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Thread: Letís Make a Hexcrawl Setting
Friday, 4th May, 2012, 07:38 AM #211
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
Yeah, elves as PCs in this setting are problematic since either spotlight hog players play them and hog the spotlight or you have people playing them like humans with pointy ears which doesn't fit the setting. As far as a half-elf stats, those can go to people with traces of elf blood or some kind of Numenorean-ish High Men if anyone inserts them into the setting. However, half-elves, dwarves, halflings, gnomes, orcs and gnolls should be fine as PC races. I even wrote up bits in the dwarf and gnoll cultural write-ups to make playing them as PCs easy. I know if I ever played in this setting, my first choice would be a gnoll of some sort, maybe a ranger or bard.
As far as 5ed goes I'll be DMing on the 26th and enough people signed up that it looks like we'll have to run two groups. We'll see how we can work that out, but there probably isn't enough time to get content from Shrouded Lands into 5ed for the first game, so I'll just stick any content that we get to run into the Shrouded Lands somehow. Shouldn't be too hard to fit in just about anything.
My posting's been pretty spotty this week, will try to do more later, I have an idea for a Sanguine holding but haven't gotten a chance to write it up yet.
However, here's an up to date map:
Last edited by Daztur; Friday, 4th May, 2012 at 07:41 AM.
Friday, 4th May, 2012, 12:26 PM #212
Oh man, a gnoll bard? Sorry, I have to write something about that...
The Howling College
Additional information about hex 51.29
One thing that may surprise travellers to the City of Smoke is that despite their savage appearance and violent tendencies, the gnolls are in fact posessed of a rich culture of oral literature and song. One of the oldest buildings in the City of Smoke is the kharghaha (an untranslatable word that essentially means 'Building for the Teaching of Musical Stories in the City of Smoke'). To outsiders it is known as the Howling College. The building was abandoned and left in disrepair for many years, but has recently been refurbished by order of the Great Mother.
Gnolls have only one word for 'poem' 'story' and 'song'. All their music is narrative and all their oral narratives are musical. (Those few gnolls who have taken up writing find it very difficult unless they add notations for musical inflection.) The three classical genres that are taught at the Howling College are called Lowings, Whoopings and Gigglings, corresponding to the three forms of vocalization common to gnolls and hyenas. Lowings are tragic sagas, which always begin with a frank statement of how the hero will die at the end. Whoopings are heroic sagas, often used to inspire warriors on the eve of battle, which usually end on a note of climactic triumph. Strangely enough, a Whooping and a Lowing may well tell the same story in different fashions. The last genre is the Gigglings, the comedic genre, often bawdy or farcical but containing a serious satirical purpose at their core. Several well-known Gigglings have been banned by the Great Mother, but all know that these stories were around long before she was born and will be told again after she is dead.
- Why was the kharghaha abandoned in the first place?
- Tell me about a famous gnollish song-tale. Is it a Lowing, a Whooping or a Giggling?
- Why were the Gigglings banned by the Great Mother?
For an example of the three genres: [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bl0X81qht-E]Hyena Sounds Nkorho Pan 06/27/07 - YouTube[/ame]
Friday, 4th May, 2012, 07:26 PM #213
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
Well with most bards you think, "oh I'm so scared, what's he going to do, sing at me?" With gnoll bards you think the same thing but without the sarcasm. Hyena calls are some of the creepiest things in the world. Let's run with that...
The Pointing Bone
Addendum to chutup's last post, based on the Australian "kurdaitcha." I'm not sure what to do with the feather shoes, maybe chutup could take a stab at that element.
The reason that several gigglings were banned by the Great Mother of the gnolls is that they can kill. Gnolls who have been trained in the kharghaha or who have heard the old songs around the dungfires know that satire can cut to the bone.
This is done with the aid of a pointing bone, a length of sharpened bone cut from an appropriate animal, wrapped in feathers or hair and soaked in blood. A gnollish bard bent on murder will then point this bone at their victim and cry out with a giggling that lays bare the target's greatest flaws. If the giggling rings true then a great curse will be laid that can result in death or worse...
-What is "an appropriate animal."
-"Or worse"? What could be worse than having a bard laughing you to death?
