Unusual Dungeon #1: Hedge Maze

Labyrinth_Versailles_colourOne type of unusual dungeon that actually gets used sometimes is the Hedge Maze. Hedge mazes are familiar to anybody – labyrinths grown from, well, hedges. They evolved from know gardens, a type of garden that features a very strict, symmetric, and usually square layout. A hedge maze could even have grown from such a knot garden, after generous application of black magic by an evil faery queen.

The usability as a dungeon is really well illustrated by the picture on the right, a map of a hedge maze that used to exist in the gardens of Versailles.

Due to the amount of work required, they are almost always part of a palace or so, but in a fantasy setting some madman could just set up a hedge maze for the sole purpose of confusing, capturing, or distracting his enemies. Usually, the game will be less about the maze itself, but more about something to be found at the center, or at the other end: The villain’s castle, shreds of a treasure map, statues that are hints to the location of a cache of art looted in the war.

How not to run a hedge maze dungeon

To make a hedge maze useful, you’d have to provide some sort of mechanism to prevent the characters from simply cutting through the hedges. If the maze is used to toy with the characters, this could be a mere threat (“Don’t even think about cheating, or the Mad Jester will kill the mayor’s daughter!”). The maze itself may be a monster; the hedges have sharp thorns and lash out at any attacker. If the hedge is magical, perhaps cutting a hole into one just leads to the point of origin. In a space opera context, the plants are of a strange, alien variety that draw metals from the ground and cannot be cut by the characters’ knives.

Thematically, the obstacles and opponents found in the maze should be plant-related, or park-related. If the antagonist is a faery or evil jester, add fey and joker-related creatures and traps to the list. Clues should be guarded by puzzles, traps should hinder progress – and these tropes work so much better in a hedge maze because they are set up deliberately as puzzles.

RPG Blog Carnival: Unusual Dungeons

RPGBlogCarnivalLogoSmallA ‘dungeon’ is a room or cell in which a prisoner is kept. Traditionally, it is where evil overlords keep the fair maiden until the knights in shining armor come to her rescue. In fantasy role-playing games, the term ‘dungeon’ quickly expanded to mean any underground complex which the players explore in a structureed format; often, examining it room by room rather than in a story driven fashion – even when a backstory drives this explanation.

This has led to the dungeon becoming perhaps the biggest trope of the hobby, and one of the things every GM strives to do is break the formula – provide interesting settings, variations, and breaks from the pattern, while often keeping the convenience of dungeon-based game-play. Additionally, a classic dungeon is not appropriate for all genres.

I’ve always been a fan of dungeon delving, of cave exploration; from the old Red Box introduction dungeon to Undermountain, from the asteroid mines of Ceres to the fallen ruins of the Venusian space elevators. This month, I’d like to invite you to join me in exploring unusual dungeons – be it by location, theme, design, or any other element that you think makes a dungeon interesting and stand out from the usual mold.

If you write an article on the subject, please post a comment with a link below to share your work with others! (I need to approve comments, but I will do so at least once a day.)

Happy dungeon exploration, everybody!


A New World, Part 7: Mythology – The Five Gods of Man

Third and last part in the Mythology arc of posts.

The names of all Old Gods were created using the Lovecraftian Names generator.

The Five Gods of Man

Even though his mother got better in the years after Darac and his companions freed her from the Underworld, where she had been imprisoned by the dead god Rarthot, Darac himself was a changed man. He had seen so many horrors in that realm of torment, too much suffering, and too much brutality. Before, he had been convinced that some – if not most – gods were benign; now he doubted this belief.

His doubts on the matter were finally settled when, five years after Darac’s return from the underworld, a series of calamities began to hit the lands: A drought led to forest fires and a famine. The following year, winter lasted so long that there was no summer. The snow finally melted at the time autumn arrived, and the seasonal rain and the melting snow led to floods and mudslides. Without a crop that year, the famine grew worse – granaries were empty, and even the foragers returned to their villages empty-handed most days. And as if this had not been enough, the dead rose from their graves that winter.

Darac sought his mother’s council. Because of her years in the Underworld, she had developed a… gift, saw visions in her dreams, and had great insight into the workings of the divine.

