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Offline argash

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"Panama"
« on: August 25, 2004, 12:51:03 AM »
So I mentioned in my Howdy thread that I've been selected by my group of friends to DM our first D&D campaign since high school (over 10 years ago and ill thank you to leave it at that :) ) Initially I had planed on using a published campaign but then I remembered this idea I had for a homebrew but never got around to doing and I've decided that’s what I want to do. So I've taken the time to sit down and start and I've written out the general premise and a few ideas. I am presenting it here for thoughts and input.

Generic premise:
There are two main continents, a large northern continent and a somewhat smaller southern continent that are connected via a land bridge(Probably a continent or two on the other side of the globe but not important for a long time to come). The campaign focuses upon the rich trading city that naturally formed at the slimmest (right term?) portion of the bridge (only 5 miles wide). The initial portion of the campaign revolves around the antagonist who wants to use magic to create a canal at the thin point by detonating some form of spell in a bottle explosives at key points in the maze of under ground (Parisian style) catacombs.

Before the antagonist (lets call him Mr. X for now) does this though he wants to first make sure that the destruction is precise as he intends to create a crime spree along the thin point (lets call it the strip for now) so he can buy up all the property that he intends to be beach front property. His motivation is a mixture of revenge and greed. His family use to be one of the two (or three or four not sure yet) large merchant families in the city that controlled the entire rail network the stretched the length of the strip thus controlling all of the trade for both continents. However while Mr. X was away in the southern (or northern, doesn’t really matter I guess) continent studying/training at the pre-eminent school of magic in the world (hey his family could afford it) the other(s) merchant family/houses decided to muscle his family out of the way and had most of his family killed in a single night.

Now Mr. X has vowed revenge and thus is his plan.

Things to Consider:
The city (lets call it “Panama� for now) is close to the worlds equatorial region however I think tropical weather would make it difficult for the all important shipping business to function without so major (possibly magical) intervention/innovation. Thus I think a more temperate climate would be best. A possible idea for this would be that the planets axis rotates every 200 years or so. This idea poses some interesting hooks and situations, for example the two poles would alternate between periods of tundra like climates for 200 years then tropical/desert type climates for 200 years. What kind of people could live/survive in those conditions and how would that effect there societies? How far north (and south) would the “green� line extend? Need to explore this idea more later although it may be to complicated and as much as it may suck the “Because im the DM and the equator isn’t hot!� might have to suffice.

Need to determine the power structure for the major merchant families/houses, and how the interact with the “official� government. Obviously the immediate northern and southern kingdoms fought over this land for quite some time and then I’m thinking eventually they realized that they could both profit if the established it as a free and independent city state. Thus I think the conventional government could be something like the leader of a special group of paladins that is loyal only to the city is the official political head of the city. However his influence should only stretch so far a citizen and criminal law is concerned he should have no control over the economics of the “Strip� as that should entirely be controlled by the merchant guilds/families.

Mr. X could potentially have re-entered society upon his return to the city and not have overtly revealed his intentions and thus try to sow seeds of dissent among the other families/guilds

Idea for first adventure:
I always hated the "So your all inn this inn/tavern...." genesis adventures. So I plan to start everyone in their home/living quarters (all conveniently near the "strip") when a large army of skeletons animated by Mr. X rises from the catacombs to start ransacking everything in the city. Eventually the PC's will be pushed into the same intersection where they continue to fight off the undead army until one of the paladins shows up to wipe out whatever the PC's haven’t finished off. After commenting on their skill and assistance to the city he asks them to report to the citadel to see if their is any other help/aid they might be able to render.

