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Thread: Letís Make a Hexcrawl Setting
Tuesday, 8th May, 2012, 10:48 AM #221
The Gnomes in the Walls
Additional information about hex 29.14
Far, far in the past, before the gods went to war, the one called Alberon who was not yet a god commissioned the construction of his city walls. It was the dwarves he called upon to make them, for none build like the dwarves, but it was the giants who provided the materials. In exchange for a marvellous gift, the giants agreed to supply the dwarves with Giants' Mortar. It was well known in those days that this was a euphemism; the giants had the same mortar as everyone else, the difference was in the gnomes who came with it.
Inside the walls of the City of Many Windows were built a thousand tiny tunnels and chambers for gnomes to dwell in. Such is the skilled masonry of the gnomes that they are able to sustain the walls they inhabit indefinitely, rebuilding any breaches and repairing all wear and tear. Those who made war on the giants in those days would knock down their walls with catapults on one day, only to find them totally rebuilt on the morrow. Thus it was that the City grew proud of their fearsome battlements.
But much later, during the Chimerical Siege and after the Shutters had been closed, it was the walls that betrayed the city. At the crucial moment, when the armies of Blackhorn (39.32) surrounded the city, the gnomes betrayed their ancient contract and let the walls crumble. Only through the efforts of the Soiled Champion was the attack subsequently repelled. During this battle it was the dwarven quarter of the city that was hit hardest, being almost completely razed to the ground. Even to this day few dwarves dwell in the Shuttered City. The dwarven king, Daram Os, was mortally wounded, but with his dying breath he cursed the gnomes who had betrayed him. Butchered by the vengeful men of Shuttered, the gnomes' spirits were trapped in the walls and forced to continue in death the work that they failed to complete in life.
Today, it is whispered that the ghosts of the gnomes can still be heard tapping on the inside of the walls on moonless nights. As the Shuttered City sinks into the earth, the gnomes build the walls up higher, giving the impression that they are not sinking at all. The deep dwarves who visit the walls on a yearly basis are not architects; they are descendants of Daram Os, ensuring that his death-curse remains strong.
- What was Alberon before he was a god?
- What was the gift given to the giants? Is it still around (i.e. stealable)?
- Who made war on the giants in those ancient days?
- We know that Blackhorn's Maze was an outpost for the minotaur army, but who was Blackhorn himself? (Herself?)
- Who was the Soiled Champion and how did he repel the minotaurs?
- What is built on the dwarven quarter of the City now?
- What would happen if the descendants of Daram Os were interrupted? Would the gnome ghosts be released from the walls?
- There are other wall-dwelling gnomes even in the present day. What do they think about the walls of Shuttered?
Tuesday, 8th May, 2012, 11:11 AM #222
I also noticed that the entry for Blackhorn's Maze stated that the Burning Lands were previously verdant, until they were scorched by the fire of Tiamat's severed head. But my entry for Jarmond of the Knife said that the Burning Lands had previously been frozen. So...
The Cavern Out of Time (39.31)
The lands directly north of Blackhorn's Maze (39.32) are glazed flat, as though everything has been melted together into one. The heat from the Maze prevents any life from flourishing here. The minotaurs say the land became this way because it was scorched by the trailing blood from Tiamat's severed head. The gnolls dispute this assertion (often vigorously and with weapons).
However it came about, this glassy wasteland conceals beneath it an astonishing secret: a cavern where the climate conditions of prehistoric times are preserved. In those days, they were not the Burning Lands but the Lands of Verdant Snow. All men had heard tales of the beautiful iceplants, which grew just like normal plants but were made of crystalline fractals and bore fruits that would melt in the northern sun. It appears that the iceplants were all wiped out by the sudden climate change after the fall of Bergolast, but in this sunken cavern they have mysteriously survived.