“The gods,” Darac’s mother said, “are angry at you, my son. They seek revenge for their humiliation, for your defiance.”

“But we are not suffering, mother,” Darac replied. “We have enough food. our lands are large and my estate small. Why must others suffer for what I did?”

“That is the way of the gods, son. Your first punishment is to see those suffer who are innocent in your eyes. It will get worse.” She paused. “It always gets worse.”

Darac knew, in his heart, that Iruwa was right, but his mind did not want to accept what was clear to his sight. As before, he summoned his companions. Of the three who had accompanied him to the underworld, two answered his call. Darac told them of his mother’s explanation, and what he intended to do about it. The two replied that they believed that Darac had become insane, but yet, they once more swore an oath to stand by his side, no matter what the cost to their own being or souls.

Darac, his companions, and Iruwa then travelled across the land to the palace of the God-Queen, Nuria, whose lands had remained unaffected. Three times he demanded that the God-Queen Nuria open the gates of her kingdom to refugees. Three times he demanded that she share the contents of her granaries with the starving people outside. The God-Queen Nuria denied each of his demands. Darac then challenged her to, and with the use of the Sword of Yorhorh and the powers of the dead god, Rarthot, defeated her in personal combat. As he was about to behead the God-Queen Nuria, she yielded and offered her loyalty in exchange for her life. Darca accepted, and the God-Queen Nuria henceforth fought on Darac’s side.

Indeed, Darca had had no intention of killing the God-Queen Nuria, for her abilities and powers played an important role in his plan. As a goddess herself, she was able to find, and lead Darac to, other gods. They met Daugggol by a stream, as the Wild God was feasting on still-beating hearts. Darac killed Daugggol after but a short fight. Thalhar was the next god they confronted – the lustful god was killed in the brothel he had been frequenting in disguise. Sorth-zaraug survived, but was banished to the Underworld – the first time that a God would be imprisoned there.

In similar manner, Darac’s band of adventurers hunted down and killed every god they could find. Word of his deeds spread, and volunteers arrived. Soon, Darac had an army at his disposal.

The gods had, of course, taken notice, and they, too began to band together. At first smaller groups challenged Darac, but while Darac lost some men, and could not always kill all of his opponents outright, he and his companions remained undefeated.

At long last, the gods united under the leadership of Rarakrsha, who had led many armies over the eons as his enjoyed the bloodshed and death of soldiers on the field. The gods called their faithful to a crusade against Darac, and the army of the gods and the army of men clashed on the northern plateau of Tarn. The battle raged for weeks, with heav causalities on both sides. Darac and Rarakrsha met in the midst of the battlefield, and the hero of mankind slew the god of warfare right there, raising his severed head high. Silence fell on the battlefield, and then the mortals in the army of gods betrayed their masters. The few remaining gods present on the plateau of Tarn did not survive their general for long.

After the battle, Darac and his companions decided to push on for a final victory, advised to do so by the God-Queen Nuria. She said that if there ever was a day to strike against the Pantheon, it was this very day, and so they set forth, bringing with them a small group of their best fighting-men.

Tensions ran high among the men as they approached the white marble pillars, and a few fell to their knees as they crossed the Threshold, frozen in fear. The rest left them behind. They followed the long, tall halls, their steps echoing through the eternity of Pantheon. They were alone. They found nobody – no god, no mortal, nothing. The Great Chamber was deserted, the throne room of Anagkekra was empty. It was here that Darac and his companions held council. Again, it was the God-Queen Nuria who, through her own status, could offer an explanation.

The gods, she said, had fled. Fearful for their lives, their very existence, they had abandoned the world for good. “You know what must be done now,” she said.

“I do not know,” Darac replied. “I do not.”

“You must take it,” the God-Queen replied. “You must sit on the throne. You must take the reigns of power, and replace the gods you have slain.”

“I can not,” Darac answered. “I do not want this power, can not carry this responsibility!”

“That,” the God-Queen Nuria said simply, “Is why you must.”

