Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Wiki Back-up

Thinking now that I should use this blog to support the wiki, rather than run parallel with it, I invite readers to comment on this post regarding errors or lack of clarity which they find in the wiki I'm building.  I can always use help with spelling mistakes & other errors, a lack of clarity or links that don't work.

Please don't ask for new pages.  I'm working as much as I can on material as it is.

Thursday, July 24, 2014


I found this one to be quite taxing.  What does one come up with for fungi?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


Several of the animal groups will be very similar to one another - by separating out the animals, however, the power of each study is limited.  There are always small changes, however.  Here are Birds, that I overlooked previously (begins with a 'b').

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Flowers & Sprigs

Here's today's addition - I've had to add 'sprigs' to the flower list in order to round out the subject material.  Some of the stuff here is very interesting and fills holes in the production of magic that - for me - results in magical creation having a greater sense to it.  See if you don't agree:

I agree, it doesn't keep with whatever anyone else connected to D&D has ever done - but it certainly fits into my system, it enables more than the druid to benefit from things like nectar and shamrocks, while at the same time I don't think anything here overbalances my campaign.

I continue to astound myself that I'm able to come up with a whole page of info about a subject as dreary as 'flowers.'

Friday, July 18, 2014

Bushes & Shrubs

I am really thrilled with this study, because it worked out about a million times better than I expected.  I had left all the various sections of plant life for the druid's sage table separate, thinking, "Well, you've got to at least try to come up with a series of abilities or facts that would be associated with those."  This morning, I found myself facing "bushes & shrubs" - only to realize the possibility of my coming up with something was fantastically remote.  With a heavy heart, then, I opened wikipedia and got started.

The results are miraculous:

I may have overdone it, given too much power to these things.  I'll have to see.  It typically takes 3-4 levels to hit 20 points, 6-8 levels to hit 40 and about 12-15 levels to hit 80, so this may be all right.

Certainly fleshes out the druid, I'll tell you.  I don't think there's a thing on this list that I've ever thought of before.

Bugs & Spiders

Many of the druid sage abilities will be very similar - only the specific animal form will need adjustment. Here are Bugs & Spiders, with a few tweaks to differ them from Amphibians and Reptiles:


Well, a few days off and I'm starting to shake off some of the intensity of the last few weeks.  Maybe I can start working on things again.

Well, more for the sage tables: the druid's Astronomy study.  I like that this doesn't have to 'balance' with other studies, since in effect the player gains all the different studies, just at different speeds.  Each has its own character, none offer expressly powerful abilities (they shouldn't, so if I've misjudged something I will have to claw the skill back).

Incidentally, I also made a few changes to the amphibians & reptiles page.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Amphibians & Reptiles

I have not forgotten about the sage abilities I was working on months ago, nor this blog.  I'll be getting back to doing more work on both soon, as I clean up the last of my book.  Sigh.  Good to work on D&D again.

Below is the new format for how I'll be working on the sage abilities going forward.  Rather than going back and fixing up Cleric, and making those abilities cleaner, I'm going to concentrate on going forward, with the expectation of managing all the classes before going back and cleaning up the earlier, rougher work.

For those interested, YES, I'm going to do for every class.  That means fighters, thieves, assassins and monks will also get 'sage abilities,' although I am working on a new name for those since they will be based on entirely different principles.

I want to stress that these 'skills' are still class-based, not pay-for-skills based.  I have written already on how the points (pts) are distributed, so I won't do it again for the moment.  When I come back around to those, I will tidy up the original pages.

The above should be suggestive of some interest shit I don't think I've seen offered characters before.  Note that to be a 'sage' takes 80 points, and that points are accumulated slowly.  A druid would have to be, probably, 12th to 20th level to breed creatures.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

C 08 - Angara

For RISK fans, the map below would correspond more or less to the Irkutsk (minus the bottom third). You might be able to vaguely recognize the shape in the gray border, or that might be my imagination:

Showing Lake Baykal on the bottom right and the Angara River flowing from bottom left of
centre and then off the left side of the map after making a 90-degree bend.  The very large
Lena River rises just west of Lake Baykal and flows off the right edge.  The top of the map
is the Tunguska Plateau.

Back in 2009, when I spent a period living on unemployment, I just kept going east through Russia - I did most of these last four maps during that time, and a whole string of maps to the south of these. Russia just goes on an on . . . but the reader can see some pink hexes in the upper right corner, those being part of the Yakutsk territory (called Trak Dran in my world, a big norker kingdom).  I haven't done that area yet.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

C 07 - Lungos

I have been working, in bits, on maps moving steadily east.  The last map I posted is coded C-06 (the Ob & Irtysh basins).  Here is C-07:
Shown is the upper course of the Ob River on the left and the middle course of the Yenisey
River on the right.  The highlands at the bottom of the map (brown hexes)
are the Altai, Khakass and Savan Mountains.  The yellow sloped line marks the
90th Meridian East.
I've shown below how C-06 overlaps with the above map.  North is the upper right corner, and along the 90th meridian the direction of east-west turns 60-degrees.  This is, as ever, due to mapping a round Earth.

Here all three rivers are shown, from left to right, the Irtysh, the Ob and the Yenisey.
All of the C 07 map is occupied by non-humans, mostly hobgoblins of the Vostoch Empire (Lungos Nad and Lungos Sog are the north and south territories along the Yenisey Basin).  The very bottom left and centre of the map is the edge of the dwarven kingdom of Altslok.  All of these are my own D&D names for the territories . . . the Russian names would hardly work for flavour.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Druids Sage Abilities & Alchemy

This could change dramatically, but for the moment I thought I would make at least an effort to do something other than make more maps.  I have included exactly one druidic study . . . but it is an interesting one:


A field is a sphere of activity or interest that covers a wide range of knowledge. Each field is comprised of specialties, which are distinctive lines of inquiry or interest. Possible specialties which the druid does not choose are called studies. Studies within the druid’s field are called field studies, and those outside the field are called non-field studies.

For example, from the list below, a druid chooses ‘Animal Life’ as their field and ‘amphibians’ as their specialty. This would mean that reptiles (etc.), birds and sea life would all be ‘field studies.’ All the other possible subjects, such as astronomy or trees, would be ‘non-field studies.”

