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The Jolrhos Field Guide

Christopher R Taylor

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Work is ongoing with this project, and I plan on posting some things here to help give a glimpse into what the project is.


Essentially, the Field Guide is a book of the other stuff in the world besides monsters and treasures and player characters.  It is about the animals, plants, minerals and such that player characters can interact with to their advantage or detriment.  This includes poisons, trades such as blacksmithing and leatherworking, herbs of fantastic enchanted quality, and much more.


For example, in the world of Jolrhos you will find this:


Pepper Moss
This dappled green and white hanging moss is uncommon on trees.  It dangles like Spanish moss, especially in areas away from water sources.  Dust-like material grows on the moss containing spores, and a strong wind or being physically jostled can cause the dust to cascade around the moss.
Most creatures are not particularly bothered by Pepper Moss, but humans, ratmen, wolfen, and zhai (not elves or dwarves) react to the dust as if it is very finely concentrated pepper.  The moss causes stinging in the eyes and strong repeated sneezing.  This acts as a flash attack of d6 worth of d6 (1-6d6) in the target for each plant’s worth of dust.  Further, at the beginning of each phase while blinded, before moving,  the target must make a Constitution Roll at -1 for each additional segment of blindness they are suffering from (so if a character has 3 segments of blindness, they must make CON roll at -3).  Failing this CON roll means they are stunned and must recover as normal that phase, taking no other action.
These effects are only on creatures that are affected by the pepper effect.  Others only cough slightly in annoyance.  All normal animals and most monsters are affected, but nothing such as dragons, demons, or undead is bothered by Pepper Moss.  Naturally any creature that does not breathe is unaffected as well.
Pepper Moss is found in forests, swamps, and jungles, in temperate to tropical regions.
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In high hills and mountains lives a toad with cheek glands that contain an irritant poison which is itchy to humans and other predators, protecting it.  Concentrated, the venom has a much more powerful effect.  The Illness of Delesgal causes the character to recover Endurance half as fast, use double Endurance, and be unable to eat solid food.  While ill, any effect that requires a CON check is at -3 and nausea effects are twice as potent and last twice as long
Effect: Drain Constitution 1d6, recover per week, Major Transform 3d6 (gives physical complication: sick Frequently/Slightly) fades equal to body recovery per week
Stages: 3
Delay before effect: Segment
Time Between Stages: Four Segments
Origin: Mountains
Rarity: -2
Preparation: cut out poison glands and heat contents in oil until blue crystals form at the bottom.  Crush crystals in oil for paste
Form: Contact, stores 3d6 months prepared
Resistance: Life support vs animal poisons, power defense
Cost: 85 copper
Of course, the toad has a life of its own outside being carved up for poison.
This toad feeds on insects, and is up to 10cm in length, a uniformly light blue color, but misshapen and lumpy.  Deles Toads like to climb into dark places like packs, tents, bedrolls and other shelters, especially at night when some heat is there. 
However, the skin of the Deles Toad emits a in irritant poison that is itchy to humans and elves, causing a -1 to all Dex and Magic Skill rolls for 3d6x5 minutes after direct skin exposure.
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One of the different kinds of enchanted ores available for characters to make things from (and find things made from).  Working this kind of metal takes a specific skill called "Spellsmithing" which is basically applied magic.



BLOODIRON: Under the battlefields of Jolrhos can be mined iron at times, iron that has been changed from the presence of the spirits and death nearby.  The carnage makes the iron slightly reddish in color, and it resists rusting.  Bloodiron has a base defense of 8. Working Bloodiron is a -2 penalty.
Bloodiron armor gains +1 DCV when the wearer takes 1 Body damage, lasting a minute.  This effect does not stack.  Weapons made from Bloodiron do +1 DC damage once they draw blood (does BOD damage).  
Once the weapon is clean or no additional BOD damage is done for a turn the extra damage or armor fades.  Weapons can be made with Bloodiron without the spellsmith skill, but they do not gain these special properties.
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Drexl: This is a curious creature related to the porcupine.  Slow and clumsy, it seems easy prey, since its spines are fewer and not barbed like the porcupine, but it is left alone by most creatures.


When frightened or upset, the Drexl emits a strong stench that smells terrible to humans but is overwhelmingly awful to most animals, particularly predators such as cats and dogs.  Further, they give off a trilling shriek which is primarily outside the range of human hearing and will almost always drive predators fleeing from the awful sound in their ears.  Docile and slow, Drexl are fond of fruit and vegetables and can be coaxed into staying in an area with ready food.  Any camp with a Drexl in it is unlikely to be bothered by natural predators, who fear its defensive abilities.


