Thursday, February 9, 2012

Zooming In

Yesterday I created a small adventuring region, during my lunch break. Starting off mid-macro size (starting at regional level) now I'm going to expand the region by zooming in a little further.

The trick to quickly generating content is to ask yourself 2 questions:

1) Where's the conflict?

2) Why do my players care?

So I started with a quick map of Haighwall. I knew I wanted high walls (ha geddit?), a tall cliff and a dock. These details would provide the unique fluff. I then roughly divided the city into 4 sections. Now to create details by asking questions:

1. The Temple Quarter

Starting simple is a good way to generate ideas, you can always revise later. Remember there's nothing wrong with a little cliche when writing for a home game. In fact cliche acts as great short hand for the players to recognize what's important.

Where's the conflict?

The Temple Quarter's main conflict is between the Cults of the (CN) Sea God and Church of the (LN) Dwarf God. Each religion seeks to be the official religion of the city of Haighwall, but with no Duke to make such a decision the two churches competitively proselytize in the street. There are other religions with a presence in the temple quarter, but are relegated to small shrines.

Why should the players care?

A player who worships either of the main gods instantly has a hook in the conflict and may be asked by their church to sabotage the other religion. Even if players aren't members of either religion then as they travel through the streets they may find themselves caught in the middle of a brewing brawl between the worshippers of the Dwarf god and worshipers of the Sea God. This might become a serious issue if the PCs need high level healing and a cleric asks them to help end or increase the conflict.

2. The Tower District

The Tower district is named for the single huge spire, rumored to be the 5th Lighthouse, it is currently home to the city's mage guild. Magi are expected to operate independently and take on apprentices once every ten years, presenting a new set of research once every twenty. The current leader of the Mage's guild is Fierro Kieolo, (N Male, Elf Abjurer 8), Fierro is one of the three claimants for Duke of the Light House Coast. The second claimant to the title of Duke is actually seeking the title of Duchess, Alina Andrago (NE Female, Rogue 6/Assassin 3) a 23 year old heir to one of the city's oldest noble titles and graduate from a prestigious assassin's academy.

Where's the Conflict?

Fierro is the father of a number of illegitimate half-elves in Haighwall and its surrounds and will go to great lengths to keep this a secret from the more conservative members of Haighwall's nobility. Alina is a power seeker willing to use her contacts in the Assassin's guild to get her way. The independent wizards of the mage's guild often start dangerous experiments around the city.

Why do the PCs care?

Spellcasting PCs might be approached by a member of the mage's guild about joining, especially if they hope to learn new spells or buy scrolls. From there it's a simple matter to introduce Fierro as he attempts to increase his influence in the city perhaps he might ask the PCs to aid him, drawing them into the direct line of fire of Alina.

3. Middle Ground

Built on the plateau half way down the Haighwall cliffs. Middle Ground is a series of houses and warrens tunneled into the cliff wall. Many merchants do business and make their homes in Middleground.

Where's the conflict?

The third claimant for the title of Duke of Haighwall resides in Middle Ground; Xamwell Zapftig (N Gnome Expert 8), the richest merchant in Haighwall seeks to turn Haighwall into a trading hub of the Eversea, the merchants are behind the effort and Xamwell has been receiving unwanted unseen help from the Docksmen (Haighwall's thieve's guild).

Why should the PCs care?

Xamwell has an investment in many of Haighwall's magic item shops, and could approach the PCs with a unique problem. None of his stores have been the victims of crime, while his competing shops have. Xamwell wants to know why, this could bring the PCs in direct conflict with the thieve's guild.

4. Shadow Docks (The Shadocks)

The sun only hits Haighwall's docks late in the day, with the city's anarchic state and an absence of a city guard pirate ships have taken to berthing in the Shadocks to lay low from the Free Duchy Navies.

Where's the conflict?

Pirates squatting in the city! In addition the entrances to the city's complex sewer systems and undercity are located here, the abberant things that live beneath the earth could spill into the city preying on those poor people that live in Shadock.

Why should the PCs care?

Any number of patrons could ask the PCs to clear out a warehouse of piratical squatters, and perhaps find something far more sinister, such as a tentacled monstrosity controlling a crew of pirates from the hold of its ship.

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