miércoles, 19 de mayo de 2021

Monks & Mummies: Player's Guide

 In this entry, I will write the Monks & Mummies player rules, bit by bit, using edits so the game is not scattered around in multiple ones. This is the definitive shape of the "Minimalistic D&D" entries. It is also a way to not lose my work over time, be it the work of months or years. 

The premises from which I part are:

* Mechanical parts reduced to the minimum to not be redundant. Hit Dice and Attribute scores are not in their common forms, but they are there somehow.

* Monks and Fighters must coexist and not over-rule the other. The setting is much more based on Dragon Quest rather than Medieval fantasy. 

* Combat is made by one roll for each combatant. 

* Instead of tracking Charisma and Hirelings separately for each PC, the whole party uses hirelings as one. The hireling's united levels cap must be lower than the party's levels united. Equally, many other things as monster reactions are based on the actions or dispositions of the whole party.

* More information will be added overtime. 

Character Creation:

Roll 3d6. Assign any 2 results to each of this tables. The other number is your starting HP

Class table:

1,2 - Monk: Your fists count as an off-hand weapon (d6 damage, can re-roll once per turn if using another weapon). 1d4 weapons are upgraded to 1d6 too.

3,4- Fighter: You get +1 Damage Reduction from plate armor, and also you deal d8 damage with martial weapons.

5- Expert: +1 to your background knowledge. Once per downtime, you can produce an item that is common or related to your background. Roll 1d6 for number of doses, or 4+ on a d6 for reusability/adaptability if its a tool. You can also craft related things during downtime.

6-Wizard: You get some spells depending on your HP: 1-2 hp = 3 spells. 3-4 hp = 2 spells. 5+ hp = 1 spell. You don't have to choose them now; you can play and choose them when you need them; but once chosen, you can't change them.

Special table:

1- You are weak (-1 strength) or crippled (-1 MV). Choose any.
2- nothing
3- nothing
4- nothing
5- You get +1 on either MV or strength, and -1 on the other.
6- You get +1 strength or +1 MV


At anytime during play, you can state a one-word background that gives you +1 to a skill roll involving knowledge (no stealth or combat shit). You keep that background from now on. 

That kind of rolls are d6; and are TN based. As a guide, easy things are 4 in 6; medium things are 2 in 6 and harder shit at 1 in 6.

Movement, Armor and Strength:

Roll or choose. Certain actions require to roll equal or under your MV on a d8. Armor, on the other hand, adds HP unless noted.

1,2,3: MV 4, no armor
4: MV 3, light armor; +2 HP
5: MV 2, heavy armor +3 HP. Increased MV doesnt apply on heavy armor.
6. You get a shield and roll again. -1 MV, +1 damage reduction

You start at strength zero. At strenght +1 you are strong like Conan, and roll an extra d6 on melee (pick best). At strenght +2 you are strong like a troll and roll and extra d8 instead. If your strenght is less than zero, your melee damage is capped at 1d4


viernes, 30 de abril de 2021


* This is a list of gameable things that I took by watching Katanagatari.

1 - An island inhabited by a powerful fighter and his family; as he was abandoned there by his lord.

2 - A land that its been completely overrun by a desert, from which only the top of a castle remains. The castle is a dungeon with the entry on the top.

3 - A swordsman who, from a non-threatening sitting position, can unleash an speed of light attack; but only if you step 1 milimeter into the room he is in.

4 - The concept of a tactician that cannot combat, but instead watches you fight and comes up with the best approach to any duel or battle.

5 - A four handed automat/puppet, with a sword in each hand, and another one hidden in the mouth; that is powered by solar energy (basking in the sun for a while during the daily routine) and is also shaped after the author's loved woman.

6 - A group of ninjas who are gorgeously cosplayed as an animal each. Seriously I really want to use this one.

7 - An interesting reason for being a monk in-game (because you are a human sword, so you cannot use swords)

8 - A bunch of poisoned (read as cursed) weapons with diverse powerups. Then, a wooden sword whose ability is make you feel righteous, and a bladeless sword that makes you overanalyze yourself to the point to "cut" you.

