Sunday, 19 January 2020

The Shifting Sand Tower from Towers of Krshal

Towers of Krshal turned up - had it printed from Lulu and read it avidly.

To test run the tables I set out with the tower generator to see what I could create as a spare tower for Sholtipec

Following down through the tables give me an unexpected 17m tall single story tower with an accessible roof. Relatively ordinary round, stone walls, inhabited by ordinary townsfolk and with 2 levels of basement.

So what have we here?

First off accessible roof means that we can somehow traverse the whole tower - obviously it has a dangerous spiral stair running up the interior of the walls. Why one ludicrously tall single room - because there is something suspended from the ceiling in it. An orrery or difference engine, maybe a hive or other thing the inhabitants or tending. This place is not a temple, or cult, whatever the inhabitants are up to it is odd but secular.

I think we have a pendulum based seering engine here - with the apparatus hanging in webs and chains from the top of the tower; its progress across the floor of the room dictating the activities of the inhabitants.

The apparatus is a complex sand cascade, with many colours of sand being fed into the top of the apparatus and their paths through the structure modified by the tick of the pendulum and the shifting of its parts. The blends of the sand, the intensity of the colours and where it lands on the floors provide weather forecasts, crop timings, and other 'almanac' factors that guide the inhabitants throughout there lives.

The basement is filled with all of the reference books.

Some of the reference books have never been opened in the life time of the current inhabitants; some reservoirs of sand have never flowed in all that time. Some streams are beginning to turn up now; flecks of dark bone, greenish metal. None of the inhabitants know what this means and have found no references in the books of the first cellar. They have not yet ventured into the locked second cellar yet, noone has since the last invasion from beyond the ocean.

Wednesday, 18 December 2019

In Corpathium to feed Nanowrimo

I wrote a draft novel for Nanowrimo this year and short circuited a lot of the world-building by setting it up the road from where my current campaign is set.

This had one or two neat pieces to it because it was easy to have the characters rattle on about their concerns and what was happening in the background because all that was already in play, I knew what was going on.

What was super useful, that I did not expect, was setting out the layout of the city where a lot of the action took place was greatly simplified by using some of the quick and easy world-building tools that are sloshing around in the OSR scene at the moment. In particular, I pulled up the glorious In Corpathium city generator to quickly block out where things were and what was happening in the various places.

Tuesday, 26 November 2019

Sinking Shenevar - a New Crobuzon

From this post on Githyanki Diaspora - tipped off by Throne of Salt, who was set upon the path (just now) by Anne (of DIY & Dragons)

And so the challenge:
1) Take your three favorite human-ish monsters out of the Monster Manual and they are minority citizens in the city. Detail how they get along, how being in the city has culturally changed them and what niches they fill in the city. How do the powers that rule the city keep them down?
2) Take three really bizarre fucking monsters and figure out how they exist in the nooks and crannies of the city and how the powers that rule the city keep these beasts from doing unacceptable amounts of damage?

Methodologically driven by pulled books from my shelves and seeing where they fell open (mostly).
My races: Kuo-toa, Yakfolk, Farrow
My monsters: Wang-liangs, Harpies, Ettercaps

And so:

A mountain side city, ancient pride of the wang-liangs, once built atop a glacier now sinking as the ice age passes into memory and the light of the sun grow stronger. Glorious vaulted halls, once open to the cleansing winds of the mountain winters now tip and slide into the melt pools. Decorations of ice have melted away, leaving no trace on blank stone. The austere beauty is sullied by vegetation, the presence of birds, the scuttling life that has come up from the fetid forests below.

Now the city slips into the melt-lake beneath and new inhabitants have come to claim it. Some scant resources come from beyond the mountains, expeditions from the kingdom of the yakfolk to keep this foothold but so far ventures down into the forests have not justified the trouble, where they have returned at all.

