Monday, August 30, 2010

The Isle of Cosk

Almost immediately after I finished drawing my campaign map, I hurriedly typed the following description:

Situated at the mouth of the RIVER WULE, the port town of GLYGON is where the bulk of the ISLE OF COSK’s importing and exporting is conducted. Ships from across the SEA OF UNTHICOR unload their wares here and bring raw lumber, spices, and other goods back to ERSIS and THAMSH, or take on supplies before continuing eastward. Increasingly, companies of chartermen (as well as free lances) are disgorged from these ships to seek their fortunes further downriver.

Among the canyons and foothills of the mighty SPIRES OF SLOINE yawns the gateway to the legendary STONEHELL dungeons, “liberated” over a century ago yet somehow still infested with all manner of monstrosities, many of them human. The often venal needs of its would-be plunderers are served by the mercantile inhabitants of FULCRUM, a shanty-town that sprung up seemingly overnight.

Farming homesteads dot the fertile expanse of the PLAINS OF HEALOTH to the south, the largest of which is the village of WATTEM, situated at the edge of LAKE RUMIC. Their bountiful crops are carted north to Glygon, and south to CRADOUN for shipment to GHOOR-AMPAVA, THRONE CITY OF THE ICONESS. From here, many who find their dreams of riches thwarted by the terrors of Stonehell hire themselves out to the elves of the Spires, becoming the latest soldiers to serve the feuding clans and the multi-generational grudges they call the Mountain Wars.

Little of the precipitation that sustains these settlements reaches past the Spires, and much of it trickles back westward, filling the rivers and creating vast expanses of boggy earth. The sweltering heat of the MAGGELE SLOUGH is unpleasant enough, but further south, the RIVER STRELB has its start in the foul swamp known as THE CYSTLANDS, a veritable breeding ground of abominations. The neighboring FOREST OF MOTOMB is hardly more welcoming, overrun as it is with sinister creatures. The crusading zealots of Ghoor-Ampava have their work cut out for them here.

Yet the settlement of NEW FIESSEL sits at the edge of LICRETTO BAY, only a few days’ travel from the heart of Motomb. Their proximity to that dread forest (and to the mysterious, fey-haunted SHANDAWOOD) leaves these devout souls, driven out from the increasingly debauched cities of Thamsh, left practically cut off from the outside world, a situation that seems to suit the townsfolk well.

Across the Spires of Sloine lie the arid, rocky WASTES OF SPHAURG, unexplored - except, legend says, by the unspeakable cultists who constructed the TOWER OF PRIDE at the salty shores of LAKE DYFOI in ages past. None know the name of the being (god? demon?) summoned here, but the stories say it is trapped within, and maddened by the passing centuries. The GAUTVAS REACH and the strange island fortress dubbed the BASTION OF BLYCH remain likewise ancient and largely unknown, except to the pirates that harbor along its rocky coast and cavernous islands. The people of the nearest settlement, PHAWN, rarely travel south, content to fish the RIVER AFTRYDE.

To the north, where the SHAILOR MOUNTAINS branch off from the Spires, sits the abandoned dwarven outpost men call BLEDSPAR’S FOLLY, believed wiped out by plague. The dwarves that survived travelled east, building a nigh-unassailable fortress at SKOSTALM TOR and virtually sealing themselves within. The SCIDIAN PENINSULA, to the far northeast, does receive some small amount of rainfall, and the cutthroat town of PORT CANCIARE serves as eastbound ships’ last port of call before crossing the OMMULTIC OCEAN to the far-flung lands of QUING and QAYEDESSA.

(Looking back on it now, it's a bit of a mess. It's certainly not very evocative, but I was mostly trying to write down my concepts before I forgot them. Many of the details will undoubtedly be changed as I continue to develop the setting, but I feel I'm off to a decent start.)

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Strong On His Mountain

I'm back, I'm in New York, and I'm unemployed.

With any luck, this will be a temporary situation. As uncertain and unsettling being jobless can be, it's not without its perks. It allows me plenty of time to become accustomed to my new home. I've also had the opportunity to find myself an excellent new gaming group.

Even better, my creative batteries are recharging. This afternoon I found myself sitting down with my copies of Labyrinth Lord, Renegade Crowns, and Stonehell Dungeon, some percentile dice, and a pad of graph paper, with the intention of sketching out the environs surrounding the dungeon. Before I knew it, four hours had flown by and I had a fully-mapped island drawn up: rivers, mountains, towns, dungeons. I don't think I've done that since I was thirteen or so. It's a quite a feeling to look over a map and know what's lurking on every square of that paper.

Bledspar's Folly.
The Shandawood.
Ghoor-Ampava, Throne City of the Iconess.
Skostalm Tor.
The Cystlands.
Licretto Bay.
Port Canciare.
The Wastes of Sphaurg.

Feels good.