January 2023

  • 27. day in Irongate Where/What is the adventure?

    27. day in Irongate Where/What is the adventure?

    As we are designing a city for a TTRPG game not for a novel, we also need to consider what the players will be doing there, so there is a need for an adventure.

    Such a large and detailed city with many NPCs and locations is essentially a sandbox – a place where PCs can do anything and go anywhere. However, this does not mean that playing in it will be interesting in the end. Even with the most exciting NPCs and the grandest palaces and temples, the game may become boring if the players do not find any purpose and just mill around as tourists.

    Another issue is liveliness. When the PCs first encounter NPCs or visit a location, they see and hear things for the first time – everything is exciting. However, after the fifth or tenth game session, when it becomes clear that every NPC is sitting on the same chair as when they first met, and all the exciting intrigues have not progressed anywhere, then the world would seem computer game-like and static to the players. The world must not only react to the PCs’ actions, things have to happen without their involvement also.

    Therefore, when designing a city, we are actually designing an adventure – that’s why I started with NPCs, to establish some adventure starters and intrigues. The city map is beautiful to look at, but it does not fill the game sessions with quality content on its own. The map is helpful for describing the city, understanding locations, and distances, and of course for holding city battles (SAKE has strong strategy game elements that allow for battles on a unit scale, and in this case, the city map is the battlemap).

    To make the city interesting, we need two things:

    1. A reason for the PCs to be there. A short adventure that the players will start solving right away and that will introduce them to the city. For example, the PCs do not go to the Yaxchila temple just to look around, but they have some missions related to it and so forth.
    2. Some overarching metaplot that runs from the PCs’ first adventure and even when the PCs are not directly involved with it. This helps to depict the city as lively. For example, stories of a dispute between two countries lead to war, and after some time the city’s military goes to war (crime in the city increases – PCs are being robbed), news of the war arrives, the economy starts to worsen (if the PCs want to buy something, prices are double), etc. – something that initially affects the PCs indirectly but more directly over time. This metaplot should be something that, with its all-encompassing nature, quietly surrounds the PCs, so that in the end it looks at their face from all sides and demands attention.

    Additionally, this first adventure that introduces the PCs to the city should at least be indirectly related to the bigger metaplot.

    Let’s start with the metaplot. Since I have produced almost a month’s worth of material about the city, I have some thoughts:

    1. A new war with the continental state of Zipopan, which destroyed the Irongate fleet 15 years ago and caused the collapse of the empire (inspired by history).
    2. Secret plans of the great house la Lazura, which may be:
      • A desire to conquer the city
      • Something related to gods and the afterlife, considering that Lardes la Naxos-Lazura is searching for two artifacts in the city.
      • Both
    3. A rebellion is brewing in the city, as various tribes want independence or a change in power. There are many tribes and street fights are guaranteed. Kuklan Zipaniza is planning to become the new king.
    4. Lichgod Yaxchila has begun to show more interest in what is happening outside of his palace. Does the (un)dead god want to be king again? (Inspired by a rumor about Kuklan Zipaniza and the Zipaniza clan).
    5. Introduce more Asteanic great houses to the game, who will all compete for power and influence in the city.
    6. Potential suitors and potential wedding of the Rustking, as he has not yet chosen a partner, but there are some interested parties.
    7. Something completely different and new.

    Today I am leaving the choice open, but from these ideas, one or even multiple can be chosen, as one does not exclude the other and the city is large.

    The “Not so useful” city map from yesterday’s post

    Addon at 28. day:

    28. day of #city23 │ #dungeon23 Choosing the first metaplot

    Based on yesterday’s adventure design blogpost, I made my first choice in terms of metaplots today, and it is: great house la Lazura’s secret plans in the city, specifically Lardes la Naxos-Lazura’s potential quests for players or if the players don’t take them on, someone else in the city.

    The ideas can be most easily depicted in a table. If the PCs don’t intervene, the Lardes-related metaplot develops as follows:

    That’s it. Relatively simple and through rumors, the PCs can easily reach Lardes if they want to. In addition, now we need to create one or more NPCs who would be those adventurers whom Lardes hires if the PCs don’t work for him or choose the other side (Nene) instead. If the PCs do work for Lardes, however, we can use those NPCs for something else – for example, in some other metaplot.