Three humanoid minorities:
Kuo-Toa (Monster Manual v3.5) have colonised the city, journeying up through the underdark and finding these structures now submerged in the icy lakes. They produce most of the food for the city, keeping fish and cultivating reed beds painstakingly carried through the deeps below to cleanse the run off from the city. The fresh water seems plentiful but is rapidly becoming full of kuo-toa and the filth from the city. Nominally free inhabitants of their lakes, the elders are beginning to consider easing the burdens of foul water by culling the others who live in the city.

Yakfolk (Monster Manual II 3e) have crossed the mountains as the sun melted the ice, first to bring battle to their ancient foes the wang-liangs then to conquer in triumph as their opposition chose to abandon their melting home. This place is too crooked and tilted, damp and austere for the yakfolk and there is argument over how much effort to put into shoring it up enough to make it a proper monument to their glory. While there is room enough to properly allow every yakfolk to be a royal in their own palace, it lacks the gardens, pleasures and competent vassals of their home cities. The yakfolk who have remained here have tended to be the ambitious and the driven and the plotting and scheming for dominance occupies most of their time while the city continues to sink. With their skin-walking ability they are completely aware of the plots of the kuo-tuo and the farrow and intend to make harsh examples of the first to step out of line.

Farrow (Monsternomicon v3.5) brought by the yakfolk to do the work they will not dirty their hands with. For them this is a miserable cold place, with little fuel for heat, not much to eat beyond the soggy fish they trade their pay for with the kuo-toa. Most of the farrow spend their days in work projects assigned by one or another of the yakfolk, often to spend the following week on another project working to stop the aims of the first. Years of this has plunged most of the farrow into despair, with no chance of returning home over the moutains. The small minority of farrow who scout the surrounding land and hunt for food have seen the space available for escape and a small trickle of 'hunting accident' survivors are beginning to form free villages in the woodlands down slope.

Other beings
Wang-Liangs (Oriental Adventures 3e) lurk in the depths of the cities, those that have not already departed in disgust as their city sinks and the interlopers refuse to simply die. These that remain in the cool and shady depths talk to one another through their innate telepathy, moving less and less for fear of attracting the attention of the yakfolk. All are hunted by the yakfolk, engaged in an endless game of cat and mouse. Those that remain are the most affronted, ever less likely to leave, remaining simply to soak their claws with the blood of yakfolk.

Harpy (Monster Manual v3.5) joyous predators of the sodden margins where the city, has begun to slip beneath the surface they roam these happy hunting grounds, snatching kuo-toa from the pools or unwary farrow that stray to close. Both the kuo-toa and the farrow have set up shrines and leave trinkets and food to appease the harpies in the hope of being ignored. The harpies find these antics amusing and have no intention of stopping.

Ettercap (Monster Manual v3.5) the reason that the farrow escapees have not fled further than the local woodlands, these spider horrors have even migrated into the city itself to prey upon the plentiful humanoids. They have been tolerated by the yakfolk as a useful instrument of terror - both to assassinate rivals and to keep all but the most courageous farrow terrified of what lurks beyond the city limits. They keep a careful distance from the wang-liangs, recognising the scent of the old masters of the city.

Sunday, 21 April 2019

Sholtipec of the Scaledlands - who lives there?

The Scaledlands are a melange of all sorts of creatures; more or less living in harmony under the Pax Saurus of the Lizards. To start filling in the cities of the setting, first we want to know who lives there.

From the DMG3.5 (pp139) we take the integrated community ratios and have:
37%Lizardfolk
20%Humanoids (incl. humans, goliaths, tabaxi, etc.)
18%Goblinoids (incl. orcs, goblins, bugbears, etc.)
10%Dragonkin
7% Kobolds
5% Half-dragons
3% Planar, other

The dragonkin are the big, "distant cousin to dragons" from Monsters of Faerun (pp44), half-dragons are the close descendants using the template from the Monster Manual (pp146). The big categories of lizardfolk, humanoids and goblinoids cover multiple races but for now this is our starting table.

Mission Statement: dusting off the old, creating the new

The OSR blossoming has inspired me to participate in what ways I can. This blog will host two things - tidied up old material from the 90's/00's era 2E/3E games I ran and also serve as a notepad for work in progress.

Secondary aspect will be sharpening up publishing skills.