Saturday, March 22, 2014

Struggling with Tranquility

I'd wanted to be done with writing the first draft of *everything* Hot Springs Island related by yesterday (03/21/14), but I didn't make it. I'm insanely close to the end (literally about 11 sections of stuff to finish, most of which are going to be quite short), but still kinda bummed I didn't make it. Oh well. At least I'm not having to write this as a Kickstarter backer update. ^_^

There are three dungeons left to write up, and for two of them "write up" is closer to "format existing notes and writings into a coherent whole". The third dungeon, the Temple of Tranquility, has been giving me problems, but today I think I figured out the problem with my approach. Instead of being a "dungeon" with various entries, exits, lairs, factional "territories" and what have you, Tranquility's three and a half levels are best thought of as a village stacked atop an arena, stacked atop another arena.

To explain using pictures:

Originally the temple was four floors of polished rock and flowing water, carved down into a hill, and elves came here to meditate.

Then, the popularity of meditation waned and the temple were converted into an aquarium.

Cataclysm by Zueuk
Then the island blew up and shit fell apart.

So now, the top floor has been taken over by Steam Imps and converted into a gambling den. They're the "driving force" of what happens here for the most part and the first floor is neutral/safe (assuming you don't try 'n skip on a bet). In many ways this gambling den is very much like a small village, or perhaps a large tavern in the wilderness.

The second floor, and the remains of the third floor are the home of the Albino Centipede.

Note the tiny person, and yeah, I just found the dirty scan on the quick search.
The centipede was there before the island broke apart and the cataclysm effectively trapped it on floors 2 and 3. There isn't really anything there but it, and whatever the steam imps have dropped into the holes or sent down to collect a centipede leg. This is arena 1: Party vs Big Thing. Big thing is "total focus" of area. Much of my struggle with making it "dungeony" was that on the one hand the area felt so empty and relatively big, but adding more kept feeling forced. I think hitting it from the point of view of an arena will lock down the elements of the area I need to include. It doesn't *need* other living things to be interesting. The big living thing and the things that fall into it provide that sort of interest, and in this situation they need places to hide, useful environmental structures, and just enough room to run so they start to think they're safe. ^_^

Much of the third floor and fourth floor collapsed and fell into a natural cavern below the temple complex and are effectively one big pit obstacle, or connecting shaft. The cavern below is arena 2: Party vs swarm. Like the big thing, the swarm is the total focus of the area.

We'll see how it goes.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Boar's Head Encampment

Mog'ok. A lesser god of vengeance smiles down upon Boar's Head Encampment
I'm planning to format dungeons and villages in an identical manner. I think it's going to work, but who knows!

Nestled into a clump of jungle right where the tree line begins to give way to beaches of black sand, the seven large huts comprising Boar's Head Encampment stand for one thing, revenge. As Srok, filled with Mog'ok's righteous fury, became more and more consumed by rage against Svarku, Glavrok faced a tough decision. He would have to risk Night Axe lives or risk a schism within the clan if he continued to spar with Srok's ideas. In the end, he allowed Srok and approximately 30 Night Axe warriors and edgesworn to establish a forward base devoted to the eradication of Svarku and his Fuegonauts.

The walls of the seven huts are engraved with the names of every Night Axe killed during Svarku's purge at the Black Spot [Hex HS-04] and the ogres recite these names as they perform a series of mental and physical exercises each day. Srok's followers firmly believe the enemy of their enemy is their friend making the ogres of Boar's Head much more hospitable towards outsiders than those of Glavrok Village. Many individuals would be exceptionally pleased to provide direct assistance (i.e., mercenaries) to proven enemies of Svarku.

Piles of basalt boulders and lumber are scattered about the camp in anticipation of future expansion and to serve as impromptu weapons in the event of a Fuegonaut attack. Tall rock formations around the camp are utilized as lookout points, but Srok's main defense, and the camp's namesake, is a ring of boar's heads on spears that circle the camp. Conch shells are piled around the base of each spear and enchanted to serve as an alarm system. Should a creature meaning harm to the ogres enter a head's field of vision, the conch shells at its base will begin to sound (as if each were a war horn) until the threat has been neutralized. Mog'ok's blessing causes the boar heads and shells to slowly burn up, so the ogres organize weekly hunting parties to replace them.