  • 26. day in Irongate #city23 │ #dungeon23 project

    26. day in Irongate #city23 │ #dungeon23 project

    Today I added elevation to the city map – it will affect the shape and exact location of future city districts. In relation to this, do you remember the first NPC I made for the city, Yaxchila – a lichgod who still lives in his ancient temple palace and is visited by pilgrims from all surrounding lands to make pacts with him and the Twice Plague (the major deity of diseases and healing). Yaxchila was once, in ancient times before the Itza kingdom, fleets, and iron trade, the ruler of this city, which means that the city has been here for a very long time. But Yaxchila’s ancient city was quite different – much smaller and not the capital of any empire.

    Yaxchilas mountain

    Yaxchila’s ancient city was surrounded by walls and fortifications – I placed Yaxchila’s palace itself on a mountain, and natural mountain streams ran on both sides as a defense. This mountain peak was essentially half of the ancient city of Yaxchila – there were temples, palaces, where the elite, priests and warriors lived. To the south and west of this is rocky jungle that is impenetrable to any enemy (except for two deepened ravines – these will have some walls and/or gates in the future). This mountain peak district is also almost the only area where a of ancient Yaxchilan architecture has been preserved, the rest of the city has been rebuilt over the centuries.

    But where was the rest of the ancient city of Yaxchila? The most logical thing seems to be that it’s part of Turtletown, which means that it needs to be redesigned a bit – the city of Yaxchila was fortified, so some ancient wall fragments or city district shapes may have been preserved from that time and are hinted on the map. Like when you visit medieval European cities where the central ring roads often mark the medieval city walls.

    Yaxchilan Oldtown
    Yaxchilan Oldtown

    I also included cliffs running through the city. These cliffs also have remnants of the ancient city of Yaxchila. Additionally, this creates an interesting situation where the city is divided by cliffs, so the differences between the two sides may be even greater. Only two roads and canals connect the two sides of the city, these could become the starting point for many problems.

    In addition, there must be an Asteanic district – after all, Asteanic merchants and the iron they brought was the source of power for the Itza Empire. Knowing the Asteans’ imperialistic nature and considering that the Itza dynasty has remained in power for a continuous 700 years, we can deduce that the Asteans must have been separated from the locals from the beginning – otherwise, they would have had the opportunity to carry out some kind of coup. Maybe on the other side of the river? That’s a good starting point.

    Irongate with elevation and its districts


  • 25. day in Irongate #city23 │ #dungeon23 project

    25. day in Irongate #city23 │ #dungeon23 project

    Now that the location of the city on the large map is in place and as a result, the existing city map (i.e., the Turtletown neighborhood) has undergone a 180-degree rotation, it’s time to think about what neighborhoods exist in the city.

    Based on the city’s history, we know that the city once had a powerful navy with which it controlled the surrounding seas, collected tribute from other kingdoms of Kali, and kept its empire together. This means that the city must have had a large military harbour, a complex where ships were built and repaired, an area where sailors lived, and a region for smiths, as all this needed various metal items – weapons, nails, tools, etc. After all, the city was famous for its iron brokering.

    Today I am placing these areas schematically on the city map.

    1. Firstly, such an industry needs a river. The river must bring the raw wood to the city to build ships. The smiths can connect their mechanical hammers (yes, they were already present in ancient times, very common in large smithies in our world in the 16th century) to the river.
    2. Lumber mills and shipyards are likely to be more inland, as raw materials come from inland.
    3. The military harbour itself is probably closest to the sea.
    4. This implies that the area of the smiths is situated in the center. This makes sense as their products are needed by both the military harbour and the shipyards.
    5. As for, where the sailors and marines lived – we let it stay open for now. Somewhere near the military harbour.

  • SAKE eestikeelne versioon väljas

    SAKE eestikeelne versioon väljas

    Tervist!

    SAKE (Sorcerers, Adventurers, Kings and Economics) eestikeelsena on valmis ja teksti kujul vaba mängimiseks.

