Wednesday, January 30, 2013

First steps in making the play area

The next step in creating my world is the final zoom--to actually map out the initial play area.  The Kingdom of Galicia has a number of different locations that can serve as adventure sites—from a potential mega-dungeon that was once a mighty dwarven kingdom in the Forsaken Mountains to urban politics and intrigue in the Sea Islands.  Since I’m aiming for a fairly “typical” style of campaign, I’m looking for an area that will allow a decent variety of exploration, combat, brigandage, monsters, with enough of an urban environment to allow some breathing room.  Per the World Builders Guidebook, this should be an area of roughly 40x40 miles.  This is a very small area.  An unencumbered human could easily cross from one point of the map to another is 2 days (24 miles per day per the PHB) and even a lightly or moderately encumbered one wouldn’t be far behind.  At this scale we’re placing specific locations—actual villages, specific monster lairs, etc.  A 1 mile area still allows for a decent amount of exploration and movement, but we’re dealing with character scale here.

So, for the next step, we’re going to need to get very specific.  First, though, I need to determine WHERE we’re going to focus on.  Since I want a place with a variety of options, three locations on the Kingdom map immediately stand out, all on the fringes.  Once again, here’s the Kingdom map.

To the northwest, we have a nice border land between the Forsaken Mountains and the Grunewald.  Lots of potential for monsters and mayhem there—but nothing there really wows me.  I don’t really want to focus on a huge Dwarven fortress or immediately put the PC’s up against a nasty Dragon at level one.

The southwest has more potential.  There’s still the Forsaken Mountains for nasties, and the land itself is ripped apart in near endless civil conflict.  No adventurers worth their salt could fail to find danger and coin along The Wild Coast.    There’s also a nice variety of terrain, between coast, hills, forest, and mountains.

But it’s the northeast that I find my attention drawn, around the city of Furrst.  It’s relatively isolated from the rest of the Kingdom, which helps to keep the King and his champions away in most cases, and it’s a cultural middle ground.  I know, thanks to my Regional Map, that to the east and north are vast steppes populated by Centaurs and few other sylvan creatures.  An interesting land for exploration and trade, to be sure.  Immediately to the west in the Northern Waste, a land dominated by independent people who barely acknowledge the King, and spend their time smelting iron and making whiskey.  So, we have the Galts, Umbrians, and Fairians in the central part of this land, with wild men in the swamps and centaurs and fey creatures running around.   A nice place for all sorts of conflict.

in addition to the raw act of mapping, I’ll also need to populate this location.  And I can’t get away with the handwaving I’ve been able to use on the Kingdom and Regional maps.  So, before I start putting pen to paper (or, to be more precise, loading up Campaign Cartographer), I’ll need to figure out who exactly is going to live there.

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