A Night Axe warrior named Torka loads up three domesticated broadbacks with goods and runs a trade caravan from Glavrok Village to Boar's Head Encampment every 10-12 days. At least one broadback hauls a full load of whale bones from the whale graveyard [Hex HS-08] each trip. The ogres slice these bones like sandwich bread before shaping and polishing them into rings. Once a month Mog'ok blesses these rings, transforming them into bone chains strong enough to hold an ogre. Most of these bone chains have been attached to the large weathered basalt pillars on the beach where they hold Fuegonaut prisoners before they are sacrificed to Mog'ok's glory.

Srok runs a tight ship, going to great lengths to keep the ogres constantly active and focused on the goal of crushing Svarku. Idle hands cool the fires of vengeance so large sections of the jungle have been cleared, a deep defensive trench had been dug and shored up, and stairs are being carved into the giant basalt outcrop called Lookout Point. The encampment is so clean and organized that many adventurers are completely surprised to learn it's inhabited by ogres.


This map is ugly. It's not going to stay that way.


1. Watery Trench
40' wide, 30' deep. Standing water[2'-3' deep], basalt formations[jagged], tree trunks[large, support northern wall], bones
Use: The nereid Neelan can flood the trench once a day to push attacker to the sea

2. Neelan's Dugout
Only visible if in trench. Spring[cold, fresh], red seaweed[dried, piles, bed], ruined painting[4' x 4', partially buried, ornate frame, depicts burning city], dirt walls[damp, clay veins]
Neelan (nereid) - Wants Svarku dead so badly she came here to join Srok directly. Provides fresh water. Floods Watery Trench. Shunned by other nereids. Doesn't care. Sings to herself constantly. Sounds like a lullaby, but the lyrics are obscene.

3. The Leafy Stumps
Deforested. Stumps[large, old growth, rotting], small trees[~2 years old], lush leafy ground cover[red flowers, orange peppers, 30-50 blindfire vines]
Use: This area was cleared for lumber and blindfire vine was planted, fed and tended by ogres as a natural defensive barrier
Vegetation conceals numerous bones (whale, salamander, imp, ogre)

4. Lookout Point
Giant basalt outcrop (60' high). Grey splotches[jellymoss], boar head on spear[east side], stairway[east side, carved into rock, unfinished, halfway, easy climb]
Boar head sprays subfreezing water. Sounds alarm. 10 charges. Save or stun/shock. Triggers if any intending harm to the encampment enter its field of vision.

Cache of rations, throwable boulders, signal torches and a war horn atop the outcrop.

5. Fresh Deforestation
Clear of most undergrowth. Stumps[old growth, 1d8 uprooted], log piles[six, neatly stacked], boulder piles[three, basalt, neatly stacked], palm fronds[strewn about, dried, yellow], ferns[single large clump]
Palm fronds next to uprooted stumps cover pit traps (20' deep, obsidian spikes, 1d4 in area)
Ferns conceal wooden crate containing six masterwork obsidian great axes

6. Encampment
Bonfire[maintained 24hrs], huts[whalebone, mud, boulders, logs], boar heads on spears[alarms, conch shells at base], stockpiles[crates, logs, barrels, basalt, clean, organized], nets[fishing, hanging], blue cloth canopies, tables[wood, crude, clean]
Huts comfortably sleep four ogres each
Blue cloth canopies shade tables/gathering area
Stockpiles contain obsidian weapons and five weeks of dried rations for 30 ogres

7. The Killing Rocks
White chain[bone, stronger than steel, too numerous to count], basalt pillars[natural, weathered, two, 50' apart]
Use: Fuegonaut captives are chained to, or between the rocks and sacrificed to Mog'ok at sunset. A fresh chain is used for each captive.

White bone chains completely cover almost every surface of the basalt pillars

What's happening in the camp?
 roll 3d6