    SAKE on lauataguse rollimängu süsteem, mis on disainitud silmas pidades mänguseltskondasi, kes tahaksid oma mängule mõningaid strateegiamängude elemente lisada: ehitada oma lossi, linnakest, arendada kuningriiki, juhtida sõjaväge või tegeleda kaubanduse ning piraatlusega. Süsteem sisaldab samas ka kõike nö tavapärast: individuaalsed võitlused, koopatuhnimine, maagia, imelikud jumalad jne.

    Täpsemalt on kõik kirjas SAKE baasraamatus.

    Lisasin reeglid Wordi failina (pdf ka lisatud), sest sellisel viisil on see kõige käepärasem mängijatele, et sealt midagi lõigata või ümber tõsta kui midagi spetsiifilist tahata välja printida. Lisaks on tegemist ilma kujunduse ja illustratsioonideta dokumendiga. Edasi tegelen raamatu tõlkimise, illustreerimisega ja lõpuks ka kujundamisega, seda aga juba inglise keeles (sellest plaanist ka asjaolu, et mõned sõnad on raamatus inglisekeelsed). Ingliskeelsena ilmub kogu reeglistik siin samal lehel – loodetavasti kõik kokku aprilli lõpuks. Raamatu kokku panemise ja selle raha eest müümise üle saab arutama hakata alles sellest hetkest. Ning lisaks, see Wordi fail siin ei muutu kunagi tasuliseks, ega ülejäänud failid selles postituses. Need on ka kõik, mis tegelikult vaja, et SAKEt mängida.

    Ma loodan, et süsteem leiab huvilisi, kes selle kasutusele võtavad.

    DownloadSelgitus
    SAKE baasraamatWordi failina
    SAKE baasraamatPdf failina
    Cheat SheetsKõiksugused tabelid väljaprintimiseks, mida võib mängides enim vaja minna
    Character sheetInteraktiivne
    DomeenilehtDomeeni nö Character sheet
    Army Flank SheetSõjaväe Character sheet, selleks kui sõjaväega seiklema minna. Interaktiivne.
    Company sheetÜhe üksuse Character sheet, kui kontrollida lahingus ainult ühte üksust. Interaktiivne.
    Mängujuhi seikluslehtAbiks mängu rännakusegmentide planeerimisel + kõiksugused juhuslikud juhtumised rännakul.
    Mängija seikluslehtNagu Character sheet aga kogu grupile. Kasutatakse siis kui tegelased rändavad tundmatutel ja/või ohtlikel maadel
    Mängujuhi koopalehtKoopaleht mängujuhile – aitab koobast disainida ja organiseerida koopa uurimise mängusegmenti.
    Mängija koopalehtVajalik mängijatel koobastes.
    KollidHulk kõiksugu kolle, et PCdel oleks kellega möllata.

    Kuigi  ma olen teinud SAKEle üle kõikide sotsiaalmeedia platvormide kontod, siis ma eelistaksin, kui tõsisem tagasiside ilmuks selle sama postituse alla siin blogis. Sel juhul ei kao see igasuguste pingide ja blingide vahele ning ma saan alati siia postituse juurde tagasi tulla, et vaadata, mis kogukonna arvates vajab muutmist, mida tahaks veel jne.

    Tänan!

    Rainer Kaasik-Aaslav

    Uudiskiri

    Kui mäng huvitab Sind ning Sa sooviksid kõige olulisemaid uudiseid otse enda meilile, siis palun sisesta oma meiliaadress uudiskirja jaoks.


  • Day 20 of #dungeon23 │ #city23 project

    Day 20 of #dungeon23 │ #city23 project

    Today we’re going to zoom out and think about the reasons for the decline of the Still Unnamed City (which may or may not become its official name).

    In order to make it easier to write about the city’s history, I will give the city a nickname… Iron Gate. Iron, because the city’s fame, power, and wealth came from mediating iron from the asteanic merchants to the rest of the Kali states, and Gate, because the city was the only gate to the rest of the Kali states.


    The story of the city’s power began seven centuries ago when asteanic seafarers and merchants were looking for a way to Oreenia during their coastal voyages. Since there were no ships at the time that could withstand the sea voyage directly across the great ocean from Thefna (the homeland of the asteanic civilization) to Oreenia, the ships sailed along the coast of the eastern islands.