Drexl are about two feet in length, including the hairless tail, and weigh around fifteen pounds as adults.  They are a reddish gray in color, with spines of black that are tipped in white.  These spines are useful for needles and similar applications, but are brittle.  They make fine quills for writing as well.


These creatures only live in forested areas.

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These 4+ meter fat trees never grow to great heights, reaching only a ten meters at most.  However, they are known by some for a useful, if strange property.  The trunk of the tree near the ground usually grows a fairly large cavity, about a meter tall and half a meter wide.  This cavity can be accessed by one side of the tree, and when cut open can be used to store items.

The bark regrows over this cut fairly rapidly, and within 2 weeks there is no sign the tree was ever cut away, sealing the materials in side dry and cool away from prying eyes.  Some forest dwelling peoples will use Vaultwood trees for secure storage, remembering the location for picking up items later.

Vaultwood are found in temperate forested areas and swamps.

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(Woses are my campaign world's equivalent of Ents)


WOSEWOOD: Made from the wood of Wose, this is somewhat rare and sometimes will generate great hatred and rage in people who see someone using it.  Wosewood is a deep green with golden highlights, and has magical properties, as well as being very hard.  Wosewood has a base PD of 7 and ED of 9.  Working Wosewood takes a penalty of -2.


Weapons and armor made from Wosewood wood both grant +2 DCV and 5 Power Defense versus undead.
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(Woses are my campaign world's equivalent of Ents)
WOSEWOOD: Made from the wood of Wose, this is somewhat rare and sometimes will generate great hatred and rage in people who see someone using it.  Wosewood is a deep green with golden highlights, and has magical properties, as well as being very hard.  Wosewood has a base PD of 7 and ED of 9.  Working Wosewood takes a penalty of -2.
Weapons and armor made from Wosewood wood both grant +2 DCV and 5 Power Defense versus undead.


Is there a differentiation from Wosewood that was taken / cut from the Wose versus something that might have been given by a Wose? Or does that not happen?


- E

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White Scream

The Death’s Head Shrew is named for its hairless white head and gray body, and it is tiny as all of its kind.  But its bite contains a powerful hallucinogenic venom which makes victims relive their worst nightmares, fears, and experiences while it lasts.  Even after the visions fade, the victim is a drained and shivering wreck.

Effect: Entangle 3d6, 3 DEF (fades 1 body per minute) and Drain 1d6 Presence and Endurance in stages, recover per hour

Stages: 3

Delay before effect: Victim’s Phase

Time Between Stages: Victim’s Phase

Origin: Forest, Plains, Caves

Rarity: -2

Preparation: 1 dose per shrew, milked or extracted from glands

Form: Ingested (no flavor) or Insinuative for d3 hits or d6 turns, stores d6 days

Resistance: Life Support vs Animal Poison

Cost: 9 silver

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Arbenshand: This spider-like creature has only five legs, and looks much like a large skeletal hand, up to 15cm across.  Arbenshand live on cacti, and will sometimes drop on targets to bite them with a particularly painful bite (1 body damage but 2d6 stun AVAD [life support vs spider poison negates]).


Arbenshand can be tamed by feeding them regularly, and can even seem affectionate, resting on the shoulder or head of their owner.  This ghastly pet is considered a sign of status and importance among some Dervish and Beastmen tribes.


Aarbenshand are found only in deserts, especially Moskend and Yugavia.  They are used to make the poison of the same name.

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This evergreen has tiny needles of less than a centimeter in length that bristle thick on all branches.  The trees grow enormously tall, over 40m but narrow, with branches less than 4m across.


When the wood of the Thelpine is burned for at least an hour, all within 5m gain +1 Recovery for 1 day.


Thelpine are found in any forest, but are most common in tropical areas.

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Dzole is not rare, but it is difficult to spot and isolate.  This mineral is found in pea-sized tan nodules among other rocks and sands in deserts.

Effect: Doubles effectiveness of most potions and herbs, where applicable (2d6 aid becomes 4d6, +2 paramedics roll becomes +4, etc).  GM can always rule it has no effect on a given herb or potion

Addictive: Moderately

Origin: Deserts

Rarity: -3

Preparation: 2 nodules melted under tongue, then potion or herb used within a minute

Storage: d6 years

Cost: 3 silver

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The Aether is largely insubstantial but there are pockets of dust and some large ‘islands’ of stone that can be mined for their unusual properties.  Aetherstone can be worked to produce a sort of non-ferrous metal greenish in color, with odd refractive qualities and a slightly misty, insubstantial texture.  Aetherstone has a base PD of 8 and ED of 13.  Working Aetherstone is a -5 penalty.


Aetherstone armor is impenetrable, prevents teleport and Desolidification bought Usable Against Others from working on both it and the person wearing it, and grants Affects Desolidified to the wearer and his unarmed attacks.  A shield with Aetherstone worked into it protects from indirect attacks (even flail attacks) and can shield bash a desolidified target.