Only one report has been received of the place, from a band of brash young gnolls. The bard of their party composed a short Lowing saga to describe how they descended the stone stairs to the underground forest, felt the cold burning their fur, and saw between the trees a mysterious pale figure beckoning. One of their number followed the figure, and was never seen again; his death is the subject of the Lowing.
Despite this grim report, there are rumours of an eccentric botanist in Blind Midshotgatepool who will pay good money for a specimen of ice flora. He plans to reintroduce it to the colder climes of the northern mountains, though perhaps this is unwise; the histories tell that when the south was still cold, the iceplants quickly overran every other form of flora in their path.
- Tell me about the 'disputes' between minotaurs and gnolls.
- What varieties of ice flora exist?
- Why is the sunken cavern still cold? Is it something to do with the pale figure?
- Who is this botanist and why does he want a sample of ice flora?
Re: the island proposition. I'm kind of keen to develop the idea of Andara, the kingdom sunk beneath the waves of the Keening Sea. Maybe the opening hook could be some sort of Andaran ruins?
Also, maybe we could make a policy that the three regulars (me, Daztur, Sanglorian) won't post anything to the island thread, leave it open for other contributors...
Wednesday, 9th May, 2012, 06:39 AM #223
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
Verdant ice, I like it Of course with how this setting has developed the climate is not going to make much sense from a scientific point of view, so its good to have magical things like this to explain how scrambled the climate is (although I guess it resembles California more than anything else, at least kind of...).
Letís provide some more backstory to Hoth Achaar (the orc fortress). Orcs in this setting seem to be quite civilized, if rather Klingon-ish, while goblins seem to be far more fae. Letís drive a nice big wedge in between those two races so that goblins are more than low rent orcs and orcs have their own shtick.
The Ten Thousand Stumps
In this valley that opens out into the southern foothills of the Grey Mountains few plants grow because the landscape is dominated by thousands and thousands of petrified stumps of oak trees. The orcs of Hoth Achaar (26.01) come here periodically to perform rites to their strange gods but otherwise the stumps lie undisturbed except for the occasional goat that jumps up onto one to escape the teeth of a warg. This lonely valley is one of the few reminders left of the goblin realm that was shattered by dwarves and their orcish allies in days long past.
These days the western border of the Kingswood lies far to the east of the Draugmere Peaks and the northwestern reaches of the Shrouded Lands contain more cows than trees. It was not always so. When Bergolast (38.28) still kept the Tarrasque in thrall the Kingswood stretched near to the western coast of these lands and you could walk from Thring to the western mountains without ever stepping out from under the shade of an oak tree. In those days the goblins ruled the western forest as the vassals of the elven Bloodied King (29.07), thieved from the halls of the giants and warred with the dwarves of the north.
Tiring of constant goblin raids, the dictators of the dwarves hired orcs by the thousand and they came to the Grey Mountains, wargs slinking at their heels, and worked with the dwarves to build five great fortresses. But, as the story goes, of the five, four were finished. Of the four, three were ever manned. Of the three, two survived their first siege. Of the two only the Titanís Skull is still in dwarven hands today. Some of these fortresses fell to goblin treachery and magic others to the warfare that broke out between orc and dwarf after the goblins were finally defeated and their oak trees laid low.
The goblins themselves are only a scattered remnant of their old strength (11.01) but they still remember what the orcs and dwarves did to their trees and they scream out their hatred in their midnight dances around oak trees and grow toadstools in twisted rings that spell out wicked runes. However, the dwarves did not profit from their victory in the goblin wars. Their western holdings were torn from their grasp by orcish rebellions that broke out after the defeat of the goblins and the exhausted dwarves were unable to prevent human and halfling colonists from pouring into what had once been the goblin forest to found what is now the Freeholds (18.07).
-What turned the stumps here to stone?
-How did the orcs and dwarves wipe out the goblins so effectively?
-Why did the elves not come to the aid of their goblin vassals? Or did they?
-Why did the orcs mutiny against their dwarven employers?
-Are there any other remnants of the old goblin realm in the northwestern bits of the shrouded lands?
