For the last week or so I have been talking about fantastic locations. I have described one, I have discussed even more the resources I use when devising them. I thought it time to describe another one, and I realized that I didn’t feel like going back to revise an older one I’ve posted here, or dig something out of my notes.
Instead, I thought I’d try to craft a new one. I’d don’t have anything particular in mind, so I figured I’d start with a blank slate and see what I can come up with. This post will be rather more disjoint than usual because I’m going into a more creative mode than usual. As much as my hands could keep up, this is more or less how my thoughts ran.
Almost always, if I have some idea where I’m going it’s easy to get started. I don’t have that this time, so my first stop is Seventh Sanctum to see if they have any generators that can help me out (hint: they probably do). In this case, under the Settings group of generators they have Adventure Sites. This sounds pretty promising, let’s take a look.
Crank up the number of random sites to generate to the maximum (25), select ‘Fantasy’, let’s see… I’ve culled some of the less interesting-sounding ones, leaving me with
- Ancestral Moor of Chaotic Souls
- Canyon of Prayers
- Caves of Legendary Souls
- Demonic Ossuary
- Frozen Demense of Ice
- Hidden Tomb of the Ghoul Lord
- Jungle of Oblivion
- Labrynth of Fire
‘Hidden Tomb of the Ghoul Lord’ a nice old school sound, ‘Demonic Ossuary’ sounds promising, ‘Cave of Legendary Souls’ actually existed in one campaign I ran (though I never named it). I’ve already done the undead/death/necromancy recently though. ‘Ancestral Moor’ sounds like something I’ll want to consider later. ‘Frozen Demense of Ice’, though… ‘Rime Tower’ sounds like a site with some possibility. What can I do with this?
I was just wondering ‘who would make such a thing?’ and the following thoughts came to me:
- I wasn’t planning to write up ‘Frozen Demesne of Ice’, but ‘Rime Tower’ could clearly be located there.
- Capital? Too obvious.
- Local wizard tower? Mmmaybe, but also pretty easy.
- Towers of the Sunset is a Recluse book about the crew of a spaceship that crashed, and their home was largely constructed by the ship’s engineer (who, oddly enough, was a powerful ordermage for reasons I won’t go into here)… better, but still not there.
- Religious order?
Okay, nothing’s really jumping out at me. Maybe if I see what other influences there are on the area I’ll get an idea. Right at the back of Portals & Planes are some random tables, let’s see what that gives me.
- First, I know there’s going to be manifestations of Cold here. Blizzard Conditions, Freezing Conditions, and Snow are all listed, I’ll come back to them.
- 35 -> Good – Weakness of the Vile.
- 51 -> Light – Sunlight
Right now I have the image of a tower, probably high on a mountain, rimed with ice and gleaming with reflected sunlight. I think maybe one or two more, but I’ll generate several and pick.
- 25 -> Evil – Empower Evil
- 33 -> Good – Strength of the Righteous
- 17 -> Elemental – Elemental Ascendancy
- 78 -> Technology – Mechanical Supremacy
- 83 -> Waterways – Air Currents
Empower Evil is right out. Strength of the Righteous works with Weakness of the Vile, probably some order of holy champions, probably not paladins. Why are holy champions paladins? Let’s do something else there.
While the place is named Rime Tower, Cold doesn’t actually have to be the key trait here. The place could be identified as Rime Tower because it is the chapterhouse covered in ice. I think I may downgrade the significance of Cold… but seeing Elemental Ascendancy, Mechanical Supremacy, and Air Currents together, along with the idea of divine champions… right now I picture paladins on hang gliders, and that’s just weird. But weird is kind of good, so I’m not throwing it out yet. On the other hand, I’ve already got elves riding ‘windkites’ and shooting lightning bolts (thanks wands!) so let’s not do hang gliders here too. It would be easy to lose Mechanical Supremacy and put them on some kind of flying mount (valkyries?), which has its own kind of awesome to it. Not dragons, I think, been done too many times. I think I’ll look for some other kind of flying creature they could use.
I have in mind associated orders. Whether they are all part of the same group overall and each chapterhouse is different, or they have some other affiliation there could be multiple similar groups. Not sure where a desert group would fit in; fire could be an opposing force or a complementary one. Need to think about that later.
Rearrange a little. Keep some manifestation of Cold (in addition to whatever is around the tower, consider having blizzard conditions or the like form when enough of these champions ride into battle together — and maybe the Weakness of the Vile applies only in the blizzard?), I suspect Sunlight might be local to this tower.
