Friday 20 July 2018

The Hexcrawl of Hexcrawls: an Epic (for Trojan Points)

Back in March, Trojan Points set me a challenge in the comments to this post: to put all the good encounters from several different Pathfinder adventure paths onto a single, nation-sized hexmap. 'Can you distil 4000 pages to 20 something?', he asked. I replied:
I've just opened up Hexographer and played around with combining all my hexcrawls into a single map, and then adding the necessary geography for my three non-hexcrawl condensations, and it *almost* works. All it's missing is some kind of big central power in the middle of the map, to be the nation which is currently occupying Westcrown, notionally in charge of the Sundered Kingdoms, able to task the PCs with clearing the forests in Kingmaker, and so on. (Neither Magnimar nor Korvosa really fits the bill.) Condensing one more AP should do the trick.
Last month I wrote a condensation of Iron Gods, and after a bit of reflection I concluded that the Technic League made as good a 'central power' as any other. So I plugged the geography from Iron Gods into my map from March, copy-pasted all the text from my condensations and hexcrawls into a single document, rekeyed them to the new, combined map, and modified them to remove all the implicit and explicit time limits, in order to make them friendlier to hexcrawl-style play. I can't claim to have distilled 4000 pages into 20, but I did get 3500 pages and a 70-hour computer game into 47.

It's a very rough and ready job. The Great Machine material has been rescaled from 10-mile hexes to 6-mile hexes, meaning that everything is improbably tiny and close together. The areas that were written as hexcrawls (the south-western, north-eastern, and south-eastern corners of the map) have things going on in almost every hex, whereas the other areas have large blank spaces. The areas that weren't written as hexcrawls usually have enormously greater amounts of stuff going on in each location: the worst offender is the city of Westcrown, which has an entire adventure path's worth of content crammed into a single hex. If I was doing this from the ground up I'd have extensively rewritten all the material to sprawl more, so as to cover the territory more evenly, while also reformatting the whole thing and adding hyperlinks to make it much more user-friendly - but that sounds like a lot of work. Maybe Trojan Points would like to do it.

Anyway. I've done it now. If you've ever wanted to randomly wander between a whole bunch of different adventure paths, then this is your chance. You can download the damn thing here:

Rise of the Curse of the Council of the Shadow of the Cult of the Crimson Runelords of the Sundered Thrones of the God-Thieves of the Great Kingmaker’s Machine-Kingdoms: A Hexcrawl

Tuesday 3 July 2018

From the Diaries of Mr Alfred Tennyson, 1848

This blog's been a bit quiet because the Team Tsathogga campaign is on hold for the summer, and I'm trying to finish a book on poetry and insanity in the early nineteenth century, which is currently absorbing most of my mental energy.

Occasionally, however, I chance across something that looks potentially gameable.

These are all real extracts from Tennyson’s journal, written during a trip to Cornwall he made in the summer of 1848. Maybe it’s just his choice of words and imagery, but I can’t help the feeling that there’s some kind of Call of Cthulhu adventure going on in the background. Something to do with caves and slimes, sea-birds and shipwrecks, weird fossils and ruined castles, Arthurian relics and isolated seaside towns. 

I wish I knew who the ‘Ethiopian serenaders’ were on July 19th.

Image result for alfred tennyson
'It's all getting a bit squamous, old boy...'

Anyway. Here it is.
  • May 30th: I go out and in a moment go sheer downward upward of 6 feet over wall on fanged cobbles. Up again and walked to sea over dark hill.
  • May 31st: Walked through Bude and came down on coast, angry waves rushing in.
  • June 2nd: Took a gig to Reverend Hawker at Morwenstow. Walk on cliff with him, told of shipwreck.
  • June 4th: Rainy and bad, went and sat in Tintagel ruins, cliff all black and red and yellow, weird looking thing.
  • June 5th: Went through the sea-tunnel cavern over great blocks. Walls lined with shells, pink or puce jellies. Girls playing about the rocks as in a theatre.
  • June 6th: Slate quarries, one great pillar left standing; ship under the cliff loading; went into a tavern all polished with the waves like dark marble with veins of pink and white. Follow’d up little stream falling through the worn slate, smoked a pipe at a little inn, dined, walked once more to the old castle darkening in the gloom.
  • June 7th: Slaughter bridge, clear brook among alders. Sought for King Arthur’s stone, found it at last by a rock under two or three sycamores, walked seaward, came down by churchyard. Song from ship.
  • June 8th: Walked seaward. Large rich crimson clover; sea purple and green like a peacock’s neck.
  • June 9th: Walked up the rope walk. The two Hewitts rowed me some way up the river, very civil of them, intelligent men, one quoted Milton. Fine bank of wood and echo.
  • June 13th: Wind began to blow cold.
  • June 15th: Mr Peach showed me some of his fossils out of the clay slate.
  • June 17th: Mr Peach showed me zoophytes, corallines, a spider, strange sights through microscope.
  • June 20th: Set off for Polperro, ripple-mark, queer old narrow-streeted place, back at 9. Turf-fires on the hills; jewel-fires in the waves from the oar which the Cornish people call ‘bryming’.
  • June 21st: Lostwithiel. Remains of palace, old castle circular, muffled in ivy.
  • July 1st: Coast looked gray and grand in the fading light. Went into cave, Rembrandt-like light through the opening.
  • July 3rd: Went with candles into great cave, round the rock through surf. Mr S. bore me on his back through surf.
  • July 6th: Went to Land’s End by Logan rock, leadenbacked mews wailing on cliff, one with two young ones. Mist. Great yellow flare just before sunset. Funeral. Land’s End and Life’s End.
  • July 7th: Back to Penzance, sat long with Mr Rodd, birds in drawing room.
  • July 8th: The Lizard, rocks in sea, two southern eyes of England. Tamarisk hedge in flower.
  • July 10th: Glorious grass-green monsters of waves. Into caves of Asparagus Island. Sat watching wave-rainbows. Glorious ranks of waves and billows. By coast to Lizard Point: saw sunset thence.
  • July 11th: Down to Lizard cove. Saw the further ships under Penzance like dark beads threading the sunny shore.
  • July 12th: Bathed, ran in and out of cave. Went and lay over Pentreath beach, thunder of waves to west.
  • July 13th: Sailed, could not land at Kynance. Saw the long green swell heaving on the black cliff, rode into Pigeonthugo, dismal wailing of mews.
  • July 15th: To Truro, Brazilian miner.
  • July 19th: Ethiopian serenaders, sole hope of evening.
  • July 20th: Cotehele old hall, brutal mannered housekeeper, tapestried rooms (grape gatherers, dogs, etc).
  • July 21st: To point of Dartmoor, rain, rain.
  • July 24th: Flea’d at night.
  • July 25th: Mr Talfourd talked of Nature, very interesting evening.
  • July 26th: Pretty railway by the sea.