Fifth of the Seven Seas: The Missing Sea

Important Locations

  1. The HMS Insurmountable – A titanic shop, sailing crisscross the Missing Sea. It is a triple decker and is stacked with a full barracks. Soldiers march too and from on the decks, and a blue coated captain looks out with a spy glass in search of the missing home they once sallied from.
  2. The HMS Revelation – a black and metal clad prison ship. Once manned by imperial soldiers who carried slaves back to their capitol, the slaves have overtaken their captors and have joined the imperial search for their capitol in order to gain their revenge.
  3. The Hole – somewhere in the Missing Sea is a hole, not some mythical maelstrom, but a place where the water grows dark as if an entire isle had been uprooted from the bottom of the sea.

 

Questions:

  1. What did the PCs do here? The Missing Sea is a quiet place dogged only by the imperial ships searching for the home country, many people find it a good place to meet with no one the wiser. As long as you aren’t the missing home, the imperial soldiers don’t seem to see you.
  2. Is Sally here?

 

The People:

  1. Captain Nelson – an immortal admiral with no country to serve. He rides imperial ships returning back from the other seas, no longer the conqueror. He and all like him search for the missing country.
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Fourth of the Seven Seas: The Glass Sea

Important Locations

  1. The Barrier Inn – a stilt supported lodge constructed of shards of glass the size of doors, strapped together with always fraying rope. Ships stop briefly to retrofit their shops with the skies, or wheels, or sleds needed to slip over the glassy waves of the sea. While waiting the sailors lose themselves in spirits laced with glass dust.
  2. The Tinted Oasis – a titanic wave, frozen in time like all its siblings in an perfect curl. Underneath, in the shadow of the wave, is pure fresh water. Growing around the edges of the water, long roots swaying in the water, thin skeletal leaves adapted to the blue light, are strange plants. Animals related to sharks scuttle in the dark air as well.
  3. The Crater – at the center of the sea, in its perfect circular glory, is a crater where a black humanoid statue lies. Marks radiate from the statue like it once fell in fire to the water. The depth of the crater should be remarked upon, as its nearness to the bottom of the sea lets one see huge creatures frozen inside the glass.
  4. The Mining Fields – In hidden spots all across the sea are broken areas, where sailors may climb below, harvest glass, and sometimes climb to ship wrecks once deposited on the ocean floor.
  5. Ships may be frozen into the glass – ancient things, wrecked, and only inhabited by the degenerated spawn of trapped exiles.

 

Questions:

  1. What did the PCs do here? Certain magical acts can cause strange temporal effects. Some have spoken of magic creating things before they had ever been thought of.
  2. Is Sally here?

 

The People:

  1. Mr. de Hollar – an exile of the Fens and a criminal. He was stranded by his last crew, chained to a barrel filled with glass dust. He drags it pitifully, but with a willing crew he can barter the dust for passage and eventual new crimes.
  2. Dolly Maroon – a youthful raven haired girl who mans the Barrier Inn. She carries a long pistol and serves wicked grog. Anyone who cheats her or hers finds their next drink laced with lacerating dust.
  3. The Black Statue – some say it murmurs things. Secrets of the sky it came from? Or of the other wanderers who have tried to listen to it?

3 Places of the Desert Divide

The City of V

The City of V is built along a steep sided gulley. The gulley in reality forms more of a “U” than the titular letter and the bottom is filled in with tall buildings stacked one atop the other with terraces and zig-zagging staircases winding between them. At the bottom the small amount of water that flows from above curls at the bottom of the town carefully crossed by bridges and a managed by damns and locks. No one is allowed to sully this water. It is the only drinking water for the city and all must respect that. There is no need for guards – anyone who lives there knows to respect the river. At the end of town where the gulley begins to widen there is a square that opens before the city’s gates. Here the people of the City of V throw their trash and filth to be washed downstream. So sullied is the river beyond that it turns into a swamp at the river’s widest point. The people of the City do not believe anyone else needs their water.

The Citadel of Canals once was a prosperous place, fed by a mountain lake it filled its titular passages with water. Villas were adorned with vines and trees and everyone was prosperous. In that happy period a great charm-maker constructed over one thousand gold lampposts with three clawed feet. According to him, just before the prince had his head cut off for fraud, the lampposts would spring to life should the citadel ever need them.

