Saturday, September 29, 2012

20 Quick NPCs

Roald Amundsen and his South Pole Expedition
Every expedition needs its fodder, and here on the Swordfish Islands where crabs can grow to such magnificent heights, there needs to be fodder aplenty. We're hoping to have around 100 random non-player characters that your party can bump into in town, the jungle, the ruins, the mountains, or even drowning in the ocean.

Each NPC will have a quick (and hopefully evocative) paragraph of descriptive flavor that can be used, or thrown out, as the DM sees fit. When your party hears cries for help in the jungle and discover a throwaway NPC being drained of fluids by a swarm of Vyderac, there's no reason for it to just be "throwaway adventurer #107". Instead, it could be "Walter and Wendel" a pair of good for nothing thieving drunken bastards, or it could be "Carter" the son of a lesser noble seeking to restore honor to his father's debt-ridden house through the treasures he finds on Swordfish. It's all about making choices interesting ones.

Many of the character descriptions below reference an "invitation" or "letter". The common way one reaches the Islands is by receiving (or perhaps stealing) an invitation that secures passage aboard one of the Captain Rand's trading vessels.

Twenty Quick NPCs, written by The Diviner, are below the break

Friday, September 14, 2012

Crabs and Artists

I don't think he sells patties...

With Safari on the team we're consistently running into the best problem ever: his interpretations of what we've planned or written push us beyond what we'd ever imagined.

See... When planning out some of the monsters that appear on the islands, we got kind of lazy. We didn't mean to, but we fell into unimaginative tropes and put "Giant Crab" on the list o' monsters.  Runescape did it. Skyrim did it. WoW did it. Mega Man did it. Why not us? Giant Crabs are all over the place (including your mom's pants). They fit the bill. Got a beach? Need fodder? How about crabs? Basic. Simple.

Safari, as it turns out, was having none of that. He came back with a galley crushing monstrosity of absolutely gargantuan proportions, with human teeth. The Diviner, Wintergreen and I were ashamed of ourselves. The Swordfish Islands doesn't have room for common "fodder". What had we been thinking? We knew better. And once again, Safari took something that'd we'd included as an aside, and made it badass.

So we stepped it up:

Dear nature, thanks for being scary.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

We've got a font!

Safari never ceases to amaze. He whipped up a font for the Blue Lizardmen so he could write stuff on their weapons and "have it mean something".

I'm in the process of putting it together as an *actual* font you can use on your computer, and you can grab yourself a pre-pre-pre-pre alpha version of it here.

Note: Font is CAPS only

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Relationship Map

One of our main goals with the Swordfish Islands is replayability, and one of the main mechanisms we hope will achieve that goal is exploration.

Going into this project we focused heavily on the creation of a hex map to facilitate this exploration, and we ended up with 9 islands made of 156 hexes. Then we came up with three unique points of interest for each of those 156 hexes, giving us 468 unique Points of Interest.

Upon completing our list of 468 points of interest we started seriously discussing the town of Swordfish Bay, our "adventure hub". We knew it was founded by an ex-pirate (Captain Jeremy Rand) and his crew, we knew there was an Adventurers guild (name still TBD...), and we knew the town had a population of ~350.

Then we started asking questions like "who's in charge of what?", and "what services would a town like this need to survive?", and "would those services be interesting enough to really include?". Several weeks, many note cards and much OneNote space later, we've ended up with 48 named characters complete with back stories, motivations, and goals that fall into four categories:

Rand's Crew
Patrick's Crew (As a pirate Rand had two ships, one run by Patrick Marsh. Patrick now runs the Guild at Rand's request)

But we didn't stop there. Nope. Here on the Swordfish Islands you go big or you go home. We then decided to create a "Relationship Map" between all the characters using the following 8 categories:


We took each character and made a "directional" list of names under each category. In this instance, directional means "Who will this character seek out?". Just because the town drunk will look for anyone on the island to drink with, doesn't mean that anyone on the island will see out the town drunk as a drinking buddy. Hopefully, all the drama created by these links, a group of players could enter the Swordfish Islands, play an intrigue game, and never leave town.

Camaraderie in this case means that two individuals have a friendship that may fall outside the normal bounds of the other categories and is focused on a **specific** thing. For example, two characters love sauces, or two characters go fishing every Saturday, or two characters get together to discuss esoteric knowledge.

Thoughts regarding the "Fuckin'" category:

  • George R.R. Martin's got nothing on us ('cept the twincest and sex with children 'cause those are envelopes I have no desire to push)
  • Combining this category with all the death and mind altering substances that can be found on the islands we're even more certain that the only way to get this published is independently. \o/
  • Fuckin' further breaks down into "Has", "Ongoing" and "Wants to" so tension levels can vary
  • Finally, why'd we even add this category?
    • If we're successful, Rule 34 is going to hit us just like it does everyone else, so why not help the creators out with a rough framework to fuel the creative depravity
    • I blame HBO, Soap Operas, Heavy Metal, history and mythology
    • Depth of character
    • Oh, and the Olympics. It's the Olympic's fault too 'cause we all know what goes on in the Olympic village post medal-ceremonies. Think about it this way, you've got a bunch of fit ex-pirates (male and female) living on islands where terrible death is a constant. All that aggression, fear and adrenaline is going to go somewhere. ^_^

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Vyderac Matron - Timelapse

Just got the timelapse for this lovely lady uploaded. Watch Safari work his freehand magic here.

The Vyderac

Let's talk about The Vyderac!

The Vyderac, sometimes referred to as Crimson Fiends, are hive based, "insectoid" found on The Swordfish Islands. Vyderacs can be categorized into five specific morph- and physi- ologies:

  • Matron (or Queen)
  • Maggot
  • Seeker
  • Swarmer
  • Feeder
Vyderacs require the blood of living creatures to survive, and the five specialized types work together with terrifying efficiency to see that the needs of the hive are met. See below the jump for a super rough writeup of them all!