-What exactly is the connection between goblins and oak trees anyway?
The Ruins of Hoth Akhbir
While at the zenith of their power, before the goblin wars, the dwarven dictators order the construction of five great fortresses (26.01) but only one (33.00) remains in dwarven hands today. The construction of Hoth Akhbr was especially ambitious for it sought to extend dwarven power all the way to the western coast. Maybe it would have done so, but its construction was never completed.
While the orcish and dwarven work crews were still hard at work raising the stones of the towers of Hoth Akhbir ever higher, a stone giant war band fell upon the work site, heaving great blocks of stone at the surprised engineers. It was all the work of Najir Dum. This goblin hero had acquired an enchanted flute of elven make and used it to draw the gnomish children out of the walls of the castle of the Mountain King. When their parents came wailing to him asking for their children back, Najir Dum said that he would be happy to oblige if they would steal the harp of the Mountain King in return.
The gnomes sniveled and screamed but in the end they agreed and the great golden harp passed into Najir Dumís hands. Then, riding on the back of a great bat, he took the harp southwards and secreted it within the half-built walls of Hoth Akhbir. Najir Dum made sure that the Mountain King learned of where he harp could be found and that was the end for many dwarves, orcs and gnomes (once the giants learned of the gnomes role in the theft their wrath was terrible).
This is only one of the many stories the goblins still tell of the cunning of Najir Dum but they are not the only ones who remember the fate of Hoth Akhbir. The dwarven monastery (03.04) was later built out of its fallen stones and even today the dwarven brothers come here to drag away more of its stones.
-Is there anything left in Hoth Akhbir that would make exploring it worthwhile for adventurers?
-What was so special about the harp? Where is it now?
-Where was the hall of the Mountain King? Does the stone giant kingdom still exist?
-What are the other stories about Najir Dum? Did the stone giants ever learn that a goblin had tricked them?
-Where did Najir Dum get a giant bat?
-Does anything live in the ruins today?
Wednesday, 9th May, 2012, 07:03 AM #224
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
As Sanglorian has noted we don't really have almost anything in the way of extraplanar creatures and our canon about extraplanar stuff is mostly limited to a feywild-ish fae dimension with is mostly composed of various pathways to get you to places quicker (which reminds me a bit of The Dark is Rising). We should try to flesh that out eventually but a lot of the work has already been done for us here:
[D&D Cosmology] My extensive rework of the Planes
This is a reworking of the D&D planes by drek (one of the original contributors to his project on the old thread). The bits about the ethereal plane I think could fit very well indeed with just a few tweaks into the Shrouded Land canon about fairy paths in the Kingswood and beyond and the windows of Shuttered. It's pretty compatible since drek is the one who came up with a lot of those elements in this setting in the first place.
Anyone want to take a crack at it? If not, I'll try to tie together our established canon with drek's writing over on that thread when my brain comes up with some good ideas (is a bit empty now).
Wednesday, 9th May, 2012, 08:58 AM #225
I really like that idea of the ethereal plane/feywild. The only thing I would be wary about when adapting it to the Shrouded Lands is that it shouldn't become too easy to pop in and out of the ethereal. So far, getting into extradimensional space is a pretty big deal - that's why the City of Shuttered Windows is named after its windows. If we reach a point where any mid-level character can just make his own gateway to the ethereal, then there's a bit of a "so what?" feeling to the story of the closing of the Shutters.
Perhaps we could tweak drek's idea so that the fey crossings are not just useful for getting into the ethereal, they are absolutely required. And there aren't that many of them, and most of them are small or inaccessible, which is why the City of Many Windows was so important. (Actually, now I think about it, before the closing of the shutters it must have looked pretty similar to Sigil...)
Wednesday, 9th May, 2012, 10:03 AM #226
Here's an attempt at a new Guide to Contributing:
What is the Shrouded Lands?
