Showing posts with label World Building. Show all posts
Showing posts with label World Building. Show all posts

Sunday, April 14, 2019

The 3 Toadstools and #tenmonstersetting

Shane Ward, over on MeWe suggested a great starter idea for world building. Pick a book then pick 10 monsters to populate your world. On Shane's blog, The 3 Toadstools, he added a 10 categories based on feedback from the MeWe community:
  1. semi-intelligent humanoid
  2. undead
  3. ancient fey race 
  4. giant/ogre/troll race
  5. great wyrm or lizard
  6. aerial
  7. Aquatic
  8. dimensional  
  9. classic mythology
  10. chthonic
I grabbed my classic red book and came up with the following list: 
  1. Orc, many tribes in the mountains. 
  2. Wight, found on the plains. They inhabit burial mounds. 
  3. Pixie, live on the edges of forests and will turn over characters to the Sprites within if there is trouble.  
  4.  Ogre, a large semi-nomadic tribe. They trade fresh food to the Lizard men. They have a tiny range from north edge of 'Potumus Bay to the Grand Plateau in the mountains. They winter on in the caves at the edge of the Grand Plateau.  
  5. Black Dragon, only one and he inhabits a lonely crag. He eats orcs and hippos and avoids men and ogres. 
  6. Sprite, typical fey folk who are nicer than Pixies who live just outside their forests and meadows. Slightly more organized than Pixies, they can dish out what approximates for justice according the fey if someone messes with the Pixies or Sprites.   
  7. Lizard Man, a single tribe located on, in and around a high tarn. Relatively peaceable, they will trade metals for fruit.  
  8. (None in the book) I selected a Djinni. Actually, a family of Djinn. Two boys, three girls and mom and dad. They live below the dragon's crag. They guard a cave which leads to the realm of air, but no one but Djinn can see the gate. 
  9. Pegasus. A seemingly, a singular creature. They live far to the north, beyond the mountains and a few get blown off course from time to time. While lost, they will visit the many tarns and lakes in the area. They have no fear of humanoids and can sometimes be found grazing with domesticated horses on the plains.  
  10. Giant Ants, a pest of urban settings. They often invade towns in the spring, via sewers. A massive headache to clean out. 
9 out of 10 creatures from one book isn't bad. It totally works for my Peninsula of Plenty campaign. I can't wait to get these ideas into that world. 

Thursday, April 11, 2019

World Building with Worldographer

I'm working on a new map for the Peninsula of Plenty campaign using Inkwell Idea's Worldographer. The software is remarkably easy to use and makes the whole experience of world building a wonder rather than a pain. I went whole hog on this purchase and selected the $99.00 bundle plus Hexographer 1E World Style Icon Set. 

Right now I am tinkering with the different icon sets and have a mishmash of icons. I hope to correct this and work entirely with the 1E World Style set for everything. 

One of the nicest parts of the software is that once you have your geography set, where towns, rivers and road go make more sense. I've blogged about the 'Potamus Bay area before, but didn't realize how much was missing from the region. I detailed just a handful of settlements, but I envisioned an area that was both old and wild. That means more, but smaller settlements. The map now displays six settlements around the lake. A navigable river cause most people to refer to the lake as a bay, it actually is a lake next to a bay. 

The southern most ruins is actually a double ruin. There was massive wooden manor house that had been burned to the ground, but a smaller stone folly remains largely intact. It has been settled by kobolds. They call themselves Tribe of Minwan after their king. Thirty-six miles to the west is the largest settlement in the area ruled by a Gerent. The area is nominally controlled by the Empire, but due to the lack of luxury, the local ruler is permitted to rule as he see's fit. Along the western edge of the lake are two manors, one which supports a town and the other which is a fortified house. On the eastern side, the north-most habitation is a small village which has sprung up around a miller and blacksmith family. The tiny house on the southeast of the lake is an ancient fortified house made of stone. It is tiny but well populated. 




All this information basically wrote it's self as I used the software to make improvements to ideas I had kicking around in my head.

