Hex 0001 – Village of Pranfz and Surrounds

I recently purchased a bunch of these blank cardboard hexes from Amazon, but my plans to use them to build a map hex-by-hex as the PCs explored the region of my campaign world fell through due to laziness.

However, to avoid allowing them to gather dust and go to waste, I’ve discovered a new use for them: what I’m calling the Hex a Week (or Probably Month) post. Each week (or more likely month) I’m going to draw a map of a hex and post it along with location-of-interest details, random encounter tables, and a brief overview of the goings-on therein. In doing this, I hope to build an entire region for a sandbox campaign. Going forward, I’ve set for myself a few guidelines to work within for designing the hexes:

  1. Allow the setting and tone of the sandbox to emerge through the hexes themselves. No design takes place beforehand, outside of the hexes. Metaplots will emerge as more and more hexes and sites are developed. Everything is local.
  2. Each hex is 6 mi. across and will contain 1d3+1 sites of interest. These sites may be major or minor, important or simple window-dressing. Relationships between sites will be developed over the course of the development of the hexes.
  3. Roll a 1d6 to determine the next hex that will be developed in relation to the current hex.

There probably should be more, but I think these will suffice to set things in motion, so without any further explanation, here’s Hex 0001:

Hex 0001 – The Village of Pranfz and Surrounds

Hex 0001

1. The Village of Pranfz

Within the logging village of Pranfz all of the women are said to be witches. These rumors are, of course, vicious lies spread by travelers who observe the village’s odd marital customs.

For weeks at a time, the men of Pranfz log the Murmuring Weald, a forest to the west of their village, only to return for a single day and a night to deliver their timber for sale to traveling merchants. They spend this night in the beds of their wives.

The fear of the village men, however, is not for the women of Pranzf, but sheer terror at facing the jealousy of their forest wives. The identities of these beings, or even certainty of their existence, is unknown to the women of Pranfz. What is known is that when a boy comes of age and he joins his father, his uncles, and grandfathers in the Murmuring Weald to gather timber, he abandons his relationship with his female relatives. Marriages are forced affairs, predetermined by the village’s elder women, and the men only copulate with their wives on nights they are home under the darkness of the new moon. All weddings in Pranfz happen on the night of the new moon.

2. The Lavender Bridge 

A single tower rises from the western end of this covered bridge built of  light purple stone stones. The tower sits at the northern end of a barbican that guards access to the bridge and the crossing along the Lowly Road where it approaches the bridge on its western side.

The bridge’s tower serves as the home of Tanzel, a ruddy-cheeked and red-haired man who, decade after decade, appears to be perpetually nearing 50 years of age. He always bears a smile underneath his voluminous, walrus-style mustache.

Tanzel offers sundries for purchase by travelers. These include most goods found on the general equipment list, though the more expensive items may be unavailable or in limited quantity (according to the Referee’s taste), as Tanzel does not keep a full store. Most of the goods he acquires come from merchants who’ve bartered for passage across the Lavender Bridge. In addition to these goods, Tanzel will attempt to sell travelers the strange fish he catches in his nets below the bridge from the

Often, during conversation in an off-hand manner, Tanzel will refer to his “brother” who lives with him at the bridge, but never is this brother seen by visitors. Rumors tell that the bridge is more than it seems and offers not only passage across the Lavender River but across the stream between realities into the weird Otherworld said to exist alongside this one. As well, the bridge is said to have secret chambers built within its broad pilings.

3. The Slug Caverns 

Here be slugs of unfortunately usual size for the region. While hunting them is dangerous work, doing so is lucrative work. Slug eggs are a delicacy in both Pranfz and the nearby city of Zfanfen. As well, alchemists, wood-women, and other dabblers in the fine art of questionable brewing.

The Free City of Wengemerlin

This is a map I drew for a city campaign I’ve been working on that is a satirical take on the Free City of Greyhawk and setting for my Thieves’ Guild Built in the Subterranean Ruin of [Insert Generic Anthropomorphic Urban Rodent God of Your Choice]’s Temple.

It’s also a setting I’d like to one day (in the remote post-Southfarthing Confidential and Dwarf Lode future) publish. In the meantime, however, enjoy the map and a couple of factions you can find in the city listed below.

