Tuesday, 20 March 2012

20 Questions: Griffin Mountain

Jeff Rients asked 20 questions about your campaign setting, I did Tekumel yesterday, today I'm doing my other G+ game, Griffin Mountain.

1. What is the deal with my cleric's religion?

You ain't a cleric mate, you are a shaman, a guy who sees the spirits inhabiting the land, animals, air, sky, rocks and everything else. If that sounds like he is on drugs that is because he probably is on drugs; chewing certain weeds and eating certain mushrooms helps get into the trance like state that enables him to call out to these spirits and have a chat.

Some of the spirits floating about will be ancestor spirits and can be asked for favours of various kinds. Experienced shamen have kind of spirit contact book and can summon ancestors or other kinds of spirit who are good for a given task. Apprentices may or may not get listened to, and may or may not get decent levels of support.

2. Where can we go to buy standard equipment?

The three citadel towns all have trading posts where foreign merchants will exchange pelts and other local produce for foreign goods, but you can make a great deal of what you need yourself from stone, wood and bone, or barter for it with other tribesmen. If you want bronze gear you will have to go to the foreigners, or get in with the local Citadel Kings and earn their favour.

4. Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?

Blueface is the greatest shaman in Balazar without a doubt, but he's a bit elusive when he doesn't want to be found. Impersonates a Sabretooth Tiger or so they say, but that's a bit risky for ordinary shamen. A man might get a bit too used to being a tiger, forget he was ever a man, but Blueface never does. He's been around for centuries they reckon and knows the name of every last beast on the plains, every stone, every stream and every blade of grass, bush and tree and most of the rocks. Bit taciturn are rocks, keep themselves to themselves.

5. Who is the greatest warrior in the land?

Probably Yalaring Monsterslayer, King of Trilus. He did slay a gigantic chaos demon singlehanded when everyone else had fled, but critics say it was a lucky shot or that the demon wasn't so tough; anyone stupid or stubborn enough not to run away could have taken it down. On the other hand Skilfil Heartpiercer is still reckoned to have some fight in him, he did fight the Sun Hawk Spirit for the right to tame the Great Hawks his guards ride, but that was twenty years back. Then there's Ogolorph Windshaper the Great Hunter, his tribe allegedly hunt Brontosaurs for a living, that takes some doing. Waddle Greenbeak is probably not top of anyone's list. He's the only duck in Balazar and gets funny looks wherever he goes, but there's something about the speed his hand goes for the hilt of his sword or the steely squawk he utters when talking of his patron god Hueymakt the Deathdrake that says he is more than just a Wild-day lunch with attitude.

6. Who is the richest person in the land?

Cyriel Endelkar, chief of the Lunar merchantmen. He undoubtedly loses money on his trade operations in Balazar proper, but he does have the supply contract for the Lunar garrison at Elkoi and a virtual monopoly on the export of slaves. Joh Mith does ok, but he works damned hard for his money, traipsing around the plains in all weathers with his caravan picking up a few antlers here and a few furs there. Then there are the Dwarves with all their bronze and iron and whatnot, but no one is sure whether Dwarves count as 'people'.

7. Where can we go to get some magical healing?

Anyone can do it, just mutter the words, wave the fetch and it happens. Shamen are bit better at it than most, and if you want your leg stuck back on the Wise Women can call on Mother Sky herself to do it for you. They say that the foreign priestesses in Tilus and Elkoi are pretty handy, but most people stick with the ancestor spirits they know.

8. Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath?

Shaman will have the smarts and magic to have a go at all of these, but only the most powerful with the greatest spirit allies will be able to do much to throw out the worst disease demons and search in the spirit world for those recently departed without getting lost themselves.

9. Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?

Most Shamen are attached to a tribe, but impress the individual practitioner and he will teach you, even if your tribes are enemies. The foreigners say their gods will accept all comers and teach their magics to anyone, but at what cost? They will take your spirit away from the land to live on the moon or behind the west wind, away from your tribe, they say so themselves, and who wants that?

10. Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?

Depends what you want to know. The priests of Tharkantus can read, a bit, and know a few legends the wild and woolly shamen of the plains don't care to remember about the good old days when Balazar had towns and roads. Joh Mith has been further into the Elder Wilds than anyone except possibly Blueface, and the ancestor spirits can tell you lots. This foreigner Bluebird, the one teaching King Yalaring's son, claims to know a thing or two, but what he has to say seems so crazy and far away frm people's concerns half the time that no one really listens to him.

