Gygax 75 – Week One – The Concept

It has been a busy week at Casa Purple Druid, with much work done out in the summer heat and humidity. Which leaves little energy for anything else! But, I have been working on the Faerie Realm setting (which I still need a name for) for the Gygax 75 project. This has been a lot of fun, and it has generated some new ideas for tie-ins to the Weirth Campaign.

Week One – The Concept

Task one: Get a Notebook

I love notebooks. I love writing in them, starting new projects in them, it’s a thing. A fetish, probably. (I’m tempted to blog about my #BuJo notebook setup for Oct-Mar that I’m working on…) It’s hardbound. Dot-grid paper. Nice and smooth, really takes the ink well. (It’s Pen + Gear from the Wallie store. I picked up a stack of them in a 2-for-1 sale last year at the end of Back-to-School season. Which is a lot less well-stocked this year.)

I scribbled down a bunch of notes on loose leaf paper, then tried to get a semblance of order as I transferred them to the notebook.

Task Two: Develop Your Pitch

Three to seven bullet points, for “selling” the world to the players. I suppose that’s what I need to do, as I’m certainly sold on the idea. I think it’s great. Let’s see if we can make something coherent out of my crazy mish-mash of an idea.

  • sucker-mouthThe Faerie Realm is a horror-world where the un-lamented dead of the Prime Material plane go as a sort of Purgatory. Theme-words include Giger, Plecostomus, fog, storm.
  • It is a world shrouded in darkness from an ever-present, roiling, storm-wracked cloud cover.
  • The domains of the powers that be, castles and cities, are ruled by monsters from Beyond the Outer Darkness: modified and re-imagined Vampires, Rakshasas, Marilith and animal-headed not-Egyptian godlings.
  • The inhabitants of these domains are
    • terracotta warriors horror fantasyGolems – the slaves, those unfortunate, un-lamented dead. Trapped in bodies of red clay, these creatures do the basic work of the realm, and fight in the wars. The constant wars between cities and castles.
    • The Fae Races: re-skinned and re-described to fit the darkness and Underworld quality of the setting. We will see Dryads, Naiads, Nymphs, Fauns, Satyrs, Pixies, Silkies, (non-Lycan) fox-spirits, and some other humanoid types
    • Monsters include – Hags, evil Treants, Wyverns, Catoblepas, minotaur, cyclops, cockatrice, roc, unicorn, hydra and dragon turtle
  • Above the clouds, on a few mountain peaks, is where the real horror is.
  • giger-sorceress
  • The Tyrants of the Castles are in a state of perpetual war.

Task Three: Gather Sources of Inspiration

The initial source of inspiration for the physical layout of the Faerie Realm was this post at Blog of Holding – Unnamed Setting.

a world where there were all these mountain ranges, and all of civilization – the good part of civilization – has been driven up to the tops of these mountains, and then there’s a tremendously thick cloud layer, so wherever the sun shines is where good exists. Everything beneath the cloud layer has been overrun by evil. There are cloud ships that sail out from these mountain-top cities across the clouds, and the adventurers rappel down to the world where they go raiding the ruined cities that used to be down there, looking for gold, metal, and all the kinds of things that they don’t have in these mountaintop cities.

Here is another piece of that article (I recommend you go read it all!):

setting 2: “The Original D&D Setting”

Here’s the other great setting I read this week: The Original D&D Setting, a series of blog posts by Wayne Rossi. This teases out the weirdness that you get if you take the original OD&D books and play its assumptions to the hilt. Griffin-riding Arthurian knights wait inside sinister castles, swamps crawl with dinosaurs, there are Martian creatures in the desert, and undead shamble through cities.

So let’s do it! Let’s take these crazy ideas, re-skin all of the “traditional” fairy creatures into monsters of darkness and horror, and cram them into an exaggerated version of the Implied OD&D Setting.

The map:

Outdoor Survival map for OD&D

The land of Fairie might be called the Dreadlands. I’m still working on it. With all covered by a thick bank of storm clouds. The snow-capped peaks you see on this map are where the other, much nastier, population of Faerie is. This is the “world map” of the Faerie Realm.

  • Each Castle and City will have a Named NPC ruler, a Tyrant, who controls two-to-three bands of hexes (hexes are 5 miles in diameter) around each settlement. There are no other “civilized” settlements.
  • Monsters and creatures inhabit the rest, with varying population densities.
  • Old battlefields, littered with broken arms and armor are found between all of the major settlements.
  • Faerie Cloud Ships?? “cloud ships travel from mountain peak to mountain peak. Maybe the buccaneers and pirates are based on the river, but their ships can ascend to the clouds to attack cloud shipping. Maybe the pirates even have flying submarines.” How many should there be? Who has control of them? Are they something the Tyrants built to fight their enemies. Or something the Tyrants brought from beyond and there are only a few, artifact-style??

We can also imagine and construct the population of the Dreadlands from the old OD&D table, helpfully spelled out by an old post at Swords of Minaria:

By terrain type and encounter odds, this indicates the whole map contains an average of 44 large hordes of men and 41 small parties of heroes. Of the hordes, about 17 are bandits, 12 brigands, 7 nomads, 6 berserkers, 2 dervishes, 2 cavemen, 1 buccaneer and 1 group of river pirates. The heroic parties are equal numbers of fighting-men, clerics and magic-users with an average of 8 individuals per party. All told, this indicates there are 7,588 men roaming the countryside.

  • Bandits and Brigands can be changed to Golems
  • Nomads are servants of the Tyrants (I have an idea for this)
  • and so on. Just re-deploy the listed monsters and Fae creatures
  • We can have some fun creating those “Adventuring Parties”

Now, imagine that the “planar” surface of the Faerie Realm is rippled, and in some places it intersects with the Prime Material, say, the areas in red, below. These would be places where Magic is stronger on the Prime Material, yet weaker in Faerie. These ripples don’t necessarily indicate mountains, just where the two Planes connect.

rippled plane

(I am thinking that the areas in dark blue are where the Faerie Realm intersects with the Dreamlands…)

Next week we’ll dig deeper into the map, the factions, and some encounter tables.

Read the original article here, How to Campaign, by Gary Gygax. Thanks for reading and please, share a Comment!

2 thoughts on “Gygax 75 – Week One – The Concept

  1. Hey, that’s very interesting. The fact that there are ‘no other civilised locations’ caught my eye.

    Wouldn’t it be advantageous to have other areas that aren’t tyrant controlled? Thus creating another faction that for some reason has been allowed to exist – maybe the tyrants find them amusing or too ‘small’ to bother with. Perhaps there is a threat of a ‘super weapon’ that they have – it can only be used once but is rumoured to be world ending and thus they are allowed to exit – or they live inside a region almost impossible to reach?

    Or maybe the other civilisations are fragments of people from outside the realm who made it in – humans, elves, orcs etc who are seen as slave labour by the fey world natives?

    Just thinking, with another faction you open up your options?

  2. With 9 towns and 26 castles on the “main” map, I think that is plenty of factions. I am thinking that some of the various tyrants are in league with each other, and these alliances are ever-shifting.

    I hadn’t thought about little tiny enclaves of “visitors” or “crossovers”…that could be an interesting addition! Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

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