In my last post I started developing the adventure nodes in more detail. I switched from the original Scenes of Chance icons (with associated tables of explanations) to using World Architect Cards and the keywords on each. The results look promising.
They also look pretty unpleasant. World Architect Cards are clearly designed to produce good adventure locations, not nice places to live. It would be pretty easy to create a crapsack setting, if you assume the cards describe what ‘most places’ are like, rather than the adventuresome places they produce.
Let’s take the nodes and their keywords, and see how we can make things fit.
|A||Castle||Charred, decayed, draw bridge, dusty, echoes, flooded, pungent, roaring, rubble, scarred, stark, statues, stronghold, towers, tunnels.|
|B||Forest||Ancient, creek, earthy, fallen logs, leafy, malicious, rancid, silence, stale, thriving, twisted, vines, watching, waterfall, wet.|
|C||River||(Sea) Alive, breeze, cawing, choppy, deep, delta, dripping, fjord, fresh, lagoon, navigable, perfumed, salty, shallow, treacherous.|
|D||Catacomb||(Dungeon) Cells, collapsed, decayed, dome, howling, mausoleum, odorless, pit, refuse, screams, secret, slimy, torches, traps, treasure.|
|E||Mine||Beams, burned, cage, creepy, galleries, gas, gems, hollow, mildewed, ore, rancid, river, screams, tools, tracks.|
|F||Swamp||Bayou, chirping, fishy, glow, gurgling, heavy, humid, lake, leafy, lurking, misty, pungent, rancid, roaring, shouting.|
|G||Graveyard||Baying, catacombs, chapel, coffin, cracked, cryptic, granite, odorless, organic, peaceful, picturesque, pillars, polished, sleepy, trees.|
|H||Lair||Crackling, decayed, fetid, flooded, hollow, howling, littered, moldy, rancid, repurposed, secret, signs, stinky, traps, treasure.|
|I||Plains||Arable, creek, dangerous, discolored, dull, endless, fertile, flat, fragrant, plowed, roaring, sweet, treeless, untamed, wide open.|
|J||Town||Bustling, close, cobblestone, crime, dumpy, messy, perfumed, provincial, rushing, settled, sewage, uneventful, vibrant, well, wooden.|
It will be evident that the water table in this region is quite high, and the ground generally pretty flat. There are some exceptions (the castle, catacomb, graveyard, town, and mine are all located in higher elevations, though ‘higher’ is only a relative thing), but much of the land is flat and kind of sticky.
Castle The castle is located on a promontory above the river (roaring, echoes). The place was burned out years ago (why?) and all that remains above ground are the charred walls and rubble where buildings collapsed. Underground, however, is another story.
Forest The forest spans much of the area between the town and the castle, and is the most direct route between the two. With the castle having been burned down, the road was no longer maintained and is largely overgrown and strewn with vines; the smell of rotting vegetation is in places overwhelming. There are many creeks and rivulets streaming down from the hills above; you can always find drinking water but you should probably boil it first.
River The river runs past the castle (where it is deep and fast, coming out of the mountains beyond) and below the forest and town (by which point it has slowed and spread out). The river shifts course every year as the materials heap up and make new channels easier than the old channels.
Catacomb Even though the graveyard is located uphill from the river, in particularly wet years the graveyard can become sodden. Not many coffins burst out of the ground anymore (most of the common people are cremated and interred in stone pots) but the wealthy still have mausoleums and the royalty were interred in catacombs cut into the promontory itself. Many were interred with grave goods that could be quite valuable (and possibly cursed), and it’s hazardous as all get out… but might be worth it.
Mine Likely the original draw and reason for the town to exist at all. Lower galleries are abandoned because the miners ended up breaking into an underground river and flooding the place, but the upper galleries are still fairly active. Some (fool)hardy entrepreneurs have managed to visit abandoned galleries and tunnels and gather some raw gems, and even managed to escape back to town. Few managed to escape the agents of the mine owners, though
Swamp While rather wetter than the city, in many ways this is actually a nicer place to live, once you learn to fish and to use a pirogue. There are still hazards, of course, but at least you’re not drinking from a well with sewage seeping into it, like those in town.
Graveyard If it weren’t for the baying of feral dogs in the area, and it being a place full of dead people, the graveyard might actually be the nicest area in the region. Peaceful, kind of pretty in its own way, with occasional mausoleums, memorials, and funerary urns to show that people have been here.
Lair The mine wasn’t abandoned only because parts of it are flooded. In addition to causing a breach into an underground river, there are whispers in town that something sinister was uncovered by the miners. If anyone has learned what it is, they aren’t saying… or died discovering the answer.
Plains Below the town is a floodplain. Every year during the wet season the river floods the place, providing much-needed fertile soil, and unwanted detritus such as fallen trees and animal corpses. Farm villages on stilts can be found throughout the region, each with a barricade of pilings upstream of the village to divert the more damaging materials coming down the river. When the farmers return at the end of the wet season to reclaim their homes, they clear the debris, hauling it to make other diversions to hopefully keep the river on a good course.
Town Filthy, reeking of sewage and perfume (worn by those with the means, in an effort to avoid the stench), bustling with trade and crime, this town is rife with possibility and opportunity, if you have the stomach for it and the wit to make it work.
This is starting to grow on me. By the look of it, probably grow on me like fungus… but grow on me nonetheless.