Houhou sama! I really liked that character for some reason. The series themselves are 12 episodes of awesome anime of the 2000s era. I reccomend it to all the old school anime fans like me.

viernes, 16 de abril de 2021

Charm, Sleep, Fear, Confusion

Writing some spell lists, I've come to think about D&D's mind-altering spells in particular. Charm, Sleep, Fear, Confusion. 

They all have the potential to be encounter-skippers. Then, why choose one over the other? 
In the rules the differences are subtle: Charm might give you a temporary ally, so does Confusion by making an enemy so confuse that attacks itself or its allies. Sleep might affect more enemies. Fear makes the target flee, carrying away all treasure they might hold.

But in practice, rules as written, they speak more about how the enemies act than on how they do feel. For example: by casting fear, an NPC will never react to fear by trying desperately to befriend you, like in a charm spell (so you spare his life) or channel the fear attacking, but awkwardly, like in a confusion spell. RAW, they will always flee. So the spell effect is not as much about what does the target feel, its more about what they physically do.

So, a wizard learning Fear in wizard school, dreaming of the day in which he will subdue armies at his feet using magical fear, will be dissapointed because fear will only send them fleeing from him,

I'm thinking on having all those spells somehow mixed in one. Lets call it "Ensorcell".

When you cast it, you change the reaction of target NPC 2 steps up or down the Reaction Table. That is the effect. It's the GM who, depending on the reaction and the situation, describes which is the magical effect who caused it. Lets say that the Reaction Table its like:

A goblin who is attacking you (Immediate Attack) would be hold for some turns (confused). The GM says if its because of fear, daze, tiresomeness or maybe he is tripping balls.

A hostile one (roll of 3-5) would retire its attack completely. Maybe he is asleep or just lost his will to fight. He might not get in love with you, but will be opened to negociation.

If the monster is undecided (6-8), then you have the chance to make it your pal/waifu, as a classic Charm spell.

Possibly you can increase the power of this spell somehow, to make an Immediate Attack become an Enthusiastic Friendship by casting it twice or whatever. 

Now, I can imagine the same wizard in wizard school, memorizing lots of different theorems and tricks to be capable to ensorcell enemies someday, and adapt his spells no matter the situation. 

The bad part of this approach is that, when cast on PCs, it lacks guidelines on what should happen. The GM should interpret it based on the shown attittude of the PC towards the caster and interpret it as it was a reaction roll.

Monsters that normally cast effects on PCs, such as sirens or vampires, still work normally casting Charm or Fear, and should affect PCs just as they do in classic rules, no matter what is their attitude. They are monsters after all and work outside the PC's rules.

miércoles, 17 de marzo de 2021

One roll combat

 And when I say one roll combat, I mean to talk about when to hit and damage are resolved with a single roll. 

I am aware that making them a separate thing has its reasons, for example modelling fictionally different weapons or abilities. But as a game, one roll makes things smoother and easier, so I always implement that rule in one way or the other. But there are different ways to do it, and each way bends the combat math in a particular way.

tumblr:  shroomarts

Option A: There is the Into the Odd approach. 

Every turn you roll damage and you always hit; but armor soaks some damage. If we assume that the average damage per turn is equal to common DnD, this means that you will deal less damage every turn, but more constantly as there are lower peaks (1d6 damage can deal 6 damage if you hit; but if armor soaks 2 damage per turn, you will do damage 4/6 of the time, but can only deal 4 as a maximum). 

What does this mean? Well, this means that incresing the damage output of a weapon also increases it's capability to hit, and viceversa. This can be good or bad, depending on many factors. Also, it might seem like a minor nuisance, but it will take more pencil-writing time for GM and players as there are more and smaller "damage transactions" and displace the thrill of a big hit. Also, converting monsters and PCs to this numbers so the power levels are similar requires to ponder a lot of factors. Non- damaging attacks that require a to-hit roll can still be done by making an additional save vs effect.

