Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Introducing the World - Part 2 - Theory

Here is the theory and thoughts behind locations mentioned in last week's Introducing the World – Part 2.

Barony of the Mead
The name for this fiefdom was taken verbatim from a random generator as too good to pass up. Putting some thought into the name, I decided that, clearly, this is where most of the alcohol for Goldland Crossing would come from, which tells me what it needs to contain and look like. It must have at least one source of clean, pure water, bees (either local or imported from the Old World), and room to grow the necessary grains, herbs, and spices. With that kind of fertile soil, it would also likely grow vegetables and grains that can be consumed for food in quantity, making it the bread basket for the colony. Which, by the way, would provide not inconsequential political power for the Brewer's Guild.

Originally, I just noted that the Barony of the mead was adjacent to Goldland Crossing. My co-DM, when we were discussing the dwarven Fief of the Badger (which will appear later on this blog) suggested that the dwarves had diverted a river to get at some gold. I liked the idea. Looking at the rough map and where the Low Mountains were, I could see where a river SHOULD run, down to the Province of the Seven Unholy Ships (a haunted bay which, again, will be discussed later). Now if I assumed that river was diverted, it would now run east of the woods (haven't named these yet) instead of through them and dump into Otter's Bay. I was going to call it the New River, but quickly realized that was lame and the locals would attribute it to the dwarves and it became the Flathead River. The point where it flows over the cliff into Otter's Bay became Flathead Falls. Having a river right next to Goldland Crossing dictated exactly where the Barony of the Mead would go.

Now the Flathead River will be fairly muddy and full of silt. This will make it good for farming, but not distilling, so some additional streams were called for. I added those to the map and some hills for them to naturally flow out of. These became the Small Hills (because there are larger ones to southeast and southwest, across the plains).

As my co-DM pointed out, there was adventure opportunity here. Suddenly either the Flathead goes dry or the streams from the Small Hills go cloudy. Baron Mead needs adventurers to find the problem and fix it. Quickly. Did the Flathead get diverted again? Is there a problem at the dwarven dam and the river is no longer diverted? What under the Small Hills could be affecting the clarity of the streams?

Smoky Hands Barony
I played around with the name of this fiefdom, rearranging the word order and shortening it. I liked the image "smoky hands" invokes. It brought to mind the ancient profession of charcoal makers, whose hands would be smudged and smell of smoke.

Now in order for them to help the colony early on, they had to have a nearby source of timber to convert to charcoal. I had placed a forest to the southwest of Goldland Crossing, but had scripted it to be the Barony of the 50 Lances, which had only recently been claimed from humanoids. Clearly that wouldn't work. There is another, significant, forest east of Goldland Crossing, but it was going to be at least two days travel from the city, making it too far away. What to do?

Looking at the wind patterns the map implied (forests backed by hills and mountains to the south), I decided to add a small forest north of the Small Hills, along the coast, stretching from Otter's Bay to the river delta two day's travel east. Clearly the Small Hills cause some rainfall, so ecologically this worked. Plus, it put the Smoky Hands Barony close to Goldland Crossing, making it defensible early on. Done and done.

There should be the possibility of some politics later on between this barony and 50 Lances, which could sweep up the PCs once they get closer to Paragon Level. Maybe some monster hunting before then. It has adventure opportunities.

Royal Archer Country
This came out of the generator as "Tiny Royal Archer Country", which is very descriptive and invokes a small fief with a direct tie to a king. I dropped the "tiny" and decided this fiefdom was a retirement grant from the king to a loyal vassal. It needed to be relatively close as it would not have a large population of defenders in case of humanoid attack and needed a good view (because archers want clear lines of fire). As I had just created the Small Hills, I decided to place this fief along the southwestern edge, with a view across the plains south and southwest, making it an early warning point of invasion for Goldland Crossing.

Empty God Fief
How could I not use "Empty God's Fief"? I had a vision of an enormous statue that was hollow and now served as a place of safety with an interior wooden superstructure cobbled together by the inhabitants. I dropped the apostrophe as I'm not certain what kind of deity would be known as the Empty God and wasn't certain I wanted to. I originally placed this fief farther west on the map, actually drawing the partially buried, barrel-chested statue on the map, but once I placed the Candlestick Marches and Five Castles (which is hostile), I realized I needed to move the Empty God east, behind the defensive line that is the Candlestick Marches.

This should be an odd place for the PCs to stay on their way elsewhere. I might throw in something like a mysterious killer hiding in the dark wooden superstructure of the interior. A creepy and claustrophobic single-session adventure.

The Candlestick Marches
Ever seen a windmill park? Super tall towers with ginormous propellers turning at a speed that looks unnatural for something that large? Now melt off the generator part where the blades attach like they massively overheated and exploded or melted to slag. That's what the Candlestick Marches looks like, spread across a 60-mile, north-to-south stretch of plains from Otter's Bay to 50 Lances Wood (I may have just named those woods, right here). Were they windmills? Was it an electric fence to keep out giants? Was it a magical E.L.F. generator/array for communicating with one or more of the moons OR THINGS BEYOND SPACE AND TIME? Who knows – definitely none of the characters running around now.

This is an atmospheric location, reinforcing the campaign feeling that once great things were done here, but something went terribly wrong.

Five Castles
Originally "County of the Five Castles", I shortened it down to Five Castles as "county" implies more organization than exists. Goldland Crossing was now not the only set of castle ruins in the general area. I'm thinking that there will be bugbears, gnolls, and orcs here, fighting amongst themselves for control of the castles, but I haven't settled on anything yet. One of the castles might be on the bay and have skum (read: deep ones) secretly running it.

Normally the humanoids would more or less ignore Goldland Crossing (except for slaving runs or a need for politically safe raiding) and continue their own version of the cold war, but with 50 Lances Wood being cleared out, those refugees had to go somewhere, right? Now I see the refugees disrupting the balance in Five Castles in two different ways. First, they are going to be a new power bloc, possibly allying with one of the existing blocs and tipping the precarious balance that has existed here. Second, they are direct evidence that the colony at Goldland Crossing is expanding and this may convince the humanoids to set aside their differences and deal with these interlopers once and for all.

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