Wengemerlin Map

Wengemerlin Factions:

The Union of Hirelings, Henchmen, and Hangers-on (U.H.H.H.) was established to provide Wengemerlin’s less-than-heroic adventuring underclass legal, financial, and medical support. U.H.H.H. additionally offers staffing services for adventurers who seek to explore the dungeons of Castle Wengemerlin or the Netherhalls. The Union has developed a reputation for severe retaliation against those who have wronged its members. Due to the oversized influence, and wealth, of U.H.H.H., it has risen to become a not-so-minor player in the city’s political games.

The Thieves’ Guild of Wengemerlin wasn’t the first established in Wengemerlin, but by waging a determined campaign of murder, intimidation, bribery, and political subterfuge, it has established itself as the city’s the top-tier assemblage of cutthroats, burglars, pickpockets, forgers, professional liars, and street thugs, hands-down. Of course, while every organized circle of crooks in the city refers to itself as “the” thieves’ guild, this one has become a true institution within Wengemerlin. Those of more shadowy walks of life know the Thieves’ Guild is the one that matters.

Viking Mafia – The “made men” of the Viking mafia (or whatever it will be called) are noted by the rings they bear, which were bestowed upon them by King Ragnar himself. The Vikings are a major force in the Wengemerlin underworld, with connections and tenuous alliances with the Thieves’ Guild and Assassin’s Enclave. Mead hall franchises across the city are believed to serve as fronts for the Viking Mafia’s criminal endeavors.

Dungeon Double (Wednesday Map)

The maps in this post are two that I will be including in an upcoming booklet which will feature small dungeon and ruin maps alongside a Game Master worksheets for populating and embellishing the dungeons/ruins (see example below). More information on this booklet in the upcoming weeks.

8-14-19 (2)8-14-19

 

Here’s an mock-up page from the yet-to-titled booklet:

mini dungeon map (

Island Fortress of Unspeakable Employment Opportunities (Thursday Map)

Trying out a new style this week, and I have to say that I am quite pleased with the way it turned out! (Although, I am not quite happy with the water yet.)

Seek here ye lay-about adventures! A one-time offer awaits on the Island Fortress of Unspeakable Employment Opportunities. Therein you’re promised a steady workweek fighting undead pirates, crabmen, and other XP-loaded villains of the sea!

8-1-19 (black)

Curdlebrook Surrounds (Southfarthing Confidential Map)

The village of Curdlebrook and its surrounds will be detailed in the first issue of my upcoming Southfarthing Cofidential ‘zine, which will provide players and GMs with all the necessary information and guidance to run a halfling police procedural using Fifth Edition.

In the coming months, I’ll be posting a whole lot more from Southfarthing Confidential as I’m wrapping up the writing on the first issue. The plan (as of this moment) is to release four ‘zines to my Patreon supporters and for sale on DriveThruRPG. Following the these, and possibly one of the adventures/cases, I’m hoping to launch a Kickstarter to fund the publication of a full Southfarthing Confidential rule book and campaign setting as well as several adventures/cases in the same setting.

So, time to stop rambling. Here’s the map:
Curdlebrook Surrounds (small)

A mine… a MIIIIINE!!!

“And they called it a mine… a MIIIINE!!!”
This out of the way system of caves probably wasn’t a very lucrative endeavor for those who extracted precious metals or gems or black lung here, but it’s definitely an interesting place to locate a threat of kobolds, possessed or unionizing miners, or assorted ruffians. As well, maybe it’s not entirely played out. Maybe there’s still wealth to be extracted here if you can press these kobolds into service or break the will of the poor souls just looking for weekends off and safe working conditions. A perfect job for PCs.

 

7-25-19

Southfarthing Confidential (preview) – Tropes for Halfling Constabulary

Previously, I posted a preview of the Hairfoot Halfling subrace and Family Backgrounds for halfling characters. Neither of these really touched upon the police procedural side of things in Southfarthing Confidential, so today that’s what I’m going to share.

Southfarthing Confidential is a genre-mashup. My goal is to breakdown all of the tropes

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In Southfarthing Confidential, halfling constables have more on their hands than runaway livestock

that have been assembled concerning halflings since The Hobbit and on through their many iterations in Dungeons & Dragons (even those cannibal halflings in Dark Sun–that’s right, you’ll find backwoods cannibal halflings in Southfarthing Confidential).  On the other hand, I’ve got to throw in a load of archetypes from police procedurals and film noir to flesh out the other side of the equation.