Sunday, April 7, 2019

World Building Vignette #4 - Peninsula of Plenty - New Races

Two weeks ago, I featured a magic weapon called the Rattlebone, a gnollish mace. In the Peninsula of Plenty campaign, there are actually 5 kinds of Hyaenidae. From largest to smallest, they are:
Spotted
Striped
Brown
Aardwolf
and Flind.

There are also Wild Gnolls, who have a copper age culture but otherwise are identical to one of the other four basic kinds. They are viewed with disdain by the civilized gnolls, except Flinds who find them useful. In this campaign, the Flind appears to be an admixture of Aardwolves and one other kind of Hyaenidae.

The Aardwolf is the most civilized of the bunch. They are fixated on food and language of all kinds and tend to be good cooks. In the wilds, they can eat anything but prefer insects. They can be value guides to players.

The Flinds tend to be leader types found in tribes of Spotted, Striped and Brown Hyaenidae or informally, gnolls. Striped gnolls have an affinity for grey wolves which will act as pack mates sometimes. Brown gnolls have a special talent for confusing or driving off Spotted gnolls, which they intensely dislike. Brown gnolls are wary of dogs and Striped gnolls have a shared animosity with foxes of all kinds. Aardwolves live in tiny, family sized pack-clans unlike the others. They rarely mix with Flinds but sometimes will care for an elderly one.

All gnolls believe their own creation myth, which revolves around the sacrifices of two heroic humans and two hyenas which fused them into a single creature in order to survive the ordeals. They believe that it is their destiny to reforge the pack-clan and return to a state of bliss as human and hyenas, again.

Many human and demi-humans doubt this creation myth and instead choose to believe that gnolls were created by a mad worshipper of Yeenoghu. Gnomes and trolls are the exception, they believe in the gnoll creation myth whole-heartedly. Kobolds find this story horrifying and tend to believe the pack-clan myth.

Female gnolls are dominant in the pack-clans. Some of them are given special titles at birth: "Clan Heart" or the more unusually "Heart of Hearts". This second term would be better translated as "King of Kings" or as the gnolls see it, "Queen of Queens". Male pack-clan members may be granted the title "Revered" for special service to the pack. Gnolls do not understand the human title "King of Kings" and would not give an impossible title to a mere male. Male gnolls do not have any concept of siring pups and are called "mate" by the non-dominate female pack-clan members, as in "clanmate" or "packmate". Fighting males receive the first title, while wily and intelligent males receive the second.

World Building Vignette #3 - Peninsula of Plenty - Racial Preference Table

The Peninsula of Plenty is different than most settings. Humans and elves are competing cultures on the Peninsula. The elves are the most powerful colonizers on the continent. They came from over the sea and the human Empire views them as hostile invaders. The elven Kingdom of Nace is vastly outnumbered by humans but is much more powerful than humans as they embrace magic readily.

There is a pecking order to the races, based on their order of arrival on the Peninsula. When humans arrived, gnomes were already well established. The oldest gnomish texts declare that kobolds were actually the first race on the continent, but only recently developed any meaningful culture. Dwarven myths tell of a great migration to the largest mountain on continent and merely note that the kobolds and gnomes were ever present. It is unclear if this was by land or sea, or entirely underground. Half-Orcs arrived just after the humans via a shipwreck, while half-elves appear to have suffered the same fate. Both races have never had a great population and rely on both the elves and dwarves to survive. The last two arrivals were the halflings and gnolls, who are fleeing a great war to the north.

The cause of the war between the humans and elves was slavery. The outcome of that war was that humans will not enslave non-humans... or else. This war occurred 2 centuries in the past and accidentally saved the Empire from economic disaster. What is left of the Empire is struggling to reclaim land depopulated in the war and resist invaders from the north while trying to juggle a rising abolitionist movement. Humans who live in rural areas tend to be very relaxed about other races and sometimes will cede nominal control to invaders rather than resist. There are exceptions, but rural people are pragmatists.

