I'm a bit late on this news, but Jeff's Gamblog posted some insightful and interesting questions about campaigns earlier this year, and in doing so, indicated that a lot of what is prepared is not interesting at all, while the basics are ignored. I've had a look at my most adventured in setting and realised I've got some of the answers, or at least an idea where they can be found.
So, for this setting, here are the questions with answers;
1. What is the deal with my cleric's religion?
Ask your god. If you're lucky, they won't answer. If you aren't, they'll turn up and ask you to do them a favour. If you do, they might ask again, and that's probably not good. The gods are not world builders, but were once mortal, and managed to grab (and hang onto) their mantle. But, greater powers = greater concerns...
2. Where can we go to buy standard equipment?
Try a town or city, or a mercenary encampment. Not too many shopping opportunities out here on the moors, unless you can salvage something from that dead body over there...did it just move?
3. Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?
Try a Dwarven metalsmith that drinks a lot. There are enough of them in the Eastern foothills, but the payment they might ask should worry you. There's enough metalsmiths in the caravan town of Shevel, a few days to the south if you're serious.
4. Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?
Any that mighty are probably hiding from the attention of demons or greater powers, although Eade the Silent, Master of the Azure Tower in Sto'nat, Halgren Stoneface, whose chambers are somewhere in the ruins of the Broken Lands, or Alzagret the Blue, Dragonfriend, and hunted by the Brotherhood of Flame, are all suitable for most magical requests. But don't waste their time. Elminster they ain't.
5. Who is the greatest warrior in the land?
Y'silis the Fallen Paladin of the Huntress, immortal Scion of the Southland City of Teth. One learns a few combat tricks in 1200 years of constant warfare. Round here, the Vampire Kings of Gesdyn are probably dangerous enough, and they're only a weeks ride to the north.
6. Who is the richest person in the land?
Probably the Dwarven Fortresses, but they aren't letting on where they are, let alone who much money they have. And, anyway, a peasant with a cow is likely to have a happier and longer life than the average dungeon crawler.
7. Where can we go to get some magical healing?
It is a little known secret that all healing potions are based on honey from giant bees, and that is what gives it it's blue colouring. That aside, the temples of the All-Mother, and, strangely, Death, provide healing for a fee, but those with insufficient assets will probably end up consulting a village witch or hedge wizard for herbal remedies, and having to take plenty of rest.
8. Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath?
Again, herbalists and aged crones can probably point you in the right direction for a cure, except for death and undeath. One must consult with the clergy of the God of Death on those matters. Don't do level drain or alignment, either, in my campaigns.
9. Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?
I don't play D&D of any flavour, so don't have to deal with spell books and Vancian magic. That aside, guilds are usually local, and it pays to keep on their good sides to avoid being made a scapegoat the next time a demon summoning goes wrong and the City Guard need someone to hang. Each mage does have a lifelong connection to the master/mistress or institution that taught them the basics (the standard tuition for magic is from years 7 to 21, with monetary payment to be made following graduation, in coin, magic objects or services rendered), which can be comforting, challenging or embarrassing.
10. Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?
A lord's castle might have one of these, but a city should have a small selection. Lorman, Gesdyn or Amoth are the three most likely cities in the region for an expert in these fields, but each does have it's own potential issues.
11. Where can I hire mercenaries?
Most big cities, or from various trading posts, although the normal mercenary companies number between 500 and 3000 fighters, and can be much greater during wartime. More sensible for the average low level dungeon raider is a few bored pig farmer's sons, village idiots or other, failed dungeon raiders, usually found in taverns in villages near to the dungeon of your choosing.
12. Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?
Players asking this does worry me. But providing you don't actually draw the blade, you should be okay. Note that while sheathed blades are acceptable,battleaxes, morning stars, spears, lances and scythes are not welcomed on the streets of most large cities. Smaller centres are more liberal. As with weapons and spells alike, it's what you do with it that matters, and the local militia can be dangerous if provoked.
13. Which way to the nearest tavern?
If we're starting in Stalish, next to the Kelarus River, then the Rotted Oyster has a passable dark ale and a good supply of one armed travellers. Turn left before the bridge.
14. What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?
You'll find that out in good time. At 1st level, travelling from one city to another will be hard enough without looking for trouble. If you're serious, try the edge of the Barrow Downs, running parallel to the North Road. If you're lucky, only Winter Wolves, Trolls and minor undead should wander along.
15. Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?
Always. The Baron of Tordarth is still considering threatening the southern fiefdoms, and far to the south, the clash of armies has been ringing for the past thousand years.
16. How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?
It's really only the Trieste Republic that are into that sort of thing, and the nearest Arena of theirs is in occupied Port Ooroth on the shores of the Painted Sea.
17. Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?
Cults abound. Best find out their true motives, persuasions and powers before either joining or assaulting them, as misunderstandings can be unfortunate... But some of them may offer some useful powers with only minor drawbacks.
18. What is there to eat around here?
Do you have hunting, foraging or herbalism as a skill? If not, it's 3 coppers for lunch at the Oyster, and it will take us that long to get there. Should be some type of roasted game animal, with root veges and some sort of stodgy oatmeal cakes.
19. Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?
Yes, but there are others that have been looking for them too, for quite a while, so they aren't lying out in the open, and probably aren't defended by goblins either. You're better off finding a rich but little known treasure first. And that takes a bit of roleplaying to uncover...
20. Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?
There's the Black Queen in the lost Dwarven Keep of Azhgael, who, with an army of dark forces battles a fire demon for the riches of the abandoned halls. Sure to be all sorts of riches in there, and there's a one armed man in the Rotted Oyster who will offer you a map to a secret entrance to the outer mines for only 3 gold crowns...