That’s where the “Tropes” come in. Each Trope (name is a place holder) functions like a Feat in 5th ed., except in addition to a mechanical benefit, they provide an additional Flaw to flesh out your halfling copper a little more. When the Tropes are combined with the Family backgrounds for halflings o, what you end up with is a character whose personality, ideals, bonds, and flaws are themselves a mashup of the two genres.

Here’s a few examples of “Tropes” for Halfling sheriff in Southfarthing Confidential: 

Hardboiled Halfling

Halfling only, of course.
You’ve lived it. You’ve seen the oozy, crusty underbelly of the Five Farthings that lies beneath the seemingly pleasant, bucolic charade that plays out across the hills and farms and villages. Now what’re you gonna do? Sit back and enjoy breakfast, knowing what you know? Not a chance. It’s gotten to you, spoiled your oatmeal. These days, you’re deeply suspicious. You’ve seen every trick both in the book and not in the book. The days of chasing loose goats is long past. The world’s gone topsy-turvy, and you feel like you’re the only one not standing on your head.

  • Been there and back, again. Once per case, you may use an Inspiration and the GM will roll a Wisdom (Insight) check in secret. If you succeed, some pieces of the case will fall together, and the GM will grant you an additional clue, possibly something you missed. If you fail, however, the GM will grant you a red herring.
  • Seen and heard it all. You gain Advantage on Wisdom (Insight) and Intelligence (Investigate) checks made at the scene of a crime or while questioning suspects.
d6 Flaw
1 I’m fed up with it all. Let the Five Farthings eat itself alive. It’s no fur off my feet.
2 I can’t get close to anyone. Too many friends have gone toes up out on the moors.
3 I got a soft spot for hard luck cases, the down and out, those too proud to ask for help.
4 That one case still haunts me.
5 When I’m sober, I see things too clearly. I see the Five Farthings for what they are, so for me, it’s a pint for breakfast, a pint for elevenses, and two pints for tea.
6 I never put down the pipe.

***

Wound Up Tight

You live on edge. How can you be sure, when you’ve been called to retrieve a runaway goat, there’s not a bigger game afoot, that the seemingly dumb, kind, and oversized farmer’s son hasn’t brought you out into the woods to club the back of your skull? Or that the cartload of dwarves isn’t hauling a crop of pipe-weed to sell stuffed in their load of coal, ore, and kegs? Better to sling now, ask questions later.

  • Sling first, ask questions later. You gain Advantage on Dexterity checks to determine Initiative order.
  • Twitchy sling arm. Even if you are surprised, you may still fire a missile weapon that round.
d6 Flaw
1 I’m terrified of everything, but I put on a tough exterior.
2 Everyone’s gotta listen to me. I’m the law. I’m the halfling holding the sling.
3 I prefer not to use my sling unless I gotta, not after what happened the last time…
4 I’m always itching for a fight, so go ahead, guv, make my breakfast!
5 I never meant to hurt him, it just happened.
6 I never shoot first, and you can’t prove otherwise.

***

Loose Sling

They don’t assign you to cases, they just turn you loose. When they send you out on another wild goose chase because Farmer Crabbe left his pen open again, it’s only because they don’t want you lookin’ closer at what’s really goin’ on. You aren’t afraid to go it alone. They can take your badge, take your sling, but they can’t take your gumption, your grit, your drive to see the case through. They can stuff their rules in a bunghole.

  • Fully Registered Lethal Weapon. You have Advantage on damage with a sling.
  • You’ve Got to Ask Yourself One Question… You may force an enemy to take a Disadvantage on one roll; however, after doing so, your next roll is also at a disadvantage. You’ve Got to Ask Yourself One Question may be used again after a Short Rest. 
d6

Flaw

1 Takin’ orders is for chumps and dwarves.
2 I don’t trust anybody who makes more money than me.
3 Criminals don’t deserve rights. 
4 No evidence, no problem. I’ll make evidence happen.
5 When the going gets tough, I make like a shepherd and get the flock out of there! 
6 Leave me in a hole alone with ‘em, I’ll get a confession…