Posts

Showing posts from 2012

Demographics, continued

Image
"The power of the sword is more sensibly felt in an extensive monarchy, than in a small community. It has been calculated by the ablest politicians that no State, without being soon exhausted, can maintain above the hundredth part of its members in arms and idleness. But although this relative proportion may be uniform, its influence over the rest of society will vary according to the degree of its positive strength. The advantages of military science and discipline cannot be exerted, unless a proper number of soldiers are united into one body..."
Edward Gibbon The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, volume the first, chapter V, page 106. Printed for W. Strahan and T. Cadell, London 1776. If each of the Imperial Legions under the Immortal Emperor Drakus Coaltongue numbered 10,000 troops, that would imply that the population of Eastrealm would be at least 7 million. Given that the population of Europe at the time of Charlemagne (9th century AD) was around 25 …

D&D cities should be like icebergs

Image
The majority of what happens in a fantasy metropolis should be "beneath the surface": whether literally (sewers, catacombs and ruins below the city streets); or metaphorically (secret plots and political machinations).

I've mentioned the city of Marchion (in Splintered Peace by David Chart) before. The megadungeon beneath Mage Hill is mostly implied - it is up to the individual DM to populate that location with specific dungeon levels and denizens.

The site of Marchion was settled in the distant past, but no one knows by whom. Sometimes strange artifacts are unearthed by people digging foundations for houses, and many think that Mage Hill isn't a natural feature. However, these inhabitants, whoever they were, were long gone before the first recorded attempts to settle the site. Local folk tales tell of the buried complexes they left behind, but no one knows whether these stories have any substance. Aboveground, most of the mages' towers still stand, and some are st…

Default Setting

Image
The "default setting" of D&D is the context that is implied by the Rules As Written. This doesn't refer to any specific fantasy world, like Greyhawk or Mystara. Rather, it takes the "core rules" as a whole and explores the implications and assumptions inherent in such a system.

This article in the D&D wiki is a great example:
"D&D represents a period in history that is most closely identifiable with the Iron Age: the landscape is dotted with tribes and aspiring empires, the wilderness is largely unexplored, and powerful individuals and small groups can take over an area without having a big geopolitical hubbub about it." In my opinion, it also closely resembles the Wild West (or rather, its fictional depiction) but with swords and sorcery instead of six-shooters. When adventurers reach "name level" they will tend to migrate to the frontier of civilization to establish their stronghold in unclaimed territory. The discovery of an an…

The secret history of the Pirates of Knossos

Image
Cap'n Carver and his crew were smugglers and river pirates who regularly made the journey from Knossos, all the way up the river Brallen from Laveril to Helsmuth. They never went as far as Qualinost, even before the elves closed the border, because elven customs inspectors were known to use divination magic to scan cargo. They wouldn't be as easily fooled by the illusions that the wizard-navigator, Mixail Elets Zaitsev Beloi, cast on the ship and her crew to escape detection.
These are the voyages of the pirate sloop Ocean Spray:

Captain's log, the 5th of Metageitnion waxing
Last summer, while we were docked in Helsmuth, a fresh-faced band of young adventurers hailed the ship, seeking passage downriver. They didn't look like they had much worth stealing, but they might fetch a good price in the slave markets of Knossos. We told them to meet us at the Saucy Wench, a tavern by the docks, at midnight. The bosun, Max the Ax, took a group of swabbies with him to set up an am…

War of the Burning Sky

Image
set your campaign world on fire...A 12-part adventure path for both D&D 4E and D&D 3.5.Including veteran authors such as Ari Marmell (Heroes of Horror, Tome of Magic) , Wolfgang Baur (Editor DUNGEON® Magazine 1992-1995), Wil Upchurch (Midnight®, Champions of Ruin) and Darrin Drader (Book of Exalted Deeds, Serpent Kingdoms).
The trailer above is relatively spoiler-free, unlike the website or the forum on EN World.