The last two invasions were the halflings and gnolls. Humans view them as a nasty barbarians, if not animals. Since the war with the elves, humans have no intention of taking prisoners or slaves from the halfling or gnollish peoples. This attitude has the Elven and Dwarven Kingdoms readying for war.

Three races are very special on the continent: half-elves, half-orcs and kobolds.

The half-orcs are insular when it comes to breeding and only marry their own kind. However, they are claimed as citizens of both the Elven and Dwarven Kingdoms, as their past actions have saved both from conflict and disaster. They are considered keepers of the peace, justices or knights to each kingdom.

The elves believe that the half-elves might not be half-breds at all, only shipwrecked people who went native. Humans hate half-elves as they believe the mixing of races is deeply unnatural.

Kobolds are special because it seems they come in two kinds, the civilized race and the terrifying stuff of nightmares. Humans have a mythos of small house spirits like the Kobolds and the idea that they could turn evil on them is repugnant. The civilized race has adopted some strange characteristics from humanity. They behave as stylized humans, living in tiny villages and worshiping equines of all kinds. They have a deep misunderstanding of the Empire's equestrian class of citizens. They literally believe that these people are some sort of were-equine and not merely someone who can provide a horse in defense of the Empire. Their odd behaviors and the fact that they are emulating humans vexes others. They tend to view all other races rather positively in the hopes of gaining trade partners. They are someone bothered by the fact that gnolls prey on both kobolds and more importantly, horses. Kobolds have a special love of halflings and their ponies, while halflings view them as savages who might eat the baby or the family dog.

Peninsula of Plenty - Racial Preference Table
Race Dwarves Elves Gnomes Gnolls Half-Elves Halfling Half-Orc Human Kobold
Dwarves Preferred Neutral Neutral Apathy Apathy Goodwill Preferred Hatred Hatred
Elves Neutral Preferred Tolerated Apathy Tolerated Goodwill Preferred Apathy Apathy
Gnomes Goodwill Goodwill Preferred Tolerated Goodwill Preferred Preferred Preferred Goodwill
Gnolls Apathy Apathy Tolerated Tolerated Apathy Tolerated Goodwill Tolerated Goodwill
Half-Elves Goodwill Goodwill Apathy Goodwill Preferred Goodwill Goodwill Apathy Apathy
Halfling Goodwill Preferred Goodwill Goodwill Goodwill Preferred Tolerated Hatred Apathy
Half-Orc Hatred Preferred Goodwill Apathy Apathy Goodwill Preferred Neutral Apathy
Human Apathy Hatred Goodwill Apathy Hatred Neutral Neutral Preferred Apathy
Kobold Tolerated Tolerated Goodwill Neutral Goodwill Preferred Goodwill Preferred Tolerated

Friday, January 11, 2019

World Building Vignette #1: The Town of Tabletop

The southwestern tip of the Peninsula of Plenty comes to a ragged point. The cliffs have collapsed into the sea creating a natural formation of semi-submerged, stone tables in the water, which makes for excellent fishing. The town that sprang up on the point was dubbed "Tabletop" after these formations.

Tabletop is a seagoing community, it's whole culture revolves around life at sea despite being ruled by a land based Empire. Several of the earliest Imperial magistrates were lost at sea which was predicted by the town's cults. These events created the odd situation where the one half of the town's leadership was held by a tribune appointed by the Empire and the second was often elected from and by the various priesthoods as the sacerdos.

This is not the normal state of affairs within the Tarnian Empire. Major cities are assigned 2 tribunes by either the Senate or the Emperor or Empress, with a three year service time. The Senate selects tributes in times of peace, while the Emperor or Empress acts in time of war.

The town of Tabletop is so far from the Capital, not only is it a poor backwater, the citizens are thought of as seditious, backstabbing traitors. The fact that the whole of the Empire's shipping passes through Tabletop requires a Tribune. Tribune assignments are viewed at best as a punishment and, at worst, a death sentence.

