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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Sandbox Style-Ajil the Campaign Setting Part 2 - Weston

This port town was built ten years ago. This land was recently rediscovered about 15 years ago but it took five years of surveys and planning to build the town. Weston has just the basic resources for players. There is a leather worker, a jeweler, farmers, cobblers, fishmongers, tailors, carpenters, a blacksmith, town guards led by one captain, all in all there are 201 inhabitants.

There are two Inns, and four Taverns, which gives the players some freedom in searching for rumors, things to do, or "explorers wanted" type situations.

I went through a few iterations of the town itself and then a few more drawings of the immediate area surrounding Weston. From there I did a couple of drawings on hex maps of the environs that were the south western continent (no name as of yet).

Random Encounters
This whole region is about randomness, exploring, and danger. Using some online resources, free modules, and my own imagination I came up with quite a few random tables. Depending on the area, the table would be different, as well as if it was day or night. Below are some examples:

Regular forest day/moving d8
1. Deer
2. Squirrel
3. Fallen tree blocks way
4. Insects suddenly stop making noise.
5. Circle of mushrooms-Fae lurking nearby
6. Flock of birds take flight
7. 4 Goblins led by a Bugbear
8. Bear, Black

Regular forest night/immobile d8

1. Eyes reflect from moonlight/campfire light (rats or foxes)
2. Bats
3. Fireflies
4. Sound of something heavy falling distantly in the forest (tree falling)
5. Ticks
6. Owl hooting
7. Sound of a tree limb snapping as if being stepped on.
8. Fox Barking

Don't you know that these encounters will stir the players imaginations! As a DM, it will certainly get your imagination fired up! Just think of all the things these could lead to! This is just a small sampling, there are many more tables I use. Of course you don't have to roll any dice, you can just pick something and go with it, see where the encounter takes you (and the players).

Ah yes, there are these, burrows, caves, mines, and ruins. How many in an area? Usually just one, some very small, some very large, most referencing an age long past with hints about other areas, or how to get past doors and traps. 

Did I map out every dungeon, dungeon encounter, and loot? You really think I have time for that? I used free online resources such as free modules, and random dungeon generators. Only if a dungeon is either really small, or very important would I spend time on it making it what it should be so as to really bring the interesting points of an area to life and its history. Otherwise, the free resources that are available can be changed to fit your needs, just do it well before you start you campaign.

Ajil the Campaign setting is a world about the size of earth and creating the regions for it is no small task. There are so many regions to explore and build and the players will not be going to far to soon so there is time to get these areas sprinkled with the ingredients needed to make them unique and interesting. Put your own twists on things and try and surprise the players when they enter a new region. 

For example, birds can be colorful and exotic, eating the local insects and fruits, but what if a flock of brilliantly colored birds are meat eaters and they are half the size of the players? They wouldn't be expecting that.
What if they were dredging through a swamp and ran into a serpent-lion complete with scales and fangs? Yeah, I doubt they have ever seen one of those before.
If you are playing D&D then throw out the MM and create your own creatures and critters when it comes to making a unique inhabitant of the area. 
Remember that this is a sandbox setting, you can add and remove anything you want after you get started with it.
I hope this has helped you with your sandbox style game, if you have any questions let me know. 

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sandbox Style-Ajil the Campaign Setting Part 1

A while back I created a campaign setting that is a sandbox style inspired by an article about the West Marches.

In this article series, I want to talk about Ajil and the steps I went through to set it up.

After reading through the article I copied and pasted each related webpage into a word document and deleted out parts that I knew I wouldn't use like the parts about letting the players schedule themselves. I don't have a large group of people I know who want to play D&D, I know 4 people right now who want to play so we get together when we are all available, and if you only know a small number of players you might want to do the same. I'm personally not a big fan of large groups of people when it comes to gaming.

What was next? A brief mention of background information. I didn't stick to exactly what Ben wrote. On the continent the players started on there was a major war going on with the Qaqim to the east, who were mostly desert dwellers, who made pacts with a djinn dynasty and a family of fire giants to destroy the western kingdom of Naddural where the players were starting. This content was small. To the north was the mountain dwarves, and even further north were the frost giants.The Naddural had allied with the Dwarves and the Frost Giants, but even with all of this, they were losing the war so the Frost Giants were heading back to the frozen north, and some of the Dwarves and most humans were trying to head south to the port city of Whitefall.

To the far west, past the kingdom Naddural was Inderdas, a great forest with trees that were thousands of years old. Although there were no elves as a playable race (except for one player) they did exist in the forest and they generally made anyone who entered it disappear without a trace. The forest was thought to be haunted and rarely did folks go into it. Its not that the elves were evil, they just didn't want humans coming around and destroying their homes and trees, or anything else for that matter. Elves were just rumored to exist or old wives tales told to scare children so they wouldn't go play in the forest. 

Here is a picture I did of Ajil with Hex paper and color pens:

Also, this setting was low magic, so there were no mages, sorcerers,wizards, or Druids of any kind as a playable class. However, one player had such a good story for playing a druidic elf that I allowed it, unbeknownst to the other players.

The first part of this story was that the citizens of Naddural were trying to go south (including one of the clans of the Dwarves) to the coastal city of Whitefall. The goal here was just trying to get aboard a ship and then leave for a mysterious south western continent.

Once there,  the players would dock in a small port town called Weston that had only been built in the last ten years. Here they would learn a bit about this small outpost and there would be a few situations just outside of town that needed dealt with. This would also lead to the players eventually exploring more and more of the surrounding environs. 

Why the story and not just start in Weston? Good question, and one that I will answer like this: I wanted some story. I'm big on story and backgrounds, and the players had fleshed out their character stories rather well. During the course of their adventuring they would discover entities and items that would help them drive back the Qaqim if they had ever decided to return to Naddural.

Part 2 Coming soon!