Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Swordfish Islands

What's the deal with "The Swordfish Islands" and "Hot Springs Island"? How do they relate? What's going on here? Well... have a story!

Once upon a time there were four guys who decided to build a hexcrawl. It was going to be quick and easy. Instead of focusing on a huge and gigantic world, the focus was going to be on a small chain of islands. This way the resultant setting, instead of being broad and kinda empty, could be dense and highly interconnected.

One of the big ideas to accomplish this density was to put three discoverable locations inside of each hex. Each location should be somewhere that would be "cool to have a fight", and the way we judged this was to ask: "Now that we've talked about this place, would it still be awesome if it were made into a 2D background for a fighting video game like Street Fighter?"

Eventually we came up with a rough outline for 468 locations. Surprisingly, this wasn't as easy as we'd expected it to be. So we approached it from the perspective of "Well, who is living in this area now? What are they like? What do they need to be like that? Who was living here? How could they have shaped the area in a lasting way?

And we found ourselves saying things like "Oh man, and the tiny little mold guys use teeth as currency. So after you're infected and they burst of your corpse they start immediately harvesting 'money'." Or something like "Yes! And after the ancients built those blades into the mountain to decapitate the god, all the plants touched by the god's blood turned to bone." Or something like "No you guys, the queen specially wraps the bodies and floats them in this pool so they will rot just right and achieve a specific 'flavor'. We can call it 'The Marinade'."

And so one day we turned around had locations, and factions, and territories, and interesting remnants of the past, and major NPCs and minor NPCs, and all sorts of problems and consequences, but it was all just outlines. True, they were nicely detailed outlines, but outlines none the less. And then I said, "Ok guys... we need to finish one island. Just one. One that's big enough and complete enough and interesting enough to stand on its own, and then we can figure out what we actually need to do for all the rest of them."

And we chose Hot Springs Island. This island started off simply as "A volcanic island. Primal. Elementals fighting. Water vs Fire. Steam. Aquifers. Lava tubes. An efreet living in a volcano. Crystals?"

And now, over 100,000 words, 2 books, and 200ish illustrations later, we're ready to call Hot Springs Island DONE.

It was supposed to be so easy....

The Swordfish Islands: Hot Springs Island - An RPG Hexcrawl -- Kicktraq Mini


  1. Replies
    1. To quote a former employer we shared, in ancient times: "When it's ready."


  2. Hi there, I really liked The Dark of Hot Springs Island, so I wrote a review. Feel free to repost excerpts or links if you like.

    1. Thank you! It sounds from the review that you also bought the Lapis Observatory at the same time as the Dark? Could you email me at swordfishislands at teh gmailz please? I'd like to fix that if I can. =)

  3. Sure thing, Jacob. I'll send that right over. I really wasn't expecting you to be able to do that, so thanks. You might just want to put a note on the Lapis Observatory description to let players know that they don't need it if they have Hot Springs Island. I actually got LO because I saw it listed in the TOC, and I figured HSI would be "incomplete" without it. A smarter man would have actually flipped to those pages and avoided this problem, but for impetuous clickers like myself, a note like that could be helpful.

  4. Whats the next isle on the agenda? 🤩