Monthly Archives: December 2009

D&D Nexus: What Next?

So, I finally got the District summaries for D&D Nexus up.

Next, I want to take a look at an individual district, and really zoom in and give more detail, especially adventuring usefulness. Like rumors, adventure hooks, and even stat blocks for some notable inhabitants.

Only question is, where to start- what part of the city is catching your interest?

D&D Nexus III

Freehold District
Warden: The Iron Circle (Adventuring Party)
Portal: The Natural World

In the Freehold District, all men are free. This district was taken by force- ten years ago, it was the Caliphate District, ruled by a tyrannical Yuan-Ti Mummy Lord. The Iron Circle, a powerful adventuring party came in, scoured the place, and then decided to settle down, doing what they could to turn the place into a point of light in a dark city.

It wasn’t easy, but they gained the support (or at least noninterference) from the rest of the Wardens. The group’s bard, Loriengard officially serves as Warden, with the others bearing the title of Knight Warden. The group has retired, choosing to look over and nurture this community, rather than adventuring in the field. They’re probably the most accessible of all the leaders of the city, choosing to take an active hand in their domains, and often mentoring and guiding younger, less experienced adventurers.

As a whole, the district is much less homogeneous than many of the others. Many adventuring bands make this their headquarters when adventuring out of Nexus, so there are many businesses that cater to that sort of crowd. There’s an unofficial adventuring guild, though many wonder if it won’t push for proper guild status.

The Iron Circle’s spellcasters have worked a powerful ritual over their district; no blood can be shed. Fights still happen (adventurers can be a rowdy bunch after all), but it’s impossible to kill someone with violence- the best you can do is knock them out. This magic makes the district popular as a neutral ground when important figures from different districts need a meeting place, though it doesn’t stop the Circle from enforcing their order- any people who flout their rules quickly find themselves exiled.

The district’s Portal leads to a great ruined city in the natural world, once a massive Yuan-Ti city, now home to lurking horrors both alive and undead. The Iron Circle sponsors many expeditions into the city, making it a popular adventuring location for the District’s residents.

Incense District
Warden: Rajah Zul Panjandra (Rakshasa Noble)
Portal: The Natural World

The Incense District is the counterpart to the Market District. Where the Market District is the place to purchase most goods, the Incense District is the location to buy illicit goods and services, a trade the Sultan encourages. In the ‘Spice Market’ one can find much more than just spice, such as slaves, poisons, and contraband. The district is also rumored to be the headquarters for several thieves and assassin’s guilds, and a thriving market for the city’s Slaver’s guild.

The Rajah is a very wealthy and powerful Rakshasa, with his fingers in many businesses. For defense, he maintains two private armies, the Jannisaries and the Corsairs. The Jannisaries are loyal humans and shifters and act as an army- although high ranking officers serve as magistrates in the city. The Corsairs are a fleet of airships and their crew. While both armies nominally exist for the defense of Nexus, they often operate off-plane as mercenaries.

The Portal of the Incense District connects to a Rakshasa kingdom in the natural world, Rakshastan. Rajah Zul Panjandra is just one of many Rakshasa Rajahs serving the Maharajah of this kingdom, and many of the products of the district- including slaves- are shipped from there. Rakshastan is a corrupt kingdom, and the district’s Rajah is deeply entwined in the politics of that place.

Midnight District

Warden: Duke Archibald Romanga (Vampire Lord)
Portal: The Shadowfell

The vampire Duke Romanga allows anyone to reside in his District, as long as they pay the Tax- not in coin, but in Blood, either their own, or that of one of their vassals. As a result, the district is home to a wide variety of monstrous humanoid races, who might not have a haven anywhere else in the city. The Duke has airs of high society, so there are many cultural attractions, such as museums, theaters, and auditoriums, giving certain parts of the district an appeal for upper-class residents of the entire city, making it a place where the well-to-do can meet and enjoy high class entertainments, attended by well groomed undead servitors. The so-called “High Midnight” district has a cultural appeal, and is separated from the nastier “Low Midnight” district by a golden wall.

Several noble families have estates here, the better to stay at the height of culture in Nexus. Almost without exception, the leaders of these families are vampires, paying high tithes in coin and loyalty to the Duke for the gift of immortality. But they are not the only undead in the District- enslaved vampire spawn are used as servants and guards, and many other intelligent undead have either carved a space in society for themselves, or live in the Low Midnight District.

For many of the residents, the presence of the Portal is practically an afterthought, but merchant caravans do use it to go into the Shadowfell, and many of the noble families have dark feudal domains there.

