Tuesday, January 31, 2017

An Actual Post Like a Real Person

"Wandering between two worlds, one dead,
The other powerless to be born." - Matthew Arnold

I needed a place to disgorge/organize my thoughts.  I needed a project, a thing that I could add to periodically and feel that some progress had been made.  I miss D&D, and since I don't have any opportunity to play right now I start planning for it in the future.  So I found the whole OSR DIY D&D magic blog land thing a few months ago and was massively excited, and knew I had a place where I could throw the Furthest Lands information that I've compiled.  It's also a great excuse to make a bunch of like-themed drawings.  Having a public thing might help me commit?  I hope?

What's relevant?  I'm a child of the early 80's, I'm sure some of you are too.  I've been drawing since I was two.  I don't consider myself a writer.  I was the little kid who lived for PBS nature documentaries, books, and dinosaurs.  We were in an antique store of all places when I was about 8, and my father found the AD&D Monster Manual II and brought it to me.  I had to beg him for the $8 or whatever it cost, which meant it would be the only thing I’d be allowed to have on that trip… but what toy could be better than an entire book of monsters?  I read it over and over with no knowledge of what D&D was, the stats were all a mystery I could only compare to each other.  It all implied so much.  Started buying and playing those 90's box sets, you know, the one with the curiously humanoid red dragon reaching upward on the cover?  I bought all the monster books I could get my hands on.  My friend got into Dark Sun, I got into Planescape.  From then on I was always playing someone's original campaign or DMing my own.

Lancet Stirge gets the shaft.
Role playing in another human being's personal fantasy world is unique.  It would have to be, right?  Sure it's not exactly a trip through someone's psyche, but there's a great deal that can be expressed both consciously and unconsciously in this way.  Some people's worlds are planned, some are organic, some serve as intentional statements, some are a question being asked or explorations of fear.  Experiments, infants, graffiti.  The Furthest Lands are the world *I* want to adventure in.  It began as a question of “What’s on the other side of the ‘planet’?” from the all too normal basic fantasy (elves, some dwarves, all the humanoids love-the-humanoids) continent I was trying to play in a PBEM campaign.  There’s plenty of neat stuff going on in the nations, frontiers, and twisted lands of Fulcrise Haelere, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the continent that the people there instinctively know exists opposite them, a place they call the Furthest Lands.  No one who lives there calls it that.  C'mon, that's ridiculous.
Mikayla Lemsteeg, iele neoarchaeomancer, on the Gragot Plain.
I wanted specifically for this to be a place of strange monsters, prehistoric and magical, where the cities and villages are few and heavily fortified, not from other nations, but from the (hyper/meta/super/para)natural world outside. Where travel is a great danger that can be mitigated by planning and knowledge, and creates its own adventure.  Where a good player is the one who knows when to run or how to avoid greatest threats.  A place where the good and evil axis of alignment matters far less than the  law and chaos, or society and wilds axis.  A place that welcomes PCs from outside its borders, since when player ignorance is equal to character ignorance it works out perfectly.  It also has a variable/customizable “human” race (which is what I find a great deal of players really want to play), though there are no humans here.  There’s a lot that a player can do here to aid society: mapping unexplored regions, expanding territory, hunting game/monsters, guarding/leading caravans, rediscovering ancient magic, building structures, organizing groups, creating trade routes, uh... treasure hunting anyone?  And all that is just if you're genero-adventurous and basically helpful, if you're a depraved misanthrope or completely self-serving there's plenty of leeway for you even in the cities.  Hell the first group I had wandered off to Soec to sell some hadrosaurs they had recaptured, slaughtered the operators of a Fasinaa sorcerer's drug den, remodeled it, made some deals, turned it into a bar front for their incredibly unsavory mercenary company, and sold even more drugs.
The Furthest Lands face a handful of existential threats that can be totally ignored by players because they're long term in nature.  No one I play with ever wants to "save the world", at least not right off, you have to make them care about it first, and that takes time.  But those scenarios exist, worsen, and affect the continent regardless of the players' interest.  I could see a different campaign set maybe fifty years in the future, where the situation has degraded and the focus must be saving the world or getting the hell out of it.

Here's the latest iteration of the map, which is the first digital one I've made.
Expect to see this again...  I can't stop messing with it.
It's nice to be able to edit it easily, but I'd like to make a real tasty paper one once everything's nailed firmly in place.
I've come up with a handful of fun random ideas while writing all this, so the blog has already proved its usefulness.  So I'll start on the ten geographical areas with my next post, maybe if I don't get distracted and do something random.  I still need to do a good indicative drawing for each of the races, so I can't start with those.