In an island in a lake rises the squat wooden bulk of Castle Maratan. If can only be approached by a narrow bridge that crosses the lake waters, which makes it difficult to besiege. The waters of the lake are stagnant, otherwise the castle would've been abandoned long ago as the Lords Sanguine cannot bear to look upon running water.
The knights of Castle Maratan have none of the Swordsages' (11.15) art and they mingle the blood of the Tarrasque with hobgoblin (16.04) shroom wine to dull its powers. These warriors favor long straight swords with a single cutting edge, something like shaving razors of extreme length. After drinking their bloodied wine, they wave their swords in a frenzy the strokes coming seemingly at random but finding their mark often enough to make the knights of the castle bitter foes of Thring.
The current ruler of Castle Maratan is Lady Natala, (the Lady mentioned in The Questing Beast and the Jester Prince, post 172 in this thread) who seized the mithril coronet of the old ruler from the air as he fell dead from snakebite. She is a frequent hunter in the wild lands around the castle and her hunts do much to supplement the meager tithes that she collects from the mud hunts of the cowering peasants of her domains.
On one of her hunts she came across the Duke of Thring himself, lying stricken after an encounter with the Tarrasque of Bergolast. She fell in love in an instant and nursed him back to health and when infection took hold on a wound that rang across the back of his hand, she drew blood from the beast so that the Duke could tell her which fingers could be saved and which to cut away.
But their love could not last, for the Duke could not abandon his wife and Dukedom for her, but Lady Natala claims that the young lad who run whooping through the halls of Castle Maratan is the Duke's son and she means to see him sit on the high seat in Castle Tarengael (16.16) and rule all of the lands of Thring.
-Why can the Lord Sanguine not bear to look upon running water?
-How does being mixed with hobgobling shroom wine affect the effects of Tarrasque blood?
-How did a snake come to bite the old lord of Castle Maratan?
-How does Lady Natala plan to win the Dukedom of Thring from her son? Surely she knows that inheritance in Thring runs solely in the female line?
-Is the boy truly the Duke's son?
Saturday, 5th May, 2012, 02:08 PM #214
The Shroom Caverns
Additional information about hex 16.04.
The hobgoblins who dwell in these hills and known far and wide for their production of shroomwine, a potent hallucinogen. It is distilled from the various bioluminescent mushrooms that grow in the caverns beneath the hills. This cave network goes on for miles in every direction, and even the hobgoblins have not explored down to its lowest reaches.
Most shroomwine that gets exported is a generic product containing a mixture of many different species of mushroom. This produces a vivid and varied effect, but is considered of low quality by the hobgoblins themselves. The best vintages are made from only one or two species of mushroom, for it is well documented that each colour of shroom produces a different type of hallucination. Among them are:
- Red shrooms, which grant vivid prophecies, though many scholars scoff at the hobgoblins' claims of accuracy;
- Blue shrooms, which grant visions of one's own personal past with blinding clarity;
- Green shrooms, which allow one to converse with a race of invisible beings commonly described as 'wax-based elves' (much debate goes on over whether these beings are real or illusionary);
- Purple yellowdot shrooms, which cause everyone's faces to appear swapped around (provides hours of entertainment for hobgoblin children);
- White ethereal shrooms. These grow only in the deepest parts of the caverns. It is strictly forbidden to make shroomwine out of them. On this subject the hobgoblin elders have only this to say: "Last time hob made wine from the white mushroom, Nibbw was released into the world."
- Does red shroomwine really grant the gift of prophecy?
- Are the wax-based elves real or merely hallucinations?
- Who or what is Nibbw?
- What would happen if you mixed a bottle of shroomwine with a jar of poppy brew from 23.23 (the Dust Walkers)?
Saturday, 5th May, 2012, 04:34 PM #215
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
Let's add in some classic D&D monsters...
The Eater of Filth
Additional information about hex 13.12
Within the Piss-and- Castle lives an otyugh. It is difficult to spot for it is covered by a vast heap of garbage while its tentacles move slowly about the castle slurping away at the refuse. Unless provoked, it will not bother intruders. However, if it ever goes hungry for too long, the young that lie quiescent within it will awake and devour their parents in the way of otyughs. These young will then roam the landscape looking for another source of food, causing great destruction. Thankfully, the otyugh is well fed, at least for now.
-Who is responsible for an otyugh being here?
