Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Please Hold ... Someone Will Be With You Shortly

I'm about two weeks away from graduating with a MLA (masters in landscape architecture).  It's been a rather long road (and a long story that I'm not going to detail; suffice to say nothing dramatic happened - it's just long).

I'm also a very distracted person, and having two (or three) new followers makes me want to post something to entertain them, but I can't afford to take the time.  But it weighs on me.  So this is my compromise.  I'll tell myself I'm posting something real, but I'll just list a bunch of stuff I might write about later.  Feel free to leave a comment if something sounds particularly interesting, or you want to make a special request.

  • Notable Priests of the Shadowend (the notable spellcasters post was really wizard-heavy).
  • Magical Societies & Orders
  • Non-Magical Societies & Orders
  • Map sketches n' stuff
  • New/expanded info on the Dalerain, Typhos, & the Envidier.  (explanation here: I see the campaign from a sort of "middle" viewpoint - neither ground level nor "creator deity".  The gods are a soap opera of characters, and their interactions often serve as catalysts and actors in campaigns I run.  So, I  like detailing them.  It's my thing.)
  • more adventure hooks.  I've got this theory that everything ought to have an adventure hook or two.
  • translate some stuff into Swords & Wizardry.  I had a brain surge a few nights ago and ended up scribbling down ideas for merging my nascent RPG-clone (everyone has one) back into S&W (where it started anyhow).
  • Winter stuff.  Because it's winter.  And Joukahainen, the frost giant sorcerer scion of Cheneitha, is totally kick-ass, if I could just finish a decent write-up of him.
  • Unearth some 2e stuff and post that.  And maybe update that to S&W, or downdate, or whatever.
  • More geography.  Because I love geography.
  • Some kind of riffing about what lies beyond the Shadowend.  Years ago I adopted the idea of putting all the cool stuff on the map where I would use it, rather than off the map where I wouldn't.  As a result, the areas beyond the map have actually become less detailed over time, as the Shadowend keeps dragging them down dark alleys and  taking their stuff.  But there are still ideas that don't fit on the map, and they lend some context to the Shadowend, which is really sort of a backwater.
  • The Fallen.  Because I like them.  And because they're blatant ripoffs of Glen Cook's Taken.
  • The Shimmering Plain.  Because I myself know nothing about it, and that fascinates me.
  • More "monsters from the tome of horrors and where they live", except now I've got the ToH COMPLETE, so this project could go on for -years-.
  • Races.  I always do troldfolk, because the writeup hasn't changed in about 12 years, and I think I did leshii, but firjotun and talvijotun and them-all could still use a moment in the sun.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Maps & Mapping

Periodically I redo my campaign map.  I'm never 100% satisfied with it, and I like to tweak it to reflect things I've discovered every few years.  These "discoveries" are usually things within the Shadowend itself that either are or aren't working for me.  The last iteration of the map, done back in 2007, featured a lot of little kinglets and principalities around the Greenwater.  Some of these work for me, some don't.  Dore, which is a rather significant part of that map, didn't exist in previous versions.  Dore definitely works.  Utgard, on the other hand, works, but does not work well.

If you haven't seen the map, click here.

One of the "meta-mapping" strategies I used was dividing the map into four quadrants - The Near North, Utgard, the Woodmarches, and the Hundred Kingdoms.  This gives me different zones of culture, society, and adventure-type.  I'm satisfied with that, but the exact nature of the zones hasn't gelled quite right.

So, eventually there will be a new map.  The biggest change will be in Utgard, which will flip from the eastern (right) side to the western (left).  The water will push towards the center of the map, particularly in the north. Dwarves and giants will be the powers there, with isolated settlements, wild forests, and many small hill and mountain outcroppings.  Gaidrilar will be the only significant human city in the region.  The feeling here is perpetual, untamed wilderness, with Scandinavian/Slavic flavor.

The Near North will remain much the same, except further east. I may try to open it up a little and give it more of an "open plains" feel, but it's a tricky balance.  I want to establish a clear wild border between Dore and Larenyss that can spawn real threats to the two realms, but still leave routes of travel between them.  Kaulderzhun and Coldstone will probably remain in the Near North, though there's a good argument for moving Coldstone with Utgard.  This is your "bastion against the orcish hordes" and "the last kingdom of the High Race of Man".  I will probably tweak Keldru and Kameurgard - possibly eliminating (for now) the former and making the latter more "viking" (more fjords!).