Semi-Regular Gaming Product Inventory Event Thing!

So, I’ve got a lot of D&D accessories. Some of them are maps. I wonder how many? I wonder what I could use them for?

First off, we have the Paizo Gamemastery Map Pack tiles. I’m not terribly fond of these, though Tim seems to like them. They’re 5 by 8 squares, making them less customizable than Dungeon Tiles, but less useful as a set piece as the bigger maps. Some of them are supposed to be put together to make a larger area, and are a little annoying since you have to figure out how. Others are more mix and match.

I’ve got:
Ancient Forest: Tree stumps, paths, standing stones, a ruined temple
Ruins: A few multi-sheaf areas, and a few one sheafers. Decidedly non-customizable. The larger maps might be more useful if I mounted them on something. I guess there’s a potentially rearrangeable white stone road with ruined landmarks. A little tinkering and these could be very useable.
Elven City: A collection of leaf-shaped homes, stone paths, gardens, and cheery elf stuff. A little more civilized than I like my fantasy encounters.
Slums: Some good small buildings in here, but by now I’ve got a lot of those.
Fortress: I’ve used some of these to good effect, but the whole pack does not come together to form a single fortress, nor can it. I should probably mount the throne room on sturdy cardboard and throw the general rooms into the general supply.
Caverns: A couple of good rooms, with cool stuff- tunnels, mushroom fields, an underground river, but the tunnels are one square wide, so they don’t mix well with D&D tiles and are chokepoint crazy.

Also from Paizo, I’ve got a number of Flipmaps. The packaging says that one (just now unsealed) is 24 by 30. Decent size for a full encounter. All are a detailed map on one side, and usually blank on the other. Also, marker goes on and off like a dream- very handy.

New map is “River Crossing.” That’s what it says on the packaging. I don’t have the packaging for the others, so the names will be made up by me. This one is double sided- a curving river through a forest on one side, with some rocks and a fallen tree through the river, and on the other side a straight river, and a nice bridge. Both seen like good places to spring an ambush on a party. Plenty of wilderness underbrush.
Cavern #1- On one side, two connected caverns, each taking up about half the map, one with a pool in it, the tunnel between the two lined with torches, and unstable ground all over the place. The other side is one big cavern room, with a few giant rock formations to break things up. I think this was marketed as a Dragon’s Lair map. Side 1 could certainly be useful for that- minions in one room, the dragon in the other.
Cavern #2! It’s the same exact map! Let me know if you want to trade for it.
The Opera House: A very narrowly useful map, but very flavorful. I had ran an Opera House fight before owning this, so after I bought it, I had to find a way to bring the players back there. Need to find reasons for future games to have haunted/ruined/evil opera houses. Maybe use Dungeon tiles to add rubble for decay/age. Flip side is woodgrain blank map.
Cavern #3: Ok, this is a different cavern. Maybe this one was marketed as the Dragon’s Lair- one side has a big main chamber, with a raised side chamber for a dragon or other boss monster to stand on and shoot down ranged attacks, a few twisty side passages, and then a smaller, but still big end chamber, with lots of treasure on the ground. Yup, looks like a Dragon’s lair. Flip side is another big cavern room with pillars/rock formations, but more, smaller, and more scattered throughout the map.
Desert: One side is a desert oasis, with rocks and small trees scattered about surrounding the pond. Other side has a smaller pond, rocks and trees, and a headshaped temple/dungeon entryway. Possibly useful in a desert game under limited circumstances.
Castle: One side is a small keep, the other is a winding road, presumably up a hill, though elevation and barriers are hard to make out. I’d probably use the keep as a single dungeon setting, or a place for the PCs to clean out and then make their home- makes a handy home base if the map folds up easy. Probably wouldn’t use the hillside approach map- too spartan. But you never know.

Rackham Maps

I have a whole bunch of these- 42 different tiles, 12 by 12 each and double sided. Some of them are the same scene on both sides, one night time, one day, and some are duplicates, but different alternate sides. All told, there’s over 50 unique maps. I combine the city ones for city scenes, to make a quick vista, but they don’t fit together perfectly, and you usually have some blank space or have to be creative with your building placements, which can be finicky.

Cityscape: A bunch of large buildings. Plenty of doors, balconies, gardens, back alleys, and interesting details. Most of the roofs are red, some are yellow. Some feature a city wall. Some feature a waterfront. There’s like 25 different things here alone- massive customizability if you’re willing to fudge things. Used many many times for city ruins and urban encounters and the like. Also bunched in here are a fancy courtyard, a slummy dockyard storage area, and a statue courtyard. The last has no buildings on it, so it also works great as a giant dungeon room.