    Many of the islands encountered along the way became asteanic colonies, and bad things happened to their people. However, the Kali states and cities were large and powerful, and conquering them would have been beyond the asteanic capabilities. Especially when the goal was to reach Oreenia, where different groups of merchants and adventurers were already conducting conquest wars against the local states.

    The leader of the Itza clan, Tzeki, was at war with the neighboring tribes at that time and made an alliance with the asteans – the asteans offered him iron and tin (necessary for making bronze) and he offered the sailors a safe place to stay and food during their long sea journey to Oreenia.

    Within a couple of decades, with the help of the asteanic iron, Tzeki conquered the surrounding islands and the city of Iron Gate, and the kingdom of the Itzas grew into a powerful Kali kingdom. Over the following centuries, the Itza kingdom monopolized all sea travel and trade in the surrounding islands – even the asteanic emperors sent tributes to the Itza kings so that they would not attack asteanic merchants.

    Several hundred years ago, when the junk-type ship was developed, which was suitable for crossing the ocean directly, merchants had less and less reason to visit the arrogant and greedy Iron Kings of Itza. The main trade routes between north and south now went directly across the ocean. This of course did not mean that the state of Itza would immediately decline. There were still merchants who wanted to do business with them and the king himself had a formidable naval fleet, with which he controlled all the surrounding archipelagos and demanded tribute from continental states.

    The reason for the decline of the maritime state of Itza’s is actually the long reign of Tzek III the Stubborn, the father of today’s king Wadcha VII Itza, combined with the growth of the power of the continental state of Zipopan.

    Size of Itza kingdom in its prime

    The city-state of Zipopan had, over decades of wars, annexed a large number of smaller city-states and grown to become the largest state on the continent. Throughout this time, they had faithfully paid tribute to the kingdom of Itza and thus the rulers of Itza had no reason to intervene in the situation. However, at the beginning of Tzek III’s reign, the Zipopans stopped paying tribute and a war began, which lasted throughout Tzek III’s reign, almost 30 years.

    The first decade of the war is characterized by relatively low military activity: Zipopani did not have a navy to directly attack the kingdom of Itza and the Itzas mainly carried out raids on the continent rather than conquest expeditions. The goal was to force the Zipopans to pay tribute, not to conquer their state.

    When this led to nowhere, Tzek III changed his strategy and in 1481. began a campaign on the continent with the goal of conquering Zipopani. The bloody campaign lasted over ten years and caused famine and disease that killed hundreds of thousands if not millions of Kalis. The entire wealth of the Itza state went to arming, equipping, and paying the wages to all sorts of orenic, asteanic and roadic mercenaries – without any result.

    In 1492, Tzek III had to retreat from the continent. This was followed by a period of recovery, which the Zipopans used to build their navy and in 1497, they destroyed the Itza state navy completely in sea battles. Today, 15 years have passed since those battles and there are many Kalis living in the city and around it who remember all this well.

    Because of the loss of the navy and because the kingdom never had a centralized structure, the state of Itza collapsed. The kingdom consisted of hundreds of Kali and Orenic tribes, all of which were connected to the king through some type of vassal agreement, under which they had to pay taxes and come to the war. The guarantee of these agreements was the Itza’s extremely powerful navy, which quickly and effectively suppressed any resistance. However, without a navy, the tribes had no reason to continue paying tribute.

    When Wadcha VII Itza came to power in 1499, he inherited a state that essentially consisted of only the Iron Gate city and its surrounding villages from his father. He has been clinging to it with all his might since then.


  • Day 19 of #dungeon23 │ #city23 project

    Day 19 of #dungeon23 │ #city23 project

    Can you remember phra pneh (chief of chiefs) Morena Truthseeing, who came to the city on a pilgrimage, but was not allowed into the temple by Yaxchila’s high priest, Kuklan Zipaniza? And who is now spending time with her warriors somewhere in the city. Yesterday, when I drew the city, I determined her location, and today we are thinking about what she is doing there and why she is camped in this exact place – in the middle of the Turtletown, however, with a small army (with 2 companies of Orenic marine warriors).