Darac’s mother, Iruwa, put her hand on her son’s shoulder. “You know she is right,” she said. “There is nobody else you can trust. We will be with you, son.”

And so, with a heavy heart, Darac approached the enormous throne, his two remaining companions, his mother Iruwa, and the God-Queen Nuria at his side, and it is they, who have since that day, protected and guided all the peoples of the world as the new Five Gods.


A New World, Part 6: Mythology – Darac’s Descend into the Underworld

These turned out to be longer than I thought, so I decided to split them up. Part two of the Mythology arc:

Darac’s Descend Into the Underworld

Darac’s victory felt hollow to the great hero, as he knew that his mother was still trapped in the Underworld, suffering unmentionable pain every day. And not only his mother – he knew all too well that there were hundreds, maybe countless, people who had been taken by gods over the eons.

Two year after his return from the Pantheon he called his companions to him. Three answered the call, and after they arrived, Darac proposed that they should descend into the Underworld, to free his mother, and any other humans they could. His companions agreed they would follow him, but said that such an endeavor was plainly impossible. Everybody had known, they said, how to get to the Pantheon. Nobody knew how to get into the Underworld. Darac told them that he had thought about this, and had come up with a solution. He asked his companions to swear that, no matter what, they would be loyal to him, and the cause, and all three agreed and swore this oath.

Darac smiled and gave a sign to his servants. They opened a large door at the other end of the hall, and armed guards led in eight priests and priestesses. Each was in chains. Each served a God known to be particularly cruel – Thachac, Mmoldar, Teggogh, Yor-Sothan, and others.

“You serve your Gods well, do you not?” Darac asked the men and women. They nodded in agreement.

“And what you see, your Gods see, do they not?” Again, the priests agreed.

“Then know this. We are coming for you. We will hunt down every one of you, and kill each and every one of you, until your masters stop us. Banish us to the Underworld, I dare them! Nothing will stop us!” and with this, Darac drew the sword of Yorhorh, and killed each of the eight priests and priestesses in turn.

Darac revealed to his companions that he had used the treasure of the red dragon to gather a small but highly trained and fiercely loyal group of mercenaries – five thousand men in total. And he intended to carry out his threats. At first, the companions were aghast, but Darac reminded them of all the evil the Gods had committed, and convinced them that his way was just.

For the next six years, Darac’s army traveled through the lands, and they killed every servant of those gods they could find. As word of his deeds spread, some cities and kingdoms denied him entry, and so he forced his way. He spared the God-Queen Nuria, but only after burning down her temples and palaces.

At the end of six years, the Gods decided that enough was enough. They banished Darac and his companions, and his entire army, to the Underworld. Darac and his companions used every trick at their disposal, all the power of the dead god Rarthot, to protect their men from the torment, but most succumbed and died in the first weeks. The rest marched on and made war on the demons of the Underworld. They even freed some people, who then joined their crusade.

At long last, Darac found Iruwa. She had not aged a day since Rarthot had imprisoned her, and she was physically unharmed, though her soul had been broken. She did not know who the strangers were who suddenly faced her, and had long forgotten the notion of a life without eternal suffering. She followed, but not out of enthusiasm to be free once more; she followed like any broken slave would in fear of the whip.

Despite having achieved his goal, Darac had a great moment of doubt. It seemed that despite all the hardship, he could not even save his mother. He nearly gave up, there, in the deepest levels of hell, but his companions reminded him of the good he had done, of the people he had saved, and that it was not, after all, too late for his mother – if Darac would lead them out of the Underworld.

Darac agreed, and with a heavy heart took charge of the men again. They soon found that their entry had been easy – all the guardians of the Underworld aimed at keeping people and souls in, not out! Roads that had been free were now open. Rivers of molten lava had appeared where there had been serene lakes of blood before. Things with sharp teeth came for the men when they rested, and the gods sent armies of the dead to confront them. Darac’s army, already reduced to a fraction of its size, dwindled. They fought and defeated Zotsa, whose phlegm dissolved a man within seconds. They came across a lake where a dozen men would not heed warnings out of thirst and turned to stone as they drank. They climbed a wall made out of the writhing bodies of disloyal temple slaves. They braved the burning air of Genvahorr and the frozen caverns of  Ucpelardi.