No. Followers of the Sun, source of life and clear vision, all that is good. Rime Tower is the home base of those associated with cold, Obsidian Spire is the desert affiliation (probably land-based mounts; a large enough charge can raise a sandstorm). Seems weird that ‘sun’ followers can have powers that obscure the power; maybe it’s because their hearts are in sun and thus not lost?
I think I’ve got a start now. That I can see associations with related entities is promising, that means things are starting to come together a little.
The followers of the Sunlord (need a better name; later) serve to (find goal and motivation; something about spreading sunlight? Sounds too hippy-dippy. Think about it later). They have bastions in various places where they train and develop their abilities, each is heavily influenced by their location and environment, with different gear, mounts, powers. There may be some rivalry, but still affiliated and allied — perhaps disagree on approach more than actual goal?
Common manifestations: Sun. Good.
Specific manifestations of Rime Tower: Cold, possibly Air Currents or Elemental Ascendancy.
Location Strength: probably pretty big, likely the centre of power for a nation or related nations. According to On Holy Ground this may be a ‘large temple’ — isn’t actually a temple, but useful to set my expectation of scope. That this is so big suggests they may be smaller bastions associated with Rime Tower. They may or may not exhibit some of the same manifestations, or not as powerfully, but still there. On the other hand, if this is one order of a god that is part of a pantheon they might be downgraded by one, with a ‘large temple’ to the Sunlord somewhere, plus a major temple that is the focus of the pantheon as a whole. Or not.
Sunlight (Light) makes it hot. Not appropriate for the direction I’m going now.
Glare (Light), on the other hand, looks promising. Each time unit of exposure calls for a Fortitude save or 1d3 points of damage, plus a penalty to anything depending on sight (including attack rolls) while in the affected area. I’ll probably want to tweak the numbers, but this looks promising — and suggests that most people who want to attack will want to do it at night.
Strength of the Righteous (Good) gives morale bonuses to saves and checks, an enhancement bonus to Strength, and fast healing to creatures of good alignment or the Good subtype.
Weakness of the Vile (Good) applies an enhancement penalty to Dexterity and a percentage chance of pacifism (inability to perform a violent action) on creatures of evil alignment or the Evil subtype. Definitely want to tweak the mechanics of this one.
Snow (Cold) covers the ground; these guys probably fly, so that’s cool. Probably have this one to some degree.
Blizzard Conditions (Cold) doesn’t seem to fit around the tower (I would expect it to block Glare), don’t apply there.
Freezing Conditions (Cold) works better — change damage from Glare from ‘kind of fire/heat’ to frostburn and snow blindness (damage counts as systemic, so requires more effort to recover from).
Elemental Ascendancy grants elementals of the appropriate type bonuses to Strength and Constitution while in the area, and attacks using that element (‘natural’ or spells, etc.) gain a bonus to damage. Thus suggests there will be cold elementals (or air? — looking at Air Currents) around, may or may not be friendly (I can see it going either way). On the other hand, the name gives me the idea that high-level members of the order (i.e. prestige class territory) start gaining traits of cold-based creatures. I kind of like this idea.
Air currents (Waterways) doesn’t fit so well, but I’m keeping the flying mounts.
I didn’t get quite as far with this tonight as I’d hoped (spent an hour setting up a wireless network for my folks, and forgot how I’d set up their network in the first place; half the time was spent trying to figure out why I couldn’t get to the Internet through the router under the desk… I wondered why the cat-5 in the laptop was blue and the cat-5 into the modem was black…). On the other hand, considering I basically started with nothing, and the number of pieces I can see coming together, I should be able to wrap this up tomorrow, though I might need to wait until Friday for the ‘formal writeup’, I’ve got more ideas about this. I’ll probably still have some leftover inspiration for pieces to follow.
In addition to Rime Tower, I now have ideas for (or questions about):
- Obsidian Spire, and the followers of the Sunlord there
- The Sunlord himself
- Smaller bastions of the orders of Rime Tower and Obsidian Spire.
- What kind of opponents do they face?
- What precise goals?
- Prestige classes (or talents, in Echelon).
- What kinds of mounts do they use? I feel like I don’t want a ‘normal’ or ‘common’ flying mount.
- What other affiliations and associations do they have? Check other terrain types, climates.
Overall I’m pretty happy, to be honest. I have a lot of detail work to do, but it’ll come.