(Maybe just a part of City of V) The man wasn’t executed he was thrown into the swamp at the end of the river so that “his sacrifice would protect the citadel forever.”

 

The Empire of Feet

The Empire of Feet is centered on their capitol the Garden Cross. The city is built upon a tall mesa separated by the hills by nearly a mile. Climbing up it is easy to see why the empire is so powerful. The city itself is a Sel. The mesa itself is carved into creating the effect of tall double city walls. The circular ring is then connected to a cross in the middle and the inside of these walls is filled with greenery, a magical garden of the Stone Gods.

 

But the four spaces in between the walls are hardly empty. Centuries ago when the Ancient Empire ruled the continent great statues were placed here. Now they are simply ruined feet, two to a quadrant. The rich guilds of the empire inhabit them, filling them with workshops, meeting halls, and palatial rooms. The poor have to live in the hovels constructed between the massive toes and ankles or out in the two “poor feet” at the bottom of the mesa.

 

One ruin, the legs and throne of some forgotten lord is the Empress’s palace. Filled with open air courtyards and green plants it mirrors the fantastical gardens around the city. There she keeps her courts and a bridge has been built to connect the upper height of the throne with the outer walls so the Empress and her most faithful can overlook the magical greenery below.

 

The Poor Feet are two separate feet standing apart from the mesa facing the Great Dune Desert. They have been tunneled through by poor travelers and exist as half hovels and half taverns. Travelers who are not welcome in the city may stay there.

 

Between the Poor Feet is a half sand covered road that leads up to the tunnels that wind up into the city. Many imperial guards hide in murder holes along the twisting path that comes out into the fourth quadrant of the city.

 

The great Empire of Feet has a large stone erected at the base of the Palatial Toes. There it is written in gold filled letters the distance to every part of the empire.

 

The Dry Line

There is an invisible line in the desert of great dunes. Or it would be invisible if not for the rows of boats all stranded, dried to crispy preservation, tied by chains and ropes to old posts. The line of boats extends a long way in both directions marking a spot in the sand that is indistinct in every other way. Those with cabins sometimes contain homes, lived in by landlubbers who found this strange place long ago. One of the large galley’s has become a tavern. Many adventurer’s come to explore the hold’s of the larger boats. Some explore the line looking for a fabled stone god said to sit on his own boat along the  line still fishing from the long lost lake.

Third of the Seven Seas: The Lowland Sea

The Lowland Sea

Important locations:

  1. Capitol of the Fens – a city built on the high land at the center of the fens. It tries to expand its territory by dredging up land around it, forming navigable canals while piling the new dirt on its ever eroding shores. The buildings cram up against the edges of the dredging machine territory. Barges are used in the many flooded areas to transport dirt from dredging outposts. Other cities sometimes are besieged for their dirt.
  2. The flooded fields – vast stretches of land too shallow for most boats but long covered with water. Weird sea weed tricks the eye into seeing fields of grass. A few submerged ruins contain valuable things out there. River men rent their boats to those who wish to explore the fields, while bandits use the shallow areas to mount attacks on valuable barges and ships on the deeper river ways.
  3. The Wind Dike- a long dam that was meant to keep the water away from the land that failed causing it to be flooded. Windmills are built atop it’s long line. Many are lived in and have been converted into the villages that had to leave their fertile fields. They make do with fishing and trade.

 

Questions:

  1. What did the PCs do here?
  2. Is Sally here?

 

The People:

When the lands flooded the people fled to the high grounds, hills, the dike, the roofs of strong places all became de-facto villages. Now the communities have to bicker over the square inches of dirt they can acquire. Brave workers dedicate their existence to manning the dredge barges that scoop up the soil where they can to expand the territories.

  1. Republican Roos – The pragmatic leader of the Capitol voted in to wage war on the land of others and protects her lands from others.
  2. Captain Vanderdecken – the head of the dredgers. Soil smeared and dedicated to his job. He takes a utilitarian view of his work preserving those he can while dooming those he can’t.