It was in these caves that they nearly found their end, were it not for a strange coincidence. Through the thick snow-storms, they saw several shapes. As they got closer, it became clear that what they saw was a battle. It was a naked woman, with dark hair, surrounded by a dozen winged demons. Her skin was pale, almost blue from the cold, and the demons had frost-covered skin. She was using a horn she had ripped off a demon’s head as a club. Then Darac recognized her, it was the God-Queen Nuria! Without much thought, Darac charged the demons, and his companions and men followed him.

After defeating the demons, and providing some of their clothes to the God-Queen, Nuria explained that she had been cast into the Underworld as punishment for being spared by Darac. She was not the ally Darac would have chosen, but she was a familiar person. More-over, she said she thought she could find the way back, even though she was feeling too weak to make it on her own.

Darac agreed to trust the God-Queen Nuria, and she was true to her word. She led Darac’s now very small group of men to the surface, where they emerged amidst the volcanoes of the southern islands.


A New World, Part 5: Mythology – Darac’s Origin

As promised, I’ll continue to flesh out the New World setting I created for the January Blog Carnival. I haven’t really had time to work on the map, so I am doing something different today and maps will come later. I’ll deal with the Colonist’s religion. I’ll try to make this semi in-character:

Darac’s Origin

In the past, Gods walked the Earth. Everybody knows this, and everybody learns the stories about the Old Gods – how they created the world, and how they made it their own; how they gave it life. The Old Gods were very much invested in mankind, and interacted with it frequently. A traveler could come across the goddess of beauty bathing under a waterfall. If he was lucky, she would take a liking to him. A fair maiden might be visited by a god as she brushed her hair in front of a mirror, and if she was unlucky, he took a liking to her. The gods were whimsical, unpredictable, sometimes generous and often very, very jealous.

Mankind continued to thrive, learned to make better tools and more powerful weapons. Humans built cities, connected them with roads, founded kingdoms and began to explore the oceans. But they did not contest the power of the gods until Rarthot, one of the Old Gods, came across a group of young women near a village. All of the girls fled at the sight of the God, except for the most beautiful of them, Iruwa, who faced him without fear. Impressed by her beauty and her boldness, Rarthot took her to be his mistress.

Rarthot, however, soon discovered that Iruwa was carrying a son. Enraged that she was not pure any longer, Rarthot took the son from her and threw him to the Earth without a thought. He then banished Iruwa to the deepest levels of the underworld; a place of eternal pain and suffering. She was tormented by the underworld demons, a suffering only surpassed when Rarthot would visit, and unleash the worst cruelties he could imagine. This went on for sixteen years before Rarthot’s visits became less frequent and he, eventually, abandoned Iruwa, so she might suffer for the rest of eternity.

Rarthot had never thought a second time of Iruwa’s son, however. He survived and was found by a poor shepherd. Desperately poor, he nonetheless took the child home, and he and his wife raised him as his own. The boy was given the name Darac.

Darac grew to be a healthy young man – strong as an ox, quick as the lightning, agile as the cat but also of sound mind, he was well-liked in his village. He left his home during the Navorish wars, and learned to use sword, spear and bow. He distinguished himself as a very capable warrior, his skill and fighting-spirit inspiring those who saw him in the thick of battle.

One day, a priestess came to bless Darac’s legion before an important battle. As she touched Darac’s head, she fainted. As she recovered, she sent everybody away and told Darac of his true origin as the son of a woman taken by Rarthot – it had been revealed to her as she had been unconscious.  At first, Darac did not believe it, but after the war he returned home and his foster parents told him that, indeed, they were not his true parents but had found him. Now Darac was filled with doubts, and decided to find out more about his origin. He left his village again, vowing to return once he had discovered the truth.

Over the years, he lived through many adventures. Darac’s Voyages led him to all known lands, and far beyond. He saw things no mortal had seen before him, fought gruesome monsters, and received audiences from priests and kings alike. He was led astray often, made wrong decisions at times, but never gave up on his quest. He gathered a group of four friends, who assisted him. He obtained a sword blessed by none other than the god Yorhorh, which he used to slay the Red Dragon. The gods took notice of this, and some began to aid him, while others toyed with him. The God-Queen Nuria told Darac of his mother’s fate. Darac swore that he would kill Rarthot for this, and rescue his mother.