Druids possess three fields: Animal Life, Earth & Sky and Plant Life. The studies within these fields are listed below:

Animal Life: 1) birds; 2) bugs & spiders; 3) golems; 4) jellies; 5) mammals; 6) morphing creatures; 7) reptiles; 8) sea life
Earth & Sky: 1) alchemy; 2) astronomy; 3) geography; 4) geology; 5) oceanography; 6) physiology
Plant Life: 1) bushes & shrubs; 2) flowers; 3) fungi; 4) grasses & grains; 5) mosses & ferns; 6) trees

At 1st level, druids gain one field, and one specialty within that field. This reflects the knowledge that the druid was able to gather while studying their religion while in the wild and from their master’s teachings. This knowledge is then expanded as the druid increases in level, for it is presumed that the druid is naturally inquisitive, experimenting, chatting with other persons, observing, along roads or at the inn, even if the character never expresses their intention to gather knowledge. Moreover, some of this knowledge, such as that pertaining to earth or oceans, could be gained by the druid through visions, dreams and other non-traditional sources.

The knowledge is measured by points, awarded to all possible studies, though in different amounts. The druid’s chosen specialty is awarded 10 points; each field study is awarded 1d6 minus 1, which the druid rolls; and non-field studies are each awarded 1d4 minus 1.

Upon gaining a level, the druid increases all non-field studies by 1d4 minus 1; field studies by 1d6 minus 1; and specialties (for later on the druid gains others) by 1d10.

At 5th level, and every four levels thereafter (9th, 13th, 17th, etc.), the druid gains an additional specialty from the druid’s field studies (that is, within the druid’s present field). At that point, the druid begins rolling a d10 for additional level gains in that specialty. Suppose that a given field study rated 11 points at 4th level, the druid having rolled 4d6-4 up until then. At 5th, the druid chooses that study as a new specialty; a d10 is then rolled (for gaining a level) and added to the original 11.

At 7th level, and every six levels thereafter (13th, 19th and 25th), the druid gains an additional field. All the studies in that field henceforth become field studies, and increase at 1d6-1 per level. Druids may choose additional specialties from any field they possess.

For every 10 points of a druid possesses in any study, the druid is entitled to one piece of knowledge about persons, places, objects, creatures, living things or features, the exact knowledge depending upon a) the chosen study; and b) the competence of the druid.

Competence is graded as follows: possessing 10-19 points in a study defines an enthusiastic amateur; possessing 20-39 points defines an authority; possessing 40-79 points defines an expert; and having 80 points or more defines a sage.

The questions that can be answered, depending upon one’s competence, are listed below. Note that knowledge is not meant to provide any special ability or power. It is employment of knowledge, not the knowledge itself, that offers power through the creation of tactical planning. Some of the below studies, such as astrology. will offer minor skills gained from continued study.


Amateur: distill liquid, identify substance, prepare ingestive poisons, smelt natural metals
Authority: fabricate minor acids, ointments & salves, identify uncommon substance, isolate gas, prepare insinuative poisons
Expert: fabricate & identify major ointments, paints & potions, smelt magical metals
Sage: fabricate exceptional elements

Each of the above presumes that the druid is in possession of the necessary space, tools, furnace, materials and ingredients required to create each of the above substances. It should also be clear that, unless the druid possesses other skills that may originate elsewhere, the various metals, earths, liquids and so on that are created cannot be then manufactured into items. For example, while the expert may be able to smelt mithril, it does not follow that the individual would then be able to process that metal into a sword or armor. Such would require an artisan with those skills. Similarly, while the druid might be able to create a potion of fire resistance, it does not then follow that this ability could be installed into a suit of armor or a helmet. The druid can create the potion, not the effect as it would occur in other mediums.

Moreover, note that none of the above is created by spell or magic, but rather by hard, difficult work. Some items, such as the creation of the portable hole (which is a pure elemental substance) would be subject to danger rolls, in keeping with the DMG’s discussion of such things. The creation of these things will take time, effort and coin, along with potential loss of health.

Distilled liquids would include pure water and alcohol, along with a host of other liquids that could be obtained from their source by the druid. Identify common substance gives the name for natural earths and liquids. Ingestive poisons must be drunk to be effective. Natural metals include those which may be obtained from earthly minerals.

Minor ointments and salves include quicksilver, gripcolle, prepared aloe and healing salve. Acids include all naturally occurring destructive liquids. Uncommon substances consist of natural concoctions or preparations. Insinuative poisons can be applied to weapons or otherwise introduced through the skin.

Major ointments include Keoghtom’s ointment. Paints are those with magical effects. Potions include all those listed among magic items. Magical metals include adamantium and mithril.

Exceptional elements include the lodestone or luckstone, the aforementioned portable hole, the smoke contained in the ever-smoking bottle, along with a host of other similar magic items where the substance itself is the magic.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Overreach and Western Siberia

At last I finished this map:

At the centre bottom of the map the reader can pick out the town of Sibir, which is the original name for the present city of Omsk, just north of the Kazakhstan border ... that border would run along the bottom of this map, or thereabouts.  The real Sibir was actually further west and north, near the town of Boloine Ob (Tobolsk) that appears on the right side of the last map I posted, the Ural map.  The Russians, however, destroyed that city in 1582 ... and none of this works for the history of my world, since there are no Russians in this part of the world, the Russians never took over, there are orcs and goblins and hobgoblins here, etc.  I wanted a 'Sibir' however, so in renaming many of the Russian cities to give them an 'orc' flavour, I renamed Omsk and so it goes.

At the bottom right there's another large city called Zosk-Sibir; this is actually the correct location for Novosibirsk, which really only means 'New Sibir" anyway.  'Zosk,' then, is colloquial orc-speak for 'New' ... and it all comes together somehow.  Plus I get to retain the justification for calling all of this vast area 'Siberia.'  Which is nice.

For those who do not know their history, Novosibirsk is where the Russians moved the center of their munitions production in the Second World War ... and it has taken me three maps to get this far east.  For fun, I thought I would put all three maps together, what with Moscow being at the far west of all three, and Novosibirsk being at the far east:

I've slightly cut off Zosk-Sibir on the right, but its clear where it is.  The above is the distance in 20 mile hexes - through the hills east of Moscow, then the Urals, then the swamplands of western Sibir - that the Germans would have needed to traverse to finally destroy the Russian war machine, which was supported by America and also by the furnaces of the Kuznetsk and Minusinsk coal and iron basins even further east.