Second of the Seven Seas: The Sun Sea

The Sun Sea

Important locations:

  1. The Sunken City – A great marble city sunken into the wine dark water. On special nights they say the old gods can be seen shining like silver walking its streets. This exists under the entirety of the Sun Sea.
  2. The Great Port of Carthage is the large brick and mud city capitol of the Caliphate of the Sun. They trade in luxuries pulled from the sunken city. Nobles wear the marble heads of statues stolen from the sea. Their oar pulled galleys skim the water looking for high points to dive to.
  3. The Razzia Islands – Islands on the northern edge of the Sun Sea, once the tops of palaces of the Sunken City overgrown with olive trees. They are inhabited by evil slavers and pirates who prey on Carthage led by the pirate Red Beard.

 

Questions:

  1. What did the PCs do here? Stole some artifact from the City. Found a special map on the tiles of the Sunken City’s palace within Red Beard’s islands.
  2. Is Sally here?

 

The People:

Most inhabitants of the Sun Sea are marble fishers, dipping or diving for the ancient treasures. They sell it to whoever they can. They are superstitious of the Sunken City but also regard it with frank and ruthless capitalism. They generally resent the Razzia Pirates as slavers and tyrants.

  1. Caliphess – Troubled by the pirates but proud of her marble treasures.
  2. Red Beard – a tyrannical pirate who claims to fight for the respect of the northern history and the sunken city. He claims the northerners are descended from the Sunken City while the Southerners are not. He attacks and enslaves those in the South and sells them to the North.

First of the Seven Seas: The Whale Sea

Important Locations:

  1. The Little Gray Island and the colony of Covenant – A craggy island with light houses and a small brick housed colony. There are many church towers visible each with a whale impaled on their wind vanes. Head of the Church of Jonah.
  2. Whaler Outpost – A tall tower built on a tiny island that serves as outpost and lookout for the whalers.
  3. Wolven coast – Cliffs give way to thick forest containing wolves and preachers. Most of the towners are dangerous and use lights to lure ships into the rocks during storms.
  4. Witch cave? Fox town? Some evil thing that is invisible/very secretive that causes all misfortune.

 

Questions:

  1. What did the PCs do here in the past? Asked Jonah for a favor. Killed Jonah for power. Killed a white whale for their ship. Stole an artifact from Jaffa.
  2. Is Sally here?

 

The People:

Most people in the Whale Sea believe they have committed great sins and once the whalers have found the whale that swallowed their god Jonah will be forgiven. They also believe that witches (or foxes or something) cause their every misfortune. They frequently have cascades of witch hunts and burnings.

  1. Preacher Jaffa – the fiery head preacher of the town. Will get things done when for his own purposes, will be quick to turn on those who don’t help him.
  2. Fox/Witch – a trickster that really does cause misfortune to a community it fully believes deserves it.
  3. Jonah – a horrible grimy creature living in the mouth of a whale. A parasite that eats the tongue of a larger fish and eats its food. Will have great power and can be petitioned to help.
  4. Abed – obsessed with finding Jonah while abusing his loyal servant. Once killed a loved one and need to find Jonah to be forgiven. Perhaps has sinful relationship with Jaffa.

Things I’ve Learned from… The Witcher 3 (5/5)

Setting and Resetting the Scene

Both the Angry GM and the Alexandrian have written excellent advice about how to set scenes and the importance of resetting it. the Witcher uses these same techniques to keep its interactions clear and precise.

The Witcher’s dialogue mechanics are created for simplicity and clarity. Yellow text moves the conversation forwards and usually leads to quest important information. White text is optional and either conveys an attitude Geralt can feel, or will reveal optional information.

But where it excels is in the clear  way it will restate information to keep the player’s attention on important information. When opting to say a white text option the dialogue will diverge from the main conversation. To keep the player informed about the main topic often at the end of one of these diversions Geralt or whoever he is speaking to will restate the original point allowing the conversation to progress naturally and reminding the player about the important points.

In the long often sprawling conversations keeping track of the through lines is incredibly important, especially since the Witcher relies so heavily on the conversations to generate mood and theme.

Use in RPGs

The Witcher serves as a good reminder on how to do NPC conversations well. Don’t be afraid to restate the main point in a conversation. Players might lead conversations to all sorts of odd corners and reminding them of the main take aways, even in sometimes obvious ways, can insure that the players remember the point and not that the NPCs favorite color is blue.