Weapons made from this affect desolidified creatures.  They also act as transdimensional to strike creatures in other dimensions, assuming they can be perceived, reached, and targeted.

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The world of Jolrhos, this game setting, is defined less by fantastic enchantments on items than on enchanted materials used to make items.  You can find swords with  magic on them and rings of power, but the bulk of treasure is in specially constructed materials with inherent magic.


For example, instead of a longsword +1, you can find a Fellstone longsword which not only looks a cool uniform flat black color, but because it is made out of this material is tougher and lighter than steel.  This makes the weapon easier to use and can even hit harder as a result, without having spells cast on it.  Because Hero items have so many stats such as weight, strength minimum, PD, and Body, different construction can adjust these stats for subtle effect.


Having a suit of armor made from mithril doesn't grant you bonuses to DCV, but it does make the armor considerably lighter, tougher for better defenses, and more resistant to corrosion effects.  That bow made of Wosewood has much longer range and hits harder.


This gives a tremendous variety of possible effects and types of items without needing magical bonuses on top.  And it makes magical items that much more interesting and potentially powerful.  Just +1 DCV on a hauberk of bloodiron plate is a major upgrade without throwing about major enchantments.


The Jolrhos Field Guide is for GMs to know how that all fits together, how to use it, and what the properties and use of these materials is, in addition to all of the other curious and unusual stuff around the world which players can take advantage of.  When the Jolrhos Treasury comes out (probably next year) with all the treasure charts and information, plus history and some treasure map and horde scenarios, and notes on how to use treasure, it will take advantage of the information in this book.

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Dragons have a coating of strong, horn-like scales that is very durable and light.  Not made from bone, Dragonscales are hard without being brittle.  Dragonscale has a base PD of 9 and ED of 12.  Working Dragonscale takes a -5 penalty.


Armor made from this material has 50% resistant ED damage reduction of the elemental type the Dragon is (or the DEF x 3 in Power Defense).  Dragonscale enchants easily, matching 1/5 BOD of the material made in real points of magic.


Weapons can be made from Dragonscale such as maces or axes, or even crude swords.  Such weapons have triple defense against the type of elemental attack the Dragon was of originally (or DEF x3 in Power Defense) and enchant easily, matching* 1 point per 4 weapon’s Body.



*MATCHING POINTS: When an enchanted material has “Matching points” this means that it has free character points inherent in the material that someone enchanting the item it is made from can tap into.  For every point the enchanter spends for a permanent magic on the item, the enchanted material will “match” that with a free point up to its maximum total.  Thus, a sword made from Dragonbone will grant up to 1/3rd of its total Body in real points, each point added once the enchanter has spent one point.

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Great Spider Poison

This is the venom that can be collected from the gigantic spiders that dwell in the wilds of Jolrhos.  It has two different effects, based on how it is prepared, either a lethal toxin or a paralytic based on entangle (transparent to all physical attacks, use CON to break out instead of Strength).

Effect: Drain 1d6 Body (recover per hour) or 1d6, 3 DEF Entangle (based on CON)

Stages: (KA) 4, (paralysis) 1

Delay before effect: 4 segments

Time Between Stages: 4 segments

Origin: Varies

Rarity: -2

Preparation: (Drain) Milk spider, d6 doses; (Paralysis) Milk spider d6 doses and mix with spider blood equal parts

Form: Insinuative d6 hits or d6 minutes, stores d3+3 weeks

Resistance: Life Support vs poison

Cost: 167 copper


Yes, monsters in the Jolrhos setting have body loot.  I put quite a bit of that into the Jolrhos Bestiary such as pelts, teeth, alchemical components, etc.  Like the Dragonscale listed above, a skilled person can harvest useful bits from creatures to sell or use.

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Carratu are small maples that produce large amounts of sap.  Only found along ocean shores, these gnarled plants are twisted by the winds and never grow larger than four meters in height.  It is only when the sap runs clear that it has any herbal potency, which is not common.

Effect: Lifestoring* for one day

Addictive: no

Origin: Ocean Shore

Rarity: -3

Preparation: Sap smeared on victim’s lips

Storage: d3 days

Cost: 13 silver


*Lifestoring is a concept I swiped from MERP.  


Certain herbs in the listing have the effect “Lifebringing” which is a specific effect for Jolrhos Fantasy Hero.  A Lifebringing herb is one that is able to restore life to an apparently deceased victim.  Such a victim is not fully dead; they are only mostly dead and can be restored to life with the proper magic.


A mostly dead person is one that has been reduced to a Body score equal to negative their starting Body or lower, but not for an extended time.  The soul will remain in or near the body for one minute plus one turn per point of original Constitution the body had in life.