Talk about overreach.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

The Urals, Ob & Irtysh

A call out to all those who are still following this blog; I'm still doing a bit here and there on my world, still making maps, which I will probably do all summer as I concentrate on writing.  Here, however, is an update of the Ural Mountains map, now colored:

The Ural Mountains are less stark in the above image; it shows that the 'mountains' are rather low, and narrowest in the center.  Still, they divide the rivers from those going west and south, and those going east and north.  On the east side of the Urals there are two big rivers, the Tavda above and the Tobol below, which meet the Irtysh River just off the map, which then flows along the edge of the map to debouch into the Ob River top right.

The Urals at this point correspond two the modern oblasts of Sverdlovsk and Chelyabinsk - on the map they appear as 'Eykhoth' and 'Kord.'  This is one of the richest mineral producing areas in the world, which was why I decided to assign the area to the Dwarves.  Thus, these are both big Dwarven cities, and the central part of this map is under the Kingdom of Hoth.  The lands around Great Bolger, on the west of the mountains, is 'Bulgrastan,' which is a left-over territory from the Mongol raids, always remembering that the Mongols were orcs (urukai).  Bulgrastan is controlled by a hierarchy of ogres ruling urukai, so it's a mean little region.  North of Bulgrastan is the Kingdom of Bjarmaland, land of the gnolls, while south of Bulgrastan, and showing partly on the southeastern corner of the map, is the great Jagatai Empire ... which I've linked to the real thing. My Jagatai, however, is occupied by orcs.  The history comes pretty close to matching up, although the exact borders are a bit different (my version is larger, as it includes parts that Russia never seized in my game).  Finally, the northeast corner of the map is occupied by the Kingdom of Magloshkagok, or that of the goblins.

The dwarves, then, are in a sea of enemy races, but the dwarves are easily the strongest, most protected force in the region; except for Bulgrastan and the ogres, Hoth is well able to manage their own affairs ... and there is always a way to stir up the orcs or the gnolls against Bulgrastan if need be, as the dwarves are very rich.

Very well.  Further east, I've begun working on this map:

This shows the enormous flatlands between two great river basins, the Ob on the north, and the Irtysh on the south.  Both rise in the mountains that border on West China, and as was shown on the previous map, they inevitably meet.  The rivers are highways through central Russia ... and indeed create a means of travel that extends to the Yenisey, the Lena and the Amur, right across the Asian Continent.  Each of these rivers flows generally north, and are deep.  They have tributaries that are deep as well, and the tributaries run east-west; thus, the Russians in the 18th century were able to ride up a tributary of the Ob, portage to a tributary of the Yenisey (showing in the very top right corner), then ride down the Yenisey in order to find another tributary going even further east.  Roads were unnecessary, as the whole continent could be travelled fairly quickly by water.  This was the manner in which Russia conquered the top of Asia.

Of course, there were no orcs, hobgoblins, goblins and other creatures in the real world, so Russia wasn't met with formidable enemies.  My world, on the other hand ...

The map above is divided into three entities; Magloshkagok on the northwest, the Jagatai Empire in the south, and the great Vostoch Empire, controlled by hobgoblins, in the northeast.  Of these, the hobgoblins are the most warlike; but they are chiefly concerned with threats to the east of their Empire, and the great swamplands (shown above in yellow) of Vasyugan are virtually uninhabited.

I trust the reader is enjoying these.  When I finish the Ob & Irtysh map above, I'll post it again.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Ural Mountains - Rough

I crashed last night from writing early, which for me means I relaxed and worked on a project that requires attention but practically zero creativity.  Yes, you guessed it, another map.  This seems to be all I'm up for doing lately, what with the book sucking up all my creative juices.  When the book is finished this blog should actually get a shot in the arm.

Anyway, this is as far as I got.  The map below is directly east of the Upper Volga map I posted last - in a way, it shows the Ural mountains down the middle:

The only hexes colored are those that show desolate mountains (grey), muskeg swamp (whitish yellow)
and hexes below 500 feet elevation. Thus the Ural Mountains are shown starkly highlighted, right down
the centre of the map.  The rolling hills of the Russian plain are west of the mountains, while
the edge of the great Ob River flatland are to the east. 

I'll post a finished version in a few days, when I have the time to color in the rest.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Upper Volga

I haven't had much time to work on my world - this below took two weeks.  And what with decisions I've made today, that are not discussed anywhere on my blog, I don't know how much work I'll get done in the next few months.

But, here's the Upper Volga map, fully reformatted for the new publisher program:

Just one big flat part of the world.

This was waaaaay, way more work than I expected.  That multiplicity of rivers was a major bitch.  I see that google has made the swampy hexes blue; there are four of them, areas 20 miles in diameter with no civilization in them, even modern civilization.  But then, this is quite a ways north; people in North America really don't conceive how far north Moscow or St. Petersburg is (my world has no St. Petersburg, it was founded by Peter the Great in 1703).

I'm glad this one is behind me.  I prefer maps with lots of mountains.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Clerical Sage Studies VII

Below are the last two sage studies for clerics.

As I've been going forward, the descriptions have been increasing in length, mostly because I'm getting better at it. This idea only sprang into my mind 10 days ago, so it is as new to me as it is to anyone. I've been considering how it could be more sophisticated, with greater detail about when and how much a cleric can know about a specific thing, such as the earlier question about knowing the architecture of the Aztecs as well as that of one's homeland in Europe. Right now, however, I'm just trying to get the bare skeletons in place ... that will allow a little game play, that will increase my effectiveness in writing the system, which will enhance game play and so on. This is better than waiting until everything is 'perfect' before dumping it out there. I had hoped for more feedback on the idea this last week, but I'm sure the feeling is that people don't know where I'm going, and don't know what to say.

I have been thinking that the original d8 for in-field studies and d4 for out-of-field studies is high. A 10th level cleric would, on average, be an authority in every study. That seems a bit much. So, I'm going to change it. The fix will be a d8 minus one for in-field studies, and a d4 minus one for out of field studies. That makes the average amateur knowledge for an out-of-field study at 7th level ... which I think is sufficiently high. A d12 will still be used for specialties.

Okay, the last two subjects:

Politics & Geneology

Amateur: recent events, royal succession
Authority: diplomacy, nobles, portfolios, rulership trends and practices
Expert: conspiracies, pregnancies, subversive diplomacy
Sage: family secrets, plots, state secrets

Recent events would be anything of note that has happened within the kingdom where the cleric presently resides. Royal succession would also be a breakdown of the local royal family’s history, going back as many generations as this family has been in control (there would also be knowledge of the previous families that have ruled going back a century per 10 points of study). Diplomacy is the relations between local states. 

