Along with nodes within each of the major nodes, we have edges joining them. This is where we really get the payoff for this work.
These are where many of the adventure hooks come from. Certainly, you can simple walk from the town to the mines, but you’re not getting in without writ from the guild or the church.
Within the town alone, there can be many connections between the nodes.
- The Water Guild and the Miner’s Guild are in contention, each trying to assert their importance in the town. One ensures clean(…ish) water, which is only important for life, the other governs access to output of the mines (which is only worth a great deal of money).
- The Miner’s Guild is a generous patron of Church of the Underworld.
- The Church of the Underworld provides guidance and assistance to the poor workers of Mudtown.
- The high officers of both the Miner’s Guild and the Water Guild live on Sparkle Hill, and for the most part are in collusion (the contention between the guilds keeps attention off this).
- Many in Mudtown make their livelihood sifting the sewage flowing down to the Great Cesspit, looking for valuables that can be salvaged. The favored troughs are those from Sparkle Hill, of course… but even if you get to sift those ones, you’re still just a muckraker.
- The Miner’s Guild, the Water Guild, and the Church of the Underworld are all near the Town Market, and each makes sure to advertise (street criers, mostly) there regularly.
There are also connections between the nodes inside the town and the nodes outside the town, or nodes within those ones. For instance, the Church of the Underworld’s mission into the catacombs could be centered around a specific node within the catacombs, or the muckraker’s map could be to a particular location in the swamp.
- The son of a high official of the Miner’s Guild wanted to prove to his father that he is a true miner… and has gotten lost in the mines.
- The Church of the Underworld wants to learn more about the lair deep in the mines. The miners won’t go there for obvious reasons, so more daring souls are needed.
- The Church of the Underworld oversees the interment of the dead in the catacombs (returning creatures of the earth to the earth). The assistant priest explored farther into the catacombs than prudent, and realized he was in the crypts below the castle. He found his way back, shaken by what he found in those crypts; such unholy things cannot be countenanced.
- A Mudtown muckraker found a (heavily stained) bit of parchment with a map suggesting a treasure that can be found in the swamp.
- The Water Guild wants to increase the flow of water into the town and provide some redundancy in case their current source fails. They’ve heard of a spring in the forest and want a team to protect their surveyor while he evaluates it.
Even starting with just a small, high-level node map can lead to an immense amount of adventuring possibility, just by following connections between the nodes. I wrote these ones from a town-centric perspective, but there can be just as many (or more) link that lead into the town as lead out of it.
The links can even be chained together. A wizard from another place might hire a merchant to find a fantastic ruby, the merchant might come to this town to meet with the Miner’s Guild, the guildmaster might know of such a ruby that was lost during transport through the swamp and had a map to where it the shipment was lost but last saw it while upstairs, which leads to a muckraker who is trying to sell a stained parchment with directions into the swamp.
One of the nifty things here… you don’t even need to _plan_ this sequence of events. The players are entire capable of finding it on their own, or a different one that proves at least (honestly, more — or they would’ve picked this one) as interesting to them. They might have gone directly to the mines, been told to go talk to the guild because they’re not letting just anyone into the mines, stopped off at the Church of the Underworld (for healing, right?) and run into a muckraker who is hiding in the Church because word is out that he’s found something he should not have (or at the church they run into the assistant priest who saw a fabulous ruby interred in a sepulcher in the catacombs… they wouldn’t even have to pay for it! Or maybe the cost would be more than they can bear).
Lots of options to work with. They take minimal work to devise, and you only need to do the heavy lifting, the detailed work, when the PCs head that way.