Necropraxis "Degree of success as damage" and Blackrazor's "Auto-Hits" are two more essays on this approach.

Option B: Fixed damage. 

To make it a little generous we'll make it so each weapon's damage is rounded up from its classic damage die average: Fists do 2, Dagger does 3, Sword does 4 and polearms do 5 damage. Monster damage is also averaged and rounded up.

You can argue that this takes some randomness out of the game, and it is true, but that tends to soften  the more hits you need to take down an enemy. If you need 5 hits to take down a 18 hp troll with a 4 damage sword, on average it will still be very close to that number if you hit it with a d6 sword. The difference will accentuate the less hits you need to end a combat. For example, a 4 hp goblin will die on the first hit 50% of the time with a d6 sword and 25% with a d4 dagger. But with fixed damage it will Always die by the sword, and Never with the dagger, in the first round. Bear in mind that the randomness necessary so combat has still uncertainity is still on the to-hit roll (will it hit me or not?) but yeah, the numbers go wild at early levels. The pros are that this difference dissipates over time as levels go up, and that requires minimal conversion from classic rules.

Option C: Remove Hit Points. 

If HD is equal to 1d6 and so is the average weapon, they can both be removed for simplicity and make it so average attacks take out 1HD from the enemy, and proportionally increasing attacks that deal more damage. This is what I used when I made this OD&D port (still untested, fucking COVID). 

This is even more deterministic than fixed damage, as all weapons will drop your 1 HD character down in the first hit. This is not necessarily bad as there is still randomness on the "to-hit" roll: amongst two 1 HD combatants, the first that strikes through the opponent's armor wins. There is something I like a lot in that simplicity. How to increase your chances at that early levels? Get good armor and try to win initiative. 

At 0 HD, you can still rule various things to make PCs a little more durable:

- Roll in a Death and Dismember table. 

- Give them a Save VS Death.

- The famous rule of sacrificing the shield to prevent a hit, though I've never liked it much. 

- Just make fighters or other martial classes have extra HD at the start.

- Constitution bonuses give you 1 HD for each +1

- Make it so depending the viciousness of the monster, 0 HD means a different thing. A bandit might just drop you unconscious to sack your body, and a kung-fu user might just KO you to show you his superiority. A goblin might not be as merciful and you must save vs death, and an assassin will kill you straight if  he lands the last strike. Note that being KOed by a pack of wolves or similar and not having somebody to rescue you is pretty much equal to death.

- Increase a little the base AC to pay off the decreased chances of survival. This way a hit will take more to happen, but will be more decisive. Your character will die in about the same time, but in half the rolls. 

What I like most of 1 attack = 1 hd is that is simple enough that I can complicate it in different, newer ways: for example, instead of increasing damage or to-hit numbers, granting PCs ans Monsters extra attacks which can be rolled simultaneously; this way you get different damage possibilities depending on how many do hit.

The easiest way to implement it, however, is to differentiate weapons based on their chance to hit (daggers get penalties, because is harder to hit with a dagger. If you think about it makes even more sense than giving them damage penalties). 2 handed weapons however can take an extra HD if the wielder is strong (13+ strenght)

Homebrew Homunculus has written not one, nor two, but three posts building around this approach.

sábado, 13 de marzo de 2021

Trigun as an RPG (Into The Odd)

The earth is greatly fucked up or something, so a myriad of spaceships are sent into the universe towards a new place to live. They hold a mysterious technology called "Plants", which are capable of a quite potent terraformation. Due to a sabotage, most of them are destroyed and only a few manage to land safely on a desertic planet, which they will call Gunsmoke. 130 years have passed since then, and the societies built in the new planet are reminiscent of western movies but with mutants, cyborg parts and some advanced tech.

The game practically asks for hexcrawls: There are seven major cities in the planet; all of them built around the remains of a spaceship. The plants that those spaceships carried can provide limited water, food and energy in the desertic environment. All around them, however, is an unexplored wasteland illuminated by two suns and five moons. 

