elsewhere.
Korobokuru greatly delight in eating and there is nearly always something cooking atop their fires in their earthen homes. Anu have a saying, “The smell of stew among the fuki means the korobokuru are underfoot.” Still, the korobokuru are seldom so nourished as to be overweight. Their lives are a daily struggle against larger, more powerful forces and it is only through their wit and skill that they manage to keep themselves fed and alive. Despite this, they are largely a cheerful people, always optimistic of better things to come and always willing to help those they like, without regard for the possibility of repayment. Anu villages with korobokuru neighbors often find gifts of well made pottery or finely carved ornaments left outside their homes come dawn.
Despite the korobokuru racial norms, there are some exceptions to the rule. Specifically, upon the isle of Genshu there are villages of korobokuru descended from individuals who were long enslaved by the oni. These korobokuru have been defiled and have descended into feral savagery. They practice cannibalism, foul magics, and revel in bloodshed. Tales of these wicked korobokuru fill other korobokuru with loathing, fear and dread and to speak of them without cause is taboo.

Relations with Other Races
The korobokuru have traditionally always been closest to the Anu and, excepting those few villages which have turned to darkness, the korobokuru maintain their ancient friendships. While they will not fight on behalf of the Anu, korobokuru scouts often provide intelligence to the Anu concerning the movements of any Kaidanese forces in their area. The korobokuru have little reason to trust in the Kaidanese, and though they will sometimes befriend this human or that, they mostly try to avoid the men of Kaidan, regardless of caste. Because of the skill of the korobokuru in avoiding detection, most Kaidanese consider the korobokuru to be little more than fairy tales to be told to children and reports of sightings of the smaller race in the woods is most often greeted with skepticism.
The yokai generally know where to find korobokuru villages near them, for the small men revere the yokai as quasi-divine beings, totems made flesh, offering them food, trinkets and other small gifts whenever the two races meet. Unscrupulous yokai, especially among the tengu, sometimes take advantage of this but most find it slightly discomforting to be so venerated. The kitsune sometimes take to observing the korobokuru, but seldom find them to be as interesting as either human or henge.

Alignment and Religion
The korobokuru have maintained a tradition of shamanism and animistic totemism throughout the years. The religion has little in the way of dogma, though there are numerous signs of the religion in every korobokuru home and as a whole, the race is very devout to their faith. The korobokuru venerate animal spirits, especially den dwelling animals, and pray to the same. Each family adopts a particular animal as its own, building small house-shrines to that animal and filling their homes with tokens of that creature: including furs, skulls, carvings and clay statues. Those korobokuru who venerate an animal related to one of the yokai races, such as fox, badgers, or rabbits, consider the relevant yokai race to be the embodiment of the spirits they worship and go out of their way to seek the approval of such beings. Korobokuru shamans maintain a druidic tradition of magics, predating the arrival of the korobokuru to the shores of Kaidan. While korobokuru have some familiarity with yokinto, they do not practice it, nor do they follow the teachings of zaoism, though they, like all creatures in Kaidan, are effected by the broken wheel and tenmei.
Korobokuru have a strong tendency towards neutrality and general tendency towards goodness, but, as in all races, some individuals are more controlling or selfish than others. Few korobokuru feel so strongly about any given ideal or issue to be confrontational or dogmatic on the subject.

Korobokuru villages have few true specialized occupations, excepting the role of the Shaman. The males all serve as hunters and fishermen, and though some show greater aptitude at given tasks, each is expected to carry their own weight and help provide for their own family. Within the ranks of the hunters, the most talented are known as scouts and these individuals are called upon to act as spies and sentries for the rest, a task for which they receive no special remuneration other than the respect of their peers. While the korobokuru do practice property rights (indeed korobokuru families are quite possessive of their heirlooms), and do understand the use of coins as a system of payment, they operate within their own communities strictly on a system of bartering, and, even outside of their communities, have little to do with the business of buying or selling much of anything at market.
Female korobokuru are trained in different tasks than the men, and are more inclined towards artistic endeavors. Among the women there is also more of a tendency to specialize in given roles, depending on aptitude, and the women are more likely to do various tasks expecting those they do it for to return the favor in some fashion. For example, a skilled tattooist, a role always held by the women, will expect her work to be repaid with food, skins, or goods. Likewise, skilled weavers or seamstresses will find others in the village who are willing to do their housework and chores in exchange for the creation of clothes, hats and beddings.
Many korobokuru, men and women alike, have considerable skill at carving and pottery work, though these pursuits are considered activities to be pursued for pleasure as much as for any practical application.

Korobokuru Racial Traits

+2 Dexterity, +2 Wisdom, -2 Strength Korobokuru are stealthy and even tempered, but their small frame makes them weaker than the larger races.

Small: Korobokuru are Small creatures and gain a +1 size bonus to their AC, a +1 size bonus to attack rolls, a -1 penalty to their Combat Maneuver Bonus and Combat Maneuver Defense, and a +4 size bonus on Stealth checks.

Slow Speed: Korobokuru have a base speed of 20 feet. Stealthy: Korobokuru receive a +2 racial bonus on all Stealth skill checks.

Keen Senses: Korobokuru receive a +2 racial bonus on all Perception skill checks.

Calm: Korobokuru are naturally calm and self possessed and have a +1 racial bonus on all saving throws made to resist mind affecting effects. 

Forestborn: Korobokuru are most at home in the woods and have a +1 racial bonus to all Climb, Perception, Stealth and Survival rolls made in a forest setting. These bonuses stack with those provided by Keen Senses and Stealthy. Korobokuru also have a +1 bonus to all attack rolls and saving throws made when in a forest environment.

Loathe Conflict: Because of their natural disdain for violence and conflict, Korobokuru have a -2 penalty to all attack rolls made against non-animals. This penalty, in a forest setting, is reduced to -1 because of the bonus granted by the Forestborn trait.

Weapon Familiarity: Korobokuru are proficient with slings, spears and bows and treat any weapon with the word korobokuru in its name as a martial weapon.

Languages: Korobokuru begin play speaking Halfling (Korobokuru) and Anuitak. Korobokuru with high Intelligence scores can choose from the following: Common, Goblin (Kappa), Kaidanese, and Sylvan (Yokai).

Alternate Racial Traits
Artist: Korobokuru who spend more time creating than hunting are not quite as alert as their comrades, having turned their eyes inward rather than outward. These korobokuru have a +2 racial bonus on all Craft skill checks.

Oni-tainted: Those korobokuru who have been tainted by years of servitude to the oni are very different from their fellows. They are both more skittish and more violent. They have a +1 bonus to initiative checks and a +1 bonus on attack rolls when flanking but they have a -1 penalty to all Will saves. This trait replaces Calm and Loath Conflict.

Outcast: Those korobokuru who have been cast out of their villages loose their calm self-assurance, becoming wary and nervous. They have a +2 racial bonus to initiative. This trait replaces Calm.