Nobles gives biographical knowledge about those in the local kingdom. Portfolios describes who is in charge of what national services, such as the army, the navy, finance, foreign affairs, etc., as well as ambassadors to the largest kingdoms in the world (those with a population of greater than one million). Ambassadors are only shared between countries with diplomatic relations. Rulership trends & practices are those activities which the royal family supports, or is seeing forward, such as wars, changes in domestic authority, changes in the treasury or the law and so forth.

Conspiracies includes an awareness of groups that are subversive to the local state, not their specific activities. Knowledge of how to get in touch with such groups through signs, or locations one might start, would be known also. Pregnancies includes knowledge of who is, or who is trying to be, or who can’t become pregnant, as well as knowledge about miscarriages or bastard children; however, this knowledge only pertains to instances where no threat to the actual crown or succession exists. 

Such knowledge would be included under plots, which are any actual ongoing attempt to change something criminally within the local kingdom. Subversive diplomacy includes out-of-state organizations seeking to bring about the death or removal of the king, or to initiate wars. Family secrets are usual details about noble and royal families that would be damning, terrifying or revealing of allegiances or purposes. State secrets is not merely knowledge of what the state intends to do, but also atrocities that have been done, or practices that are or have been carried out by people in power.

Religious Architecture
Amateur: purpose, search
Authority: durability, minor design, origin, use
Expert: major design, reconstruction
Sage: supernatural design
Origin allows knowledge of the makers. Purpose includes the recognition of any feature within a temple or church, as well as the meanings behind cairns placed as landmarks, monuments, tomb markers, astrological tools, etc. Use would in turn allow the understanding of how to tell time, predict events, create holy water from fonts, etc., including any object which was built for religious/supernatural purposes.

Search includes the power to recognize from the lay of the land, or from the interior of a religious building, where special rooms or features might be located. The % success of doing so, without needing to actually explore the building, is equal to the cleric’s points of study. Minor design would be the laying out of buildings such as temples, churches, chapels, baptistries, monastaries, cairn circles, cenotaphs and so on. Major design would focus upon cathedrals, squares, grand mausoleums, pavilions and palaces (the last primarily secular, but built upon the same basic principles). Supernatural design would be the construction of buildings to produce a specific supernatural influence, such as has been built at Angkor Wat, the Kaaba in Mecca, Stonehenge and so on. Supernatural influences resulting from architecture are varied (bringing power to the state or religions) and rarely last for more than a century.

Durability is the recognition of a standing structure’s integrity, defining the maintenance necessary and its endurance. Reconstruction allows the faithful rebuilding of structures that are threatened with destruction, or reasonable facsimiles to things that have been destroyed, working from drawings or personal experience.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Clerical Sage Studies VI

Jeez, I'm beginning to feel like Zeno.  The closer I get to the end of this, the slower I move.  I only have one study to give today, but there is a lot of work in it.

Here's a really spectacular reworking of the clerical class in terms of its relationship with non-player characters in the campaign.  Incorporated are things I've written about creating, such as sermons and creating converts, and other elements from the Unearthed Arcana, known as ceremonies:

Philosophy & Ethics

Amateur:  baptism, burial, counsel, marriage, preach
Authority:  annulment, consecration, dedication, eulogize, investiture,  vows
Expert:  consecration of ground, ordination, panegyrize
Sage:  excommunication, glorify

The study is primarily that of religious philosophy, practice, pastoral work and the like, and not what we would usually think of as Greek or Enlightenment philosophy.

To preach is to deliver a sermon that convinces an audience to recognize for a brief time moral truth, right conduct and worthy leadership; the cleric is able to influence one listener to cease wrong action (such as those resulting from fear, anger, impatience, greed, laziness, envy, lust, etc) and to take right action (in keeping with the moral code of the cleric’s religion) for the space of an hour.  One person may be affected per point of study, once a minimum of 10 study is accumulated.  Persons encouraged to action will participate in so far as their morale allows them (morale being very low for most people).

Counsel requires an hour of effort from the cleric, but will encourage listeners, for a day, to change their faith (in which case, the cleric’s spells will be effective), to give up addictive substances and forego acts of habitual vice or criminality.  The success of the a counselling session is a percentage equal to the cleric’s  study points.  With ten successful counselling sessions, a cleric will be able to encourage an individual to embrace the cleric’s religion (take note that a head of a family, clan or otherwise would bring more than just one reformed soul).  Counselled individuals must be willing; this requires they fail a wisdom check (wisdom +1 per level above first).  A successful series of counsellings need not take place consecutively, and failed sessions have no relevance against eventual success (which could take years).

To eulogize is to make  meaningful the death of a family member or comrade to bear significance.  The cleric is able to cause up to 1 person per five points of study to directly approach the cleric and seek counselling that day, and to increase the chance of success for counselling by 10 points.  The cleric is also able, if wished, to ‘stir up’ listeners, up to 1 listener per point of study, to acts of violence for a period of 1 hour.  Attack dice are increased by +1 and morale is improved by +2.  The cleric, nor anyone perceived as being connected to the cleric, can be directly instrumental in the death of the person that has died, but an NPC that has fallen in battle beside the cleric is worthy to be eulogized over.

A panegyric is a lofty oration full of praise for an individual that has died.  To panegyrize, the death must be of someone no less than 5th level, who has been counselled at least once by the cleric, and who has participated in a public capacity, and who is therefore known to all who will listen.  The panegyric need not be oral; it may be written and distributed, but it must be made available somehow to the chief heirarch in the region (a baron, noble, etc.).   The panegyric’s purpose is to produce a feeling of fidelity, and gain for the cleric an entitlement that frees the cleric from that noble’s soveriegnty.  If successful, the cleric is then released from the bounds of secular law upon the cleric’s land, and is thereafter bound only by ecclesiastical law; if the cleric has no land, a grant of 160 acres will be made available.  The % chance of success is equal to the number of study points.

To glorify is similar to panegyrize, except that the individual that has died must be of name level.  The spirity of the individual, so glorified, can thereafter be called upon for advice, knowledge, etc., from the plane of existence that individual has gone.  The individual need not have been of the cleric’s religion, but cannot be an upstanding member of another religion at the time of death (they can have been a non-believer of any religion).

