Thursday, July 29, 2010

Roof Door

That is a really stupid title for a post.

I was watching Bikdiponabus's Majora's Mask LP. He came across a witch who flew out of her chimney on a broom stick. Bikdip's co-commentator wondered why she didn't just use a door.

And my idea was that I need a building where the inhabitants fly so the only entrance/exit is on the top.

Then I also had an idea for a gigantic beehive. It is a separate idea.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Trokair - Sandbox - Monsters

I am reading WTF, D&D!? on the recommendation of my best friend. I have only read 2 of them and I feel it is time well spent. The first two articles cover entries from the original AD&D Monster Manual. I have found memories of reading through the MM, as a number of the denizens detailed within were original creations of the progenitors of D&D. I want to bring them back.

This is a list of "stupid" D&D monsters that need to find a home in Trokair:

1. Rot Grubs
2. Peryton
3. Lurker Above
4. Piercer
5. Giant Slug
6. Gas Spore
7. Hippocampus
8. Sea Lion
9. Mimic
10. Ixitxachitl ("They're manta rays as smart as people that tend to be religious vampires")

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Sandbox - Wyndhaven

I need to start thinking a bit about what kinds of services are available in Wyndhaven. Iron Marches has a whole list of alchemical goods and arms & armor, including limited amounts of special materials that can change over time (for example, there is 12k gold pieces worth of adamantine available but it costs +15k gp to make adamantine heavy armor, so there is no way to get it without waiting for a shipment from the old world (probably need to put up a hefty down payment before such an order will be made) or you find raw material in the wilderness and get it back (to hell with you if you think they'll send someone to mine it)).

The specific idea that prompted this post was the use of horses in Iron Marches. Most of the characters have mounts to allow them to cover more ground outside the city walls (and the city walls are huge, cover 20 miles deep and 8 miles across).

Wyndhaven, while controlling a similarly large area, is not big with horses. Those steeds that are present in Wyndhaven are used almost exclusively by the garrison to patrol the wall and check on the farmlands. Some draft horses are probably also at those farms to do work. As such, there are not extra horses to go around for PCs to use. Either they will have to wait for a birth or a shipment or they will have to capture their own steeds. Stealing is also possible, I suppose.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Short History of Wyndhaven's Founding

As the title says, I want to get an outline of how Wyndhaven was founded and later closed off from the dangerous wilderness beyond its walls.

Several ships carrying supplies to found two to three separate colonies traveled along the coast seeking safe harbor. The winds, waves, and shoals surrouding the New World prevented even a single landing, let alone three. Finally, during a storm, they happened upon Wyndhaven, an area where the winds and sea were supernaturally calm despite the raging tempest around them. They took it as a sign from the gods that this was where they should found a colony. One or more ships went down in the storm but the rest put anchor in the harbor and road out the maelstrom.

Flush with the manpower and supplies of two to three colonies and facing the reality that this might be the only safe landing along the New World's coast, they set about building a major port town capable of funneling the masses of the Old World into the New and the wealth of the New World back to the Old. A wall was constructed some ways inland to guard against the unknown while the bulk of the settlers worked on building shelter and exploring the harbor. Soon, their settlement was officially christened Wyndhaven and messengers were sent to back to request further men and supplies.

Some of the settlers moved outside the wall to survey the land for farming. Several homesteads soon popped up in the surrounding land, promising food for the infant colony.

Then the attacks began. Goblins, hobgoblins, orcs, and other foul creatures raided in the night, stealing food, livestock, supplies, and people. Homes were burned and even the might of the wall was tested. The garrison in Wyndhaven tried its best to drive off attacks but there were not yet enough men for regular patrols. Wyndhaven suffered a long stretch of fear.

When new men arrived, Wyndhaven's mayor ordered the building of another wall, far inland. It was an ambitious project (the details of which, such as how they came about the materials, to be determined later) but soon a wall began to encompass a huge area of potential farmland around Wyndhaven. The humanoids took notice and began to mass their forces. Before the wall could be finished, they attacked. A huge battle ensued but the colonists were ultimately victorious. The shattered remnants of the humanoid army scurried back into the darkness of the unknown wilderness while the colonists hastened to complete the wall. Their forces had also been dangerously depleted by the battle. Further news from back home revealed that reinforcements would be few and long in coming. Wyndhaven once more buckled down in fear of another attack.

Some years past with few sightings of the enemy, and even those were of isolated bands rather than a true force to challenge the wall. The Wyndhavians prospered and grew into their new home. Eventually, some settlers wished to push further into the continent. The Lord Governor objected but, due to the years of peace, relented to their protestations. They travelled north and west, through the blighted Thornscape, and found rich, fertile soil on the hills. They named their town Land's Blessing.

