Monday, March 22, 2010

Short Gazetteer part 3 of 3- the map and and what isn't on it.



(Dedicated to James at The Underdark Gazette)

Short Gazetteer Part III


"The present is not the unified product of one past. Rather it is the result of many possible pasts, entwined like the threads of a garment or, more likely, mashed together like the ingredients of a cheap sausage. Who is to know what made the end product? Not you, not the lords of the cities or the sea, and certainly not I. All one can do is eat the sausage and hope the fragrence of the forthcoming flatulence will be of the milder sort."

-Bhanal the Mystic, shortly before he was cast into the wilderness by the Circle of Ssaur for public drunkenness and inciting religious sentiment.


The Metal Earth is vast; what is shown on the map and detailed here in the gazetteer represents only the smallest fraction of what is out there. The map is intended to be both inaccurate and difficult to obtain (in my own game it hangs in the office of the Chief Elder of the Council of the city Head). Aside from traders, outcasts and bandits, people stay in the cities. Banishment is the most common criminal punishment everywhere, and it is effectively, in most cases, execution.
The area depicted is meant to represent a common culture area. Certainly this culture area displays regional, racial and ethnic differences within its confines, and indeed within its individual components, but there is a common language (so old and pervasive that it really doesn't have a name) and a widely shared cultural package including such things as dietary preferences, pottery styles, sexual taboos, and ideas regarding cosmology and religion. Obviously different groups and different areas all "interpret" the package in thier own way, but even so, on any given evening, a hand of Mür in Zil are likely to sit down to a meal not all that different from what can be had in the dockside taverns of Shards. Although anyone who has had burritos in Texas and New Mexico, or hamburgers both in the US and Europe, or chicken wings in Buffalo, NY and any other place at all really, can tell you that subtle differences can be quite telling.

Part of this cultural package is the shared belief in the reality of places the existence of which can, at best, be evinced by indirect means. For example: there are Snow Apes, they are civilized and have high technology; they do not live amongst the general population of the Rüinlands; therefore, they must have a city of there own.

Such conclusions, drawn (at least tenuously) from logical deductive processes, nevertheless provide the foundation upon which fanciful rumor can be built. Furthermore, there are some travelers in the world, and half remembered historical accounts from the Earth's long, long history. These rumors and accounts blend together to create the descriptions of the legendary places (some if not most of which actually do exist one in some form or another) discussed below. The truth is, perhaps, buried or hinted at somewhere within the legends and myths- or perhaps not...

Secret city of the Snow Apes: According to rumor the secret city of the Snow Apes is located in the Spires ( the northern mountain chain of Xur the northern continent. Snow Apes travel the world in groups of three, often in advanced vehicles and perform what seems to be an endless scientific survey. They are perhaps the most xenophobic race native to the planet (if they are natives) and they place little or no value on the lives of other sentient beings; in fact, they will literally kill you just to watch you die- often taking notes during the course of it. Their supposed city has countless names in legend, but is most often referred to just as "the Secret City." unruly children are often told that if they do not behave they will be whisked away to the Secret City. Sometimes it actually happens.

The Enclave: The enclave is the supposed last, hidden refuge of the humans. Legends and rumors as to its location are varied and vague. It is thought that the human residents of southern Xäl relocated to the Enclave some 3-5 centuries in the past. Human player characters are often from the Enclave or looking for it, or in some cases, both.

The Fountain: It is undeniable that the Fountain actually exists and there are a few people who know where it is. However, humans can gain the power to use sorcery if they drink from it, and its location is therefore a closely guarded secret. Most legends place it in the Jungle of Nool; somewhere up on the Würm; in the War Waste; or on an island in the Archipelago of Nom.

The War Waste: Myth describes the War Waste as a haunted, time-lose, super-continent size battlefield of varied and unpredictable climate and composition. The landscape is composed of the rusted out or otherwise destroyed remnants of war machines and the decaying bodies of soldiers from all the ages of the Earth. The clash of steel, gunfire and sounds of fighting can often be heard in the distance and it is not uncommon to run up against a Nazi patrol, or squad of Roman legionnaires. It is thought to lie in the great unnamed ocean east of Zansall (the southern continent).

The Island of the Changers: The island of the Changers is another place that actually, without question exists. Many poor souls have been taken there, altered and then later released in their own homelands. However its location is unknown. Count Brood, the great human hero of days gone by, is said to have visited the Island of the Changers during the course of his adventures in the Rüingulf. These stories, the veracity of which is open debate, place the island some days sail to the south of Skeeme. Regardless, the Island of the Changers is the legendary home of these evil scientists, and it said to be the place where they do most of there experimenting.

Koristanasalix: the last great city of the humans lost or destroyed during the Wars of Unreason. The streets are said to be paved with arcanum, and attractive erotically augmented autonms and synthetics see to you every need. Food is grown in the sunshine, not in the dark recesses of greenshafts and everyone who resides there lives for 10,000 years... and so on. Nobody knows weather it exists or not, much less where it is. Selling maps to Koristanasalix is such a popular grift that in many cities it is grounds for banishment.

Anyway, my next few posts are going to focus more on mechanics. First up you will see how I plan to pervert/expand the saving throw system in order to use it in lieu of skills. then come the classes, and I still need to post the (non contest) 1pg dungeon I did...

Addendum: I changed the blog's title pic, as much as I liked the original pic (it was a part of screen cap from Thundarr) I felt like i should have something of mine up there.

Also- I spent my first old school dollars today (unless we count the paper route money I blew in the early '80's, of course)- I bought the S&W White Box... er box from here.