Incorporated are various ‘ceremonies’ that were stand alone, but are not part of this study.  Note that most of them are available for amateurs and authorities, making it possible that they could be gained without the cleric actually needing to take philosophy as a specialty—but that now none will be available at 1st or 2nd level unless the cleric takes this as a specialty or at least as a field.

Baptism is a limited form of bless spell which is granted to an individual of no former religion, bringing that individual into the cleric’s religion.  Recently baptized persons will receive a +1 save vs. attacks for a period of one week.  Baptised persons will feel compelled to give tithes, once they have reached an age of maturity enabling them to earn an income.

Burial magically protects a corpse and bestows it with the blessing of the religious organization.  The body is shielded as if by protection from evil.  Those attempting to disinter the corpse must make a saving throw versus spell or stop and flee for ten rounds.  A corpse will not begin to decay for a period of one week after burial, so burial will extend the period over which the body may be raised by one day per level of the cleric.  Burial will also save the souls of those who may become undead through violating the dead; it will restrain undead that have been buried from rising for 1 hour per level of the cleric.  If burial should be cast upon a regenerating creature that has less than zero hit points, the act will kill the creature.

Marriage unites two persons in the eyes of the church; such individuals cannot divorce without an annulment.  Each will receive a +2 save vs. attacks when within 20’ of one another.  They confer a +2 attack roll if one or the other is clearly in sight and in danger, with a –1 attack role if separated and there is reason to believe the other is unsafe.  Marriage doubles the likelihood of successful fertilization.  Marriages of convenience, where it is clear that the partners do not love one another, will not confer any benefits or penalties.  Married persons cannot remarry without an annulment.

Annulment.  Releases individuals from marriage.  Typically, a cleric will be able to perform the rite, but will not do so on principle.

Consecration will transform a vial of ordinary water into holy water once per day, which will in turn remain holy for 1 day per level of the cleric.  Holy symbols may be consecrated so as to make them immune to damage or loss; prayer beads may be transformed so that the string will not break, no matter how much strain is placed upon it.  Consecration will also stop a berserking creature.  Up to one other item per level of the cleric may be granted a +1 save against elements; (weapons gain a 1 in 10 chance of resisting a break).  A cleric may consecrate 1 item per day.

Dedication allows a recipient formerly of another religion into the ranks of the casting cleric’s religion, making that person ‘reborn.’  The effects are as baptism.  Dedication only has a % chance of overcoming excommunication equal to the cleric’s points of study.

Investiture grants aspiring clerics the powers of clericism.  The individual must have the necessary fundamentals of education (effectively, the points of study that a 1st level cleric would have, as well as minimum abilities).  Upon being invested, the new cleric will be of 1st level.

Give Vows grants paladinhood to fighters who have the necessary abilities to perform in that stead.  No other former education other than fighter skills is needed (skills obtained by a variety of sub-classes such as soldier, mercenary, bounty hunter, outrider, etc.).

Ordination allows a priest to preside over a congregation, ensuring that members of the church within the cleric’s influence (those who have been counselled towards the cleric’s religion (for a day or permanently), or which have been granted to the cleric by the greater church.   Typically, clerics that are ordained of themselves or others are initially given a congregation of 40-70 persons.

Consecration of Ground purifies a site prior to the erection of a holy structure, regardless of the structure’s purpose.  The ground must be consecrated before the first sod is turned.  A religious edifice constructed on ground that has not been consecrated will slowly, but irrevocably fall into a state of disrepair and has a 1% chance per year, cumulative, of actually collapsing as a result of this oversight—the ground may not be consecrated as an afterthought.  Land destined for a graveyard or cemetery must also be consecrated, or else the dead interred there may rise as undead. The ceremony must also be used on a plot of land destined for use as a graveyard or cemetery; such an area would then turn undead each round with the same effectiveness as a cleric of the third level.  Burial places not so consecrated will begin to produce minor undead with a base chance of –20%, +3% per body interred, each month, unchecked by the power of burial.  If the chance of producing undead rises above 100%, the frequency will increase in proportion commensurate with the likelihood; i.e., 60 bodies are buried following a battle on unconsecrated ground.  The chance of an undead rising from this mass grave would be 160% per month, or 80% every two weeks.  The undead that will rise will be: a skeleton (01-60); zombie (61-90); ghoul (91-97); coffer corpse (98-99); or shadow (00).

Excommunication allows the cleric to anathematize individuals less than 2 levels below that of the cleric, for immorality, at the cleric’s behest.  The cleric must remember that unrestrained use of excommunication weakens the strength of the god, and therefore will bring the attention of superiors within that religion.  The act of excommunication brands the excommunicant with a mark that any cleric of any religion can see; such persons are treated with disdain by legal systems where clerics may see the mark and judge the excommunicant as automatically guilty or unworthy of notice.  Even murdering an excommunicant may bring only a light penalty, or no penalty at all.  Excommunicants cannot receive any benefits from spells cast by members of their former religion.  Excommunication can be mitigated with atonement.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Clerical Sage Studies V

These were two long study descriptions. Three clerical studies left to go now:

