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Old 09-05-2021, 08:45 PM   #1
Michael Thayne
 
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Join Date: May 2010
Default Campaign idea: the Shattered Lands

I'm thinking of running an old-fashioned wilderness sandbox with DFRPG. To save myself the trouble of having to worry about plausible world-building, I've decided to declare that the Third Wizard War recently concluded after having screwed up absolutely everything about the setting: settlement patterns, weather patterns, locations of mountain ranges... you name it. The PCs will start out in the one city (as far as they know) that escaped WWIII relatively unscathed. Their job is to explore the new world, with an eye towards finding places suited for being re-civilized.

This suggests making everything outside the PCs' home city (and the farming villages that support it) as unsuited for civilizing as possible. Here's my list of ideas so far:
  • Golem-armor swordsmen have orders from dead masters to guard strategically important bridges and mountain passes.
  • Electric jellies infest the seas, while angry water-elementals lurk in rivers.
  • Large and powerful dragons demand tribute from anyone attempting to settle within a half-day's flight of their lairs.
  • Rogue galdurnauts and siege beasts terrorize the country-side.
  • Goblin-kin, trolls, and werewolves conduct raids from hidden lairs at night.
  • Monsters with flight, tunneling, or other special movement abilities use them to pick off vulnerable individuals while avoiding large, well-armed groups. I think this premise works with a fairly large variety of monsters: from foul bats to gryphons to harpies to strix to tomb bugs.
  • Forests that might make good farmland if cleared turn out to be protected by trétrold.
  • Specters make entry into anywhere they haunt into a death sentence.
  • In some places, isolated villages have made pacts with demons, elder things, and sapient undead and try to chase off outsiders who risk exposing their secrets.
While this is a decently long list, it's only a start if I'm looking to fill even a 10x10 hex map. So I want to use this thread to brainstorm ideas: what do you put in your hexcrawl hexes to make your monster filled wilderness both genuinely scary yet potentially more "conquerable" than if it had an infinite supply of wandering monsters that magically appear whenever the random encounter table dictates?
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Old 09-05-2021, 09:37 PM   #2
isf
 
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Default Re: Campaign idea: the Shattered Lands

Stranded military units
Nomadic refugees
Wizard laboratories (like military research bases but with magic)
Dimensional rifts (active, recently closed, waiting to open)
Supply caches, abandoned caravans, crashed ships
Places of power (new, old, or twisted)
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Old 09-05-2021, 09:40 PM   #3
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Default Re: Campaign idea: the Shattered Lands

There are a couple of rpg.net threads that could provide varying amounts of inspiration:
https://forum.rpg.net/index.php?thre...ements.691131/
https://forum.rpg.net/index.php?thre...rdness.839734/
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Old 09-06-2021, 08:55 PM   #4
Dalin
 
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Default Re: Campaign idea: the Shattered Lands

  • Variations in mana, sanctity, and nature’s strength.
  • Terrain or biomes that don’t belong. Glacier in a jungle. Swamp in a desert. Etc.
  • Fae portals with plenty of mischief.
  • Areas of wild magic where spells have side effects or unexpected results.
  • Minefields or booby traps from the war.
  • Gravitational anomalies.
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Old 09-07-2021, 12:03 AM   #5
Michael Thayne
 
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Default Re: Campaign idea: the Shattered Lands

Quote:
Originally Posted by isf View Post
Stranded military units
Nomadic refugees
Wizard laboratories (like military research bases but with magic)
Dimensional rifts (active, recently closed, waiting to open)
Supply caches, abandoned caravans, crashed ships
Places of power (new, old, or twisted)
These are some good suggestions, particularly because you're reminding me that there should be things that pull PCs into the wilderness, beyond just possibility of grabbing some farmland.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dalin View Post
  • Variations in mana, sanctity, and nature’s strength.
  • Terrain or biomes that don’t belong. Glacier in a jungle. Swamp in a desert. Etc.
  • Fae portals with plenty of mischief.
  • Areas of wild magic where spells have side effects or unexpected results.
  • Minefields or booby traps from the war.
  • Gravitational anomalies.
Fae portals could be interesting, though I feel like as-is DFRPG doesn't have enough examples of hostile fae (though I could take a second gander at the Nordlond books, which emphasize fae a lot). As for minefields/booby traps, I should come up with some good examples of magical traps / curses that make sense to place on a wide area. Unless I want to go with literal minefields, like the TL4 land mine in Low-Tech.
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Old 09-07-2021, 09:44 AM   #6
Dalin
 
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Default Re: Campaign idea: the Shattered Lands

Part of the fun of magical "mines" from the great war is that DFRPG already encourages the GM to ignore point values for monsters and, by extension, to "foe tech." And there's no mechanical power-building system, so we have permission to let our imagination go wild. Here's a quick brainstorm of a few magical traps that might be deployed in a war:
  • Some sort of anti-stealth tech. Perhaps you and your unit get lit up with faerie fire. Or a flare fires into the sky, lighting up the entire battlefield.
  • Maybe something interesting with the Pull spell from GURPS Magic. Nearby beings are pulled to a central point. Maybe there's a pit at the center. Or an evil rune. Or a poison cloud.
  • A mana sensor of some sort. Might work like the faerie fire effect but only on mages.
  • Similarly, dispel magic mines or fields that negate ongoing magical effects.
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Old 09-09-2021, 12:37 PM   #7
b-dog
 
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Default Re: Campaign idea: the Shattered Lands

You could have an area where the War against the Chtorr is active. Maybe some Elder Thing summoned them or maybe they came as a result of the Wizard war. They could be expanding their area and transforming the land to be like their planet.
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Old 09-09-2021, 07:09 PM   #8
Michael Thayne
 
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Default Re: Campaign idea: the Shattered Lands

Quote:
Originally Posted by b-dog View Post
You could have an area where the War against the Chtorr is active. Maybe some Elder Thing summoned them or maybe they came as a result of the Wizard war. They could be expanding their area and transforming the land to be like their planet.
If I ever find a reasonably-priced used copy of GURPS War Against the Chtorr, I will consider this suggestion!
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Old 09-09-2021, 08:47 PM   #9
Dalin
 
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Default Re: Campaign idea: the Shattered Lands

Continuing to pillage ideas from WWI and WWII, I was just reading about Barrage balloons being used to hinder aircraft. I wonder what the magical equivalent might be? Something that would snag or otherwise injure aerial mounts, airships, flying wizards, etc. Perhaps some sort of nearly weightless monowire nets. (Gruesome!)
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Old 09-10-2021, 02:03 PM   #10
Dalin
 
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Default Re: Campaign idea: the Shattered Lands

Other GURPS titles that may provide ideas for this setting:
  • Dungeon Fantasy Setting: Cold Shard Mountains — Plenty of interesting features here that could be recycled (e.g., Angry Rocks, Burning Marsh, Miasma Peak, Alchemical Pits, etc.). Replace the Demon Wars with the Third Wizard War.
  • "The Magic Desert" by Matt Riggsby in Pyramid #3/68: Natural Magic — There are lots of ideas in this great article that could be the result of a magical war. I'm particularly intrigued by some of the magical winds.
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