Outdoors- 4 of these, daytime on one side, nighttime on the other. Winding paths, undergrowth, rocks. Visually exciting, sometimes hard to judge what’s difficult terrain and what’s not.

Indoor Scenes- Most of these have something else, sometimes something radically different on the other side. There’s a tower (night/day) where each quadrant is a floor of the tower, some nice buildings with lots of rooms, some buildings where I’m not sure what they are, a church, some basements and store rooms, and a good collection of stuff for indoor action. I think I count 16 unique floorplans.

Other Stuff: Some sort of ruined catacomb, a winding cavern, a big bottomless pit tile with a few outcroppings on the edges, a big cave river, and a sewer. Cool settings for a fight, but sometimes all the little details make it hard to adjudicate elevation and stuff.

D&D Minis Maps

These are handy because they have difficult terrain icons and such on them. Since they’re made for use with D&D specifically, you know you can figure out how things are supposed to work. Also all of these have the names on the map right on them- I guess for tournament play or something.

King’s Road: A classic D&D minis map- road, rubble, trees.
Flooded Ruins/Crossroads/Monster Lair: One side is a flooded out ruins. The other side has two maps: a crossroads with a small ruined building, and the monster lair, a half wilderness/half cave map. I like this part as the entrance to a dungeon.
Teleport Temple/Broken Demon Gate: One side is a large building with a number of glowing spheres- as written they’re teleport orbs, but they could be light sources or traps or green ooze or something else. Used this as a wizard’s inner sanctum. Other side is a ruined manor, with a red hellscape abutting it. I used this as the top levers of that building, a manor right on the edge of an impact crater with planar rifts in the center. You could easily fold this in half an have just a ruined manor or just a hellscape, if you wanted to.
Dwarven Outpost/Jungle Temple. Jungle Temple is a big open air temple surrounded by woods, a path, and some statues, used this for the Satyr den, but the combat really didn’t use any of the tactical space, since the party challenged the satyrs to a dance off, wagered their freedom, picked a fight, and started in such close quarters that the satyrs used their shift + sneak attack abilities to down most of the party in the first round. Ouch! Anyway, great for Satyrs, haunted crypts, and Snake Cults. The Dwarven Outpost is a small building underground, overlooking a bridge over an underground river. Could be cool for like a siege scenario.
Spiderhaunt Vale/High Road. Half maps, otherside is a poster for D&D minis. High Road has a road, some woods, some rocks, and a ruined building. Bland yet cluttered at the same time. Spiderhaunt Vale on the other hand, is a forest filled with spiderwebs. What’s not to like?
Thieves Quarter/Ratfang Sewers: Thieves Quarter is a bunch of buildings with the rooftops connected by planks- sniper badguys walk along the planks and make ranged attacks. Could be good for the wrong part of town, or an abandoned town taken over by bandits or kobolds or goblins. Ratfang Sewers is a bigass sewer.
Dragon Shrine/Field of Ruin: The Dragon Shrine could be a temple to Tiamat. Lots of hallways, magical auras, dragon statures. There’s also a statue of Tiamat right on the map- that could be a trap or something. Fields of ruin is the aftermath- or middle- of a war, including Large sized metal balls thudded into the ground. Shot by trebuchets or thrown by giants? Nice apocalypse vive.
Thunderspire Labyrinth Map: There’s (part of) a temple complex, (part of) a fortress, and (most of) a strange trap gauntlet. Add some dungeon tiles to the edges, and you’ve got the centerpiece of a dungeon.
Pyramid of Shadows Map: One side has a bigass Wizard’s sanctum, and some connecting rooms- you could probably fold the map in half and use either side as is, too. Other side has an icy lake lair, and a large, bone decorated room- could be a sacrifice pit, or a temple to a death god.

Somewhere we’ve got the Keep on the Shadowfell Maps, and another doublesider with a nice town square on one side and an inn on the other, but I couldn’t find those.

Other Bonus Fold-Out Paper Map

The Fold Out Map from the 3rd Edition DMG: You’d know it if you saw it. Lots of funny shaped rooms, dungeon hallways, and no doors or anything. Meant to be reusable for lots of different dungeons. Kind of reminds me of HeroQuest.

War for the Throne: Faction Actions

Er, ahem.

Anyway, I’ve got the Faction Action rules up for the game- seasonal macro actions for the larger forces you have at your command. Check them out at the game wiki!

Wicked Nights

For your enjoyment, Wicked Nights, my anthology engine take on vampires.

Check out the PDF!

PS: Go talk about it on Story-Games!