(Roll 2d6 to paint hexes)

2 - Major city (has got a plant)
3 - Small Town (2 in 6 chance of being abandoned)
4 - Mountain Cave
5 - Canyon 
6 - Desert
7 - Mountain or canyon if there is one adjacent. Else, desert
8 - Desert
9 - Mountain or Butte
10 - Small outpost (1-water farm, 2-well 3-Shelter 4- Radio tower 5-6: roll again, but its unhabited)
11 - Scraps (fallen city or remains of spaceship)
12 - Full Crashed Spaceship (Map as dungeon)

2d6 to see what is lurking here, if there are encounters

2 - Sand worms
3 - Robot Guardians
4 - Sandstorm, 1d4 turns
5 - Caravan (special rules to determine size and composition)
6 - Common bandits (1-3), bounty hunters (4-5) or both (6)
7 - Mark off one water use!
8 - Merchant/Wanderers (1d6). Criminals might mask as those.
9 - Already known NPC
10 - Tough bandits (gung-ho guns or trained cultists)
11 - Telepathic Insects
12 - Alien Abomination (1-sleeping eldritch type, 2-lion ant type 3- radscorpion type 4-doppelganger type)

deviantart: jasperk stoneking

XP for gold was invented for this kind of setting: as the world is pretty much lawless beyond city sheriffs, crime is dealt with basically by bountyhunting and every known criminal has a prize in doubledollars (Gunsmoke's currency) The game is easily to focus around hunting bandits meanwhile a bigger plot appears. 

The classic Trigun foes (tough bandits on above table) are a step or two above human capabilities: they have increased size and strenght, superhuman reflexes, psychic powers, implanted sensors or weapons or the like. If you haven't see the series, think that any foe from Metal Gear Solid could be swapped for one, and viceversa. Another way to create them is to pick names and skills from D&D monsters: John the Displacer always appears to be 2 meters from where he is, which is an awesome trick when you duel 1v1. Paul the Blink, however, can disappear and reappear anywhere nearby.

armor: +3

Though I haven't ever played Into The Odd, I think that it can fit perfectly with some changes (the free edition can be found here. I think I like it better than the follow up Electric Bastionland

You start with 2 randomized gifts from a list (pending) of gears and weird abilities. There must be some big guns, some mutations, some psychic abilities like telekinesis and mind manipulation (will saves allowing) naturally enhanced abilities (super-hearing, tracking water, etc) and biological/mechanical implants.

You roll 1d6 for hp.

HP 1: choose 2 extra objects  
HP 2: choose 1 extra psychic ability 
HP 3: choose 1 extra object
HP 4: you start with a free handgun (d8 damage) or katana (d8 damage). Yeah there are samurais on it.
HP 5: you start with any cybernetic implant 
HP 6: you are a plant. You can summon angel arm (d10 damage in area, blast). Make will save to avoid a mishap.

You roll 3d6 for stats (STR, DEX, WILL). One thing that I don't understand in Into the Odd is that stats don't ever grant you any active bonuses or widen your possibilities of approaching problems, they function mostly as passive saves. So I want to add this:

If STR is higher than 14, you deal +1 die size damage with melee weapons, and can attempt to break sturdy doors.

If  DEX is higher than 14, you get +1 armor when you're unrestrained. Dex contests are also used to shoot first in duels!!!

If WIL is higher than 14, you can re-roll any roll once per rest

It is important to know about the mysterious nature of the Plants. They are actually sentient, womanlike beings who live inside the lightbulb-shaped things. They are providers of life, just like if they were in a sense "fertility goddesses". Vash and Knives (protagonist and antagonist) are the counterpart: male plants who can walk the earth, but have a great capacity of destruction, more in tune with Ares. Their body can mutate into angel guns able to destroy cities, even make a crater on the moon. 

