Starting with Keep on the Borderlands -- help!

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zomben
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Starting with Keep on the Borderlands -- help!

Post by zomben »

(cross-posted at rpg.net)

So, I've been reading a bunch of fantasy fiction of varying quality lately. As such, I've been inspired to run a 'traditional' fantasy game of some sort. I really like Castles & Crusades from what I've read, and I haven't actually run it yet, so I'm thinking I'd like to try it out just for something different.

My plan is to start simply. I've got an old copy of B2-Keep on the Borderlands, which I plan to use as the cornerstone of the game. What I dont want to do, however, is just run a boring old dungeon crawl. I want to do epic, exciting stuff, filled with pathos, drama, heroism and tragedy (yes, just this afternoon I finished reading the Children of Hurin, does it show?).

What I'm thinking about so far is this:
fairly standard medieval fantasy land: elf forests, dwarven fortresses, and hilly hobbity areas are placed around the outskirts of a mostly human kingdom
the land is bordered on the north by mountains, the west by hills, then swamps, and to the east and south by sea.
There are occasionally coastal raiders from the north which come down along the eastern coasts, causing all sorts of viking havoc.
the ruling family was recently wiped out in a war against humanoids
the 'kingdom' is now fractured among a number (5 or 6) of feuding barons and warlords, all claiming rule of the region for themselves. Minor border skirmishes between clashing armies of feudal levy, led by knights are the norm.
"Magic Users" are rare and often feared by the general populace.
the PCs will be centered in the "Black Rock Keep" on the Borderlands between this human kingdom, and the forest/swamps full of bad humanoids to the west
there are also clans of rotten giants in the mountains to the immediate north (maybe a chance to run "Against the Giants" at some point?)

Note, I really do want to keep this a somewhat 'traditional' setting. Not to say I don't mind mucking with it, or throwing in some wierdness. But I'm really going for more of a "Middle-earth" vibe than "Hawkmoon" for example.

So, that's what I've got so far. I'll be kicking this idea around over the next week or two, and would love to hear any cool ideas that you guys may have.

Thoughts?

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Post by Treebore »

I thought I had seen you on these boards before (when I saw your thread over on RPG.net). Nice to see you back. Since its the weekend I don't know how much feedback you'll get. Tuesday (Monday is a holiday in the US) should start getting you some good response.
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Post by Julian Grimm »

So far so good. The best thing to do is keep a list of what you want in your world. Jot down any idea you have and expand on it as time goes by. You also probbably want a map of sorts. I suggest starting with the module map and expand beyond it a bit but, don't overwhelm yourself. They players will shape parts of this for you so don't get too detailed yet.

If time is an issue consider picking up Either Yggsburgh or the Haunted Highlands series both offer good core areas you can develop upon. And finally Have fun with it!

Also check out the site in my sig. We have alot of world builders there that will be happy to help you.
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zomben
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Post by zomben »

Yes, I'm thinking probably the best thing to do is just start with some basic ideas, finish the map I'm working on for the setting (part of a larger fantasy world I've been gaming with off and on for over 20 years) and just have at it.

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Post by jfall »

zomben wrote:
Yes, I'm thinking probably the best thing to do is just start with some basic ideas, finish the map I'm working on for the setting (part of a larger fantasy world I've been gaming with off and on for over 20 years) and just have at it.

I'm in the same boat...but some of the guys I game with have issues about the "typical" fantasy setting. Those tropes spell "bland" and "vanilla" to a few of those guys. I suppose it comes from years of gaming and thus, becoming jaded w/ the genre.

Which I personally think is sad. I still love JRR and co. I'm going to hopefully mix a world of traditional fantasy w/ some of their more "progressive" ideas. We'll see where it leads.

My advice (i.e. what I "like" to do) would be to figure out a few of the larger plot devices first... things like "A dying god", "A rogue Prince and his struggle for the throne", "An up and coming lich's bid for power", "A magic Lanthorn", "An uprising of Giants", etc... You get the picture. And then move on down from there by thinking about how their "plots" affect their immediate surroundings...and then extrapolate from there.

Example: (in reverse order...)

1. Little old lady down the way swears she's got undead in her dry cellar.

2. Undead in local cemetery are becoming more active. (her cellar borders an older unmarked part of the cemetery)

3. A madman has moved into the locale. A rogue cleric of some unknown god. (He's recruiting undead)

4. He's actually a spawn of some vampire

5. Boss vampire was awakened by some call...

6. Lich has sent out a call...using some sort of powerful artifact to gather an army. Sentient undead are being "called"...and aren't absolutely sure what's doing the calling.

Anyway, you can obviously create all sorts of offshoot side quests from any of that. But you get the idea. I'm a fan of creating plot drivers first and revealing them as you go along. Keep them vague at first so that they're easy to change as characters exert their influence more and more upon the campaign world.

A couple of those and you've got a "world". And then you can create landscapes that support some of your plot driven ideas.

That's my $0.02. Hope it's of some worth.

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Post by zomben »

Great ideas!

And for what it's worth, I finished drawing the maps for the campaign this morning. Now, I just need to dump 'em into Photoshop and fancy them up.[/img]

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Post by jfall »

zomben wrote:
Great ideas!

And for what it's worth, I finished drawing the maps for the campaign this morning. Now, I just need to dump 'em into Photoshop and fancy them up.[/img]

Hey Zomben, not to pry or prod , but would it be possible to see those maps when you're finished? For some reason maps for me are more inspiring than nearly anything else. My imagination just goes haywire when looking at a fantasy map.

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Post by zomben »

Totally. I love showing off my maps. Send me your email address, and I'll send you the roughs so far: zomben at yahoo dot com

(Goes for anyone! Just drop me a line and I'll send them to you)

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Post by zomben »

Even easier, I loaded them up to Flickr.

And here they are (pre-Photoshopping):

The Continental View of the world of Telcontar:

Image

Close up on the area of Theriding and the Darkmere:

Image[/url]

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Post by Omote »

Maps looking great so far!

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zomben
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Post by zomben »

Thanks!

I'll repost once they've gone through the Photoshop wringer...

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Post by jfall »

Wow! Very nicely done. Hand drawn in pencil first and then scanned and "finished" in photoshop? I know this is early yet but you've got some skillz. Keep us updated...

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Post by zomben »

Actually, the process is that I sketch them in pencil, detail them in pen, then scan and 'polish' in Photoshop (adding labels, etc.)

More to come...

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Post by SoulCatcher78 »

Looks good so far Zomben.

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Post by Prince of Happiness »

NICE maps!

Going on the Tolkien tip...tying one (or more) of the characters to a potent bloodline would be a good angle, or whatever would be your idea of a good theme.

zomben
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Post by zomben »

Thanks for all the compliments! I got the basic Photoshopping done last night. Dropped the maps on to the background 'parchment' texture graphic. Now, just need to start labelling them. More to come!

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Post by Buttmonkey »

If you're looking for ideas on how to create a campaign, "Insidiae" from the Gygaxian Fantasy Worlds series is fantastic. Lots and lots of themes and plot devices are outlined.
tylermo wrote:Your efforts are greatly appreciated, Buttmonkey. Can't believe I said that with a straight face.

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