Additional information about hex 26.20
This one's inspired by a post on the rpg.net 2ed MM read-through thread.
Wortimer, the guildmaster of the thieves guild of Blind Midshotgatepool wears a heavy black cloak, even on the hottest summer days. Many have guessed that the cloak's clasp, a piece of platinum jewelry in the form of two hands grasping a needle, is a magical charm and they whisper that it allows him to walk through walls or draw a man's soul from his body.
The truth of the matter is that the clasp keeps the cloaker that Wortimer wears dormant. If Wortimer were to be ambushed, say by a group of greedy adventurers, he would remove the clasp and cast his cloak at one of his assailants. The cloaker would then come to life and begin suffocating its victim. Wortimer hopes that that would provide enough of a distraction to let him escape and rally his guild.
-Where did Wortimer get the cloaker and the clasp?
Saturday, 5th May, 2012, 05:52 PM #216
Gallant (Lvl 3)
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Ý Block Sanglorian
A Modest Proposal
Love the idea of gnomes living between the walls of giants' dwellings: I think halflings and gnomes are the least-interesting of our demihumans so far, so it's good to see that changing.
I've updated the appendix.
I've been wondering for a while now if there's something that we could do to increase the number of people involved in this project. One idea I had - and feel free to disagree - was for us to start a new thread with a much smaller scope: maybe 5 hexes by 6 hexes, or something like that.
This 5x6 patch would be on our map (I suggest 41.16-46.20, for reasons that will become clear) but contributors wouldn't be expected to know anything about the Shrouded Lands except for a paragraph or two which we could write.
We'd still expect new contributions to build on existing contributions (which I think is this hexcrawl's 'killer app') but that would be easy with a very limited area and a small number of contributions to read through.
Now, why I chose that patch is because it's in the middle of the sea, which would make it a great location for an island. An island is the perfect excuse for having entries that aren't necessarily connected to the rest of the Shrouded Lands.
I would also recommend mapping out the terrain of the island, so people can say "I want to describe a forest, so I'll write about 42.18 (for example)" rather than have to worry, 'If I choose to put a forest in this hex, will it be silly/not fit the story so far/etc.'
Now, this would feed back into the main project in a number of ways:
- Once people have contributed to the smaller project, they might check out the larger one
- Once the small patch is completely mapped out, we can copy-paste it back into this thread and encourage people who participated in the smaller project to keep participating in this project
- People who have participated in the smaller project will now know heaps about the Shrouded Land, so they can contribute new hexes that are connected to the smaller project
- (EDIT) Another benefit I thought of: if this smaller project is a success, we could do other smaller projects on other forums - so one patch of the Shrouded Lands could be fleshed out on Story Games, one on RPG.net, one on EN World, etc. It would be fascinating to compare the different ones.
Another advantage is that we can make it clear that the smaller project uses Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 (Unported) from the beginning, so we don't have to go chasing people for copyright permission halfway through the project.
Anyway, what do you folks think? It's just something I thought about given that we have trouble drawing new blood into the main thread.
With Castle Maratan in 07.17, we have filled just over 10% of the hexes in the Shrouded Lands map! Just literally hundreds of thousands of words to go, folks :P
Last edited by Sanglorian; Saturday, 5th May, 2012 at 06:03 PM. Reason: CONGRATULATIONS!
Saturday, 5th May, 2012, 09:01 PM #217
Enchanter (Lvl 12)
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Ý Block Nellisir
Sunday, 6th May, 2012, 03:12 PM #218
I think it would be worthwhile to write a short 'How to Contribute' guide which would outline the basic premise of the setting but also encourage newcomers not to worry too much about breaking the rules/canon. Part of the fun has been making up new things to patch the inconsistencies between others. With the example of the elves, sure you might 'screw up' by placing a settlement of Tolkien-elves who don't have much in common with the elves of the Kingswood - well, great! Now we've got more hooks about "Why are these elves different?" "What do the two types of elves think of each other?" etc.
Alternatively or on top of that, we could have a series of briefings on all the major regions, races and gods/characters of the setting. Only a few lines each. For example:
The Kingswood: A large forest inhabited by mysterious and hostile elves. An elven holt lies at the centre. Dark fairytale flavour.
