Tuesday, December 6, 2016

This Shit Ain't Gonna Write Itself

I've been tinkering around with micro-adventures for 18 months, maybe it's been two years, I lost count.  I'm old.  I'm at that age where I don't have memories I have recollections.  Anyway, I've been wanting to do a larger project and with the release of +Erik Tenkar's S&W Light ruleset, it got my gears going. Click the link to get a free copy of the PDF. 

I'm always tinkering with something gaming-wise.  Can't help it.  I took the ruleset and checked it out and thought what a great way to get new people involved with the game.  S&W Light has everything on one sheet of paper.  

My preference for adventures are low-level sandboxes.  I love the grind and grit of survival and taking resources seriously.  Oh crap, the mage is out of spells, the cleric is unconscious and the fighter just missed his save after eating the suspicious meat in the orc's backpack.  So because of that I thought I'd create a sandbox setting using Erik's S&W Light ruleset.

So what do I do first...probably one of the last things you should do, I made a cover for something doesn't exist.  But it looks so cool.  I decided to go with the tried and true look of the TSR adventure modules.  I found an amazing piece from Jack Holliday.  It is the center piece for the sandbox.  That picture is what inspired everything around it.  So I guess I can forgive myself for jumping ahead.  
I already shared this one Google+, but I'm doing it again.
Now that I have a rough draft of the cover I guess I should start writing.  This shit ain't gonna write itself (eww, found my title for this post).  

One of the first things I need is a location.  That location is at the edge of a big-ass, scary forest.  Gotta think of a name.  One of the tricks I use is Google translator. I use Hungarian since Ivy is Hungarian and the language has a medieval sound to it, at least to my ears.  Dark in the translation is Komor.  Komor Forest.  Cool.  Like it.  Done.  

Next I need a hub.  A place for the players to heal and sell some of their ill-gotten gains.  Since this is a frontier area there is very little in the way of resources.  I created a map for +Inkwell Ideas contest a while back and liked how it came out.  I already had a name for it, Hamlet of Hounds Head. Cool.  I like it.  Done.  

Not sure what style I'll be using in the final product, but for now this is my rough version of this map.  It gives me something to work off of.
I need to detail Hounds Head.  Six buildings.  A few features.  I decided to optimize Hounds Head's usefulness.

Hamlet of Hounds Head To-Do List
Figure out what the buildings are and detail them.
  1. The Scroll Stack - a place to get information, sell artifacts and information gathered from the forest.  Also can get magic items identified and possibly purchase a few healing potions.
  2. Ringing Anvil - can sell weapons and armor.  Buy or repair metal stuff.  He'll buy items for scrap metal to use for other tools.
  3. Valmar's Residence - leader and one of the founders of Hounds Head, ex-adventurer.  Dislikes 'the man', especially Baron Mawbray.
  4. Temple of Possimius - a temple based off of something I did for Petty Gods.  The players can get healed here, but it'll take a little more than money.
  5. (?) Inn - need to think of a name.  A place for the party to stay.  Contacts.  Information.  Also the place where Chevar is located (see People of Interest).
  6. Ingrid's Trading Post - the main place where the party can sell their extra goods.  Ingrid is shrewd and thrifty.  She won't be intimidated by adventurers.  She is a very religious woman, she has a small shrine to her god (got to figure out who it is).
Detail the features around within Hounds Head; King's Bridge, Three Paw Bridge, Trouble Creek and Three Paws Statue.

Detail a few People of Interest in Hounds Head.  Folks not tied to particular building, but will or could be encountered frequently.
  1. Korby the Kobold - already have him detailed.  A compulsive collector who hangs around the hamlet, sells his stuff for coppers and has a love/hate relationship with Fang (a dog).
  2. Chevar - a fancy talking fighter who is attempting to establish a branch of the adventuring guild in Hounds Head.  If he gets the funding, having an arm of the adventuring guild present would benefit Hounds Head.  Valmar doesn't like it, but sees the potential in Chevar's idea.
  3. Tangenta - no idea yet, just like the name.  
So I have a lot of stuff to do for a simple six building hamlet, which doesn't include tying in the adventures to the people.  

Back to Komor Forest.  I am not planning (I reserve the right to change my mind) to draw a large map.  I want the GM to use the amorphous nature of an expansive forest to be a concept and not defined.  If you need the cave to be two days away, its easy as saying "the cave is two days away".  Plus this allows the GM to devise what is in what direction and situate the adventures in any way he or she wishes.  

Another feature I'm adding is a random encounter table.  The random encounter table includes entries that are locations or creatures, all of which can be developed into adventure unto themselves.  Most of the random encounters are unique.  The GM can roll once or twice as the party travels through Komor and encounter an old ruin or a hunting party of hoogamites (I have no idea what a hoogamite is, I just made them up).  

And then the adventures themselves.  The main adventure is the Hunters in Death, which I have a rough idea what it will be, but I'm not gonna tell you yet. In addition, I'll write at least four adventures for the GM to use as she or he wishes.

The idea is to have a setting that is easy to digest and get players involved quickly.  It gives me a place rich with exploration, discovery and enemies to overcome.  It also has a history to it to give the area depth and a way to tie together what is found and fought.  

I have a lot of work to do.  My to-do list long, but I like where it's headed.  

I'll end this post with another amazing piece by Jack Holliday with a quote I remembered by Ernest Hemmingway.

Click to enlarge.


  1. This sounds very cool and I'm interested in what you have so far. I like the forest name. Hope this project gets completed soon! Since the ruleset is "light", the setting can be also.

  2. I am SO looking forward to this :)

  3. I like where this is going, good stuff.

  4. Cool, and fun to see how your mind works - starting a setting/adventure around a picture is something I've done as well ... looking forward to reading more:)

  5. Nice. I'll look out for this when it is ready.

  6. This looks excellent. Cannot wait.

  7. As a man of Hungarian ancestry (though I do not know the language), I approve this post. This is cool and the art picked is quite evocative.

  8. This is exciting. Can't wait to see the finished product.

  9. Ah, this looks great. I also like the idea of taking a cover and image and creating an adventure around it. Sort of an ekphrastic exercise.

  10. Yes, yes, yes. Eagerly looking forward to how this shakes out.

  11. It sure as hell ain't, so you'd better get crackin'!

    What you've got so far, though, looks really awesome! So all the more reason for me to say -- get crackin'!

  12. This is definitely something in the OSR queue to keep an eye on!

  13. Excellent stuff! Can't wait for the final product! :)