MedicineAmateur:  aid healing, bind wounds, diagnose phenomenon
Authority:  attempt minor surgery, diagnose disease, identify treatment, mitigate poison
Expert:  mitigate condition, improve minor surgery, recognize fatal condition
Sage:  attempt major surgery
 The most practical of studies, though not intended as a means to ‘cure hit points.’  The cleric has knowledge and some skill with regards to other medical conditions, such as disease, infection and elements that might require long-term healing. Aid healing offers +1 hit points per day for individuals who rest for 24 hours in the cleric’s charge, taking note that it requires 5 points of skill to increase one patient’s hit points in this manner.  Binding wounds is a process that requires three rounds in my system; a cleric with a specialty in medicine can perform the action in two rounds.  Diagnose phenomenon means to be distinguish between an individual suffering from magic or supernatural phenomenon, or from a natural disease or illness.
 A ‘minor surgery’ is anything that does not require interaction with an organ, the removal of a body part or other serious change to the body; it does include things such as removing a tooth, making an incision into the skin to remove a parasite, cutting away an attached monster or creature without doing harm, etc.  The ‘attempt’ is a roll against the cleric’s intelligence, adjusted by 1 for every 10 points of medical study the cleric has.  A failure causes 1 damage per level of the patient (as the damage is done to the whole body while prone, the skill and defensive ability of the patient is not considered, so the damage is more properly a percentage of the patient’s whole hit points ... and if the patient is already damaged, there should be a chance the patient will be killed).  If it seems that a removed tooth shouldn’t kill a patient, keep in mind that a badly performed removal might include an infection, that would.  If death is indicated, it will take place in 5d20 hours. Diagnosing a disease does not cure it.  Identifying treatment only indicates what must be obtained from another source. Poison in my world occurs as 1d8 damage per hit die of the creature delivering the poison, or specific damage caused by poisons obtained at the apothecary or self-created.  The damage of these poisons can be reduced by 1d2 per 10 points of study the cleric possesses.  Furthermore, poisons take 1d8 hours to affect the patient, with the actual damage done dispersed over the number of hours.  This can be extended by 1d4 hours per 10 points of study, increasing the chance that the individual can be gotten to aid before actually suffering the poison’s full effects. Mitigate condition will lower the fatality of a disease by 1 degree, based on the disease table at the beginning of the DMG.  Improved minor surgery adjusts the bonus to intelligence to +1 per 8 points of study.  Recognizing fatal condition would be to know when a poison or disease (either natural or supernatural) is going to produce death (because damage from poison isn’t given up front, this is normally uncertain, as is fatality resulting from disease, which again is information I wouldn’t normally offer). A major surgery is any procedure that can be performed with period tools and hands.  Success is like attempting minor surgery, except that there is always 1d4 damage suffered per level of the patient, and failure causes 1d10 damage per level.  Success is a roll against intelligence, with a +1 modifier per 50 study points of the cleric. Outer PlanesAmateur:  morality, recognize on sight
Authority:  envision map, navigate, laws, pecking order
Expert:  dominion concerns, recent events, terms of settlement
Sage:  path to harmony, transubstantiation
 Clerics may be familiar with up to one outer plane per 10 points of study—this must be recorded.  It must be understood that virtually all knowledge acquired in this study is obtained through visions and enlightenment, gained through meditation and insight. Morality is a clear understanding of the plane’s moral code, intentions and principles.  To recognize on sight, the character must actually be there, but upon arriving can definitively state that the plane has been reached. Envisioning the map only provides knowledge of the relationship between places; finding one’s way, or navigating, is a separate knowledge.  There are far fewer laws upon each of the outer planes, being simplifications of morality, so it is a much smaller subject than the elsewhere-described study of Law & Customs.  Pecking order is the social heirarchy that defines who is in authority over whom, and why. Dominion concerns would be the ongoing development of the plane, for they do alter their natures, though slowly.  The planes change shape and size continously as the power of gods or demi-gods waxes or wanes with belief.  Recent events are exactly that; meaningful changes that have happened recently.  These do not happen day to day, so the cleric would only be aware of them once they have occurred. Terms of settlement are the requirements and expectations of those who might choose to continously dwell—while remaining alive—upon the outer plane in question. The path to harmony would be the changes necessary for the character to enter the actual heirarchy of the plane.  Transubstantiation is the ability to retain a physical self on two planes of existence simultaneously—it is not so much a means of travel, but rather a means of duplicating oneself so as to gain experience from both existences.  This can be helpful in gaining knowledge or insight about matters pertaining to both the prime material and the outer plane.  A cleric can transubstantiate to one plane per 30 points of study, and once having transubstantiated there, the action cannot be retracted. 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

First C-Ring Map - Upper Volga

To tell the truth, the book is really getting in the way of my working on my world.  Sigh.  I didn't get to work on the cleric sage table, so there it sits, maddeningly five subjects from completion, while I am pushed and pulled by other things.  But those subjects take mental work, whereas remaking maps is relaxing and more gratifying.

Here and there, starting a week ago, I've been working at the first C-Ring map I'm going to post here.  This is C 04 - Upper Volga, in mid-reconstruction:

Russia between Moscow and the Ural Mountains, which are just slightly off the map to the right.
At the low center, the Oka River (from the southwest) and the Volga River (northwest) join
together at Nizhniy-Novgorod, which would today be called Gorkiy.  Gorkiy's importance
derives from the joining of these two rivers.  The Volga flows east to meet the big Kama
River from the Urals.  

It's actually further along than it looks; I've redrawn the many, many rivers and the rest gets easier.  Some of the details at the top of the map are missing; that is only because they are temporarily behind the hexes, as I am layering things.  The best way I find to do this is to sweep through everything that should be on top and then send that to the back.  Then the same with the next type of thing, and the next, until everything is stacked.  As each new group is sent to the back, it puts the first thing that was sent there further in front.  If that makes any sense.  Anyway, first the titles and text go back, then the cities, then the lakes and coast, then the rivers, the roads, the borders and finally the hexes.

The roads on this map that are in pink still need to be redrawn as red, and the borders that are in orange still need to be redrawn in grey.  Some of the lakes need to be redrawn.  And many of the text has light blue borders that need to be cleared off.  Somehow, this happened when transferring from the old to the new program.  Never has before.  C'est la vie.

The more clever among you will notice that the map is 33 hexes wide, and not my usual 30 (if you're even aware there is a 'usual' number).  You might also wonder why I'm starting with C-04 and not C-01.  This is hard to explain.

Each ring has six square maps that represent the point where the direction of east-west turns 60-degrees (there's an orange line running down the middle of the map for the 30th E, 90th E, 150th E, 150th W, 90th W and 30th W parallels).  For the remaining maps of the ring, east and west is always a straight line.  On the map above, the orange line (which is not a boundary, but is the 30th E parallel) can be seen in the top left corner.  The reader can compare this with other maps I've shown in the B-Ring, such as the Yak'Margug Map or the Tunguska Map.  Note how the orange line is always in the same place on either of those maps as it is on the map above.

Now look at the Lofoten Map of north Norway, or the Ob Gulf Map.  Note how there's an orange line, again, but it is through the two corner hexes on the upper right.  This is consistent all around the B-Ring, so that there is a turning map (B-02), then two straight maps (B-03, B-04), then a turning map (B-05), etc., until all 18 maps circle the earth.

I wish to do the same with the C-Ring maps, but while I know that there should be three maps between the turning maps, I'm not precisely certain how many hexes there should be to create those three maps.  The distance is (I think) 94 hexes.  Add that each map overlaps two hexes, and that means that the straight maps should have at least 33 hexes each.  Anyway, the best way to tell is to draw those maps and prove it.

