I like the idea of subtle forebodings, Erebus, though I'd have used those before the meteor struck. You begin with the arrival of prophets and apocalyptic writing appearing on walls. Soothsayers and fortune-tellers give them unpleasant predictions, but everything seems to be going well for them. Then a wizard shows them their coming doom through a telescope. Go to Comment
It's a nice idea about forging weapons of meteor metal too: perhaps the dwarfs were (centuries ago) driven into their underground kingdoms by a similar meteor strike, and their precious, rare mithril and electrum originates from the little metal they harvested. Go to Comment
Good thinking Moonhunter. It could have the opposite effect too: an empire could crumble in the darkness after the strike. The Pharaohs' names were often inscribed inside cartouches, which are supposed to symbolise the sun and all that it can see, the implication being that the Pharaoh rules all that lies under the sun. If the sun were blacked out, it would pose a philosophical crisis for the Dynasty of the sun... Go to Comment
I agree completely! I know I take a great deal of time designing worlds and I get a lot out of considering the finer points of what life is like in that world. But all too often, players come along and because they're more interested in the game, their style of play is inconsistent with the world setting (e.g. they want to play a powerful time-wizard or paladin in a first-level rural village setting). I try and give them background, but they are often unreceptive and just don't read it (or forget it).
But if you have a good group of players who are interested in the world you have created (and who want to help it develop) then this is certainly the way about it: it provides them with sufficient information to build on during the course of the adventure.
This is a nice article MoonHunter. Many experiences gathered and put to text.
If there is one thing I feel missing in the article, it is about the inclusion of player activity in the world building process. You did touch the subject twice (character weave and no gm is an island) (yes, this article could easily be 60 pages long. )
This may be a basic truth but as such it may deserve mention in your article; always let the pc's actions (no matter how small) have some effect on the setting.
Include the PC's. Don't let death and retirement be the end of things. Much later the pc's could read about the loved wizard in a dusty fairy tale book, visit the restaurant of the retired half-orc chef or meet the grand children of that master thief played such a long time ago.
Then with the twists and turns of time details about their pc's could be distorted, roles reversed and facts made false. This could annoy the pc's as the names of their pc's with time get a rediculous pronounciation, etc...
If their characters were epic the entire setting would probably be affected. Nations and provinces, royal lines, etc... The players could leave their marks on every aspect of the setting. Go to Comment
Superb Iain! A powerful mage indeed. Of course we would expect nothing less...
Perhaps another way to defeat Zarakoth (if they realised it was a world inside his own head) would be to play on his worst fears, maybe summon a dragon to lay waste to the lands around and sap his strength...or maybe this would just accelerate the degenerative process.
I really like the metaphor for death as being a reversion to some previous state, it's counterintuitive.
Brilliant work. As for the rest of you, I'm here more than you realise! I've just posted nothing in a while...
It's nice and well-fleshed. With potential for combat and for intrigue it caters for a large range of party-types. As Moon says, people not commenting isn't a bad thing...with a posting as comprehensive as this it's hard to think of anything constructive to add. It's well-structured and sufficiently general that it could be used by anyone in almost any setting.
I like the way you're trying to break with stereotypes here. But can you expect your PCs to trust the spider? Won't they anticipate some sort of underlying deceit? Perhaps it's even more interesting to play mind-games with them...
The mage could be using the sacs to make potions, but what are the potions for? To cure a certain disease which is currently ravaging the pauper population of a nearby village? This adds a new dimension of moral choice. Further developments could include:
* The spider turns out to have damaged ovaries. The egg sacs in question are her only chance to bear young. Should the PCs return the eggs to her and seek out another spider from whom to steal eggs?
* The mage intends to sell the healing potion to the paupers to make as much money out of them as he can. Perhaps the PCs should ambush him and steal the potion, to distribute it freely. But if something went wrong they could incur the bad press of being "the bandits who steal medicine from the poor".
* Perhaps the spider actually wants the egg sacs back for a different reason. She wishes to sacrifice her unborn children to a dark and evil spider god. Though this conflicts with your basic premise of spiders not always being evil it would present an interesting pro-choice/pro-life dilemma.