A Lifebringing herb when applied to such a mostly dead person will take them up to 1 in all stats, including body and stun.  The victim will be unable to move or act except short statements, and will spend most of their time sleeping and healing.  All stats will recover at the same rate as Body through natural healing until the character’s body and Constitution scores are healed to full, at which point all stats will heal equal to the character’s recovery per hour to full.


A mostly dead character brought to life will have their entire body impaired until all of their stats are fully healed.



A Lifestoring herb is one which when properly applied will extend the length of time which a character is “mostly” dead. The Lifestoring effect will keep a body in this stasis state for as long as the given herb specifies, usually much longer than typical for a body.


When the herb is applied, the normal time period which a body will remain mostly dead remains as long as the herb's Lifestoring ability continues, then the countdown starts again.  Further, that given herb cannot be used to maintain a body’s connection to its soul, although a different Lifestoring herb could be then used.



There isn't really a resurrect spell in Jolrhos, as such.  There are lifestoring and lifebringing herbs, or a necromantic spell which seems to bring someone back to life, but the transformation of corpse to animated body (which seems alive) 'heals' back at the same rate that person would recover body naturally over time.

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Chagrak: Although not a tree, this desert bush has wood of such durability and hardness it is used for some tribes and cultures as a substitute for iron.  The finished wood is grayish tan in color with streaks of white in it, and can be quite attractive.


Chagrak is quite heavy, and require very hard stone and great strength and patience to carve and work.  Since the bushes do not grow much larger than a man is tall, it cannot be used for something like a greataxe blade, but will function as iron for smaller structures like spearpoints, daggers, or maces.


Although hard and heavy as iron, Chagrak has a base PD of only 5, but ED of 7.  It also does not hold an edge as well, so edged weapons lose a damage class on an 11- chance per successful hit against any hard object (such as armor or a shield).  Chagrak takes a -3 roll to work.


Hey, desert dwelling beastmen and orc tribes need low tech alternatives.

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Something a little different this time.


In studying tailoring, cloth, and historical techniques for the Jolrhos Field Guide, I came across silk armor. I knew that the silk that the mongols wore would help protect from arrows, and further would not tear off into wounds and increase chances of infection: you could twist the arrow back out with the silk.


But I didn't know that the first functioning bulletproof vest was made of silk. And it works. Silk's resilient stretchy material is actually very effective against projectiles, which is making me add a few concepts to my fantasy hero armor options.


Because you can wear one of these things under a suit of armor.




This article goes into the first bulletproof vest, invented in the late 1800s by a Polish scientist and how it might have changed history.  WWI was inevitable: too many forces in motion, too much animosity, etc.  But it might have been a little later in starting.

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These small flowers grow in shadowy areas near sun, such as cave entrances.  They are not rare, but the dull greenish flowers are not common. Each bloom contains a quarter gram of pollen.  This can be applied to stone or metal items, and some other substances as allowed by the GM, usually armor and weapons.  If used on armor, it does not increase the protection of the armor, only the defense of the material (to determine if the armor is damaged).

Effect: x1.25 PD and ED permanently

Addictive: no

Origin: Caves

Rarity: -1

Preparation: A gram of pollen mixed with oil and then smeared on an item heated until it is nearly turning red in color.  The oil burns off and then the item is quenched, enchanting it slightly.  Can only be applied once to each item.

Storage: d6 months

Cost: 14 cp per dose
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Tseath:  In many caves grows a fungus shaped like a fluted glass, about 4 inches in diameter.  When the cup is broken or crushed slightly, it glows as bright as a candle for a full hour, and can be used in an emergency to light a way through the darkness.  


The properties that cause this illumination, however do not store well, and the fungus will only be able to light up and maintain its light for d3 hours after being plucked.


Tseath are found in  caves, mines, and even the underdeeps, and are not an uncommon fungus.

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This strange toadstool glows slightly in the dark with a greenish hue.  It is nearly black in color and heavily seamed with wrinkles all over its small cap and thick stem.  The Kennard mushroom is found only in low mountainous semi tropical and tropical areas, in areas shaded continuously from the sun such as under overhanging rocks, tree snags, and small caves. 

Effect: Age 1d6 years (may only take effect once a season)

Stages: 3

Delay before effect: one day

Time Between Stages: one hour

Origin: Forest, Swamp

Rarity: -1

Preparation: Dried, the toadstool crumbles into small black crystals.  Dissolves into any alcohol, or will melt into skin oils (direct contact to bare skin) over a minute.

Form: Ingested or Contact (for half effect), crystals store d3+10 years

Resistance: Life Support vs plant poisons

Cost: 174 copper

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