Getting late so I will summarize:

Land's Blessing discovered The Hoach and the goblins living there. A regiment from Wyndhaven came and supposedly cleared it out. Some time later (a few days, one month to the day, something), all communication with Land's Blessing stopped. I want a fire to be visible to the guards along the wall. Someone or something destroyed the entire town of Land's Blessing and all the people who lived there (except a few who were in Wyndhaven at the time). The adventurers who originally cleared out the Hoach left a map of the caves carved into a table at the inn in Land's Blessing. Despite the huge fire, this table survived and now offers the PCs their first lead.

Five Pillar Night

I had an idea after writing that last post.

When 3e first came out, I joined a game where I played a two-weapon fighter. Part of my fighter's background was that he was born on Five Pillar Night, a holiday in the St. Cuthbert religion. The details of this holiday were simply that five gigantic Flame Strikes fell from the heavens onto an invading army, shattering it in a matter of seconds.

I imagine something similar could have happened in Trokair. I am currently entertaining the idea that the original society of Trokair fell when the portal to the Abyss opened and demons swept across the land. It could be that, after establishing a few settlements further inland from Wyndhaven, some of these demons appeared and wiped them out with huge pillars of flame in the middle of the night. That would also explain the reticence to expand further.

The old idea of humanoids prowling about in armies begs the question - what happened to them? It could be that the army of Wyndhaven exhausted its numbers fending off an attack, leaving both sides reeling (though the humanoids would be able to recover more quickly, leading to the building of the Wall).

This new idea also begs some questions (why is Wyndhaven still inhabited being a major one) but it does hint at the demonic forces that lie further inland.

Trokair - Sandbox

I have been thinking about Trokair from the perspective of a Western Marches-style sandbox game over the past week. I never get really far (as is my custom) but I have made bits of progress (the giant oyster from last post came from my musings).

A Western Marches game requires dungeons and challenges to exist prior to the PCs' arrival. It also requires those challenges to develop without recourse to human settlements as no civilized PC races inhabit the world beyond the safe zone of the home base. This rules out many of the typical plot devices used to drive adventure (kidnapping, recovering stolen property, immenent threat of attack, etc). So I have been forced to explore why PCs would push on through dangerous environments and continue forth in any given dungeon locale. There is no captive townsperson at the end of the dungeon. There is not necessarily any great treasure or macguffin under the watchful eye of the Boss Moster. Players really need to desire exploration for its own sake, an increase in character power through experience, and the acquired treasure that may or may not be found in the dungeon (and maybe, like myself, just the opportunity to roll dice and kill things; I wonder how long that motivation can carry other players?).

Impressing players from the start with the concept that their characters are explorers and adventurers is probably key to this kind of game. They are the kind of people who see a cave and need to know what is inside it, what lies around the next bend, what might be behind that crevice just large enough to slip through. They kill the monsters they encounter to protect themselves (it occurs to me that the monsters need to be hostile as a matter of policy; they could be angry because the PCs have invaded their home but animosity should be assumed at all times to drive the conflict). If they find treasure, that is a good day.

From another angle, the presence of dungeons has to be explained through some means. If this is a land new to the PC races' knowledge, how did catacombs and sewers and other such locales develop? Most likely, one of three methods would be used to populate the wilds with dungeons:

1. Adventures are almost entirely wilderness based, with natural caves and humanoid forts making up the difference.

2. A prior civilization inhabited the land but has declined into ruin and the PCs are exploring their forgotten empire.

3. The PCs' own civilization once inhabited the land but it was overrun and they are now going back.

Option 3 is basically a subset of 2 but it introduces a slightly more cogent motivation for the PCs by sacrificing a bit of the unknown. I am currently mulling a combination of 2 and 3 to incorporate some ideas from Trokair. The actual ruins of Trokair might be known to the PCs but they date from an earlier, extinct civilization (and many of the dungeons to explore also arose from that civilization). However, there would also be a few more recent places, like Land's Blessing (the town just outside the Hoach).

The basic idea at the moment is that the PCs' people arrived from across the sea some years ago and established a settlement on the coast (Wyndhaven). They sought to expand but encountered heavy, unforeseen resistance by various savage humanoids (orcs, goblins, etc). For years the colony was essentially under siege, with sightings of the humanoids on the horizon deterring any attempts at expansion. The town was waiting for further men and supplies when something happened to curtail or delay that reinforcement (a war back home thta diverted manpower, a need to build up resources after the expense of the first colonization, etc). They consolidated their holdings and decided to wait it out. One day, no more humanoids were sighted. After a few more months/years, a group of settlers set out to found a new town called Land's Blessing (it was the only fertile patch of soil in an area known as the Thornscape). The town flourished for a while before the humanoids returned and wiped it out. Now, no settlers venture out of Wyndhaven.

