Wednesday, 26 April 2017

I Sailed on an Ocean of Blood through Mictlan and All I Got Was This Lousy T-Shirt

I've decided to take a different approach to Mictlan, the hex crawl setting I kind-of-sort-of sketched out in my last post, than I am with the Crater of Termination, my megadungeon setting. With the latter, I'm trying to mitigate problems I had with making a dungeon crawl interesting by investing a lot of time into pre-planning details and vibes for even the empty rooms, and by making sure I have a lot of well-thought-out set-pieces and only relying on random rolls for dungeon-stocking to the extent that they make sense. There, I'm trying to make everything hang together really well. The dungeon has an overall backstory and theme, and different levels, sub-levels and areas reflect that theme in relatively coherent ways (I hope).

With Mictlan, I'm opting to go for much briefer descriptions for points of interest for each hex, which I can expand on and improvise from during play, since I'm much more comfortable running a wilderness-exploration type game. There will still be dungeons which I'll design with a similar philosophy in mind as with the Crater, but since they'll be a lot smaller I'm hoping it will be more manageable overall (I'm also planning on adapting various published dungeons, probably by using maps and just restocking them, though I'll certainly keep any good ideas for monsters, traps, treasure, etc.).

Reading the Wilderlands of High Fantasy, and thinking about OSR stuff like Veins of the Earth that approaches setting design in terms of a "toolkit" for making a certain kind of setting as opposed to just giving a map and a key, I've also decided to try just making or stealing a bunch of tables to roll on for determining points of interest in each hex. If results aren't so great I'll go a different direction, but I want to give it a go.

In any case, the random-rolling part of the map won't start until a ways into uncharted territory. The "home" of the setting is the peninsula and a few nearby islands, which I'll be planning out the old-fashioned way, so it has the feel of a somewhat coherent locale. I've also decided that the peninsula doesn't actually sit on an ocean of blood, but a regular ocean whose water tastes suspiciously coppery, the reason for this being that it becomes an ocean of blood once you go far enough out. This is the largely-unexplored land that peninsula-dwellers call "Mictlan," and that's where the random weirdness starts.

Here, have a look at my terrible map-drawing and inefficient by-hand hex numbering:

For now, I'm going with Carcosa's approach and having the distance between two parallel sides of a hex be 10 miles.

Most of the peninsula is jungle (the dark-green), with a mountain range in the middle, and then regions of hills (brown) giving way to plains (orange) which give way to a large desert that takes up the eastern tip of the peninsula. That's an evil wizard's tower at hex 0208, obviously. The things that look like bar graphs are cities, and the things that look like tiny penises are villages. That's also a terribly-rendered castle on the island at 0301.

I haven't actually figured out much of the actual setting yet, just vague ideas of Aztec and Mythos stuff rubbing shoulders. Most of the peninsula will be decidedly more Aztec than Mythos, but there's some spooky shit going on in a few places (I want enough adventuring opportunities on the peninsula and "normal" islands to make for a change of pace if players want it, but few enough that the setting encourages exploring Mictlan).

Expect some stuff on setting, and maybe some entries for known points of interests on the peninsula.

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