Monday, August 08, 2011

Hex Mapping Part 7: Tradition! (Dai-dai-dai-dai-dai...)

Generally speaking, a hex map should work very much like a dungeon map: the “deeper” you go, the more dangerous the critters should be. The caveat on that is, in the wilderness, the PCs have a lot more flexibility when it comes which encounters they tackle with combat and which they avoid entirely. There’s just a lot more mobility in the wilderness, and if the PCs ever come across a population they don’t want to fight, they can generally get around them somehow.

So we’ll start with a fairly traditional low-level monster: goblins. The eastern jungles below the V of the mountains and north of the first river is peppered with small goblin tribes. Most are probably nomadic hunter-gatherers, but some will be organized into actual static villages. The further south you go, the more organized the tribes are and the more they’re likely to have domesticated giant spiders. I could even see some of these guys dressing up in spider-inspired war costumes.

Those living close to the southern river are in a constant state of low-level conflict with their neighbors. There are raids across the river going both ways. In the jungles between the two rivers live lizardfolk. While less numerous than the goblins, they are a lot more organized, and possess an actual city along the edge of the mountains. It’s an ancient ruin built in their prouder days (or possibly by another race entirely?) where their immortal king (who is actually the green dragon who disguises himself with magic) lives and rules over them.

While the goblins are almost certainly to turn out to be foes of the PCs (though playing one tribe off against another certainly is a possibility) the lizardfolk might turn out to be fairly friendly to the PCs. Having groups that are potential allies is important, especially if you use advancement rules like Jeff’s Carousing rules or LotFPWFRP’s insistence that only treasures returned to civilization count. The deeper the PCs travel into the wilderness, the harder it’s going to be for them to return to Home Base between missions. You need to give them some way to replenish their expendable supplies and level up. Allies can do that for you. We’ll be revisiting this topic later.

The goblins are little more than an annoyance to the lizardfolk and their wyrm-king. Their other two neighbors are far more threatening. To the east are the bullywugs that live in the massive swamp that spans the shoreline between the two rivers. The swamp is a spooky, eldritch place, teeming with carnivorous plants, strange creatures, and mysterious phenomena. The rocky hills in the center of the swamp are holy places to the bullywug, where their living ancestors dwell.

Relations between the bullywugs and the lizardfolk are fairly quiet most of the time. Every generation or so, however, the bullywugs swarm out of the swamps in great numbers, bent on pillage and destruction. The lizardfolk have erected a few forts, mostly of earth and wood, to guard against these occasional invasions.

Of greater concern to the lizardfolk are the orcs that live south of the river. Raids and skirmishes across the river are common in both directions. The orcs have matched the forts of the lizardfolk with tall stone towers of their own. While the jungle claimed by the orcs is vast and includes many different tribes, the orcs seem capable of banding together quickly, and even engaging in long-term projects such at the building and garrisoning of the towers. An alliance between the lizardfolk and the fey living in the southern river (a clan of potent nixies) is one of the reasons the lizardfolk haven’t simply been overwhelmed yet by the orcs.

The source of the orcs’ inexplicable organizational abilities is not guessed at by even most of the orcs. In truth, their chieftains and shamans are all in thrall to a cabal of mind flayers who dwell deep beneath the mountain range that makes up the western boundaries of their domain. A complex system of potlatch and raiding between the orcs sends a steady stream of slaves and treasure to the mind flayers in their hidden caverns. The principle foe of the mind flayers is the living ancestors of the bullywugs. To date, however, attempts to invade the jungle with
massed orc hordes have failed to penetrate deeper than a dozen miles beyond the river.

So that’s the eastern quarter of the island. Next time, we’ll populate the western quarter with some less-traditional critters.


Natalie said...

What does the Katamari Damacy song have to do with anything?

trollsmyth said...

"The horse was really twelve years old."

faoladh said...

OK. I am now officially in love with the idea of goblin spider-totem warriors.

trollsmyth said...

faoladh: I think it was Birthright that first put the idea of spiders and goblins working together in my head, but they're now forever linked.

faoladh said...

Why don't I remember that? Probably because I never actually got to play Birthright…

Theodric the Obscure said...

Sound principle, says I.