This is all crazy map-making shit that can't possibly interest anyone except crazy, map-making people, but anyway it is all carefully constructed.  C-04 is the first of three straight east-west maps, so once I know that it, C-05 and C-6 are exactly the right dimensions, then I can work out C-01 through C-03.  I used to just make ALL the maps 30 hexes wide, but that was creating problems at the turns, and I knew I'd have to adjust for that.  Anyway, it's just a game, right?  Certainly it's nothing that challenges my brain.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Cleric Sage Studies IV

Three more down, five more to go for the cleric.  It is good to remember, as I said on Tuesday, that this is something that can be refined with use, as players think of questions to ask and the specifics of each study/accomplishment are hammered out.


Amateur:  identify from reference, know acts
Authority:  know if living or dead, know location, key abilities and resources, retell detailed myths
Expert:  identify associates, recognize heroic traits
Sage:  sense accomplishments in the bearing of others, location or destination of a hero’s soul upon death

Recognizing a hero’s name from a reference about something someone did is simply, “Ah, that was so-and-so.”  Knowing an act does not mean knowing the whole tale; Hercules killed the lernean hydra.  How?  That requires an authority.

Knowing the present location of a hero means only generally; the location where a hero will go upon death, or where a dead hero has gone (Elysium, Heaven, Happy Hunting Grounds) is a deeper, more profound knowledge.  Key abilities would be what a hero was able to do, or what resources (magic items) they possessed.  Associates are living people who aided or knew the hero, if that is possible—it wouldn’t be if the hero were long dead.

Recognizing heroic traits in others would be knowing from communication that an individual’s ability, or level perhaps, was far in excess of appearance.  Sensing accomplishments does not give details about what was done, only that the individual has clearly mastered something great (if they have), though that may not have been made known.


Amateur:  empires, wars
Authority:  biographies of great figures, events, regions
Expert:  biographies of lesser figures, cultures, diplomacy, trends
Sage:  conspiracies, plots, subversive diplomacy

History is not limited to times long past—even something that happened last week is still ‘history.’  The lesser historian may be consigned to details, persons or moments of change, but the greater historian begins to see sweeping trends (which would be what regions seem to have meant to do, or are meaning to do) or even be aware of conspiracies that lie behind the visage of what everyone else sees.

I expect this study, and what can be known at what level, to evolve considerably as the study is employed.

Law & Customs

Amateur:  civil laws, local criminal laws
Authority:  capital crimes, cultural moralisms and practices
Expert:  business law, property law, tariffs, taxes, trade
Sage:  jurisprudence, precedents, settlement making

Knowing local criminal laws are those that typically pertain to the lowest class, and presuppose the character having had time to investigate ... ie., a day or two.  Civil laws are those regarding assault, minor destruction of property, slander, etc.

Capital crimes are more widely distributed, and are those for which death, amputation or an imprisonment of years is involved—which vary in detail according to how heavy is the penalty and how action is affected by religion or morality.

Business law et al allows a useful knowledge of the right amount to pay, the right palms to grease, the right manner of setting up a business, or knowing where and the means to obtain permits, etc.

Jurisprudence is to argue the meaning and scope of the law itself, why it was created or how it came to be.  Precedents allows a court trial to be dismissed or reduced to a lesser crime, something that would probably require a wisdom check to invoke (half wisdom or less to suspend, wisdom to reduce sentence, failure of check to have no effect on trial).  Settlement making would be the cleric having the wherewithal to settle a dispute amicably between others simply on the basis of knowing how others in the past have faced a similar quandary.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Cleric Sage Studies III

This is only two more studies, but the secret with these things is not to push too hard and become drained.  It is exhausting creative work to come up with a framework for study after study, and between all the classes with sage skills I have a lot of this to do.


Amateur:  define morality, distinguish good and evil
Authority:  name and exact location of principal worshipper, recognize ritual, know myth
Expert:  judge belief, know god’s general purpose, recognize intervention
Sage:  know god’s immediate purpose

Gods are distinguished from demi-gods as follows:  gods are not knowable in the sense of possessing personalities, failings or compulsions; they do not have a ‘location,’ nor any corporeal form that can be conceived.  Gods are outside the ordinary construct of existence, even that of the outer planes.  Therefore, knowledge in this study relates to greater ‘truth,’ rather than the movement or conflicts occurring between lesser immortals.  Gods do not need to worry if their cults survive or if their worshippers are persecuted, and are therefore more concerned with a wider view of all existence.  Another way to think of it is that demi-gods occupy the planes of existence; gods create the planes of existence.

I have very few gods.  There is the Christian god, the Mohammedan god, Shiva ... and beyond that, perhaps one or two of the old gods of Cthulhu.

Defining morality means knowing absolutely whether or not something is right or wrong; the other players, or characters, and their opinions don’t matter.  The cleric KNOWS for a fact that something is wrong.  Distinguishing between good and evil can be accomplished when encountering a dilemna between moral paths (not physical ones).  The cleric, of course, is not constrained by their knowledge.

The principal worshipper of any god is of course a public figure, unlike the leader of a demi-god’s cult.  The location is up to the moment, as the cleric  has insight into where they would be at a given time of year, or according to rituals that manage the lives of such persons.  Recognizing rituals includes wider knowledge of why it is being performed, what time of year it occurs and what the ritual is meant to accomplish.  Know myth is to call upon a story about the god that may relate to something that is occurring now.

Judging belief is to determine or detect the amount of piety in a follower of their god.  Knowing the god’s general purpose would be for the long term, perhaps the next ten years, as changes occur in an area; knowing the immediate purpose might reveal a prophet that is just coming to light, the imminent occurrence of a war or pogrom, or similar changes to the religious landscape.  Recognizing an intervention would be any moment where the god’s direct influence has, say, changed a die roll, caused something to appear or otherwise changed the ongoing fabric of reality in some specific way.

Heraldry, Signs & Sigils

Amateur:  royal heraldry, regional heraldry, standard motifs
Authority:  artisan’s sigils, noble heraldry
Expert:  decipher coded sigil, heraldry of noted families, recognize glyph
Sage:  heraldry of secret societies, meaning behind glyphs

Indicates primarily what the cleric would recognize regarding the images that appear in dress, upon buildings, on items or elsewhere.   The knowledge does not enable to cleric to automatically find such things, but only to interpret them once they have been seen.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Cleric Sage Studies II

Adding four more studies to the clerical sage tables; this is going to take a long time; I'm setting myself a goal of accomplishing at least a few a day.  It's harder, however, as I recognize there will need to be descriptions added to the actual knowledge acquired.

