Thursday, July 1, 2021

Rolling up Today's Campaign

Want to see how a campaign is made?  Or just want to join us for some adventure?

I'm starting up a new play-by-post game over on Discord.

The first step is choosing an Opportunity, a premise for the initial adventure.  I'm suggesting we start with one of these:

  1. Establishing a new community in the wilderness.
  2. Avoiding the law to survive as smugglers.
  3. Searching for a lost treasure.
  4. Protecting a remote outpost on the frontier.
  5. Leading the conquest of a poorly-understood country.
  6. Following a falling star to where it lands.

Once the players have chosen an opportunity to start with, we'll answer a few questions about the party, then we'll jump right into the adventure.


Meanwhile, I'll be posting on the behind-the-scenes channel about how the world is actually being made, as I roll everything up on random tables.  Last time we tried this it was a lot of fun, and as the GM, I enjoyed being surprised by the nature of the world unfolding around us as we adventured.

The game is going to focus on the fiction of the world, leaving aside any number-crunching and die-rolling mechanics for now.  (I'm interested in those, but that's not the focus of this playthrough.)

Feel free to drop in and out, or just watch if you like.  We're leaving the size of the party somewhat vague, so players can come and go as needed.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Drawing of a Flintlock Pistol

A quick post today, just wanted to share some of the artwork I've been doing for Signs in the Wilderness.  Here's a drawing of a flintlock pistol with some of the process labeled:

I'm aiming for a style somewhere between old-school RPG art and Eric Sloane's pen-and-ink drawings.

Does this look interesting?  Evocative of the setting?  Good enough for publication?

Monday, February 15, 2021

Cattle Brands as Heraldry

Heraldic coats of arms are a fun way to distinguish powerful families, but they're best for a European setting.  If you're looking for interesting symbols for a non-European setting, there are plenty of other sources you could look at, from Japanese mon to Central Asian tamgha.

For an American setting, I decided to look at cattle brands.

The giants of the Northern Lands belong to houses: kinship societies centered around a family meeting-place.  Each house is named for its sign, carved on trees and painted on rocks throughout its territory. 


Start with a Base sign.  Here are a few of the more common ones:


(If you're interested, the names underneath are in the language of the giants of the Inner Sea.  Vowels are like in Spanish, h is pronounced even after a vowel, and doubled vowels are sustained twice as long.)


Then add at least one Modifier.  A standing sign has a single leg with a foot on each side.  A walking sign has a pair of feet splayed out at the bottom.  If they're facing the same way, it's running

Standing Hand
Solyo Sang
Walking Turkey
Lo Vath Tuyik
Running Hand
Vindva Sang

Flying signs have a pair of wings at the top:

Flying Spear
Saata Toxu
Flying Shoe
Saata Masvo

A sign can have a bar across the top:

Bar Hand
Dol Sang
Bar Turkey
Dol Tuyik

Broken signs are divided in half by a pair of parallel lines:

Broken Hand
Ontki Sang
Broken Shoe
Ontki Masvo

Signs can be enclosed by a diamond or a circle:

Diamond Turkey
Kusuk Tuyik
Circle Hand
Osu Sang

Turn a sign on its side and it's lazy; upside-down makes it crazy:

Lazy Turkey
Ugu Tuyik
Crazy Hand
Saya Sang

Signs can also be double, or you can have one by another, or one over another.

Double Hand
Anggaak Sang
Hand by Turkey
Sang do Tuyik
Turkey over Shoe
Tuyik so Masvo

Modifiers can even be combined:

Bar Standing Fence
Dol Solyo Lavta
  Broken Sled over Cloud
Ontki Laami so Movta
  Lazy Bar Trout by Walking Hill
Ugu Dol Lulut do Lo Vath Guth

Modifiers are applied in order, starting with the one closest to the base and working your way leftwards, so Lazy Bar Turkey starts with the sign for Turkey, then adds a Bar to make Bar Turkey, then rotates it sideways to make Lazy Bar Turkey.

Lazy Bar Turkey
Ugu Dol Tuyik
 Bar Lazy Turkey
Dol Ugu Tuyik

There's no strict upper bound to the number of modifiers you can use at once, but don't get too carried away.  This house, for example, would probably be ridiculed for their overly-complex sign: 

Lazy Running Standing Diamond Walking Net over Flying Running Lazy Standing Lazy Coat
Ugu Vindva Solyo Kusuk Lo Vath Tahya so Saata Vindva Ugu Solyo Ugu Lapu

(If you're playing a giant, I suggest you try something simpler for the sign of your own house.)

In our campaign over on Reddit, the party recently encounted the houses of Dead Spear and Spider by Crow, and they've heard of the abandoned ruin of the house of Flying Hand.  From the names alone, any giant would recognize their signs.

What kind of heraldry do they have in your game world?

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

Surprise Plot from Random Encounters

When you're playing in a sandbox, random encounters are just the GM's way of casting Summon Plot.  I just rolled one up that's going to completely derail the adventure I'm running.  I have no idea how the players are going to respond, or what they're supposed to do to get past this obstacle, and that's the point.

(Spoilers ahead, if you're in the expedition on the Blind River.)

Sunday, January 17, 2021

A detour to White Isle (In Pursuit of the Star)

Looks like the party wants to go to White Isle, that throwaway location I added at the last second to round out the map.  Serves me right, I guess.

This is for a randomly-generated campaign that we're playing through over on Reddit.  Come join us, if you like!

Spoilers ahead!

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Preparing to Depart (In Pursuit of the Star)

The adventure is starting up over on Reddit and players are asking some good questions.  Let's see if we can answer those and get prepared for their actual landing in Bitterwood Bay.

In this post I'll be explaining how I'm rolling dice and coming with ideas behind the scenes.  (See previous posts in this series.)

Spoilers ahead!

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Starting the Adventure (In Pursuit of the Star)

We're about to begin the adventure In Pursuit of the Star, in which I'll be rolling dice to generate as much of the story as possible.

If you'd like to take part in the adventure, head over to the subreddit, where I'll be posting the latest as it occurs.  Anyone who would like to participate is welcome -- this is very informal, basically just a test of the random adventure-generating tables.

If you'd like to see what's going on behind the scenes from the GM's perspective, read on.

Spoilers ahead!

Sunday, January 10, 2021

In Pursuit of the Star, an informal online campaign

I'm starting up a very informal online campaign of Signs in the Wilderness.  It's not going to use any mechanical rules like hit points or encumbrance, this is really just a test of my worldbuilding tables.

As much as possible, I'm going to roll dice to decide what the campaign is like, while players tell me what the adventuring protagonists are up to.  And who are the players?  Anyone who decides to drop in!

If you'd like to experience the campaign more like a player, follow along at r/SignsInTheWilderness, where I'll be posting as the story moves along.

If you'd like to follow along from the GM's position, read on.  In this post, I'll be rolling up the starting premises of the campaign.

Spoilers ahead!