Upon reaching the citadel they are asked to check on a lead that a witness saw the skeletal army climbing out of a sewer grate between two of the rail lines on the strip. Thus putting the PC's on the path to track down Mr. X
Erik "Argash" Ellison
argash@msn.com

Offline Michael Jotne Slayer

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"Panama"
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2004, 09:18:23 AM »
I find it somewhat hard to envision this place without any names for anything or anyone. Name give personality and character.
But I will try to push this need of mine aside and look at your plot/setting without this need. For that is what it is, both a plot, and a setting in one post. Perhaps you should seperate the two and flesh out both of them?
Instead of an tropical zone or a temperated zone, how about a slightly sub-tropical zone? I think I like the idea of this connection between entire continents. But this place must be one giant melting pot of different languages, religions, customs and people. But first of all I would need more info on the world, species, people etc.

The plot itself is ok, but offcourse it needs some fleshing out and working on. And thats why you put it here. i agree with you on the tavern thing, but is not the PCs in their living quarters a little bit used up too?
Maybe they should allready be involved in this in some way? It would be more natural for them to act in the plot then...
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The skeleton hands the man a silver and says: “Fine, I’ll have a pitcher of beer…and a mop”

Offline argash

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"Panama"
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2004, 10:06:34 AM »
Quote from: "Michael Jotne Slayer"
I find it somewhat hard to envision this place without any names for anything or anyone. Name give personality and character....


Heh you've gone straight to the heart of what has always been a huge stumbling block for me as a writer. I suck so bad at comming up with names that when it came time to name our three children I had to borrow from literature for two of them! (I'll put their names at the end of this post).

I think first before I can come up with names I need to determine what the local naming custom will be. Either way I could use some major help on this as I really don't what to revert to a random name generator.

As for seperating the plot from the setting I'll do that in my next post. this first one was pretty much just sitting down and putting everything I had so far down on paper so as not to lose it and to give me a base from which to work on.  I'm heading out right now to run some errands for the day and since I have no radio in my car it should give me some time to think on it more.

Sidenote:
Ok as promised here are my kids names see if you can figure out which two we took from literature and specifically from what :) As an added bonus I will list their birthdates so you can see the uncany pattern there.

Chase (Christmas Eve 2000)
Jayden (April 15th - Tax day 2003)
Kaiya (Friday August the 13th - 2004)

The patern actually continues on her sisters side I have a nephew that was born on Halloween and niece that was born on Easter.

/end sidenote

ok so if anyone could help me on names I guess thats what I need to work on next
Erik "Argash" Ellison
argash@msn.com

Offline manfred

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Re: "Panama"
« Reply #3 on: August 26, 2004, 07:38:02 AM »
Quote from: "argash"
A possible idea for this would be that the planets axis rotates every 200 years or so. This idea poses some interesting hooks and situations, for example the two poles would alternate between periods of tundra like climates for 200 years then tropical/desert type climates for 200 years. What kind of people could live/survive in those conditions and how would that effect there societies? How far north (and south) would the “green� line extend? Need to explore this idea more later although it may be to complicated and as much as it may suck the “Because im the DM and the equator isn’t hot!� might have to suffice.


Sounds really weird, and I would like to see how the world gets around it, the people and whole ecosystem...

If not, you may make the poles not "alternate", but rather "fluctuate" around a certain point, so the local climate could change from tropical to sub-tropical, even temperate, but not more. Also a drastic change, but a bit easier to adapt to.
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Offline CaptainPenguin

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"Panama"
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2004, 06:40:07 PM »
The thing about such a strange environment is that we have no way of knowing how cultures would react to the constantly shifting climates and temperatures in the closer-to-pole areas, because there is nothing in the human experience (on this planet, at least) that can equate to it, that I know of.
My suggestion for these regions is that they are little-explored wilderness areas; perhaps they are claimed as frontiers by the nearest nations but which are pretty much uncontrolled, like much of the USA was during the Colonial period. I would also suggest some kind of mysterious non-human race, suggested at in myths and conjecture, but not really exhibited. Perhaps they have separate forms for both periods of climate or something like that. That also opens plot hooks for the players after the Panama incident- they can go into the North or South and encounter these strange beings, waiting for the Hellwinter or whatnot.