The idea of rewarding PCs with money and magical items would seem a little out of place here. I think it's another stereotype that should be broken: that a player can only be rewarded with material game artefacts. Perhaps a more interesting proposition is for the mage to attempt bribing the PCs with a significantly powerful magical item. They would gain the material advantage (for now) but a cunning and thoughtful GM would bring their corruption back against them in future adventures.
The moral questions which could be exploited in this plot are varied and topical, and I wouldn't be surprised if your players became quite heated when discussing the "right" course of action.
Perhaps it just sounded better inside my head when I wrote it, like one of those sentences you say without thinking. Give me a few days and I'll post a different version to compensate. There's a couple like this I'm intending to rewrite.
I like this idea. Might there be a sleep phase? The Watcher appears to lose its predictive ability and to become a reflective glass sphere. In fact it is still functioning, but it is watching itself and its environs, to make sure nothing untoward is going on.
That's more or less how I'd envisaged it, Moon. It would start with them living and working in the kitchen, becoming disgruntled about their employers, maybe attempting escape up through the castle itself and encountering some understanding member of the aristocracy who'd try and help them (someone they'd want to warn about the castle collapsing later) before being caught and punished with extra labour. Then they'd suddenly find themselves in this situation with the opportunity to escape, but with the dilemma of wanting to go back and warn people.
Scrasamax, that's a very good point. I thought perhaps that instead of _visible_ deterioration there might be _audible_ deterioration: maybe an uncanny wailing or groaning sound that sometimes echoes through the corridors of the castle due to the subterranean stresses. That could then be interpreted as the caverns being haunted by a banshee or something. Maybe there'd be the occasional unexplained tremor too.
When coming up with this idea I'd also conceived another reason why they might be afraid to go outside, but in the interests of not complicating things, I didn't mention it. In my original idea, the castle was built a century ago for rich nobles who wanted to avoid a plague prophesied by an extremely wise prophet. They closed themselves inside with no windows and locked doors to keep the plague out, and they decided to stay put for two centuries until the plague had dissipated and all traces were gone. Obviously no-one would really like to leave the castle.
Of course the twist was that when the nobles had locked themselves up, the prophet said to the rest of the population: "Now we are rid of these rich tyrants, let us rule ourselves as we see fit," and a new era of equality and prosperity was ushered in.
Ah, I hadn't considered those possibilities. Perhaps the Prince is working for a foreign power and intentionally disrupting the plans for conquest. Perhaps the power has promised to get rid of his father and install the Prince as King (without any suspicion falling on the Prince).
Totally cool! I love the descriptions of encounters: not only do they aid prospective GMs, but they give you the feel of the place in a way a paragraph of GM-read prose wouldn't. I like the Dunsanian feel of the strange forest. I also like the fact that the whole eldritch setup isn't fully explained, it gives it that air of mystery.
I'd give it a 6 for its scope and completeness, but alas the marking system will only let me award a...
Sorry, Ylorea but I disagree. This item lacks any sort of originality. It's a black sword forged by a kobold which makes you go invisible. Why not submit an axe which was made by a goblin and which makes you resistant to fire? It lacks depth. What it needs is more character.
For instance, why is there a shadow fiend's head on the hilt? Was the kobold possessed by a shadow fiend when he was forging the sword and it's the fiend's power with which the blade is imbued? If so, who is the shadow fiend and why did he want to do this?
This item has potential, but needs development. I'm reserving my vote until then...
That is certainly an improvement :) Now we know who the kobold was, why he has created the item and the significance of the design has been made clear. I'd still say the story was a little uninventive, but that's more of an aesthetic judgement.
I think this is a great idea! I found it a little surprising that Columbia suddenly sprouted wings, but maybe if you made it clear she was some sort of captured fairykin to start with it would make it less of a shock.
Perhaps to spice it up a little more she is found staying with some powerful friends (e.g. eagles in the mountains) with whom the PCs would have to negotiate/do combat to retrieve her.
Gnomes are famous for their festive springtime celebrations. Farm villages will often dye their hens eggs bright colors; with gnomish magic, the chicks that hatch from the eggs have the very same colors. The chickens eventually lose their hues, but the stronger the magic, the longer the color stays. In a gnomish village, one can easily spot the village shaman by his flock of gaily colored fowl.