11. Where can I hire mercenaries?

Any tribesman will help you out, just ask, the Blazarings are honourable folk and hospitable to all, within reason. The friendlier your tribe is to theirs the more help you will get of course, and in some cases they'll just throw you a bone their dog has got tired of before slitting your throat and leaving you for the wolves, but that's tribal feuds for you. They rarely get that bad though.

If you want men to fight for you ask your own tribe, and offer the chance for loot or gifts of bronze. You could do some kind of deal with the Citadel Kings for the help of some of their soldiers for while, if there's a clear benefit to them.

12. Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?

Don't try anything around the Kings. They have large entourages of warriors, usually a few priests hanging about and maybe a shaman or two, and Yalaring will personally rip your to bits and Skilfil will skewer you with his magic spear before you get to say boo. Glyptus is a big fat idiot, even his own warriors think so, but he has Lunar demons on his side so be doubly careful around him. Otherwise the law extends as far as the Citadel warriors can make it stick with their personal might and the authority and honour of their respective regimes. When you are out in the wilds make friends with the bears.

13. Which way to the nearest tavern?

The trading posts have beer and entertainment and beds, but the city life costs and many a hunter has traded away all his furs for luxuries and cheap booze before he gets out of the door.

14. What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?

If you meet a Broo kill it, no one is going to mind that, but opinions on Dwarves, Elves and Trolls are divided. Bears, especially the tricky ones that pretend to be men, are always worth bragging about and every so often something horrible and chaotic slithers south out of the Elder Wilds, like that thing King Yalaring took down ten years back. Then there's the dinosaurs. Not sure anyone has ever got an Allosaur, and no one ever killed Ormfang the Ice Dragon either.

15. Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?

Always inter tribal feuds threatening to get nasty, like the Sable - Great Bison feud, and Trilus, Elkoi and Dykene are always rattling swords over something or other. Smart money says the Triloi and Dykeneans are going to go at it next.

16. How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?

Not as such, but there is a great hunt every year where all the mightiest hunters of the land go after the biggest beast they can find equipped only with a loincloth, warpaint and a stone spear. Wrestling is popular in some parts (don't go up against a bear unless you really have to though). Some Lunar soldiers introduced the sport of Shield Push last year, and the Triloi are somehow current champions. You could try playing Trollball, there is always big money riding on that if you have someplace you can spend lead Bolgs.

17. Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?

The Lunars are up to something, everyone knows it, we just don't know what. Forget this alms giving and free onion soup at the temples, sandals for kiddies and missionary medical assistance malarkey, they are just fronts for whatever mad Loonie nonsense they have brewing. The wolves howl under the full moon, the bears get restless and the Broo dance. That means something...

18. What is there to eat around here?

If you are in a citadel bacon and beer, everywhere else the diet is a bit more varied and often more lively - you eat what stands still long enough for you to kill it. Get some hunting dogs and one of those native dog handlers who was brought up with dogs as his brothers, worth their weight in bison ribs.

19. Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?

The Iron Crown of Throggar, the Windberry Tree, Elkoi's giant taming ring for starters. You could try getting one of Skilfil's nice magic weapons off him, or you could go up into the mountains to see the giant Gonn Orta and trade with him for any number of mind bogglingly powerful (and expensive) artefacts.

20. Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?

You see that mountain there to the south east, the pointy white one. That's Ormfang. No he doesn't live in a cave on the mountain, that's him, coiled up and sleeping with a pile of ice on top and glacier running down his nose. He hasn't moved for years but he does have nightmares once in a while and everyone knows about it because it blows a blizzard for four weeks at a go, the thaw comes six weeks late and you will probably starve and that's if your lucky enough not to find one of his 'dreams' howling out of the white hell around you with a thousand glittering fangs ready to snap you up at a gulp. He ate several cities in Dragon Pass, so he might have some boodle.

The Griffins up at Griffin Mountain have been there forever, so they may well have some serious loot put by as well, and then there is Gonn Orta. See that mountain to the North west...? No that's not him, that's his uncle Skik, Gonn lives under the crag to the left.. or is it the right? Or that mountain there is Skik and this ones Hrak? Oh well anyway, there's Eleven Big Giant Mountains and Three Little ones, and Gonn Orta sits amongst them set on turning into a mountain himself, and in the meantime buying and selling magic items like they were bolts of deerskin or something. He's got loot, lots of it.