Rarthot was at first annoyed, then over time frightened, as Darac overcame one hurdle after the other, defeated every enemy that challenged him. Eventually, Darac and his friends forced their way into the Pantheon itself, and confronted and killed Rarthot in a mighty battle that was witnessed in all of the world as a violent thunderstorm that lasted three days.

Darac was offered to replace Rarthot in the Pantheon, but Darac rejected this. Instead, he returned to the world. He parted ways with his companions, each vowing to use the powers they gained from the dead god Rarthot to protect the peoples of the land.


A New Year, A New World Roundup

RPGBlogCarnivalLogoSmallJanuary came and went and it’s time to close our “New Year, New World” Blog Carnival. With a slow start, we still got a number of really cool – and in some cases very long – entries. Posts were, in chronological order:

Thank you all for participating! Be sure to check out February’s carnival, over at Leicester’s Ramble, on the topic of How/Where You Write/Prep.

If you’ve got any late articles, please post below or on the original post and I’ll add you to the list. I’ll also continue building my small colonial setting over the next months.

A New World, Part 4: Mapping the Coastline

Now that I know a little about the situation of our colonists, I’d like to know what the geography is like. Usually, I make up my maps from complete stretch, but the other days I saw a map of Sumatra on the BBC News site and I decided that its eastern coast looks pretty awesome. The New World setting being a fairly small one, I thought it’d be quite okay to actually use Sumatra and modify it.

The source map I picked is one provided by Wikimedia, and is public domain. (Always respect other people’s copyrights!)

I set up an Inkscape document with dimensions of 420x594mm, that’s DIN A2 format. This will allow me to create enough detail for a medium-sized posted map, if I so wish, and I can easily halve the size to make it an A3 size for a 2-page spread in a booklet or magazine. Landscape format for the same reason. I realize that I am probably overthinking it, but then, it doesn’t hurt.

My Inkscape Setup
My Inkscape Setup

Normally, you’ll want to avoid using real geographic features as much as possible, despite it having a long tradition (the D&D pioneers based their settings off a fantasized version of the USA), because humans are insanely good at recognizing patterns and players will spot your sources. All my settings are “officially” parallel Earths, though, so at least I have a rationale for it.

Tracing the coast
Tracing the coast

As you can see I trace the coastline in many small sections; this is so I can do it zoomed in. I don’t try to match it precisely, and I am ignoring the islands off the coast for now. A little filling action later, and we have ourselves an east coast.

First Draft of East Coast
First Draft of East Coast

It looks bland at this stage, but that’s okay. Do note two things: One, I’ve marked a possible site for the colony. Two, the coast is not contiguous in the south and extends “off map”. This could be a bay, or the New World might be split by a strait. I’ll leave this up for later.

Now it’s time to add higher elevations. I add rivers first, because I find it helps to use them as a guide for mountains rather than the other way around. For the elevation colors, I am re-using the palette I used for my Northern Territory map. In the following screenshot, I’ve filled in some preliminary mountains – as you can see, each “height range” is a separate layer. In this map, they are abstract levels, but on some maps I go by numerical height bands.

Going Vertical
Going Vertical

Note that only the coastal layer has an outline (dark blue) to provide better contrast; all higher elevations have no outlines because here I find outlines to be distracting.

Looking at the map, it does seems too sterile. Let’s add some quick islands.

You gotta have islands
You gotta have islands

And there we have it, a nice, fairly dynamic coastline, some cool islands that beckon, and you almost can’t tell that it was Sumatra once. To see how it works as a hexcrawl, I added a 0.5 inches hexgrid to the map. I use an online SVG hexmap generator, open the resulting SVG file, group all elements and copy them over into a new layer.

Hexgrid Overview
Hexgrid Overview

And a zoom:


I am, if I may humbly say so, quite happy with how this turned out. Next time, I will work on the interior – and work on some local details.


