Sunday, December 28, 2008

The Policy Solution



Given that I got some fine response to my last post, I decided to give more detail. Above is the map I referred to yesterday. You will note that the map is not actually completed (the northern heavily colored areas with blue arrows indicating river direction and coastlines that haven't been done, just blue hexes indicating where the main channel is). Therefore it is at the very "edge" of my world as it exists now...really, the very edge of the world in reality, as it is brutally far north.

Teal hexes are extensive muskeg swamps. Purple hexes are uninhabitable mountain areas, a mix of bare rock and scrub trees, with brutal normal temperatures, expecially in winter.

The large arrow on the map indicates the distance the party has been able to travel in seven sessions (they are at the point of the arrow). Their point of departure is Gora Narodnaya, highest mountain in the Urals (6,214 ft.) and one of the inevitable existing paths into the Abyss. Having survived that little adventure, the party left, staggered out of the glacial mountains, avoided a nearby resident white dragon and made it down onto the taiga flatland, where they managed to piss off some gnolls. It has only been in the last running and a half, mostly the last running, that they were pursued.

Mostly, they survive because the mage wisely took Leomund's Secure Shelter, which protects them 8 hours of every day.

Allow me to explain the map.

Bjarmaland, which they are in, extends a very great distance into the west, a good 25 to 30 hexes before they would reach Russia. Bjarmaland is divided into Gaa'Kaa (shown on the map) and Glu'Bak, which is off the map to the west. The large river flowing up the left side of the map is the Pechora, which eventually debouches into the Bering Sea, far, far to the north. It isn't navigable except by canoe. Bjarmaland, as I've said before, is occupied by Gnolls with numerous human, gnome and elven slaves--so there is the possibility, if the party is willing to get close enough to a sizable habitation (they haven't yet) that they could free a lot of slaves and do a whole Spartacus thing.

The large region to the east, Magloshkagok, is a huge, largely uninhabitable region of swamp and lowland corresponding to the West Siberian Plain. Magloshkagok is divided into three regions, Biyetia, Ostyakia and Yobatia, and is populated by about three hundred thousand goblins. It measures about 840,000 square miles in area, making it about one fourth the total land area of the United States. The large river flowing in from the east and up to the north of the map is the Ob River. The large one from the south which meets it is the Irtysh. Both are huge, 4-8 miles across and thoroughly navigable.

Most of the population dwell so far from any other race that they live very peaceably--except along the region called "The Marsh Borderlands," where the goblinish region of Mendostigarkland sparks against the Kingdom of Hoth (Eykhoth County is shown), occupied by Dwarves. The dwarvish population is higher towards the Ural Mountains and scattered in the lands known as Night Fields and the Planted Fall. The Planted Fall in particular has historically been the site of many interracial battles.

Lastly, the bottom southwest corner is Bulgrastan, comprising of the Akmanates of Zyria and Bolgar. This land is ruled by 2-3 thousand ogre overlords (magi included, of course), an orc/haruchai population and many dwarven, human and orcish slaves.

The party is utterly unaware of Bulgrastan, its location or what it would mean to find it. They might as characters have heard of the land, but they're certainly unaware that they're within 180 miles of it.

I hadn't exactly considered it, but if they're willing to reclimb the Urals (about 4,000 feet at this point) they could work their way through the Valley of the Broken Axe and into northern Eykhoth, and thus back to a friendly land. But...by the time they reached the mountains, it would be mid-November and likely they would be unable to climb through the deep snow. But...if they could, they might find a dwarven hamlet within 200 miles. Where they could then wait out the winter.

Sadly, they have no more idea about Hoth than they have about Bulgrastan. Think I should tell them?

Of course...they find a small gnoll settlement of two or three houses, with one gnome and one human slave--both of whom know that somewhere, just over the mountains, is the dwarven land of Hoth. The party bickers, eventually picks a valley and tries to climb the mountains. A couple lose toes and a point of dexterity and finally, before December 1st, they're near a warm fire.

A solution at last.

APPENDIX:

I've gone and dug some pics up of the Pechora Valley, where the party is at. I could find no winter shots, which isn't surprising, since in deep winter the Pechora experiences almost no day, so you'll have to imagine these covered in four feet of snow.


3 comments:

Chgowiz said...

an orc/haruchai population and many dwarven, human and orcish slaves.

Haruchai cooperating with orcs? What would the Lords of Revelstone think?

Interesting reading on how you've come up with a solution for your players. I had thought (but didn't suggest) that perhaps they be "picked up" and enslaved by the gnolls or another hostile race, but the slaves they are housed with are planning a revolt RSN...

Sometimes making a bad situation "worse" gets the juices flowing.

Alexis said...

Chgowiz,

I've never liked the "enslaved by the enemy" scenario. It usually means I have to strip the party naked of everything they've earned, then create some reasonable premise for why that equipment would be conveniently stored on site so it can be regained upon the party's escape. "I know," says the gnoll, "We'll store everything right here in this cupboard right near the slaves...we won't redistribute the various magic items and equipment throughout the army and local chieftains..."

Uh, no.

If the party is enormously stupid and lets itself get caught, that's one thing. Then I'll strip them of everything they own with malice. But I won't enslave the party just to move the plot along. It's the sort of cliche I avoid.

I'm glad my world provided the rational solution...not that I will make the party agree. If they want to ignore the slaves, or not even rescue them (which is possible), I won't give hints that they should. I believe in free will.

Chgowiz said...

All good points, although in my head, the gnolls would have divided up the spoils and the slave revolt could give the party a chance to recover those items, after fighting for them on the gnolls that now wear/use them. Like you, I hate the "Oh yes, here's our stuff *wink/nod*"

It was just the idea that had popped in my head when I read your last post, not all of them work out.