If there was any scientific record regarding the creation or the metabolism of plants, that information is not known today. Plants look exactly like normal humans, though they are always blonde. They are still alive and look around late 20s or 30 something even though more than a century has passed from the landing. How much time can they last is a question blowing in the wind.

two plants meet each other

Though this setting can look like Fallout or Mad max at first sight, the tones are kind of different: on them, the plots often revolve around "the world before the war", and all the cities and denizens are permeated of a certain cynicism and hopelesness. In Trigun, the world is harsh and dangerous, but it feels healed. As Vash says, "the future is a blank paper"; and the world around them reflects this view. 

viernes, 5 de marzo de 2021

CLASS AS RACE IV: Barbarians, Bards, Alchemists

 This is part of a series about each class belonging exclusivelly to a race or tribe, look them up!


Rpg orcs have always moved beween a line of "irredemably evil, possibly souless, self spawning cannon fodder" to "just a musunderstood tribe of noble savage". When I went deep analyzing what was the archetypal energy of the orc, I found it was a lot about painting the view that a tribe has of "the others": the tribe A thinks that tribe B has awful, disgusting or heretic customs, and tribe B thinks the same about tribe A; so both are human tribes thinking that their neighbours are the orcs.

Their other defining core trait that both approaches seem to share is rage. Orcs tend to appear as crazy bersekers if, at least, in their tougher members. So, we can say that common orcs are level 0 to 1 barbarians, with Uruk hai / Bugbears being the Level 4+ ones.

This is an orc. They can be green if you want, 
but they dont need to in order to be "different". 
It's your choice.

The divergences between Trow Fighters and Orc Barbarians imply a radically different approach to life. While Trow build fortresses and have, in general, a thematic of "civilizing" the world around them, Orcs are more similar to earth's raiding tribes (vikings, polynesian raiders, mongols). As this defines them as a race, it makes it clear that they live in a permanent, never ending raid.

Orc tribes have their settlements on a big chain of barren islands at the north; which are relativelly protected from monsters thanks to their geographical situation (maybe there are bigger monsters at the sea that prevent the continent's monsters to reach there). They could probably survive there, but they have an inner rage that drives them inexorably to lust for battle. This is so that the (more sensible) orc women send them out the islands once they reach fighting age; or else they would start wars amongst them. There is a great spring party at that times, where the women that want to have kids search for the best warriors just before their departure. Often they encourage them to gather riches in the mainland for her, an ancestral custom which secretly serves the purpose of making the berserker orcs more stubborn to persist in their raid and possibly never return. The rites end with all the women saying goodbye to their lovers, brothers and sons as the longboats step into the sea, probably to never return, just like the highschool girls did back in the WW2 with the japanese kamikazes.

Orc women are barbarians after all, so they can defend their homes on their own from invaders (often other orcs). They are known to use luring tactics with flashlights to make ships crash into the rocks. The few visitors that have actually met orc settlements talk of their athletic but alluring beauty and usually are known as Amazons.

But, back at orc men, most of them will never return to their homes. Their innate drive to war and their abstract obsession with "glory" makes them engage never ending battles, mostly with trow, and try to raze as much bounty as they can. This is very cool from a gamist perspective because it gives answers to many in-game assumptions from D&D: 

What are orcs doing in dungeons and why do they store gold? they are raising a bounty, possibly they use the dungeon as shelter because they are not fond of building complex stuff

Why are not orc women on LOTR or D&D? because they're back at their homes. Also, that is why orcs in the 80s were so fond of capturing princesses.

Why are orc settlements always messy and post-apocalyptic? because they have possibly killed all their last occupants, sacked the city and occupied it as a center of operations. Its not that they built it to live in there or anything.

Why you always end up fighting orcs? Because they are always fucking around. Sometimes they will also enslave or blackmail other tribes, like hobbits, in order to get supplies (much easier than planting your own crops) and other shit like that. Of course, you can point that the Trow do the same thing with hobbits. But that's tribe A thinking tribe B are orcs.