A New World, Part 3: What’s the Colony Like?

Log_Cabin_BAHAccording to Wikipedia, it took the Mayflower pilgrims three weeks to build their first common house, 6×6 meters in size. They were severely hampered by disease. They assigned single men to families to reduce the number of houses that needed to be built. They completed their initial settlement another month later, with 30+ people dead (about 25%).

In the case of the lost colony, there is no major disease (our settlers have it hard enough), but a severe shortage of food and other supplies, and unrest among the refugees.  The group is also much larger, so ideal logs for building have to be brought in from further afield, or less ideal trees used. The refugee fleet was not as well prepared as the original fleet, but there are some woodworking tools on any (wooden!) sailing ship.


How many houses does the settlement need? Assume six to eight people per house, or 250-330 buildings. Some of these will be common houses, storage barns, and the like. The available land will be split into long, stretches; the house is at the front of the grant, at the roadside; the rear will presumably used for agriculture. Common houses will be clustered in the center of the colony, near the waterside. There are native tribes in the New Lands, but none survive nearby; with food and shelter an urgent matter and the settlement being fairly large, the town will not build any defensive structures.

As a side note, I realize that 2000 people is a lot. That’s basically the entire population of the Thirteen Colonies in 1625. However, with contact with the old world completely lost, 2000 people is a very, very small population – perhaps too small to survive in the long run. I also decided that I’d like to have the main colony have some semblance to a real town.


The colonists had a while to set up before the refugees arrived. The less time before winter arrives, the fewer houses will be built; this means more overcrowding and might also mean that the buildings that are built are closer together. It also leaves less time for foraging and creates a greater strain in the colony.


The colonists explored the coast for a short while, maybe a few weeks, until they found a suitable spot (they also tried to find the site of the original outpost, since some maps of that area existed and a few native settlements there were known to be friendly). Features: Defensible hill, old growth forest, a protected natural harbor, and a river. (The river for easier transportation and travel inland, and for building watermills.)


The settlement is governed by the leader of the original colony fleet, let’s use the term “Governor”. He is authorized – by the King personally – to run the colony in the King’s name. He is supported by a handful of officers and administrators, and ten men-at-arms. Another few dozen “trusted” men make up the settlement’s militia, though of course in any larger attack everybody who can hold a weapon (or a club) is expected to help in the defense. It is noteworthy that no members of the refugee group serves as guards or militiamen.


The original fleet carried some crops and some livestock – especially the later is among the most valuable property of the colony. A few cows, chicken, sheep, pigs. None of these will be used for food, as they are needed for breeding.

Both fleets also brought cats (to keep rats and mice in check) and dogs (as guard dogs). I am considering to omit horses and donkeys,; locating an animal suitable for riding or as a beast of burden could be a priority for the colony.

Tools are “colonial” property and issued as needed. Anything anybody owned privately that was deemed useful for the colony was confiscated, with promises of payment “if and when” the colony survived.

Ships: The colonists probably stripped a few ships for supplies. Some ships might be suitable for fishing. Two – with minimum crew – were sent back to the old world, they have not yet returned. Some others are used to explore the coast.


There’s no official currency. Some people barter for what little surplus there is, or use old world gold and silver coins. Most other metals are way too useful for tool-making to be used for coins. Written IOU’s are used in some cases.


The settlement needs a name. I was thinking “KIng’s Cove”; there are a real life King’s Cove in Canda and a King Cove in Alaska. I think that’s okay. The colony was named before the arrival of the refugees, so it will have a “normal” colony name, and not anything connected to its status as a refugee camp.


A New World, Part 2: Assumptions

Before I start working on maps or any such things, I like to “nail down” some of the basic assumptions of a new setting. Basically, my process is a “top-down” approach, but very iterative – I decide on the big issues first, and then bounce back and forth between detail work and large-scale work. If that makes any sense?