It is true that Tabletop is a relative backwater, but the citizens and townspeople are far from seditious. In times of war the town has been captured and the people have ousted these conquerors by trickery, sabotage and even murder. They are ruthlessly effective at returning to the Empire.

Because of these military threats to shipping the town is responsible for maintaining a cohort. With approximate 12,000 townspeople and most of those involved in sailing ventures, this is not possible at all times. In times of peace, the tribune has about 220 soldiers or guards at his disposal. Tabletop also has 15 regum antiquorum, or "Ancient Kings" who are required to provide approximately 100 soldiers for the cohort. The remaining soldiers are drawn from volunteer citizens, and traditionally they will provide enough men, women and even children to round out the cohort at 888 soldiers. Again, this is unique to Tabletop.

Once the cohort is on the move Tabletop is very vulnerable to capture. The cohort and the townspeople view this as a necessary evil, which explains the viciousness of the townsfolk towards invaders.

On a daily basis, the town supports a virtual cohort of sailors and marines, perhaps many more than 800. One tribune is permitted sea travel rights, while the other remains in town with the sacerdos as his or her second.

The sacerdos is responsible for the physical safety of the tribunes, his or her sailors and these tasks are a local tradition, not something found in the Imperial Tables of Laws. Tribunes are not normally assigned a bodyguard, but in Tabletop they are effectively surrounded by people who will defend them. Many public oaths involve loyalty the Tribunes as individuals, which may be the cause of the perceived seditious tendencies.

It is rare for both tribunes to show up for duty on time. Often, at least one tribune will "tag the base", showing up late and leaving early, if not immediately for home. The citizenry to elect an honorary mayor while the priesthoods to elect a sacerdos. The sacerdos would stand in as one tribune, if needed. The elected mayor has no power so long as a single tribune is working in the service of the Empire. This creates many cases where a tribune is at sea or leading the legion while the sacerdos has sole control of the town.

The role of sacerdos is unusual. All of the religious organizations can vote for a single priest or priestess from any organization. Since this job does not require any special physical or magical skill, very often the selected person is young. They typically are negotiators, book keepers and planners.

Tribunes acknowledge and respect the power of sacerdos but do not acknowledge mayoral powers. This is because a mayor only has power in the absence of both tribunes. If there are two tribunes in town, the sacerdos only has his religious duties and the duty to organize the production of goods for the protection of the sailors. A few tribunes will invite mayors and sacerdos on to their council of advisers, but never use the title "mayor".

Tribunes can forbid any public activity, except for two very specific actions by the regum antiquorum and cult activities deemed a public service. This is similar to the idea of a veto and is it is called that by the townspeople. The town hovers on the edge of martial law at all times. In the absence of one tribune, the sacerdos does not have the power of veto even when acting as a tribune's second. In the absence of both tribunes, the mayor and the sacerdos can veto each other actions, but not public activities. Basically, they can stop new laws or policies from going into effect.

When a veto by a sacerdos is in effect, the temples, churches and shrines will symbolically close, displaying a black curtain over a predominate window or door. When the mayor vetos an action, all public businesses shutter themselves with a plank over the front door. These traditions are symbolic and end once the mayor and sacerdos negotiate a solution or when a tribune arrives to set the situation right. The businesses and religious institutions still conduct operations while symbolically closed.

The current acting sacerdos cannot not leave the confines of the town, is responsible for blessing each new vessel and is able to charged the various cults to produce goods, magical and mundane to support the seafaring tribune. The sacerdos has a specific blessing for each type of ship, which is spiritual, not magical in nature. The sacerdos' symbol of office is small rudder. He or she wears a black cap with three long tassels over each ear. Former office holders wear a similar white  cap with one yellow tassel for each year of service.

In this Empire, the collective word for all religions is "cult". It is not a disparaging term. The ruling class is leery of all cults and the Empire does not have a default religion. Religions are viewed as mysterious groups, which are largely impenetrable to outsiders.

Click this link to read Vignette #0 or this one to read Vignette #2.