Friday, August 7, 2020

Thurstle Island: The Willing Few, Smuggler Faction Focus

The Tree Fort

Yet another post-it map. 

To keep intruders from stumbling onto their cave-cliff hideaway, Thurstle Island's smugglers have fortified the trail through the Old Forest that leads to their base with traps and an arboreal watch post. Tricky to attack or defend, depending on how the player's allegiances develop. 

  • Guards: 3d4 smugglers will be present at any given time. Stats as bandits or pirates.
  • Battlements: Guards with javelins and bows guard the path from hoardings built in the tree. They have excellent cover and field of view. Rope ladders can be lowered to access the fort.
  • Ready Room: The happening hangout spot and a convenient place to retreat if the action on the battlements gets too hot. Games and snacks. If you root around, roll on the "Search the Body" table. 
  • Stores: A few quiver's of arrows, 2d6 harpoons, flask of lockjaw poison. 
  • Living quarters: Another option for retreat, higher up in the tree. Not visible from the ground and only accessible from a rickety stair and a narrow bridge. Easily defended. 
  • Crow's Nest: Very high up, above the surrounding canopy. Gives a good view of the Cliff Path, the Sword Meadow and the Fog Cliff, as well as the entrance to the cave hideout (map) and the trail up to the Fort. Contains a few signaling flags and a spyglass.
  • Harming the Tree: Setting a fire or starting to saw will quickly draw a horde of angry druids. The players should know that this is suicide.
More about the gang, its members and modes below.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Thurstle Island: Surface Encounters in the Ancient City

Stats as bugbear.

Despite their fearsome reputation, the White Apes of the Ancient City are reclusive and intellectual. 

Unknown to Thurstle Island's vikings, the apes are a failed experiment of the City's builders
  • They were supposed to be a military force. Although strong and agile they proved too independent and insufficiently warlike. They just want to be left alone to debate philosophy and take long naps.
  • Their pelts are incredibly warm. Vikings highly prize fur-suits made from their hides. 
    • If you have a lot of gold, you can buy one in the camp
    • The apes do not like to see people wearing their skins.
  • After being hunted by the Vikings for years, the apes have become reluctant experts in trap-building and ambushes. The ruins are covered in their cleverly constructed snares, pits and deadfalls. They are amply supplied with glass weapons

Sunday, July 26, 2020

Thurstle Island: The Ancients Themselves

The City of the Ancients forms the main mega-dungeon of my Thurstle Island mini-setting. It is an abandoned alien city inspired by all of the ancient aliens of Lovecraft. In this post, I'll sketch an outline of it's builders.

The Gith

The humans of this world are not special. We are not the only examples of our species. Scattered across the stars, the inverted labyrinths and the manifold planes of the multi-verse, there are many races of men and women. Our origin is further back in infinite history than even the gods remember and many gods share our shape. 

One such race, born among the stars, is the spindle-limbed Gith. They are no less human than us, but their bodies are longer and more fragile and their brains have additional organs that allow them to grapple with the semiotic framework of the world directly. They are less rooted in matter. 
  • The Gith, otherwise know as the Greys, are psychic alien humanoids.
  • They look like Alberto Giacometti sculptures.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Thurstle Island: Ziggurat of Yog

Another Post-it Map

The landscape of Thurstle Island's City of the Ancients is pierced by many towers. Among these is a sinister 200 meter black stone ziggurat. 

Five layers rise into the sky, and a single steep, narrow stair climbs to the pinnacle. The rise of the steps is much to high for a humans foot, and their breadth is very narrow. There are no railings to prevent a lethal fall. At the top, there is a shrine and a shaft that descends all the way down, through the structure, and into the earth. 

This is a small, fairly linear dungeon with a couple minor fights and some obstacles on the way to meet an Elder God and claim a dubious treasure. It should take about one session to run.

Friday, July 17, 2020

Thurstle Island: Notes on Camp

Birka, a historic viking town restoration

Perched on the edge of the City of the Ancients, Thurstle Island's vikings have established a fortified camp. From this base, they regularly venture into the City's towers and under-structure to plunder powerful artifacts and strange materials. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Thurstle Island: Oozes of the Undercity

Jared Murphy (King328)
In my Thurstle Island campaign, oozes in their many varieties are the corrupted remnants of the Ancients' servitors. Their minds were poisoned by the malign influence of the Twisted Wyrm, buried nearby. This is not an original idea. It is drawn directly from Lovecraft: 
They had always been controlled through the hypnotic suggestion of the Old Ones, and had modelled their tough plasticity into various useful temporary limbs and organs; but now their self-modelling powers were sometimes exercised independently, and in various imitative forms implanted by past suggestion. They had, it seems, developed a semi-stable brain whose separate and occasionally stubborn volition echoed the will of the Old Ones without always obeying it.
The oozes, slimes and jellies overthrew their creators but lacked the sophistication to form a society of their own. Effectively immortal, they have roamed the decaying city for centuries, some are maddened and consumed with hatred, others are merely bewildered and frustrated.

I don't want oozes to be just another sludgy slurry of hit points. Consequently, ooze-type creatures take no damage from weapon attacks. Deciphering their other vulnerabilities is what makes them fun. Each type of ooze is it's own mini-game.

Oozes do share a few things in common: 
  • They hate the cold. It slows their movements and their minds. Even minor chilling magics will dramatically reduce their mobility and power. Freezing an ooze solid then shattering it, is one of the few methods that works on nearly every type.
  • They are often disrupted by admixture. Dirt, salt, water. It depends on the variety of ooze what bothers them most.
  • They can climb vertical pipes and shafts if the concentration of their bulk is large enough to fill the space. I.e. a 10' Jelly Cube can ascend an 8' wide shaft but not a 15' diameter pipe.
  • They can squeeze through cracks and small spaces though the process is usually slow. 
  • They cannot cross a grate without dropping through.
Fortunately for the players, rods of ooze control are not too uncommon in the Ancient City.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Thurstle Island: City of the Ancients

The metallic ink just doesn't translate on screen.

The City of the Ancients is Thurstle Island's mega-dungeon. A glaciated urban husk, long abandoned by it's starborne builders. Like an iceberg, the portion visible above the surface is merely a fraction of the whole. 

This is largely inspired by John Arendt's Black City and H.P. Lovecraft's At the Mountain's of Madness (full text). It will also borrow lots of elements from the new edition of Deep Carbon Observatory (incredible, buy immediately) and Roadside Picnic

Unlike Cove Town or the Old Forest, I'm not ready to nail down all the specifics yet. I have the skeleton and plan to flesh it out while the players begin their exploration. They'll probably start with one the mini-dungeons (like this or this) anyhow. 

That said, I want to think aloud as I put it together.

Nodes are significant buildings.