Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Combat systems

The point of combat

My goals when designing a combat system are that it should first have enough dynamism to not be a solved game or rote repetition, second be as simple as possible, and third be as realistic as it can. The order there is very important. I do not want to play a tabletop RPG that is mostly or entirely about combat, that's something I find video games will always have the advantage at, in terms of providing an exciting, tense experience. So here are three of my favorite attempts I've made at creating the kind of combat I'd want to play.

Duel by Antonio J Manzanedo

Three Hand Duel

There are three combat stances: fast stance, parry stance, and feint stance. Parry beats fast, feint beats parry, and fast beats feint. Anyone can use fast stance, anyone with a weapon (or specialized unarmed training) can use parry stance, and anyone proficient with their weapon can use feint stance. Anyone whose stance beats opponents’ stances deals damage dice plus bonus damage. Anyone whose stances matches their opponent's both deals and takes bonus damage (but not damage dice). Blocking stance is available if you have a shield, allowing you to roll a 'damage die' that will reduce any damage you take in the following round. Weapons and high strength increase damage, armor reduces damage taken.

Advantages: pretty complex without being hard to use, gives plenty of active decision making opportunity to players. Inherently feels flavorful because you're declaring how your character will fight. Easily scalable up to mass combat with something like charge, flank, route or similar (I haven't looked into medieval battle strategy). It also addresses the massive threat of being flanked, as both opponents can doom your options. There is also some opportunity to add special stances as class abilities or other kinds of specialized combat training, but this should be done with extreme care. Also runs faster than most dice systems, because someone is always taking damage.

Challenges: make sure you choose what your stance will be before you ask someone, you'll probably want to write it down. Honestly cards might work for this purpose. Also a bit hard for people to wrap their head around if they're not familiar with the terms, but they can be easily equated to rock, paper, and scissors (obviously what the system is based on). Also if you're unarmed or not proficient, there's always a best choice against you, so that's iffy.

Battle by Faraz Shanyar

Behind the Blades

Each character has a stamina stat. Before the turn, they can invest however many they want into offense and defense respectively. If one side's offense totals higher than the other's defense, that amount of damage is dealt. Armor and shields add fixed defense points, weapons and strength add fixed offense points. Possible additional rule: one may invest a third of their stamina in a 'guard break' that reduces enemy defense to zero. Stamina may lower each turn.

Advantages: very simple, very deadly. Again, possible to add special moves with a fixed stamina cost, or a fixed portion cost.

Challenges: again relies heavily on not knowing what the opponent will do. Even more so, knowing the enemy's stamina can potentially cause problems.

Spilled Wine Drawing

11"x14" Prismacolor pencils on Dura-lene acetate.
Spilled Wine by Daniel Landerman (NSFW warning)

Steel Ruckus

An attack is a d20 roll. If the result is higher than the opponent's defense, the attack is successful, and you can either strike them or shove them away. The first strike throws you off guard for a turn. If struck while off guard, you are wounded and unable to fight until healed. Strikes can be either deflected or absorbed, with a weapon or tool you are holding. Deflecting causes you to drop that item, while absorbing the strike damages the item. It takes one turn to attack, close distance (such as after being shoved), run away, grab two items from the ground or your belt, or grab one item from a container within reach (like your backpack) or from another belt in reach. Armor and shields add to defense, weapons and combat training add to attack.

Advantages: most compatible with D&D style combat systems, which includes a lot of OSR stuff, so conversion of existing combat should be a lot easier. Lots of potential for environmental fun, like shoving people into hazards (down stairs, into spiders) or dropping a weapon out of reach (off a bridge, down a cliff).

Challenges: the way shoving and running away work, there should probably be a similarly robust chase system. That seems like fun, but it is a challenge. Should also come with somewhat strict limits on what can be hung from a belt, lest players simply load their waist with spare weapons and shields.


If you've been following for a while, the Three Hand Duel was what I was using for my Skies Below stuff. These are still broadly in chronological order, in the order I came up with them. I'll probably stick with Steel Ruckus for the time being, and flesh it out with more details in the future.

Monday, June 29, 2020

People of this realm

These races are all fantastical humans, and would consider many of the classic fantasy races equally human. None of them are inherently better or worse at any given thing, though cultures may reinforce certain skills or passions and shun others. If in doubt, anyone can simply be a Cikrem nomad of whatever skin color they prefer, or simply add their preferred races as needed.