    13 tribes of Turtletown

    A while ago, battles broke out between the Nitzmanji (tribe 2) and Katamana (tribe 1) tribes – the reason being a sacred cave located in the Nitzmanji tribe’s city district, which both tribes claim as their own. The disturbances were bloody and hundreds of innocent people died in the city battles. Eventually, parts of the Nitzmanji district were set on fire and the king’s troops intervened under the leadership of Nene. The tribal leaders were brought to king Wadcha VII Itza to account for themselves. The king pronounced judgment and it was revealed that the arguments (or bribes!) of the Katamana tribe were stronger and the conquered cave remained in their hands. They had to pay compensation for the burned districts, but understandably the Nitzmanji tribe was not satisfied with this solution.

    Phra Pneh Morena Truthseeing is a distant relative of the Nitzmanji tribal leaders and upon arriving in the city, she went straight to them. At first, the tribal leaders were extremely happy that such a respectable leader had set up her army’s camp between their quarters, on the burned land. In addition, the brave Orenic warriors increased the tribe’s sense of security, which was quite low considering the previous events.

    Recently, it has come to light that the phra pneh Morena Truthseeinut may not be allowed into the Yaxchila temple at all. She now sits with her 240 soldiers in the midst of the tribe’s quarters that have recently suffered large losses and is eating her distant relatives poor.

    The council of the Nitzmanji tribe is in conflict over what to do with Morena. Simply sending her away would be extremely impolite, and she doesn’t seem to be easily sent away with her soldiers. One side of the council would like to do it still – somehow. Could she be lured somewhere else, could her entrance to the temple be arranged or something else? The other side of the council would like to use Morena’s army against the Katamana tribe to regain control of the sacred cave and the surrounding quarters. But the first council side does not like the idea of a new war against the Katamanas, especially if the king chose their side. Even if the tribe is successful, Morena will eventually leave with her army, then what?


  • Day 13 of #dungeon23 │ #city23 project

    Day 13 of #dungeon23 │ #city23 project

    Today, I continued to draw out the plan for Turtletown, one of the unnamed city’s districts, and as a result, I made some decisions about the city:

    1. The city and the rest of the kingdom are governed as a tribal federation, made up of various clans of Kalis and Oreens, who are bound by some sort of vassal agreement with the king known as the “Rustking”. The tribes pay him taxes and are required to appear in response to his call to arms. However, as the king’s personal strength, wealth, and power have diminished, the tribes view this agreement with disdain – they avoid paying taxes (known as tribute or gifts) or only pay a reduced amount, and only some of the tribes appear in response to the king’s call to arms.
    2. This lack of central governance creates interesting conflicts in the city, as we now see it not as a unity but as a group of small tribes living in an unstable peace. As long as the Rustking was strong, his word was law and he resolved conflicts between the tribes. Now, the tribes of the city no longer turn to the Rustking and resolve conflicts on their own, likely in a much more violent way than with a neutral judge.
    3. Therefore, the city is in a somewhat post-apocalyptic situation, where a large number of people have gathered on a small territory, grouped into different tribes, and peace between them can break down at any moment.

    13 tribes of Turtletown

    13 tribes of Turtletown

    Turtletown is home to 1/8 of the city’s population (about 12,500 people), divided into thirteen separate tribes. These thirteen tribes also represent the city’s middle class – Turtletown’s fishers are not poor or the wealthiest tribes in the city. Their source of income, the sea, provides them with a steady wealth that is not affected by being on the outskirts of the main trade routes.

    Since all families in Turtletown have canoes or catamarans that require parking space and there are canals in addition to streets between buildings, it can be inferred that the district is the largest in terms of area, perhaps even half of the city’s total area although it is home to only 1/8 of the population.

    The tribes of Turtletown are required to pay taxes to the Rustking in the form of pearls and coral. In the past, when kings had more power, the handling of pearls and coral was only allowed for the king and his loyal followers. They were used by kings to pay for iron, tin, and other overseas goods from the asteanic merchants. Paying the asteanic merchants in pearls would result in a death penalty. Now, the Rustking is unable to fully control this restriction, but it doesn’t mean that trading in pearls would be a good idea. The Rustking’s chief of bodyguards, Nene, and the defense forces are still loyal to the king and will punish pearl trading immediately if it comes to their attention.

    Yesterday’s video of drawing the canals and some base concepts: