There was no Southern Reaches game run this past weekend as I needed some time to work on some other stuff, flesh out some more of the map, and generally play a bit of catch up with myself. Running two monthly games, a weekly game, and playing in two others, plus a reading club and trying to spend more time with my wife (whose schedule has also blossomed) is stretching me a bit thin.
When fleshing out the large(r) scale map (1 hex = 15 miles), I realized I need more room. And a plan. A plan would help tremendously. So I have mapped out much more space to the south of the Table Map, I may still fiddle with it as I'm not entirely satisfied with it. I think I need to double it in size (at least) and redraw some of the locations, particularly the summer pastures for the aurochs, which don't feel far enough away for me. Plus, the encounter tables need some serious re-working, preferably including an night and day option.
I found an interesting way to speed up some of the traditional dungeon design. There is a site producing new geomorphs which are quite good. If I can find the link again I'll post it. It should do very well for what I want to do with The Cave and the Labyrinth of Qual deep underneath it.
We've also had a small spat of drama as to play styles, which I think I accidentally fuelled by posting my adventure logs here. Su Bel and Khallas keeping silent about the Terrace of Fallen Horses caused some friction amongst the players. This came from a disconnect in communication about game expectations, including my own. I think I've nudged things enough to get the group back on track, but we'll have to wait and see.
As a result of all this, I have rethought my position about competition in a West Marches-style game. If you are going to allow/foster this kind of competition, you need to separate the groups a bit and/or provide "private" areas for each faction to explore and one to share together. Or, keep everything separate and don't post about what the different groups are doing until they learn in game. This last part does me no good as DM and blogger. Part of the reason I'm posting the adventure logs is so I have a record of what happened in game. This helps greatly when the PCs avaoid an area for a while and then return and I have to remember how things were and why and then update form that for the intervening time.
Which leads to another topic: bandits. These are a staple of adventure games and are mentioned in most of the online literature dealing with West Marches-style games. However, I can't see a logical reason for bandits to exist in the Southern Reaches. Bandits need victims to prey on and there just aren't any in the wilderness. Plus, that place is dangerous, yo!
So I may have to manufacture something. Maybe they appear when the auroch herds return for the winter and disreputable individuals start raiding the herds from whichever humanoids are ranching them (probably gnolls as I like them as monsters, but I'm doing a lot with them in my Naze Valley Rangers game, so maybe not). There's been trouble in the mines with some collapses, so the Woodcutter's Camp will be populated the next time the PCs go by it as there is a need for new timber. There's also the Tower of Raan which the players have never systematically looked for (it's in the Edgewood, but they haven't been there yet). I don't know, maybe I'm over thinking it.
That's it for today, more on Wednesday. See you then!