The Shrouded Lands is a collaborative fantasy RPG setting. It is a map of a world for use with D&D or other roleplaying games. 'Collaborative' means that YOU can contribute to it. The Shrouded Lands is awesome because contributors are required to connect their ideas to something that someone else has written about previously. This encourages people to riff off each other, producing emergent content that nobody could really see coming. As a bonus, it also ensures that the setting is tightly woven together rather than composed of discrete elements.
OK, I want to contribute. What should I do?
There's only a few rules to govern what you can and can't add to the Shrouded Lands. First and most importantly, you need to make at least one connection to a previous post by another poster. Also, you should try to make a list of 'hooks' at the end of your post for other people to expand upon. Usually a hook is a question about something in your post, which someone else can answer. Hooks are great because if you can't think of anything to write about something, then you can just let someone else do it for you.
The other rules are just organisational stuff:
- Don't write up any stats or anything else that's system-specific. For now, we want the Shrouded Lands to be equally usable for any D&D system.
- Don't place any locations outside the map. The map is plenty big enough already! (You can make reference to other places; but assume that they aren't accessible to the PCs.)
- Tie your entry to a hex on the map. This can be an uncharted hex, or one that's already been described, in which case you should consider how your entry relates to whatever is already there.
- Each hex is 6 miles across.
- All posts are to be made under the Creative Commons license.
The easiest way to contribute is just to read some of the entries, pick one of the hook-questions and start answering it. The alternative method is to start with an idea and then try to fit it into the Shrouded Lands, which also works well.
Alright, I'm going to add something - whoa, this thing is long!
Yeah. We've written a lot about the Shrouded Lands already - over 50,000 words. This is pretty daunting to a newcomer. However, you should know that you don't have to read every last word before you're 'allowed' to contribute. In fact, you only really need to read one entry and riff off that. If you're worried that you're going to write something that's 'wrong' or 'not canon', don't sweat it. A lot of the coolest bits of the Shrouded Lands so far have come out of trying to reconcile some sort of continuity problem. For example, a man who had accidentally been given two different first names became a man who actually shapeshifts into another man entirely.
If you are still uncertain about how your contribution fits into the Lands, then below are a series of short 'briefings' to explain the most important regions, races and characters in the setting. For example, if you wanted to write about orcs in the Keening Sea then you could look up the briefings for those two topics to see what has been written about them so far. For a more comprehensive survey of different creatures and races, see the Appendices.
Wednesday, 9th May, 2012, 10:10 AM #227
Gallant (Lvl 3)
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Hey Daztur, it looks good! One quibble: you should specify that the Creative Commons licence is 'Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 (Unported), <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/>'
EDIT: And by Daztur I of course mean chutup!
Last edited by Sanglorian; Wednesday, 9th May, 2012 at 06:59 PM.
Wednesday, 9th May, 2012, 05:20 PM #228
Thaumaturgist (Lvl 9)
New map and new compilation have been edited into the OP. The compilation now covers a bunch of recent additions, the Bitter Coast and the Grey Mountains. What's left is the Kingswood, the Westmarches, the Freeholds and Shuttered. So geographically the vast bulk of the work has been done but the remaining regions are the ones that have the most description to them, so there's still a lot of work to be done. The text shouldn't that THAT much longer, but then I'll still have to add in a bunch of art and expand the appendices that Sanglorian is working on so the whole thing will take awhile. When it's all done I'll spam it far and wide. Editing the new compilation is proving pretty damn time-consuming, but it's getting done bit by bit, this compilation is MUCH longer than the last one.
I've also changed the OP a bit in line with chutup's suggestions. We'll have to add to the glossary a bit to expand it though.
For the extra-planar stuff let me try to list the canon that we've established for all things extra-planar:
-The Weeper: it is strongly implied that the Weeper has magic that allows him to either open gateways for travel or can teleport himself. He's the strongest living mage we've detailed so far in this setting (but inactive so he won't be stepping on the toes of PCs) so that sort of power is very rare.