Next on the agenda-
I think that this is an awesome idea, and I would love to be part of the campaign.

Third,
I fear to say that I'm not a great fan of the modern names that parents bestow on their kids (Colby, Taylor, Kaira, Jayden). Sorry.

As for place-names-
The Strip (proper term would probably be "narrow", not "thin") could be something to do with the middle- Midland, Middlan, Mydaer, simply Mid, Middoth, et cetera, or you could come up with something totally new. You could name the city a variation of Panama- Paenam, Paanaama, P'anma, Pamam, Punomo, or, as before, something totally new.
The key here, I think, is not to have what I call "Fantasy Hodgepodge Syndrome". In FHS, everything is everywhere. A city named Ffaearean is right next to a city called Szoth'ox or something. A region with a certain language will not have such disparate names, unless they are holdovers from immigrants or something. If you name "Panama" P'anma, could names for the Strip might be I'mid'om, or Mid'dimo, or something like that. Do you get what I'm saying?

Well, that's all I got for now. Looks to me like you have things well in hand.
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Offline argash

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"Panama"
« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2004, 09:07:26 PM »
Paenam and P'anma just struck me as two parts to a whole so I merged them. How does Pa'Enma sound?

To expound on the idea further Pa could be the masculin prefix for adult age males ( Pan for adult males in the higher rungs of society) and Da or Dal for females.

I like your idea on the polar regions. That sounds like a fantastic idea. As a matter of fact lets say that the polar people once lived in the temprate zone and were forced out by the advance of humans. (hmmm elves are usually the ones to get picked on and orcs and trolls are too obvious so maybe a whole new race? Needs more thought) but lets say that the have evolved / mutated in the polar areas to adapt to the extreme climate swings. But ever since their ouster they have planned for revenge and unbeknownst to them selves (the northern group and the southern group) they are both poised to strike with in months of each other.

  I'm thinking that the races in those areas could even be overtly controlling Mr X. (btw I think I'm  going to name him Pan'Ansol). with or even without his knowledge. Although I'm not sure what they would gain from it other then as a diversion from the comming invasions. Not sure how effective this would be though as they would have to still go through the northern and southern kingdoms.

Thoughts welcomed :)
Erik "Argash" Ellison
argash@msn.com

Offline Michael Jotne Slayer

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"Panama"
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2004, 09:18:54 AM »
Has anyone read Helliconia by Brian Aldiss?
It reminds me a bit of those books, if we are going to stick with the polar idea that is.
Authentic Strolenite™©®

A skeleton walks into a bar and ask the Bartender: “Do you serve skeletons here?”

Times being what they are the wily Bartender replies: “sure, we serve anyone.”

The skeleton hands the man a silver and says: “Fine, I’ll have a pitcher of beer…and a mop”

Offline argash

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"Panama"
« Reply #7 on: August 27, 2004, 10:10:06 AM »
Never heard of them. Can you give a brief synopsis? The thought that came to my mind was George RR Martin.

as for the green lines I'm thinking mountain ranges could serve as boundries. All though that may be a bit obvious what do you all think? would it be more dramatic to have a mountain range, a empty field or a martinesque wall to serve as the boundry?
Erik "Argash" Ellison
argash@msn.com

Offline CaptainPenguin

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"Panama"
« Reply #8 on: August 27, 2004, 06:34:20 PM »
Mountains are always good.
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Offline CaptainPenguin

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"Panama"
« Reply #9 on: August 27, 2004, 06:36:16 PM »
A note on the polar zones-
They would probably not have many trees. Trees take a really long time to grow, as you most likely know, and even 200 years doesn't yield especially big trees. The change in climate would make it difficult for trees to reproduce, and the long periods of winter would see to it that more delicate seeds would probably remain dormant so long that they would die.
At least, I think that would be so. Any corrections, botanists out there?
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