Including newly written descriptions of both Artifacts and Astronomy & Astrology in the below content (Art & Music is, for the moment, fairly straight-forward, and can wait):


Amateur:  recognition of artifacts and items of magic
Authority:  capability (melee, magic, etc.), implementation (sans result), regional origin
Expert:  identify minor power (sans specifics), origin story, purpose of creation, previous user
Sage:  identify primary power, identify special condition, name of creator

Implementation (sans result) would mean that the cleric knew enough to make the artifact function, but not enough to say what the artifact actually does.  Knowledge of features is limited to the number of multiples of 10 the cleric possesses.  If the cleric has 50 points, say, and chooses to use all 5 possible pieces of knowledge to define all the minor powers, the cleric cannot then also know the regional origin, or how the artifact functions, or its purpose of creation.

Astronomy & Astrology

Amateur:  navigate by stars, recognize heavens, superior use of a telescope
Authority:  calculate date & time, read & design birth chart
Expert:  predict cosmic events; read daily astrological charts
Sage:  detect invisibility; recognize non-terrestrial life

Navigation describes the proper use of a sextant, and not direction of a ship over seas—though  the cleric working with an experienced sailor together would satisfy a ship’s navigational requirement.  Recognizing the heavens means knowing the stars and constellations by sight.  Superior use would mean having a keen sense of detail when  using a telescope.

A birth-chart would offer both role-playing opportunities and perhaps might encourage the DM to tweak a character’s abilities very slightly upon being ‘read.’  Daily astrological charts might offer tweaks to circumstances or modifiers to die rolls.  Actual charts pulled from the internet would serve as a basis for the character’s ability (it’s all nonsense in reality anyway, so today’s chart would serve for describing a particular day 400 years ago).

Non-terrestrial life, obviously, looks perfectly normal to everyone else.


Amateur:  identify creature
Authority:  identify special power; probable origin
Expert:  estimate strength of main attack; identify weakness
Sage:  define strength of any attacks; estimate health; identify name; recognize associates

Beasts are magical, non-traditional creatures that are conjured from other planes of existence or which have come about through accident, chance or malevolence.   The knowledge does not include beings that once had souls, such as demons, devils, angels or seraphim, nor gods and god-like creatures, nor past heroes, nor undead, nor humanoids, nor beings that are constructed such as homonculi or golems.  Typical beasts would be basilisks, chimera, dragons, lamia, manticores, owlbears, umberhulks, unicorns, violet fungi, xorn, yellow musk creepers and so on.  These are all presumed to have a wide range of characteristics that may deviate far from the traditional Monster Manual, so it should be kept in mind that book is not a final authority.


Amateur:  identify name, sphere of power
Authority:  geographical origin, practices, spread of followers
Expert:  identify demi-god’s purpose or plan, persecutions of followers, planar origin
Sage:  means to communicate with demi-god, name and probable location of principal worshipper, signs of direct supernatural intervention

Sphere of power would be the god’s particular strength (nature, the sea, animals, healing, etc.).  Geographical origin refers to the place where worship of the god began, as spread of followers indicates where they are strongest right now.  Both the purpose and plan are knowable as one unit, as is the name and probable location of the principle worshipper (in Catholicism, this would be the Pope).  Planar origin of the demi-god would define, say, which of nine planes of Hell the god occupies, and possible other locations within the ethereal, astral or prime material planes.  Persecution of followers is knowledge of what pogroms other religions might be pursuing against the worshippers of this particular demi-god.

One piece of knowledge may be known about any particular demi-god per 10 points of study.


Amateur:  obtain the best means of divining or locating knowledge desired.
Authority:  insight into question for best results; recruit aid.
Expert:  clarify one meaning; gain suggested course of action
Sage:  clarify full meaning

The knowledge does not convey the ability to divine supernatural knowledge, but rather to pursue the best course in obtaining such knowledge, and interpretation of same.  Actual divination requires a spell of some kind.

Obtaining the best means would be to know whether augury, divination, a wish, numerology, astrology, the tarot or some other means of divination is the best means towards the desired end; this might even include knowing where to go without the need to cast a spell or perform a meditative practice.  Insight into the question presumes that, since the DM knows the answer, the player might gain knowledge from the DM as to how to best word the question the player wishes to ask (which may yet not in itself provide the full answer).  Note the DM does not provide the actual question, only the best wording.

Recruiting aid means knowing where diviners might be, or what cities that would be worth journeying to, or even where in the town a desired individual may be who could help.  Clarifying a meaning would be explaining a deliberately vague or incomprehensible reference.  A course of action would be how to best act right now towards resolving the riddle of the divined knowledge.

Full meaning is considered to cost the cleric’s entire knowledge points, and will not include knowledge of the best course of action.


Amateur:  identify manifestations
Authority:  guess purpose of manifestation, note evidence of manifestations, recognize gate within line-of-sight, utilize gate
Expert:  identify gate destination, locate gate within 800 yards, recognize hidden manifestation
Sage:  guess last time gate used, locate gate within 4 miles

Manifestations are creatures that were once alive, have lost the soul they once possessed or the soul has since translated to another plane of existence.  Manifestations include undead, demons, devils, angels, translated heroes, valkyries, frost maidens and most intelligent humanoid-like dwellers of other planes.  Such manifestations may be hidden, such as in possession of a living creature or in a form that would normally escape detection.  Take note that ‘recognition’ is not detection; it is the power to know what a thing is once it’s evil, or other evidence, has been detected.

Identifying a manifestation means to have a name to give to the form, once the manifestation is seen.  Noting evidence of manifestations is done by having found places where undead and other creatures have passed, and thus recognizing that passage.  This does not work as a detection spell.  Guesses provide approximate knowledge, so that rather than saying something happened at midnight three days ago, the knowledge would be given as, ‘three or four days ago.’

Gates within line-of-sight can be directly approached and utilized.  Gates can be located by experts and sages by methodically moving towards a disturbance that they are able to detect.  This is a slow process, allowing a movement of no more than 10’ per round while attempting to locate.