Friday, April 20, 2012

Still Alive...

... but not much to say.  Most of the stuff I was working on seems dusty or non-useful.  I have started brewing a setting for ACKS in preparation for the summer game, though.  At this point I'm just kind of sketching on the macro level.  It would be a viable strategy to just pick a small region, detail it, and drop the characters into it...  but I kinda feel like the Big Picture is an important part of sandboxing.  Even having some rough data down gives me material to use; where are these merchants from?  Well, where does it make sense for them to be from?  And so forth.  I think I'm going to wait on player input before I choose a region to start drilling down to deeper detail for.

At this point I think my primary sources of inspiration are history, the Wilderlands, and Leiber's Fafhrd and the Grey Mouser stories (of which I must admit I have not read as much as I would have liked).  History is handy mostly on a flavor level; yes, part of me does want to run wintery Medieval Northern European fantasy, but Skyrim kinda beat me to the punch, and there are a lot of underutilized sources from the classical world.  So far I've tapped the Phoenicians, Egyptians, Hellenic Greeks, Babylonians, and Byzantines, and I'm also considering the Hittites.  More of a "civilization is yet young and not really all that civilized" flavor that I really liked in Iron Heroes.

Wilderlands and Leiber both seem to agree on a couple points that I'd like to steal.  From Wilderlands, the primary political unit is the city-state and the territories which pay it tribute, and these city-states exist in a tense pseudo-peace most of the time.  War is a possibility, but open war at least is not continuous.  Related in Leiber's work is the existence of The City, Lankhmar (or, in Wilderlands, the City State of the Invincible Overlord).  Effectively, a Rome-grade city which is rife with corruption.  These are great places to pick up hooks, buy and sell crazy things, become embroiled in intrigue, and (as an endgame goal) conquer and rule yourself.  Also notable in both of these settings is the wide variety of climates; I'd like it to be possible to climb White Fang Mountain one session and explore a ruined desert city the next (just as was done in Swords Against Wizardry) at sufficiently high levels for travel to be relatively easy.  So that's something I'm consciously keeping in mind as I map.  A world of diverse climates is likely to have a higher number of distinct cultures, too; pulling from Guns, Germs, and Steel, cultural diffusion is strongly influenced by crop spread.  Since crops grow best in similar climates, many climates means many less-advanced cultures without that much interaction, which is perfect for the feel I'm going for.

1 comment:

Brendan said...

I also found myself gravitating towards the Phoenicians, Babylonians, and Greeks for the ACKS setting I was working on. My efforts on that have slowed down a bit because the size of the island I am working on doesn't seem to mesh with some of the demographic assumptions and the population numbers seemed to be coming out rather low.