Gnolls: Gnolls are relatively civilised. A gnoll could be a PC. They have their own city, a matriarchal society, a college for bards. Still pretty violent and barbaric though.
The Tarrasque: The Tarrasque used to be chained up in the city of Bergolast, where the citizens drank its blood to gain immortality. That turned them into trolls. Since then the Tarrasque has escaped. It doesn't ravage the land unless you make it angry. In Thring it is called the Questing Beast and they hunt it, but never manage to kill it.
Tiamat: Was killed by the god Alberon. Still has a small cult. Is the mother and sister of Chimalia.
If you want to contribute, all you really need to read up on is the briefing on the region that you're putting your hex in, and on the creatures/characters (if any) that you're referring to.
All that being said, I also really like the idea of the island in the Keening Sea.
In terms of actual exposure, I'm thinking of encouraging the D&Ders I know from Google+ to contribute. They are all very creative, in fact perhaps too much because they'll probably be too busy with their own awesome projects to put into this one too. Still they might be interested. But I mean to hold off on that until after the new compilation is up-to-date.
Sunday, 6th May, 2012, 05:26 PM #219
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
Yeah we do need some how to contribute guidelines, for example the entry in this post is pretty confusing without knowing a lot about the setting.
I was thinking of putting in a page giving a snippet of information about each region, but perhaps a glossary of important names and terms would be more helpful.
However, people shouldn't feel tooooo intimidated by all of the canon we've built up since the setting is a lot like Discworld (in general this setting is a lot like Gygax, Vance and Pratchett stuck in a blender). Sure there's a massive amount of information out there and sure a lot of it is interconnected, but the setting is such a random hodgepodge of weird that you can stick just about anything anywhere and it'll fit. This setting is fairly magical so anything that doesn't seem to fit can be explained by a good dose of "a wizard did it!" As I've said before, some of my favorite bits of this setting come from us hammering things that don't fit (or screw-ups about facts and names) into place.
But setting an island aside where anyone could contribute without stepping on any toes could be helpful as well...
However, what I'd specifically recommend for Nellisir is to read up on one of the small out of the way regions (the ones that come first in my new PDF compilation) and then add stuff to those. That way you have some canon to glom onto without there being an overwhelming amount of it.
OK, I had fun with the Blind Midshotgatepool thieves guild so let’s do the same for a clan of Burning Lands dwarves. Let’s roll on the dwarf stronghold generator from the 2ed Complete Book of Dwarves and adapt it for the non-standard dwarven culture of the southern dwarves.
First the name will be “Nororak.” OK, not bad. I was going to skip rolling for dwarven sub-races but I thought what the hell and ended up rolling “duergar.” Interesting. The closest Shrouded Lands equivalent would be the Deep Dwarves (see 33.00). This is a bit confusing seen Deep Dwarves are also a separate 2ed dwarf sub-race, but whatever. What the hell are they doing in the Burning Lands?
Let’s roll for overall alignment and it’s LN. That fits with this setting’s Deep Dwarves. It’s a “secondar stronghold” which means a run of the mill-sized dwarf hold and it’s been around for five generations. I’m assuming that the Gnawbone Wars were longer ago than that, hmmmmmm. So these dwarves ended up here after that somehow. It’s government is feudal, its attitude is isolationist and its wealth is fair. So far so good.
Let’s see what Nororak thinks about other races. Cautious about elves, threatening to gnomes, cautious about halflings and friendly to humans. OK, not sure what to do about that, maybe the gnomes screwed them over? Damn gnomes, can’t trust them. They’re also at peace with the various critter races.
So no official war with and they have been at peace for two generations. Not bad. Ah, now a roll to see who the dwarves were at war with before. Let’s see… Lizard men? OK, we’ve got to put in lizard men in somewhere then… And that war was a steady war while it lasted…
OK, let’s make something out of Nororak.
The Holding of Nororak
The deep dwarves are creatures whose bodies are thin and twisted when compared to the stout forms of other dwarves. All of these ultra-traditionalist dwarves live deep under the Titan Skull (33.00) and rarely emerge, only doing so veiled and cloaked to ward off the hated rays of the sun.
Well, all of them except for those of Nororak who dwell under the ash and grass of the Burning Lands. Some years ago, they stumbled out a tunnel-less hill one moonless night, shrieking that they must be brought belowground before the hated rays of the sun could strike their faces.