-The Dreamsong: the dreamsong is a dimension of dream that is created by the singing of whales. If enough whales are killed this dimension will be destroyed. Humans (and possibly other beings) can occasionally reach it in their dreams but elves cannot.
-The Windows: the windows of the City of Shuttered Windows, before they were shuttered, opened gateways that led to various places. To quote: "The founders of the City built it on a place of confluence, where the strange roads came together, and thus it was that the windows were first opened. Through these portals one could enter the strange roads. These roads cannot be found on any map; those who tread them will meet no other travellers, and see no landmarks beyond the eerie fog that surrounds them. But if they know the way, they will come in time quite unexpectedly to their destination, having travelled hundreds or thousands of miles in the space of a few hours. Such was the power of the City in its glory days, when traders arrived daily from the Twelve Nations and beyond."
-The Doors of the Elven Holt: the elven Holt that lies as the center of the Kingswood has various doors that connect it to various places in the forest. Precisely where each door leads depends on where the unicorn has been feeding. Some of these doors in the Kingswood also lead "elsewhere" rather than directly to the Holt.
-The Fey Realm: Somehow (it's not mentioned) the elves can enter fairy paths and "the paths through the Fey-Realm allow them to travel far and wide -- though of course there is a price to pay to each resident fairy for using these roads."
Also, to at least some extent, the Fey Realm bleeds over into the Kingswood, since the Kingswood does not seem to be completely over this world.
So the basic commonality is that all of these extra-planar thingies are used more as ways to get from one place in the real world to another place in the real world quickly, rather than destinations that you want to go to.
The Weeper's magic and the Holt's doors seem to allow for instantaneous travel while the paths in the fey realm and the windows of the City are roads through another plane of existence (it seems) that you can travel on and then pop out in some other real world place. So some really strong commonalities here. To what extent are all of these extra-planar shortcut dimensions the same thing? To what extent do they match up to the ethereal/astral/feywild/shadowfell/whatever planes?
This is really reminding me strongly of The Dark is Rising, as I said before.
So the above is a summation of Shrouded Lands canon about other dimensions, let's see what we can do if we mash that together with drek's posts...
Wednesday, 9th May, 2012, 06:59 PM #229
Gallant (Lvl 3)
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Good summation, Daztur! Also worth noting is that the Black Ziggurat has some weird stuff going on, including windows that look out over different lands - possibly extraplanar ones.
Thursday, 10th May, 2012, 03:25 PM #230
Small addendum to my previous post about the gnomes in the walls:
The Gnomes of Mazy Hollow (25.14)
This rugged mountain country is shunned by most even among the Witch Clans due to its poor soil. This makes it the perfect place to remain unnoticed for the inhabitants of a small stone cottage here: a married couple of gnomes with eight boys, plus five men identified as 'farm hands' or 'neighbours' who are in fact agents of the nearby Temple Invisible.
Long ago, so the story goes, the Chimeric Siege of Shuttered came to an end when a pact was signed between the deities Alberon and Chimalia. As part of the pact, it was sworn that Chimalia's temple would always have a place in the Shuttered City (see The Temple of the Labyrinth). To further increase the insult, Chimalia specified that the temple must be overseen by a particular gnomess and by her descendants. This gnomess was named Gertja, and was the only survivor of the massacre of the wall-gnomes during the Siege (see The Gnomes in the Walls). It is said that some few have seen Gertja's descendant, the current priestess of the temple, whispering to the walls of the city in communion with her distant ancestors.
To maintain the Accords, the Temple Invisible is tasked with protecting the matrilineal heritage of Gertja Traitor's-Daughter. The gnome woman currently residing in Mazy Hollow is the sister of the current priestess, while her husband was brought in from elsewhere. She is currently pregnant with an eighth child, and is hoping once again for a healthy girl. The integrity of the ancient pact may depend on it.
- What will happen if the line of Gertja Traitor's-Daughter dies out? Will the gods really go to war again over such a small thing?
- Where was the husband brought in from?
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