Although we are slowly getting furniture for the new house, it's much smaller than our last flat, so a lot of stuff, including most of my RPG papers, are somewhere in boxes in the garage.
This has caused a little problem, as when I want to look up something, I know it's an hour long job to uncover it, and I'll probably be distracted along the way with something else I find that's equally interesting. And the new job involves a lot more travel, and the inspiration levels are suffering as a result. Still....
Anyhow, I'm working on a small scale 'starting' area, where I can test out various rule settings and blood up new characters until they decide to venture out somewhere more exciting. The first map I drew went though the washing machine in a pocket, and my recreation a few days ago is a little more defined, I think.
The ideas of the last post (August???) still stand, this area being a crossroads between places far more fantastic, inviting and dangerous. There are still many dangers and risks here, though, but they are not so apparent and require far more digging to uncover. Most of the adventure hooks are minor, and character and NPC connections will be more important, hopefully. Here's the map of a place I have decided to call Hernshire.
No doubt, if you can read it, you are interested in the details of the Grel Swamp, the Ghostwood, and the Ruins of Tharl, but they don't exist quite yet, and may not until someone wanders into them. For today, I give you the concepts of the places off the map - the shinier, more exciting and more fabulous places the young PC's will want to head to, once they are confident enough.
These places are, from the writing near the top left, heading clockwise;
The Storm Cities
Walled cities of wondrous architecture that lie atop rocky crags and desolate islands in a rocky archipelago, they are ruled one and all by mighty sorcerers and master wizards, who constantly war and battle through elemental storms, trade embargoes and astoundingly brilliant spy networks. The cities are large, remarkably cosmopolitan and busy, with diverse populations. This little corner of the world has the fantasy setting cranked a little higher than other parts.
The Empire of Tarmis
This is the Empire on the Plateau to the North I referred to last post, but now the Empire has moved off map, and the plateau is more famed for the haunted ruins of Tharl, and the dozens of abandoned castles, towers and watchtowers that dot the southern plateau.
Tarmis is the Empire of Soldiers in Black Armour that Steal Babies. A dark religion that involves some human sacrifice, an underclass of slaves, and mighty and pointless architectural efforts, it is where the PC's go under cover, to infiltrate and assassinate or rescue someone or something. But any daring deeds accomplished here may direct the Empress's attention towards the wilds of Hernshire...
A place for dark and depraved ideas...
The City of Bones
The road that leads east along the base of the plateau takes one to the City of Bones, a high walled city surrounded by waving wheat fields, worked by starved slaves guarded by armed skeletons. The ruler is an undead creature, the bones of a past ruler that rose to overthrow his depraved descendant, and then decided to stay and do a proper job of things. The populace is reasonably content, secure and well policed by the steel armoured skeletal guards that patrol the streets day and night. The streets are clean and free of beggars and thieves, as these, and other law breakers are either enslaved or killed and their clean bones reused as another guard.
It's a clean, safe, sterile and over controlled environment, and trade is constant, although outsiders who offend an inhabitant may go missing... Any PC's will find themselves skirting the shadows, contacting the resistance and finding out the necromantic secrets of the rulers...
The Peasant Cities
Almost due east, these cities occupy a fertile basin surrounded by mountains. About 120 years ago, the peasants revolted and executed all the nobles and their advisers, and quite a few others. Many onlookers, traders and nearby nobles, waited for the cities to fall and order to crumble. Strangely, this lack of nobles hasn't hurt them much, and the population has become more egalitarian since then. They rule through a strange system of representation, and food and goods are abundant and high quality.
They do have a lack of bloodthirsty, armed individualists, though, which causes concern when goblins, trolls and wolves gather in the depth of winter. That's when the PC's come in useful, as the cities hire scouts and raiders to monitor and disrupt any powers that arise in the surrounding mountains.
The Jewelled Islands
Travelling to the south-south-west, along the coastline, brings one eventually to an archipelago of small, steep cliffed islands, all with scenic pastoral white walled villages nesting in green, lush pastures. Happy people with strange, multiple horned goat-sheep type herd animals, they seem content. Especially as each island appears to have a secret source of gems, and excel in the craft of cutting, polishing and mounting them on jewellery, arms and armour. Each island only produces a single type of gemstone, and their crafters have a distinct style of ornamentation. Many rich and vain nobles (and PC's) will chance the voyage to get their favoured items inset with these gems.
The Desert Kingdoms (and Inshilbad)
To the west, past the hills littered with barrows, ruins, ancient battle sites and towers of countless armies and conquerors, lie the sunbaked sands and rocks of the Endless Desert. Within this lie many small kingdoms of robed, isolationist warriors and mystics, that shun outsiders. They compete and jostle for control of oases and underground watercourses, but never through bloodshed. It takes a lot for foreigners to be admitted to this culture, and if so, leaving is out of the question.
The City of Inshilbad, however, is similar, but a lot closer, and has almost none of the resistance to outsiders of their cousins. It is a strange place, however. High walls of pink granite shelter a people that wear white robes fringed with feathers, and white featureless masks in public. They are alternately outgoing and friendly, and withdrawn and depressed, which confuses visitors but is a part of the 'life's rich pageant' that these people believe in.
Study up on your surrealist painters and ideas, as dealing with this city is like stepping into a Dali painting, as their personalities and magic reflect a strange concept of reality. A place to throw the weird and bizarre at any PCs.
That's it - hopefully more on what's actually IN the map next time, and an idea of what I'm going to do with it. I think throwing ACK's system at it might help things...