The perplexed herdsmen of a local sept of Burning Lands dwarves (31.27) took them to a nearby gully where they began digging furiously. Over the years, the small pit that they dug has deepened into the holding of Nororak, a dismal place.
In order to escape the sun, the Deep Dwarves dig deeper every day. But rather than the hard wet granite of the Grey Mountains they find only sandstone, which is far too weak to allow them to carve proper halls so they must make do with a miserable warren of stifling grit-ridden tunnels.
The dwarves of the Burning Lands think them strange and have great difficulty dealing with them. Even their calendars are strange for they are missing all of the years from the end of the Chimerical Siege (when the Windows of the City of Shuttered Windows were shuttered forever, not long before the beginning of the Gnawbone Wars) to the day when the band of deep dwarves emerged from the tunnel-less hill. However, the local dark-skinned dwarves still deal with Nororak for they have much of the skill of metalcraft that these southern dwarves have lost, but even paying them for their work is difficult. They charge the prices laid down in the steles of Dazak Ashtongued and only accept cave lichen in payment for most of their work.
As far as the other races, gnomes have their eyes gouged out, lizardmen are killed on sight, most others are turned away. All but citizens of the City of Shuttered Windows (29.14), who are welcomed with open arms and eager talk about the reopening of the Shuttered Windows. They will also ask if the faithless gnomes who lead them astray were ever caught.
-Why do they hate the sun so much?
-The ancestors of the dwarves of Nororak seem to have disappeared from the City (where they were presumably working on the walls, for a party of deep dwarves come to the city each year to inspect the city’s walls which seems to be the only time they leave their halls deep below the Titan’s Skull) at the end of the Chimerical Siege and then popped up many years later in the middle of the Burning Lands. How did that happen? How does anyone get THAT lost?
-How did the faithless gnomes lead them astray? Why the eye gouging?
-Why do they hate lizardmen so much?
-What do these dwarves know about the windows of the City of Shuttered Windows?
-Who was Dazak Ashtongued and why did he decree cave lichen as a means of exchange? Who the hell wants cave lichen?
-How do the dwarves of the Burning Lands get their hands on cave lichen to pay the dwarves of Nororak with?
-Tell me about some of the septs of the Burning Lands dwaves (that’s what I originally planned to do with this post, before I rolled duegar)!
Last edited by Daztur; Sunday, 6th May, 2012 at 05:51 PM.
Monday, 7th May, 2012, 05:43 PM #220
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
In the far east of the Freeholds a new holding is under construction. It is a good location, as the stream that rushes out of the Grey Mountains provides power for the mill and the hillsides are choice terrain for wormroot.
The self-proclaimed Baron Farnsfall is Cliffar Seutonian, nephew of the Count himself (30.12). He hopes to establish a craftworks to supply these wild lands and to produce enough of the blood-warming wormroot to feed the demand for it back home in shuttered. He has hired a band of the strangely peaceable Skullcrusher orcs (13.01) to oversee the construction of his holding and work is progressing rapidly.
However, the brand new Baron has run into some troubles. He has had difficulty attracting farmers to work at his remote holding and the mercenary band that he has hired has been steadily embezzling the funds his uncle provided for this enterprise. Also, his daughter is quite taken with the stories that the half-orc Lysha has told her of her village up in the mountains and plans to run away with the orcs when they finish their work on the holding.
-Why does Cliffar's daughter want to run away with a bunch of orcs and half-orcs?
-Why is there a demand for a root that gives you a fever? Who would want that?
-Who are the mercenaries that Cliffar has hired? Will they get away with their embezzlement?
Note: wormroot is basically ginseng turned up to 11. It takes quite a while to mature and if you eat a bunch of it raises your body temperature significantly. One guy I knew had a very unpleasant night after eating a whole bag of it.
I've always liked rich and clueless guys like Cliffar as PC patrons, which is one reason I've put him in here. Having guys with money who need stuff done is a useful tool for DMs but having them be a bit clueless and subject to PC manipulation makes the PCs feel like they're not being bullied onto the railroad tracks by an Elminster-wannabe. Of course with this setting being set up as a sandbox there's nothing to force that, but I see Farnsfall being a good base of operations for low level PCs.
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