Sunday, November 2, 2014

20 Quick Questions for Vadhyislavia

I'm doing it again.  With yesterday's post on Witches, I'm using the mechanics of the game to define role-playing aspects of the campaign setting.  At least this time I caught myself before I sunk myself too deeply into it; in the past this has resulted in campaign settings so tightly structured that they become useless.  So I'm dialing back my thinking on Witches (though I'm going to keep the name and the Green/Red/Black Coven structure, I think), and take some time today to focus on some material that isn't too tightly wound up in the mechanics of the game.  To that end, I once again break out Jeff's 20 Quick Questions for Your Campaign:

1.) What's the Deal with my Cleric's Religion?

There are currently two faiths vying for the souls of the people of Vadhyislavia.

The indigenous faith of the land is that of the Old Gods of the Forest; a pantheon of figures that personify elements of the natural world or major forces at play in the world.  These include the fertility goddess known as the Sacred Mother; the self-explanatory Stormking; Grandfather Stone; the Widow of Winter; Old Man River and many others, ranging from deities known throughout the land to personifications of specific locales; every river, every waterfall, every boulder and tree is thought to have some form of spirit attached, and while not all of them are worshiped, all are given offerings during religious festivals.

The Church of Law was brought into Vadhyislavia with the Imperial colonists.  The Church of Law is less concerned with the material world except as it represents a playground for Chaos.  Axiomites (as Lawful adherents are known) are tasked by the Lawgiver with stamping out Chaotic intrusions into orderly life (for example, fiends, fey, slaad and entities from the Outer Dark are all considered inimical to Law) and expanding the sphere of influence of Lawful civilization, colonizing and taming wilderness wherever they find it.

2.) Where can I buy standard equipment?

Gustavus Segers, a portly halfling with perpetually-sleepy eyes and a lazy smile writ across his broad, placid face runs a fairly large general store in the town of Barschental (whereabouts the campaign will largely be focused).  He carries almost all adventuring gear in addition to farming equipment, shoes, cloth, barrels, easily-transportable foodstuffs (Gustavus claims, with a great deal of pride, that his grandfather invented the canned turnip) and in pens out back he has goats and chickens for sale.  As far as weapons go, he doesn't carry much; daggers, hand axes, sickles and scythes are about as much as he carries.  He rents out space to a small leatherworking shop as well, which can make leather armor in limited quantities.

For weapons and metal armor, you're better off seeing Vilhelm Arpad Kiss, the good-natured Hill Dwarf who handles much of the town's smithing.

3.) Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?

Vilhelm Kiss will look at you funny and probably charge you double (or more, depending on the size and morphology of the monster), but he'll do it.

4.) Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?

It's said that the Archmage Vencel Voros once made his entire tower fly through the air when he decided he didn't like the view from the southwest.  Joachim Dunst, Imperial War Wizard (Retired) is said to wield Fireballs and Acid Arrows as a poet wields simile and metaphor.

5.) Who is the greatest warrior in the land?

Ottomar Wechsler, once known as Wechsler the Black, was an Imperial Paladin until his leg was mauled and his confidence shattered in a fight with an Eye Tyrant a few years back.  Were he to be brought back into fighting condition undoubtedly he'd be the greatest warrior.  Until then, Ivo Trumbauer, a sergeant in the mercenary company known as the Sanguinary Swordsmen is probably the greatest warrior in the vicinity of Barschental.

6.) Who is the richest person in the land?

Reports vary; some say Joachim Dunst (see above) is sitting on an impressive stipend following his retirement, while others claim Gustavus Segers does far better business then he lets on.

7.) Where can we go for some magical healing?

Magical healing can be had at the Church of Law in exchange for a generous tithe; if you're lucky you'll catch
Patriarch Uli Kneipfels at an off-hour and the kindly old man can heal you.  If not, one of the lesser priests of the Church, many of whom are far more militant and aggressive then Patriarch Kneipfels, will be attending you and you can expect either a condescending sermon or an attempt to rally you to some minor crusade.