The majority of dungeons would arise from the Trokairian civilization. However, a few settlements close to Wyndhaven would have come from the settlers and might hold options for human-related adventure (kidnappings from farms near Wyndhaven, criminals on the loose from Wyndhaven, stolen goods, etc). I like compromises; they seem to open the most doors.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Giant Pearl

I had this idea after watching the Ewoks #9 review by Linkara/Iron Liz.

Somewhere in the ocean along the coast (likely where the Hoach empties into the sea) there will be an underwater dungeon inhabited by a truly gigantic oyster. Within this oyster is a very large pearl. Naturally, the first instinct is to sell the pearl to obtain fabulous wealth. However, clues leading to the discovery of the pearl also hint at a greater treasure within. I am not sure what that is but, for example, it could be a key to another dungeon with an even more valuable treasure that was long ago lost to the sea (or willfully sequestered within the oyster) and became encased in the pearl (the existence of magic allows clues to point towards an item that was lost at sea and later encased in a pearl).

Friday, July 2, 2010

It's a Good Thing We Won World War II

I am copying this article (links and all) from Mark Shea's blog on National Catholic Register.


If we hadn’t, Europe might now be a socialist confederacy of nations dominated by a German economic powerhouse.  Hostility to Jews and Catholics might be rampant on the Continent at this hour.  A worldwide colossus dedicated to the abortion of the unfit and founded by a racist whose banner was “Eugenics: To create a race of thoroughbreds!” might, even now, be continuing Hitler’s work of killing millions.  Our culture, might, even now, be paying high honors to those who cherish the lives of animals over those of human beings just as Hitler loved his German Shepherd Blondi while ordering the unfit to be massacred.  Heck, we might even be torturing and experimenting on prisoners or adopting the tactics (and euphemisms) of the Gestapo in the name of National Security. There could be serious talk among the intelligentsia about arresting the Pope on a trumped up charge and even dreamy wishful talk in state-sponsored news media of pursuing him through the sewers of Europe and riddling his corpse with bullets.  The brave Dutch Catholics who resisted Nazi oppression might, even now, be abandoning their faith in droves in conformity with the Culture of Death and embracing the notion that murdering innocent people whose lives were deemed by Authorities to be “Lebensunwertes Leben” is a good thing and praising German jurisprudence as a masterpiece of enlightenment on the matter.  And the practice might even be spreading to our shores.

Indeed, nationally recognized journals of reputable popular science like Psychology Today might be publishing things like:

Thus, the injunction against assisted suicide – like that against unassisted suicide – is commonly underwritten by the doctrine of human dignity. But the whole edifice starts to crumble once we bring Darwin into the picture. With the corrective lens of evolutionary theory, the view that human life is infinitely valuable suddenly seems like a vast and unjustified over-valuation of human life. This is because Darwin’s theory undermines the traditional reasons for thinking human life might have infinite value: the image-of-God thesis and the rationality thesis.

But if human life is not supremely valuable after all, then there is no longer any reason to think that suicide or voluntary euthanasia is necessarily wrong under any or all circumstances. In fact, it starts to seem decidedly odd that we have elevated human life – i.e., pure biological continuation – so far above the quality of the life in question for the person living it. Why should life be considered valuable in and of itself, independently of the happiness of the individual living that life?

And powerful people might be quietly asking themselves, “What’s so special and sacrosanct about “happiness” or “consent”?  If it’s true that Darwin’s theory undermines the traditional reasons for thinking human life might have infinite value, isn’t it just as true that Darwin’s theory undermines the traditional reasons for thinking human life might have any value if it gets in my way?  If human beings are just one more product of the same mindless process that made that anthill in my front yard, why shouldn’t I treat human beings the way I treat those ants when they get in my way?  It certainly worked for Hitler when he came to power.  His problem was not that he was immoral or “evil”.  As Psychology Today has argued to my satisfaction, all that “morality” stuff is just genetic programming design to perpetuate the species.  If I can defy my genetic programming by wearing a condom, why not defy it when I need to kill somebody who is in my way?  Yeah, Hitler’s problem was not that he was for killing whole populations that got in his way anymore than a shark is “evil” for devouring a school of fish.  It’s what happens in nature.  No. Hitler’s problem is that he got sick and weak.  His problem is that he lost.  So if I can retool the system in such a way that it’s legal to do so and I won’t face punishment for my so-called “sin” (what an outdated concept!), why not kill people who get in my way just as I kill ants that get in my way?  If Darwinism is about anything, it’s about the survival and proliferation of the strong!

Yes, it’s sure a good thing Hitler lost and his ideas died with him.