First, what is the setting about? Mostly survival and exploration:

  • Man vs Nature: The colonists are short on equipment, supplies, there’s no infrastructure. There used to be natives, but a Tsunami wave has destroyed coastal settlements – there are surely survivors somewhere, but they aren’t easy to reach and might be worse off than the colonists.
  • Man vs Man: Let’s face it, some people just crack when they are in a life-threatening situation. There will be those who will take what they need – or want – without any regard for others. There will be power struggles, either over practical matters or over ideology.

Second, what sort of starting situation have we?

  • The New Lands were discovered a few years ago. The original explorers built an outpost for their own use, but the colonists couldn’t find it (presumably it was destroyed) and settled nearby.
  • The colony fleet consisted of seven ships, the “refugee” fleet of nine. A rough rule-of-thumb for the number of people this gives us could be using thing the Mayflower as an example; she carried 135 people. Our settlement starts of with about 2000 colonists and refugees. This is a large number, but attrition will run fairly high (half of the Mayflower settlers did not make it through the first winter).
  • The colony fleet would include craftsmen, soldiers, trained administrators; in short every type of profession you’d need to set up a settlement that is far from the homeland. The refugee fleet just carried whoever had the random luck to make it on board.
  • Arrival was probably timed to be late winter, very early spring, so that the colony could be established well before the next winter. For dramatic purposes, I will assume that it is late summer/early autumn. This means the colonists can not get farms going. I might change this depending on research.
  • It’s a “humans only” fantasy setting with no, or very limited, magic.


Finally, one word about goals: I’d like this to be a usable mini setting by the end of the month. This probably means that I won’t be able to go into great detail. Of course, if anybody would like to use this setting, I could keep working on it after the Carnival is over.

A New World, Part 1: The New Lands

I still remember the excitement of our departure. The wind picked up. The cheers from the crowd as we set sail. Picking up speed as we passed The Pillars, the open ocean before us. We were the vanguard, the pioneers, the first fleet amongst many that would be sent to the New Lands in the west to build new settlements, new homes, and eventually, glorious cities for our King and country.

Three weeks into the voyage we observed something strange to our east. Thin pillars of flame descended from the heaven, five in a row, lasting but a moment. The men argued about the event, fearing a bad omen, but my officers convinced them that it was a sign of a safe voyage. I think none of them really believed it, but it quelled the unrest, and over the days the excitement of arrival took over.

Here, the note written by Lord Admiral Corwyn Thynne digresses into some of the plans for the initial settlement, at a site picked shortly after the original discovery of the New Lands. Later, and on a different day, he continues:

My first glance through the lense revealed utter chaos and destruction. Fallen tree and debris all over. We followed the coast but found no sign of the fort set up during the voyage of discovery. We found no native villages, and no sign of life. But everywhere was destruction. Our maps, necessarily crude to begin with, did not match the coastline. We knew we were in the right place, and verified it by the stars once more. But dramatic change had taken place, not long ago.

We landed the next day, Benedict says it looks as if the area was flooded very recently. We ventured a few miles inland, but nothing changed. We have no explanation, but we will carry on with what we set out to do. We have selected a new site, it has everything we require.

Most of Lord Corwyn’s following notes concern themselves with establishing the settlement. Two weeks later he remarks, in hurried script:

The second fleet was not to arrive for months, yet today we sighted sails on the horizon. Nine ships, and all crowded, made landfall nearby. I met with their commander, one Sebastien of Orolai. The ships’ crews and passengers were a mess – wretched, dirty souls. of Orolai told me that a searing fire had consumed much of the Kingdom, and that the small fleet consisted of vessels commandeered in Westhaven. They first sailed along the coast, but found no port city not in flames or already destroyed. Not knowing where else to go, they set sail across the ocean, having been lucky to have a navigator who knew about the routes.

I talked to a few of the refugees, and I never got the same story twice. Whatever happened back home – one thing seems certain, we will not get any supplies or help. And now we have hundreds of extra mouths to feed. Let’s hope that wee can forage enough for the winter.

The Lost Colony is a small setting I will be designing over the course of January. The premise is, as you read above, that a fleet set out to establish a colony, but reinforcements never arrived. Instead, it appears that a catastrophe has destroyed their homelands. Overcrowded, low on supplies, and isolated from civilization, the young colony begins to explore the New Lands to build a future for themselves.