For those of the Old Faith, the Druids of the Maple Woods can attend to medicinal needs; refusing donations of cash, they instead take payment in either trade or through the fulfillment of a quest.

For those short on cash, the witch known as Grandmother Bokori who lives just outside of town in a large, ramshackle old hut can dispense healing.  Uninterested in money, her requests for payment tend to be far more interesting; from one, she might ask a pound of lard; from another, three pieces of local gossip.  She also has a standing reward posted for those who bring her new obscene jokes to repeat to other patrons.

8.) Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath?

For poison, disease or curse, any of the above three can help.  Lycanthropy would require a trip to see either the Church or the Druids, as would alignment change, death and undeath.  For Polymorph you're probably better off petitioning Vencel Voros for help.

9.) Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?

Not as such, but if you encounter a higher-level magic user of the same class you can try petitioning them to take you on as an apprentice or bribe them for access to their libraries.

10.) Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?

Grandmother Bokori can handle most minor alchemical needs and is an overflowing font of knowledge regarding local affairs.  For more academic subjects, try Jani the Archdruid or one of the local wizards.

11.) Where can I hire mercenaries?

There's usually a handful of various sellswords in any given tavern at any given time, especially if you're interested in hiring High Elf Condotierre or members of one of the barbarian tribes that haunt the nearby forests.

12.) Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?

Not overly; remember, Vadhyislavia is untamed, frontier wilderness populated by rough men.  Don't make a nuisance of yourself, don't hassle the barmaids, and don't cast evocation spells indoors.

13.) Which way to the nearest tavern?

The Inn of the Wandering Fox is a popular watering-hole in Barschental, two stories with several bedrooms for rent and an excellent mead-cellar.  The barkeep, a Hill Dwarf named Bartal Zoltanfi, was something of an adventurer in his youth and can sometimes be convinced to put on a demonstration with throwing knives for the patrons.  Try the braised mutton.

14.) What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?

Nothing too terrifying has emerged from the Realms Below recently, but there are reports coming in that roving bands of cackling, dog-headed humanoids have been encountered in the deep forests to the southeast and that more than one small village has been razed, the inhabitants slaughtered.  King Stefan II has put out a bounty for information regarding these rumors as well as a tentative one on the creatures' heads.

15.) Are there any wars brewing currently I could go fight?

No, though there are always rumors from the Passes that the Holy Empire is going to try to reclaim Vadhyislavia again.

16.) How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?

Not as such; the Wandering Fox does host weekly athletic events, including bare-knuckle boxing, wrestling, and "Bear Wrasslin'."  The betting on these events can get pretty high.

17.) Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?

Not that you're aware of. But you wouldn't be, would you?

18.) What is there to eat around here?

Local cuisine is heavy on potatoes, rye bread, chicken, mutton and pork, usually with a lot of spices.  Imperial colonization has brought some beef cattle into the region but a good steak is still a major luxury item.  As far as alcohol goes, Vadhyislavians drink a great deal of mead and a little bit of various lagers; Halfling brewmeisters have introduced a variety of ales into the region in recent years, following the Imperial colonization, while many of Imperial descent still favor the extra-heavy stouts of the Empire.

19.) Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?

Every so often a scrap of map or a few battered gold coins with a suggestive visage half-visible on one face will turn up and remind people of the legend of King Tiborc II, allegedly buried in a secret tomb deep in the wilderness; according to legend, Tiborc's tomb contains a fantastic quantity of gold and silver, and that the king's body lays in state in a suit of platinum armor inside an electrum sarcophagus.  The tomb has never been found and its veracity is hotly contested.

20.) Where is the nearest dragon or similar creature?

An ancient bath-house, all that remains of a village dating back to the first of the Polarian Invasions thousands of years ago, currently stands in ruin some twenty-five miles from Barschental, cracked in half by an earthquake, half-collapsed into an underground cave and flooded by the hot springs that once fed its baths.  Rumor has it that a dragon, calling itself Fereg Utalatos, has taken up residence there.

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