Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Norselands-

I figured, since most voters seem to like them, that I'd tell a little bit more about my Vikings in Garnia World. They started off, as I mentioned before, as a completely different campaign that just had the same sort of "Lost Colony" Stargate SG-1 style set up, where a group of Norsemen from a lost Norse colony ended up in a fantasy world. The same set up worked for me for Romans (twice) and for the entire concept of Garnia since the time I was in 7th grade, so I figured why change a winning premise.

The Norsemen are, oddly, placed in the southern hemisphere on Garnia World, although that placement could easily be changed to the western or eastern hemisphere really, it's not set in stone which hemisphere Garnia is in; I just actually needed a place for them that was "off map" when I put them in "here be dragons" kind of a place. The one time I ran an actual pen and paper, face to face campaign there was right after we adopted 3e and we were all still in love with the new rules set*. I ran it kind of sand box style, although I'd never heard that term yet, that was how I ran a lot of my old games in AD&D and thought I could get away with it in the new edition too, and I did for the most part because my players in that game were old AD&D players that were used to my style. I started them in a seaport town called Kaupang (which is Old Norse for marketplace if I recall correctly), on Kaupangrfjord on an island whose name escapes me at the moment. The island was the major market/trade center for the island chain; which I modeled on the Hawaiian islands and then made cold; where the major source of income was fishing and whaling. There was also some agriculture and the islands were forested, so they weren't barren, frozen cold, just short growing season, harsh winters cold.

The town of Kaupang was modeled on my friend Tim's town of Specularum that we used as a home base from back in the 1980s when we got to play D&D all the damned time, but I nordicized it. There were a bunch of adventure hooks I threw out at the players, but they took the obvious and easy one, which I knew they would, which led them to excavate an ancient burial mound in the old (pre-human habitation!) graveyard on the big hill overlooking the town. This actually led them to the upper levels of an ancient Dwarven fortress that had been overrun by what they never found out exactly. Sadly, that campaign kind of fizzled out due to scheduling conflicts and other adult life BS that kills this hobby. You would think that a game that only had three players and a DM would be easy to keep going, but you'd be wrong.

Anyway, time passed, Bioware released Neverwinter Nights and it's module building software and this was the setting that I revisited when I started messing around with the design tools. Now, to be fair, because I am chronically dragging behind the times with my computer technology, until I decide it's time to make a great leap forward, I didn't get NWN when it was released or even soon. I waited until I bought new computers that could run it**, and run it very well, and bought the platinum release; so it had been out for quite a while when I set myself to this task. When I did, I started by rebuilding the town and developing the NPCs there. I set the same plot hooks as I had with my pen and paper game, but without me to actually emphasize which choices might be better, the playtesters, my wife and kids, went off in every direction; which forced me to learn the software better so I design the rest of the areas that they wanted to check out***.

I developed the rest of the island, which was on the brink of a civil war, there were still Dwarves in that old Dwarven fortress, deep underground, fighting a long, losing war of attrition against the Dokkalfar and their humanoid slave soldiers and undead minions. The Dokkalfar were also stirring up strife between the men on the island. The Norsemen had a bigger land off map that I was starting to develop areas for. but mostly I worked on the main island, some of the outlying islands and the underground fortress. Oh, and a non-Nordic mainland area with an Il-Khanid Persian feel****, and one island with bad-ass kilted Scottish Highlanders.

Sadly, despite my many long hours of work on this project, all that remains of it are my design notes. After being a persistent NWN world for something like 2 years, a hard drive failure and the loss of my only back up copy of the NWN module has turned it into a memory. No, I still don't make back ups as often as I should, but I do store things on multiple drives fairly often now.

*Although as DM it didn't take me long to start to see a downside.

**I do that, I wait until my systems are absolutely obsolete, then I replace them with cutting edge technology. There are currently four computers in my house, they range in age from 4 to 7 1/2 years old, replacement time for the oldest systems is soon.

***Also an interesting way to figure out how any player will exploit any bug, take my son John and my daughter Ashli and let them run amok for an hour or two on your server, they will find and exploit any potential bug, loophole or problem of any kind. I had a NPC that would buy your items from you at full price and sell you Boots of Speed really cheap, he was there as a playtest helper so you could move quickly to the new areas. The kids figured out how to buy the boots for the cheap price, then sell them back to him for full price, repeat as needed until you are wealthy. I needed to turn off his buying stuff. I had an area that was accessible by boat, only the boats don't really go anywhere, you just transition areas like through a door; they would go raiding this area by taking the boat there, attacking the nearest guys and then taking the boat home, then, when the attackers followed them home the town guards would fight and kill the tough guys for them and the kids would loot the corpses for their sweet gear.

****This really does owe it's existence to the Steppe Warriors, all of the major NPCs were members of the Steppe Warriors guild from AOL's NWN and the plot for the area and the magic items were specifically designed for Steppe Warrior nostalgia's sake. Sadly, they still didn't have good ridable horses yet, so I had a bunch of dismounted Mongols running around.

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