Larenyss is going to shift to a stronger north-south orientation and encompass the Greenwater Vale, making it the real core of the region.  Asavar is going to go away again, Guanes will revert to a barony or somesuch, ditto Kestrellar and probably Shalaen (which might just go away).  Roen's status is uncertain.  Arramor will remain as a foil to Larenyss.  The Grey Hills and Dwarfmoor will shrink - they take up just too damned much space right now.  The Glimmering/Glittering/Shimmering Plain is very much staying.  Ditto Everglass, which I've perpetually put off detailing out of fear of screwing it up.  Most of my campaigns have centered here, so there are more fiddly little bits to consider.  The conflict between the fey Queen Aliana and her successors is unresolved, and that needs to be reflected in the political landscape.  This is very much the area of the feudal Middle Ages and  fairy tales.

The Hundred Kingdoms is probably the biggest unresolved point.  It's meant to be a squabbling place of tiny, tiny little independent principalities, but it's not really exciting me at the moment.  It's also the link to the "outer world" and sees itself as the bastion of civilization, whatever that means, but civilization is not all that enthralling to me.  There is also a strong possibility that the "greater" civilization has pretty much fallen completely apart (whatever a post-apocalyptic medieval fantasy world looks like, that could be it), leaving the Hundred Kingdoms really and truly as one of the bastions of civilization.  This might partially be a matter of scale - one of the things I want in a new map is smaller mountains, and that would give me more delicacy in political boundaries.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Dalerain VII: The Winter Queen

Winter Queen, Lady of Ice, Frost Maiden
Power of the Dalerain
Major AoC: Cold, Frost, Ice, Winter
Minor AoC: Frost, Death by Cold, Stagnation, or Being Trapped.
Symbol: A snowflake, a snowy owl.
Allies: None
Enemies: Brigit, Umoth
Avatar: Cleric 12 / Fighter 11 / Wizard 12

Cheneitha appears as a young woman of medium height, with silver-white hair and pale, almost colorless, blue eyes, clad in a robe of white fur and a gown of white silk. In combat she wears crystalline scale mail and helm and carries a spear of ice called Frausein, or Littlefrost. She is vain, and often wears pale or colorless jewels, and enjoys these as gifts. 

In a few rare myths, Cheneitha is represented as as a sister to Brigit, or Alaron and Eial, but tempted away from them and into Kajalla's influence. At one point she was part of a trinity of goddess, including Kajalla the Crone and Malis the False; her place in recent centuries has been overtaken by Yilwyn, the Bleak Maiden. She rarely deals with the Crone anymore, but any rumors of her desire to reconcile with her sister(s) are swiftly extinguished by her priesthood and probably untrue.

Cheneitha is worshiped by ice elementalists and those seeking to keep things as they are; she is appeased by nearly everyone. She is generous with those who please her, but fickle in her attentions; those who are not vigilant find her whims have turned against them. Her priests are solitary between themselves, preferring to surround themselves with minions and cohorts rather than rivals. They hope to win their goddess’s favor by eliminating warmth and the heat of change from the world, and bring unchanging cold. They often use undead in these tasks, and some see undeath as the ultimate existence, stagnant and cold.

Cheneitha is rare among the Dalerain in her rulership of a material realm, the High Ice. This desolate, glacial land has slowly expanded its reach over the centuries, and now covers almost everything beyond the Kameurhorns. Her interest in the High Ice has waned as its influence has grown, and the goals of the High Ice, whatever they may be, are increasingly determined by a shadowy power or powers embedded in the deepest ice.

Winterlady /Winterlord (3e)
Domains: Battle, Cold, Summoning, Water
Skills: Intuit Direction, Wilderness Lore
Favored Weapon: Spear.
Bonuses: +2 class bonus to Intuit Direction and Wilderness Lore checks in winter or arctic conditions.

The image is by Harald Siepermann; original is here .  I probably shouldn't use it, since I didn't ask permission, but the Dulac Snow Queen is so...staring.