Thursday, September 10, 2009

Filling In The Sandbox

Well, thanks to the very possibly magical program Hexographer, my master map for my upcoming sandbox campaign is near-complete, lacking only labels.

After filling in the mountains, hills, rivers, woods, marshes, and settlements of the sandbox, it was time to think about throwing some landmarks and potential encounters out to the various hexes. Some were dependent on some feature nearby; others were random, or based on a fun idea I had. My idea of populating a sandbox probably stems from my allegiance to the venerable Kitchen Sink Coalition: there’s a place for every piece of Awesome you imagine. Here’s a random assortment of what I created (players of this upcoming campaign, tread no further, lest the fun of discovery and exploration be dampened):

Boneblade’s Bog—Named for the near-legendary Giant Troll Boneblade, who is known for his bloodthirsty, cruel ways (and obvious choice of weaponry—he makes some sort of weapon out of every single victim’s remains).

Warping Den—Upon entering this rocky labyrinth of stone formations, one is immediately struck by a sense of wrongness. Gravity, distance, and time all seem to function differently here. The affect is incredibly disorienting, and can cause short-term confusion, panic, and/or vertigo.

TradeTown of the Sparrow— This clearing has a few poor tents and shelters year-round (mostly old women, children, and injured warriors), but for two weeks in Midsummer, it becomes a bustling trade destination for various native peoples, friendly (and not-so-friendly races), and many others. It is a dangerous place, full of drinking, brawling, duels, and treachery, but it is also one of the only places in the wild to get any sort of supplies.

Crypt of Carcinus—The tomb of the great Mannish general. Carcinus unsuccessfully rebelled against his liege and was sealed alive in the tomb he had built for himself along with all his bodyguards, retainers, and possessions.

Ruined Red Tower—The Red Tower was the property of the great mage Alcindus. He made the mistake of challenging the Mad Arch Mage to a wizard’s duel. His tower and the dungeons below survived him, though the tower itself is badly dilapidated.

Ancient Hulk—This gigantic ship washed up on shore ages ago, and has been sitting, slowly rotting, ever since. From whence it came is unknown. It has become the dwelling for several Giant Crabs.

The Fount of the Old One—A geyser that shoots out hot, hot water daily. It has been claimed by a group of mad cultists, who stake their victims over it and wait for the geyser to boil them.

Tinsmith’s Table—A large flat rock in the middle of the grassland. It is said that leaving a weapon here overnight may grant it magical powers (2% chance of random magic power). An inscription to this effect was scraped into a nearby stone marker by an unknown individual. The area is also home to several basilisks.

Faerie Circle—These strange furrows in the ground mark it as a Territory of Faerie. Whether it is a causeway into or from the aether, strange happenings occur to those who tarry too long or disturb these markings.

Sheerwall Caves—Countless cave openings speckle the side of this sheer cliff wall. They are inaccessible to all but those willing to make a series of life-threatening climbs.

Troublesome Tunnels—Thought to originally have been dug by ratling bandits, human outlaws have taken these winding passages over. They lead not only under the city, but in and out of the surrounding countryside.

Feylanterns—In this quiet grassland, phantom lights appears a few hundred yards away. They disappear when individuals approach, only to reappear a few hundred yards away in some other direction.

Fallow Forest—Some strange blight has infected part of this woodland. The plants and trees affected still grow, but are a sickly yellow. Their leaves, vegetative manner and bark slough off easily.

Lexo’s Port (Ruins)—This once-bustling town has lain dead for many years, ever since the Crimson Doom came. Now it sits, a ghost town, one that holds true danger for any brave enough to explore its empty, time-eaten streets.

Pools of Portation—This cluster of several dozen shallow pools has an interesting effect: when jumping in one, you will instantly be teleported to another nearby pool. The water does not seem to carry this quality outside of the area, though imbibing it can have delayed, disjointing effects.

Castle Imperious—Villagers at the foot of the mountain still whisper about the evil of the castle. How the lord of the castle ruled over them for longer than any mortal lifespan, until eventually he locked himself in the castle, never to reappear. How those who ventured up to the castle after nightfall never came back. And of the hideous laughter that is still carried to the village on moonlit nights…

Seasworn Caves—These caves are partially flooded with each tide. They honeycomb the rocky shore, and were known to be used by smugglers once upon a time.

Lost City of the Sky People—This strange smooth, metal edifice is known by local oral traditions as the Fallen Star. This twisted, inexplicable structure has been here since before the landing of Elechor II. Many claim it is haunted.

Granite Guardians—These three foreboding statues mark the boundaries of the Kingdom of the Stone-Men. At least 40 feet tall, they appear to have some manner of glinting jewel in each eye socket.

I ended up with roughly 100 such descriptors—system-neutral, but descriptive enough for me to build on. It took less time than I thought, and it’ll be nice to have so much of the preparation done upfront. This is definitely more front-heavy on the work than my last campaign, but I know it will pay off when the exploration starts.


rologutwein said...

Man, those are really great! And it just shows you don't have to be terribly detailed to get a lot of flavor and spark a lot of ideas. If/when I ever run another fantasy campaign, I totally intend to rip some of thos- err.. to.. follow your inspiration!

PatrickWR said...

Excellent—this is a great inspirational jumping-off point for lots of other world building GMs.

rainswept said...

I nice spectrum. I would give the Tinsmith's Table a 2% chance of spiriting the weapon away if it does not enchant it.

Also I think this idea would work best if the campaign provides no way to positively identify enchantment... hopefuls would carry the weapon away after a few nights having convinced themselves one way or the other viz the enchantment.

And famous blades would retroactively be given a 'night at the table' story complete with implausible spectral visitations and spurious prophecies.

Well, a couple of sentences really can inspire ideas!

Tim Shorts said...

Sounds interesting. Are you playing over the internet or in person?

Zachary The First said...

Thanks, all!

@rainswept: Not a bad idea. Gives it a little more of a potential downside. :) And yeah, no instant recognition of enchantment. :)

@Tim: We're playing in person, starting at the end of this month. It's already shaping up to be a really strong group!