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Old 10-12-2020, 11:38 PM   #1
Michael Thayne
 
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Join Date: May 2010
Default Magical real estate

Reading published adventures, one thing I've noticed is that one thing that can really "make" an adventure is a location that is, itself, inherently magical. It's somewhat surprising that RPG sourcebooks don't give more attention to this—magical locations seem like something that should actually be just as fundamental to fantasy RPGs as magic items and magical creatures. In principle, they can even serve a similar function to magic items in terms of being rewards—bypass a dungeon's magical defenses and clear it out? Congratulations, you now have a very defensible base of operations!

Because of this, I really liked Dungeon Fantasy Encounters 2: The Room. Normally, a book like this would have way more page count devoted to what monsters and you can encounter in The Room, but the supplement only gives us about a page of that. Most of it is devoted to just explaining The Room's magical properties, which are sufficiently unique that they really do justify five or six pages of description.

I went through my Dungeon Fantasy books and looked for material that could be used similarly, much as one would drop a magic item into one's own campaign without necessarily letting the supplement dictate who ought to own the magic item. For example, Caverntown needn't be a friendly settlement—the magic lighting, springs, and protections against earth magic could be just as useful in a settlement of goblin-kin or shadow elves. Similarly, the Pagoda of Worlds needn't be crawling with monsters—it might be inhabited by an order of monks devoted to protecting it from misuse (and who are very suspicious of whatever reason the PCs have for traveling to the Pagoda). Mirror of the Fire Demon's Grotto of the Wind Spirit is a third example of something that could be dropped into a very different adventure.

In some ways, Cold Shard Mountains is the closest thing I've seen to a catalog of magical locations—most of the locations listed under "Natural Features" and "Legendary and Remote", as well as a few of the settlements, have interesting magical properties. Some of the locations might be hard to drop into another setting because they're so tied to the background of the Demon Wars, but others would fit just about any setting quite well.

Finally, Pyramid Dungeon Collection has a few such locations: Aulos, Caerceol, Saroo, and Amadan. Curious to hear about other magical locations people have noticed listed in various supplements, or used in their campaigns successfully.
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Old 10-13-2020, 10:37 AM   #2
Dalin
 
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Default Re: Magical real estate

Great topic!

Douglas Cole's Hall of Judgment features a number of magical locations. Without too many spoilers, I particularly liked the idea behind the Nordalf warrens where there are passages that cross into the fae realm:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hall of Judgment, p. 55
It is faerie home turf, the quarters are very tight, and the norđalfar can use passageways denied to mortal folk without the right lineage, gifts, or spells.
In effect, this means that the fae denizens of the warren have access to numerous invisible secret passages that the PCs cannot enter.

I launched my Nordlond campaign with a small version of one of these warrens and have used the idea multiple times since then. The party ended up in a bargain with a satyr who led them into its tree (a modest exterior leading into a massive wooden cathedral within). It had multiple doors that led to different trees throughout the Endalaus Forest (and some opening into deeper fae realms).

I'll try to share more examples as time permits.
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Old 10-13-2020, 12:17 PM   #3
DouglasCole
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Default Re: Magical real estate

Lake Ođinn (on which Isfjall sits) is known to be of magical or divine origin, but no more explanation is given.

There's a town on the Nordlond map whose "GooglIcelandic" Nordlondr translation is "Go Down Here." That might be something too.

Elskađr in The Citadel at Nordvorn is another magical location for several reasons.
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Old 10-13-2020, 02:07 PM   #4
Anders
 
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Default Re: Magical real estate

According to Geoffrey of Monmouth, the Ynys Afallon (The Isle of Apples) qualifies.

The island of apples which men call the Fortunate Isle gets its name from the fact that it produces all things of itself; the fields there have no need of the ploughs of the farmers and all cultivation is lacking except what nature provides. Of its own accord it produces grain and grapes, and apple trees grow in its woods from the close-clipped grass. The ground of its own accord produces everything instead of merely grass, and people live there a hundred years or more. There nine sisters rule by a pleasing set of laws those who come to them from our country.

Presumably this land is High Mana, High Sanctity for Good religions and +3 to Nature's Strength. DFRPG doesn't really have rules for ageing - adventurers tend to go out with a bang - but if you import the rules from GURPS then I would give everyone who lives there the Longevity advantage. I would also double recovery rate of HP and FP and give a hefty bonus to resist disease and poison - especially if you eat the enchanted apples that grow there. Getting an apple from the island to give to someone who is dying would be a nice quest.
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Old 10-14-2020, 01:51 PM   #5
Yssa
 
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Default Re: Magical real estate

For an adventure I wrapped up semi-recently, I created a magical location that was bunch of fun to play in: The Keep of Ouir. Here is a google Doc with the details (I hope I've shared it in a way you can access)

The keep of Ouir is a pentagonal tower that sits in the middle of a five pointed star, surrounded by a circular wall, so from above, it looks like a giant pentagram. It is used by the Fey to imprison a particularly annoying demon prince, but they’ve mostly forgotten about him in the cell at the top of the tower and go about their amoral revelry in the other rooms.

Each element of the tower produces different challenges for PCs, some have clear objectives, others are just. . . situations. First, characters must get into the outer wall, they must then pass through the silent gardens, across the courtyard, and into the main hall of the tower. Within the tower itself are six rooms, though they are not connected or organized in a way that makes sense in the material plane. (And they certainly do not fit into the space the tower takes up from the outside. To get from room to room, PCs must pass through “the paths” — a seemingly topless, bottomless, endless corridor crisscrossed by smooth stone bridges.

Beyond the structure of the tower itself, every room has at least one magical element to play around with, and there should be fun to be had for just about any types of characters!
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Old 10-14-2020, 01:58 PM   #6
Dalin
 
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Default Re: Magical real estate

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yssa View Post
Beyond the structure of the tower itself, every room has at least one magical element to play around with, and there should be fun to be had for just about any types of characters!
As one of the players in Yssa's campaign, this was definitely true for me! Indeed, until reading this post, I had no idea that there were only six rooms in the tower. It seemed nearly infinite, like we could get lost roaming from room to room forever if we weren't careful. It was a grand adventure.
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Old 10-16-2020, 04:12 AM   #7
Anders
 
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Default Re: Magical real estate

Dreamed last night of a cemetery where dead stories are buried in great tombs. The tombs are decorated on the outside with images that give a hint of what the story is about, and if you enter the tomb you get visions of the story. Possibly the tomb also contains monsters and artifacts from the story.
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Old 10-16-2020, 01:40 PM   #8
Yssa
 
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Default Re: Magical real estate

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anders View Post
Dreamed last night of a cemetery where dead stories are buried in great tombs. The tombs are decorated on the outside with images that give a hint of what the story is about, and if you enter the tomb you get visions of the story. Possibly the tomb also contains monsters and artifacts from the story.
That sounds wonderful -- perfect mix of creepy and original and nostalgic and magical. This could also be a great set up if you play with a party whose membership is inconsistent: Your party could have a base camp near the graveyard (perhaps in the gravediggers hut or a bardic "holy" mead hall (a graveyard for dead stories would certainly have a strong connection to bards)) and whichever players show up to that session could crack open a tomb!
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