The King said:
Could you give us a table of contents for Lankhmar and Nehwon or at least explain us what can be found within the pages?
Chapter One of Lankhmar is a rundown of Sword & Sorcery themes as opposed to standard fantasy themes. Like so:
By Wit and the Blade
Characters in Lankhmar are self-sufficient above all – at least, the ones wishing to one day become legends are. Self-sufficiency is a strong theme in the Sword & Sorcery genre. In the world of Nehwon, characters rely on their minds, their courage and their skills. No almighty deities exist in the heavens, ready to dispense incredible magic to aid their heroic followers. No white-robed magician will appear to save the characters at the last minute. No supernatural healing awaits the adventurers if they can just reach the next town. They are on their own, living or dying by their own actions and their own abilities.
The characters in a campaign, whether blue-blooded nobles or lowborn barbarians, have turned their backs on the traditional ways of life in their respective societies. Instead, they have chosen the unpredictable path of the adventurer. Their goals are rarely heroism in the name of saving the world, but simple survival in a world with many dangers and unknowable mysteries.
Beyond survival, Sword & Sorcery characters are also looking out for themselves and seeking personal gain through their adventures. This is what drives so many of them to become thieves and robbers of the bodies of the men they slay. There would be little point in risking one’s life in a life of adventure if the rewards on offer were not that much greater than what could be achieved in a more mundane existence. When a barbarian turns into a wandering sell-sword or a townsman becomes a swordsman and a thief, both have done so because they seek the (often financial) rewards of adventure as well as the thrills.
Few Sword & Sorcery characters are reluctant adventurers labouring under a destiny which was forced upon them. They are escaped slaves who wish to see the world and never be confined by chains of responsibility again. They are wanderers who burn with the desire to see as much of the world as possible before they die. They are fighters that feel flushes of pride at testing their steel against the blades of others. They are the thieves that relish a heist well done and enjoy every penny of the profits. They are the nobles that turn to the street life to flee from the boundaries of their social position. Among almost all Lankhmar characters will be a lust for life that drives them into new lands and onto new experiences, even as their grumbling bellies and empty coinpurses demand that they take the very next job offer.
This is not to say such characters are without heroism. Quite the opposite – their wanderings and treasure hunts bring them face to face with sinister and malicious entities, and slaying these beings does serve the nebulous ‘cause’ of good. Characters are rarely altruistic heroes, out to save others purely because of a pure-beating heart, but heroism peeks out through the shades of grey.
Chapter Two is the Character Creation stuff, with adjusted cultural professions, etc. Nothing unusual here.
Chapter Three is called City of the Black Toga and is the biggest chapter in the book. Guess what that's about.
Freelancing at the Crossroads of Gods and Silver
"And which created a large bare stretch of dark, thick, unpierced wall at the intersection of Silver Street with the Street of the Gods, a crossing-point where there habitually foregathered the junior executives and star operatives of the Thieves’ Guild; also meeting there were the few freelance thieves bold and resourceful enough to defy the Guild and the few thieves of aristocratic birth, sometimes most brilliant amateurs, whom the Guild tolerated and even toadied to, on account of their noble ancestry, which dignified a very old but most disreputable profession." –– The Two Best Thieves in Lankhmar
There are few trades more dangerous in Lankhmar than that of a freelance thief. The guild takes sincere umbrage at the level of audacity it takes to operate in their city without working under their rules, and most characters involved in this kind of activity have little to look forward to beyond a stab in the back and then being left to rot in Bones Alley.
Freelance thieves either need to remain one step ahead of the Thieves’ Guild or persuade the Master Thief that they should be allowed to work independently. Neither of these approaches are easy, though the latter is leaps and bounds easier than the former. Certain people will be exempt from the restrictions on freelance thieves – noble-blooded characters immediately earn the tolerance and respect of the Thieves’ Guild both because they are stooping to thievery despite their high birth and because staying on good terms with a thief blood-linked to the aristocracy can pay in kind at a later date, whether in the form of information or assistance is plundering the possessions of someone a touch richer than the guild’s usual fare. There is also the minor matter of noble-blood coming with a certain ‘resistance’ to murder. The Thieves’ Guild might be able to murder freelance burglars and muggers with impunity, but when the body of a duke’s son or a relative of the overlord is discovered, even cowed overlords are likely to take vengeance upon the guild.
Freelancers do exist, however, and it is a profitable game if a character can manage to play it. Indeed, it is the only way for women to ply the trade, since they are barred from ever entering Thieves’ House.
The first step in getting away clean with freelancing is to be a noble. If that is not on the cards, then a character should preferably be male. Freelance female thieves are notoriously subject to the guild’s animosity, though it is unclear whether this is a traditional bias or one founded in something more reasonable than base sexism. A final way to earn exempt status from the guild’s membership and avoid their ire is to be insane. The Thieves’ Guild, for all its flaws, is a reputable and organised bunch of criminals. Unpredictable and unstable souls such as those tainted by madness are not welcome across the threshold of Thieves’ House.
Chapter Four is the Nehwon Gazetteer, dealing with the rest of the world outside Lankhmar's walls.
The Cold Wastes
Not quite arctic tundra but certainly not far removed, the Cold Wastes are a region of skin-chilling winds, colossal mountain ranges, alpine and foothill forests, as well as being home to wild beasts and monsters found nowhere else in the world of Nehwon. Ravines split the land like canyon-scars on the Cold Wastes’ icy skin, while ivory-white mountains pierce the sky on every horizon – snow-blanketed giants fencing in this inhospitable wasteland of tundra plains and forests.
To the north is the Frozen Sea and Rime Isle, before the endless reaches of the northern polar ice cap stretch on as far as mortal man could ever travel. To the south, past the Barrier Mountains and the Trollstep Range where the temperatures rise sharply, the Great Forest and the Land of the Eight Cities reside in warmer climes. To the east, as the land sinks and becomes lower with each passing league, the Great Steppes are home to the Mingol hordes.
This is the Cold Wastes, then – a place of oppressive loneliness and cold comfort, where life is rare in the endless desolation and what life does survive is rarely in human form.
Chapter Five is Creatures of Nehwon, showing off the beasties from the books.
Chapter Six is the Adventures of Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser, listing just about all their deeds in summary and added suggestions of how to steal the storylines for your games.
Appendix A is Swords Against Spells, detailing Black Magic.
Appendix B is Of Sheel and Ning, detailing how to get the two archimages into the stories and the various things these two guys can get up to with characters.
Nehwon is broken up differently. Chapters 1, 2 and 3 deal with Ilthmar, Quarmall and the north lands with as much detail as was left after the treatment in the main books. Chapter 4 is pretty immense, which is Swords Across Nehwon - a long adventure scenario where the characters come under the employ of Sheelba and Ning, travel across the world, and ultimately may continue on the Games Master wants to run the following adventure when it's published, Swords Across Sorcery.