Each or all of them can interbreed, with children potentially inheriting the traits of more than one parent, however mixed race characters may face unique challenges. Unusual or unique traits may also manifest in members of any race, such as pointed ears, tusked canines, or webbed digits.


Terse, hardy people who spare few words and have ruled Tajira for too long. They wish not to show their triple tongues, which change color based on their mood.

They wear clothing dull in color and trimmed of embellishment, and similarly prefer unseasoned foods, especially raw fruits and vegetation. Perhaps this stems from their homeland, a forest so dense and overgrown that the sun almost never reaches the ground.

The Mistress by Sam Carr
(lightly edited)


Natives to the land now held by Tajira, most would gladly see the empire fall. Illusion magic is their native art, and they can be recognized by the hole that naturally runs through each torso and limb.

They keep some records with a system of knots and dyed strings, sometimes incorporating these along the hem of a cloak or tunic, in a way that communicates surreptitiously with their people.


Mournful people displaced from their homeland by the yingao empire. They bear twin sideways mouths and thumbs in the place of their littlefingers.

Their fashions tend toward many overlapping layers fastened with unique buttons, ranging in length from short sleeved tunics to long, enveloping robes. Outsiders often have difficulty with the strange bolshu buttons.


Wayward chromatic tribes who carry distinctive Dream Bread and wear tight clothing. Stories say a child born of two tribes will lead them to a new homeland, though they care little where they originated.

Their colorful bread is well known for causing wild visions that some find spiritual guidance in, and a few simply enjoy. Most cikrem keep a large, loose hood or sash.

ZONA 2019 by Q Tori


Allies to Tajira who hail from the mountains. Thought of as sneaky for their overly flexible limbs, each with an extra joint. They hunt great beasts in the mountains, prizing the meat and leather, and they have complex customs around leather clothing.

A single, continuous piece of leather formed into an outfit is called ‘full leather,’ with an outfit consisting of multiple sources called ‘cut leather,’ and ‘scrap leather’ as the lowest form, where the outfit is supplemented by other material.


A larger empire lurking near the borders of Tajira, wishing for the first signs of weakness. Ashen skinned with needled teeth and faces some would call fish-like, they wield flame spewing weapons.

The frigid forests they come from are harsh and strange, and they have a strange preference for frozen meals. Exposing the arms is a sign of strength, and some may recognize the ortish cut of a flared, fur-lined vest.


Soft-spoken folk from a land of valleys and caverns. Oft assumed stubborn due to their horned heads, and usually hired as guards or mercenaries. Because of this, it’s easy to find helmets that account for and even protect the horns.

Individuals tend to be either very tall or very short, with average height strangely rare. They prefer simple clothing, but usually bear intricate carvings on their horns.

Original Character - Sheep Girl by Lorena Carricondo


Seen by some as savages, for their lack of clothing and hair-covered bodies. They actually possess a rich culture of hair stylings. 

Warriors will often braid their hair into tight, close-fitting rows, with shorn patterns to show their role as a life-taker. Meanwhile hunters of beasts are more likely to cut their hair shorter, and it is common for leaders or public figures to grow their hair long and straighten it.


Well-trusted traders from the Kajhar desert. They are considered beautiful for their crystalline hair and nails.

They tend to wear layers of light, airy fabric with subtle patterns, but those in Tajira tend to find the climate too cold and will adopt local fashions quickly. Veshkin cooks are known for crafting many fine sweets and candies.

Phosphophyllite by Zhengyang Hu


Often friendly people with black blood and bones that tinge their skin blue. By holding their breath they can turn their skin black, but this leaves them lightheaded.

They have come from far off forests of giant mushrooms, and tend to value stiff, geometrically cut clothes made of fungal paper. Officials will also wear pieces of giant insect carapace, but most in Tajira cannot afford such a luxury. Their predilection for strong drink and other fermented foods has led to a reputation as drunken poisoners.


Seafarers with neither hair nor nails- anywhere on their body. Only some women wear wigs in Tajira, but most wear fine makeup. Rumors claim they season their food with sand, but it is actually crushed coral.

It is customary to get a tattoo each time a new crew is joined, so a shimex covered in ink has either survived many failed voyages, or moved around for another reason.


Quiet, gentle folk from cursed plains, who created the elemental magics of sorcery. Each individual has a single, large eye, some of which can be found in the darkest of markets.

Sometimes thought of as strangely violent, for their integration of armor-like plates of metal in clothing, which is generally made of surprisingly fine, sturdy silks.

Cyanne by Sarah Burks


Graceful people of fine ceramic and artful silks, they have metallic skin and four, narrow eyes. Very rarely one will be born with golden skin.

The wealthy trade in quicksilver, requiring extremely specific containers and the finest of porters. Strange, tall mounts carry them aloft, keeping the long draping robes that are in fashion from dragging on the ground.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Shalilas, city of the genie

The trader Veklen knows the route, but will guard this secret. They need help though, taking brightglass through the desert. Kajhar is a dusty land, but not a dead one. Great scorpions and lizards lie under the sand. Afield is the cactus desert, a beautiful but deadly place.

Near the tail of the Great Dune lies the city of genie, Shalilas. The human trader keeps it a secret, but the genie care little if they are found. The gates are living, possessed by sometimes lackadaisical genie. In times of need however, those gate genie respond instantly and resolutely.

The most need for traders lie in the small human population. They all know each other, and most are Wishmakers, paid to request simple wishes. Wishmaking is not lucrative; they each have other reasons for being here, and make a living in other crafts.

Desert City by Sam Denmark

At the outskirts of the city lie mounds of shattered clay and slag metal, the cast-off remnants of genie who moved up in the city or died trying. Living in the refuse are the lowest of genie, poor souls wearing broken scraps as their body. Even those unfortunate denizens know they can rely on Mother Neres, long-standing guardian with an unusually sturdy body of charred oak. She speaks rarely, and spends her time protecting the slums rather than leading the city.

Most genie in the city will inhabit bodies like human-sized dolls of clay or ceramic, or metals such as steel or iron, or even zinc when possible. Very rare bodies will be made from even lighter materials, like glass or rare metals. Heavier bodies are also uncommon, but more as a matter of practicality than expense. It is more common to see a genie in a body that cannot move, such as a pot, lamp, or other artisanal item, with an attendant or companion to carry them.

Fashion covers an eclectic and varied range, as one might expect from the wide variety of possible bodies. The most important traits for genie clothes are convenience and versatility, as the vessel can always be changed for more long-term appearances. In that vein, there's also something of a trend for genies to alter their vessels, bolting on additional parts or carving away small portions. The right shops can offer strange and unique piercings or other strange changes to the bodies of mortal visitors.

From anywhere in the city, and some ways beyond, one can see its metaphorical center. It is the Green Palace, a gleaming tower of glass holding the city’s greatest elders. Perhaps the most powerful, though not the oldest, is Prinim Veshisk, a massive genie in fine glass. He enjoys his unwieldy, fragile vessel, and forcing slaves to maneuver him. The newest councilor is Toril Syaran, who suspects Prinim may have destroyed a rival on the council, and wishes to expand trade with the mortal world.

The city also relies on the Incense Mines, an ancient buried forest from which all manner of aromas have been gleaned. These scents and the colored flame they produce give the genie incredible sensations, be they euphoric, inflaming, or subduing. At the markets, one can buy such things as stonesmoke cones, fire-dripping sticks, and spiritwalk powder. A hopeless addict to the stonesmoke, Dalifer has spent much time wandering the desert looking for anything to pawn, and if given incense will tell visitors of some of the stranger things out there.

Main Image
Incense Knight by Hwa Min Jung

Most genie outside the city have been lost for ages, found buried in ancient ruins with little memory of where they originated. Only a few have left the city or been kidnapped, and most end up finding their way to Shalilas eventually. There are only two ways for a genie to truly die, without arcane intervention. Either by the decay of the vessel, to a point of complete incoherence, or by failing to transfer to a new vessel when they may leave their present place. The worst wrongdoers are imprisoned by building a pit like a well, lined with stone and filled with sand to bury the criminal.

Perhaps the largest gathering of genie outside the city are at the sandstone fortress of the Smoke-fist Warriors, an order of veshkin mercenaries who ritualistically burn one of their arms to let a genie inhabit it, granting increased strength and an uncanny ability to fight with two weapons at once. The genie Ryula lives secretly within their order, inhabiting a burnt corpse of unknown origin.

Walking the streets of Shalilas

  1. A young genie approaches carrying shards of pottery, looking frightened. He says his master’s vessel has been shattered, and he needs you to buy him a new one quickly.

  2. A commotion from the gates as a genie rushes into the city, asking for aid in rescuing their fellow’s vessel, a vase which has been captured by bandits in the desert.

  3. Prinim’s procession (or another vainglorious councilor) fills the street, forcing commoners and visitors aside at risk of violence.

  4. A player’s finest weapon catches the eye of a Talmar Fineshadow, a genie adventurer who just returned from the Labyrinth of Glass with plenty of gold and a new obsidian vessel. Talmar wants to buy the weapon, and seemingly won’t take no for an answer.

  5. The group is approached by a genie carrying an empty vessel, handing them a few coins and telling them to make a wish.

  6. A human notices the group and rushes over, offering to sell them snacks. Fruit on a stick, peeled and covered in spicy powder, they are more expensive since human food is uncommon here.


  1. Stonesmoke cone: a strangely vivid grey incense that produces deep black smoke, and a rich, salty scent. The namesake smoke is rigid, flowing upward regardless of wind or touch, and feels like shifting stone.

  2. Dripfire stick: particularly long sticks of incense that produce a dim orange flame that does not rise or flicker, rather dribbling down from the end. The scent is sweet and spicy, sharp but fading quickly. The flames are not mere liquid, as indeed they weigh nothing

  3. Astral powder: incense dust that creates a strange, misty smoke, wafting and waving in unfelt winds. The scent is slightly minty and makes one feel energized but calm. The sensation is like being outside of one’s body, and it is said that an excessive amount can draw out the soul.

  4. Harmony coil: usually sold in a spiral shape along with instructions on how to light it. The smell is woody with a floral note, and can vary slightly depending on the type, usually enhancing introspection and self-discovery. It is unique for being ignited by sounds, of particular tone and patterns based on the shape of the incense, despite always being the same material. The common spiral is lit with a low whistle.

  5. Midnight pellets: small beads of blue incense that smell tangy and a bit sour when lit, giving mild feelings of energy and preventing all sleep as long as it burns. On a moonless night, the pellets will burn like tiny stars.

  6. Iris oil: debatable as incense, this fluid always seems to be watching, and when burning releases colorful smoke that leaves afterimages and increases sensitivity of body, mind, and spirit. Some say it simply makes people more suggestible.

Insense Burner
Gold pot by Sandesh Tuladhar

Dalifer’s trade

  1. A giant made of flame, unnaturally tall and gaunt, striding the desert a short distance to the south. It’s been seen twice, each time at midweek, heading the same direction and leaving a trail of glass footprints.
  2. In the cactus jungle, full of prickling trees and scorpion monkeys, a spiralling pit of carved stone that leads to unknown depths.
  3. A gigantic carapaced serpent, coiled and gleaming in the sun. Dalifer ran before realizing that it hadn’t been moving.
  4. Black sand amid the desert, laid out in a perfectly symmetrical pattern with no one around to have done it. The wind hasn’t picked up since it was spotted, so it may still be there.
  5. Bandits lost in reverie at night, singing and dancing around a fire. They were burning stolen incense, but there were simply too many.
  6. Flipped upside down, a huge statue of a head. Very detailed face and square structure that wouldn't roll on its own. No other parts in view.

Directly connected to the previous post, and also part of the GLOG community city challenge! Other participants include:

Thursday, June 11, 2020

Captured in brass, hidden among sand

Travelers from far off lands, wealthy Veshkin traders sometimes carry vessels that contain only a wise and ancient spirit. These spirits are called Genie, born untold aeons ago and living in forms crafted by flame. Many of them hold long-forgotten secrets and can share this information, and they must grant one wish to a mortal before they may leave whatever body they inhabit. Of course, they can only grant a wish within their power, and if they have found a comfortable vessel they have little need to grant wishes.

Magic Crystal Lamp by Yulia Matveeva

No human knows how new Genie are born, or even if they are. The gollo scholar Myerish claims definitively that there are precisely 888 Genie and that is all that have ever or ever will exist. Others claim that they were created by ancient masters as a precursor to golems, and still others claim that they were an ancient precursor to liches, perhaps even that a lich could become one given the right expertise. A chilling theory, to say the least.

Desire - Ceramics Sculpture by Olja Sofronijevic

The possessed armor Naril has famously guarded Leyler manor for generations. They consider him part of the family, and have even drafted a writ of nobility for him should tragedy befall their house. Travellers in Kajhar sometimes tell of meeting the Smelted Knight, known as Ayan Varim, and sometimes being saved from bandits by the clay warrior. Most veshkin could tell you about Maladesh Shattermouth, the eater, often spoken of in folk tales and nighttime stories to frighten unruly children. Any Genie would caution against such tales, as they know that Maladesh yet remains free.

Guardian Puppet by Raymond Chen

Thursday, April 23, 2020

New generators
I drew these, as some possible results on the sword generator

I've updated and fleshed out my weapon auto-generator button, turning it into two. First, one that is more sword-focused:

And a more general one: 

Half-swording a sword and a half by Antoine Piers

Additionally, here is a small undead generator:

Short post this time, but hopefully soon enough I'll be back with magic factions, cultures in my setting, or perhaps even a rule PDF for my GLOG hack! All credit goes to Spwack of Meandering Banter for creating a terrific set of tools for building these auto-generators.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Musical Magical (OSR Secret Jackalope 2020)

Spell rituals

An ancient spellbook has been uncovered, containing these secret rites. 

The Forest Witch by Stu Harrington

You Spin Me Round

Cover a spinning top with the ashes from a burned wheel, write the words PRITTU VANAM on your palm, and then spin the top upon it. So long as you keep it spun, all who can clearly see its spin are forced to pirouette.

Take Me to Church

Select a shrine or temple and take the branch from a tree near it (if there are none anywhere nearby, a handful of grass may still work). Then, obtain an eyelash from a true believer. When you need to return there, hold the branch aloft and entreat the god to return you to safety. The branch will burn in holy light, and you will be brought there in only a minute by a similar divine glow.

Kill V Maim

Weave grass from your hometown into a small pad, and mix together dirt from a robbed grave, spittle from a panicking goat, and the crushed body of an insect that has killed a human into ink. With this ink, write out your name and the letters E V N X T I N on the pad, and place it under your clothes. For the next week, if you are wounded by blows while bearing this pad, your foe will be struck down on the spot.


Craft a fine mask of clay or another brittle material (clay is simply the most easily reached choice I know of). The mask should depict your own face in a visage of deepest sorrow, and be inscribed along the rim with IV NATAS MIM RETO KALIN. Shattering this mask against your face summons the pure maiden Megitsune, a fox spirit in the form of a young girl who is kind and knows the deepest regret of everyone whose eyes she meets. She will use this knowledge to achieve her (and your) ends, but is not all knowing.

Crying Spirit by Leon Ropeter

Absolute Territory

This spell can be cast with a skirt or cloak. Create a patch woven with an eyelash that has not been wished upon, and dyed with wine that has been shared. Sew the patch to the inside of the garment while describing the most beautiful sights you have seen. When you flip up the inside to reveal the patch, it will start to shine brightly and everyone within five meters as well as anyone who approaches to that close will be enthralled for up to a minute by what they see.


Mix together rust shavings, a stranger's blood, the wings of a butterfly, and spoiled milk in a pot of oil. Say the magic words YARUNE TOLSS REWEK and anoint it upon yourself or another. Until the sun sets, this oil will permeate the outer clothing and badly sting the skin of any fairie who touches it. There are other recipes to ward against other spirits and supernatural monsters, but all I know of them is that the incantation is the same.


Take the bone which has never touched human skin from a large beast (a dog or larger). The spell may only work if thick gloves are worn by the caster when handling this bone. The bone must be painted or dyed black and you must incant NATARES. As soon as this is said, the bone will appear to all as whatever object they most desire at that moment, until it melts away into ink at sunset. Some may react unusually to this sight.

Magic wand of peace by Victor Duarte

I Can't Fix You

Forge a bell from bronze that was once a sword. I believe the sword must have seen battle, but cannot be sure. Carve the words NORU SIVIM somewhere on it. If it is rung over a wounded foe while they sleep, the magic words will burn a hole in the bell and the wounds they bear will become cursed to never heal by any natural or medicinal means.


Make a candle using the fat of a lost sheep for the tallow and cotton from a field you have never seen before as the wick. Burn it while chanting the words TUMUN SHAMA VIDEH until you have a handful of molten wax. Throw this wax upon someone and they will seem to disappear, while they are forced to wander through the halls of an empty palace full of stairs and balconies, trapped until they say the words "I'm free!"

Summoning by Olivier Hennart

Mr. Blue Sky

Make a circle with a three-pointed star holding at each point amethyst, quartz, and hematite respectively. Meditating in the center of this circle for an hour under uninterrupted sunlight shall summon Mr. Blue, a small fae man with skin fittingly the color of a clear summer sky, who will stay to aid you until the sun reaches the same spot in the sky the next day. His gaze can quell unbound power; raging fire, torrential flow, or frenzying elementals for example.

Created as part of the OSR Discord server Secret Jackalope 2020! The prompt for an ancient spellbook full of spells named after songs comes courtesy of Stefan "The Moth," who blogs at Verbum Ex Nihilo. This prompt caught me somewhat off guard, but I took it as an opportunity to start writing spell rituals which will be a component of my next RPG project. Ultimately, it all kind of worked out just right.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Guilds for adventurers

Cartographers guild

Principally concerned with mapping and exploration of distant lands for colony and plunder, their presence in more well-known areas turn attention more towards the discovery of lost and hidden places, the types adventurers tend to find. With time their pursuits have branched into knowledge and information of other kinds, and a good cartographers guild library can look like a jungle of strange papers and inscrutable writings. Technically the leader of the guild is the ever-absent Choriam Bangra, currently believed to be searching an underground jungle for an entrance to the Eternal Path. The true power is held by a supposedly temporary council, the eight Chief Scribes.

Olaf the Meat Tenderiser by Ricardo Robles

Butchers guild

One of the most powerful food guilds in the land. Any butcher worth their salt will have guild certification, and for many taverns the certification is a mark of prestige. In the adventuring world however, the butchers guild is mainly known for their meat markets, willing to buy all manner of huge dead beasts (as long as they can be proven edible), and even employing a good number of alchemists. The guild is headed by the Kythel twins, who are known for taking joy in cutting apart large monsters.

Salvagers guild

Once a lower-grade offshoot of the builders guild, this group has found renewed purpose in stripping the oldest, abandoned places of anything potentially valuable. The leader is elected semi-democratically, with votes given to guild members based on their performance. Currently the guild is headed by Saliiz Mernir, known for keeping such a myriad of personal items that their office is almost akin to a junk heap. Their diligent style of precise leadership sharply contrasts with that of the previous head, Erham Loen, who was more of a hands-off, minimalist type.

Early Mourning by Patryk Olas

Burial guild

There are countless places deep in the earth where the dead are left in old stone halls and caves, lost to their gods. This small but spirited group has dedicated themselves to gathering the abandoned dead and giving them their proper rites. They are generally hostile toward practitioners of necromancy, with certain exceptions. There are necromancers in the guild, known as the Stewards, who use their art exclusively to gently guide the dead toward a proper resting place. Many of the guild's funerary rites include sanctification of various kinds to prevent future necromancy, and they usually give rites based on the culture of the one who died, if they can find it out. Word of the burial guild's Grave Tower has spread far and wide, a rising catacomb where the honored dead are interred and the occasional meetings of the guild leadership are held.

Sitting hijabi fashionista
Sitting hijabit fashionista by Rabia El Mouden

Mercers guild

Once focused on solely women's fashion, their stakes have broadened to include not just fashion but all manner of far off cultures. It is said by some that a spider controls the guild, though they vehemently deny such claims and believe the rumor was started by their rivals in the weavers guild. Officially they have no overarching leader, only localized chapter heads in different areas. 

Mages guild

Less a meeting of the minds and more a club of magically well-wishers, mostly low-ranking nobles and bored merchants seeking to fill empty days with some mild intrigue. They might have a bit of money for purchasing a fanciful trinket, but their prices can most likely be matched or bettered by a wealthier patron or more practical-minded organization. Their etiquette rules are extensive and stringent.

The Storyteller
The Storyteller by Lucas Sorrenti

Storytellers guild

Collectors of tales and folklore, finding their nearest outpost can often reveal the legends of almost every village for miles around.