Sometimes, orcs achieve to get back home with lots of bounty. They are greatly respected, their treasures cause great wonder in the island, as do his tales of battle amongst the younger kin. Altough some might decide to stay and reign (tough his power is in great part nominal, as the islands biorrythms have structured around amazons and it won't change as easily as wishing it) most of them just stay for a year of leisure, reveling in their success, and embark on the next raid as the leader of the younger warriors.


Bards, as they are depicted in most rpgs, are almost as cheesy and zany as Dwarves, and I don't understand the appeal of having a guy playing the lute in battle. Still, if we stick to the concept of bard as depicted by this and this, which is basically make them lesser thieves with some charisma (and don't give them spells, at least not at low levels) I can work something from them.

Do you remember the classic trope in videogames of the merchant that sells equipment and appears anywhere on the map, even when the zone around is infested by enemies? Cardinal Quest for example has them. Secret of mana has them being cat people called nekos, and Dragon Warrior has them even as a playable class. 

there he is! 

Furries or not, I will center here more in the nature of their tribe and organization. So, Merchants level up like Bards.

At level 1 they can read scrolls, have some lore and maybe some bonus to charisma. It makes sense they have it providing they live on selling stuff. It is also implied that it is the way they solve trouble in their travels, given that they are not a full combatant class. It also suits them when the game rules give luck bonuses to bards, though its not necessary. 

At higher levels they do know spells which make them supernatural merchants. Those are the kind that might dare to appear at the mouth of the endgame evil fortress to sell you your missing potions.

Despite being based on the bards, they do not need to carry an instrument with them, or even sing. But of course, some of them might. Some of them might even charge money for songs or dances instead of wares. They might charge you for writing a song about your deeds (fake or real), bringing a message to a far away city or identifying items. Of course, and as with other races, this doesn't mean that other races cannot go trading across the world, but they are just not Merchants from the Merchant culture and they don't advance as bards. 

Male and female versions of the merchant PC class
in Dragon Quest III. They actually look very bardy.

As a culture of their own they are pretty much nomads. But there IS a merchant home, and its very very cool in my mind. Hear this: They call it Mirage City. It can be found when one is lost in the desert, wavering like if it was reflected in the water on a pool. But even if it seems close, non-initiated visitors will never achieve to get in, only walk towards it forever. What is the trick exactly, I leave it to you.

Tumblr: binglebeb

Inside the city all the merchants make deals and re-locate their loots among themselves, preparing for their next routes. Its a city of music and dances, intrigues and heists. Basically your classical arabian, city of brass setting filled with Arabian Nights topics. As it is a good place for a den of thieves, it makes sense that there are Hobbits living amongst them too (both of the honest hard-working class and the thief kind) in their accustomed symbiotic bond of assistants. 


As I mentioned in the first post marginally, gnomes are the alchemists of this land. They build underground cities which I picture very colorful and weird, like I remember the Nome Kingdom in the Wizard of Oz anime: Strange glowing things in all colors making a very bright underdark; crazy dreamscapes combined with pools of lava, gemstone ornaments, wonderful treasure and deadly traps. Which is cool because this is a game about dungeons.

Alchemists charge gold, gemstones and surface ingredients and give you potions and maybe other kinds of James Bond gadgets. As a tribe, they won't sell indiscriminatelly and will feel out potential customers to know they won't use their technology against their interests, preferring to make long-lasting business relationships. Individually, there are some more greedy than others. 

There are not many games that have alchemist as a class, but I think that, as I would use the alchemist market as an integral part of the game loop, it makes sense that if you end up playing an alchemist PC you should have some advantage crafting this kind of items. Lets say that an ingredient is 100 gp worth, and a potion is 1000 gp, you should have a chance to create a potion with said ingredient proportional to your alchemist level, so you can effectivelly create cheap potions during downtime, also without having to return to the potion shop back at base. consider to use this in addition or instead of any alchemist class abilities you find around. 

Gnomes (which I mix with kobolds a little) are also great guides when you're going underdark. If using things like darkvision, they should be the ones that get it. They are not aggressive people but they are not cowards either and will attack miners that try to dig too deep into their kingdom. Personally I will rip off lots of things for their tribe from the Miners Guild as it appears at the unofficial, unfinished Loom sequel, Forge:

Making firewine from grapes that only grow under the light of the lava river

Pet canaries can warn you if oxygen is dropping low at the street

Look at that fucking dome. They got an underground garden 
in there. And the light comes from magically woven tapestries 
(see Wizards in the previous entry)

domingo, 28 de febrero de 2021

CLASS AS RACE III: Wizards and Monks

 Part of a series on worldbuilding around the idea of classes forming homogeneous races and tribes. This contextualizes classes and the constraint creates a world that might be interesting to imagine. All the surface world is a dangerous wilderness, filled with monsters and extreme weather hazards. That is why all civilized races sough protection though fortesses, numbers, alliances or other diversions.


Ogres, however, rely solely on their strength. Hardships of the world are welcome to them, because this trains their muscles and their wills. When you play an ogre (or Oni, Cyclops, Troll, etc. Any of those big brutes) just take the monk class.

On their natural habitats, they do all the clichés about breaking forests into lumber or mountains into quarries in order to test their skills, or meditating interposing their titanic bodies against a waterfall. The quirky thing about their civilization is that they are of the few that dare to live by themselves without any nearby help.

This allows them to do some things that other tribes would think twice to attempt: To lead flocks of sheep and cattle across long routes, to build monuments in the middle of the nothing or to mantain hives of giant bees for trading with the mead and honey, among others. Merchants make trade routes towards their dwellings to get their valuable supplies.

Low level monks are your classic Ogre foes, or maybe just young ones that have not grown up yet. Sometimes, mostly when ogres are fond of gold and earthly pleasures instead of spiritual paths, they gather in small mob-style gangs. 

 High level monks can be masters and might even get students if they pass some test (but makes sense that if they do, they still level up as their respective class). On a gamist perspective they are great PCs, NPCs and Monsters which is the important thing.

Ogres do not gather in cities, but they do build. Their architecture is often inhabited and scattered across the land: Temples, shrines, dojos, apiaries, towers, mills, bridges, dams, shelters for shepards, memorials and tombs (which again, gives many in-game possibilities for putting interesting shit on the game). Sometimes, making them is part of a training, as, for example, a sensei ordering young students to build a dojo before they can be trained; but then they discover that building it they gained lots of strenght that was needed for applying the teachings. 

Ogres are however very frugal when builing their own homes. The classical lair of a mountain monk is a stone chimney and half a cabin built against the rock, and nearby shishi odoshi:


You know about Swan Maidens? Those girls that bathe in the river, then a prince steals their swan dress and must marry him to get it back? And that are also on D&D bestiaries? Well, that is a concept that ties well into wizardry via one of my recurrent obsessions: Loom (the LucasFilm game). 

In that game, there is a tribe called The Weavers, which are functionally their world "magic men". They weave spells, using lots of spinning and weaving themes and terminology. They also related to birds, specially swans, as one of their highest spells allows them to shapeshift into this animal. 

Their tribe or tribes take the shape of disheveled tents on the outside, but on the inside they have "folding" spells that make of them big and sophisticated if they need. I imagine their elders casting spells of hiding and distracting the senses in order to protect the village.

They use distaffs and put spells on things, mostly in clothes. To learn their spells they must observe the world around them and look for patterns hidden on certain things. This is a good motivation for adventuring, for characters that are to be PC's hirelings (and eventually PCs)

Transformation in bird is a spell on the list, not too low level, not to high either. It might not be tied to a Swan specifically, but other similar birds depending on the personality of the caster. In oriental folklore, the myths feature crane maidens instead.

The weaving themes can also be tied to the norns and fate. The wandering, lonely nature of the wizards also bears resemblances with the norse völvas.

It would have been easier to make it so all wizards live on a high-towered wizardry school, like in Earthsea. But we are making it so all classes are sort of "born into it" and wizard schools imply the opposite. It takes out some of the class endogamy.