Rainer Kaasik-Aaslav

  • Beastmastery Magic School and other stuff

    Beastmastery Magic School and other stuff

    Today, it’s time to release a variety of different content that’s somewhat connected:

    1. Beastmastery Magic School
    2. Daughters of Seamother (Corporal otherworldlings who are adept beastmasters themselves)
    3. Colossal Sea Turtle (An animal that provides a great companion for beastmasters of Kaliland – also usable as a ramming ship in ship-to-ship combat)
    4. Some other animals for PCs to fight or tame.
    5. Seamother the god – there is also a myth that mentsions her (written at Lore and History page).
    6. And Beastmaster Archetype – for players to choose.

    Also, been testing some layouts for the final book, as you can see from pdf: Beastmastery Magic School and Other Stuff

    Some pages from the pdf:


  • Restoration school of magic

    Restoration school of magic

    Restoration school of magic translated as well as monsters creatable for restoration mages. A brief description of the magic school in this post, spells and monster stats can be downloaded as a PDF at the end of the post.

    Restoration   

    Restoration magic is based on energy transfer similarly to Soulcraft. Restoration is expressed through techniques such as acupuncture, massage, meditation, or similar practices. When healing wounds, it often involves stitching or bandaging the wound. Most healing rituals take at least ten minutes to several hours. During the healing process, the patient must relax and avoid thinking too much. Meditation is also beneficial. A sorcerer can even heal themselves by directing their energy to the right place.

    Restoration is the most well-known branch of witchcraft, found among all cultures that have some knowledge of magic. Generally, society views healers positively.

    * – The benefits of psychotropic substances only add half of their effects to Restoration, as the main component of Restoration is giving away one’s own energy, and psychotropic substances make energy transfer easier but do not generate more energy.

    ** – The Mirror to the Otherworld has no use in Restoration magic.

    *** – Restoration can sometimes be utilized without casting a specific spell, particularly when healing injuries described in combat maneuvers. In these instances, it consumes only 1 Spellpoint.

    SAKE Restoration and Restoration monsters


  • Soulcraft and Magical items

    Soulcraft and Magical items


    Today, I translated the description and spells of the Soulcrafting magic school. I will include a brief description of the magic school in this post, while the spells and magical items can be downloaded as a PDF at the end of the post.

    Soulcraft

    Soulcraft is a moderately well-known branch of sorcery, and it shouldn’t be very difficult to find such a sorcerer in most realms.

    Soulcraft has two aspects: firstly, it allows the sorcerer to directly convert their soul’s energy into electricity, making it the only branch of sorcery capable of inflicting direct harm in battle. Secondly, soul manipulation enables the creation of various magical items like Soulbleed weapons.

    Thanks to its practical and economically beneficial nature, those skilled in this school of magic are usually respected individuals in society. However, they are also feared, for they possess the knowledge to create weapons that not only kill bodies but also kill the soul.

    It should be noted that many cultures are unaware of the existence of several items crafted by soulcrafters.

    Soulsmiths are sorcerers who infuse a portion of their soul into the item and create magic items through this unique process. There are two ways to archive this. 

    The first and simpler method, which produces more potent results, involves storing the soul during the item’s crafting. It is a ritualistic and meditative practice that may require some aid from hallucinogens, though nothing too strong; even simple mushrooms can suffice, as the sorcerer must retain the ability to craft the item. This is the process used to create Soulbleed weapons.

    The second method involves taking a finished item and, through meditation, forcing part of one’s soulenergy into it. Here, a stronger hallucinogen may be used.

    During the work, the soulsmith forms a spiritual bond with the item, which feels like an extension of their own limb during the process. This bond typically ends when the work is completed.

    Technically, the soulsmith spends a portion of their Soul Health Points for each creation. Depending on the complexity of the item, these points may or may not regenerate. Generally, the loss of Soul HP is permanent. In a literal sense, the soulsmith forges their soul into currency.

    Download Soulcrafting and Magical Items (pdf)


  • Designing a dungeon in SAKE ttrpg (for GM)

    Designing a dungeon in SAKE ttrpg (for GM)

    In the SAKE system, any dangerous place can be a dungeon, such as the palace of a powerful enemy lord, a dense and perilous jungle, a pocket of the Otherworld, as well as more traditional locations like mines, necropolises, and other underground structures.

    Playing in a dungeon is divided into Dungeon Turns, during which PCs roll percentages for Hazards and Opportunities and can perform individual actions such as mapping, searching for traps, and seeking out secrets.

    To start, download the GM’s Dungeon Sheet: https://sake.ee/downloads/ (You also find the Dungeon Crawling rules there).

    You will fill it with content, and when it’s done, you will be ready to run your dungeon.

    For an example dungeon, I am creating a dungeon for the #dungeon23 project. Those who have been following the blog for a while know that as part of this project, I am creating a city called Irongate. However, if you are reading for the first time, don’t worry, you don’t need to know anything about Irongate or my #dungeon23 project to create a dungeon.

    In any case, there will be a building in the city of Irongate that will later become the PCs’ home base, but first, they must retake it from a criminal drug gang that has taken over. So our dungeon already has a final boss (the gang leader) and a goal for why the PCs are entering the dungeon.

    Our dungeon is the city districts around the player’s house. I have drawn a map of these districts, but, it is not necessary to draw a map to design the SAKE dungeon because the dungeon is expressed as a scheme. However, the map is helpful in illustrating the process.

    Area of dungeon as a illustrative map

    The SAKE dungeon consists of sectors that can be traversed within one Dungeon Turn at a normal speed, with Scripted Encounters in between.

    The first Scripted Encounter we know that’s going to happen is the very last Scripted Encounter, which is a fight against the Iron Runners gang boss Tzakla Ulu and the conquering of the PCs’ future home. For this, we will use a separate battle map, and it will be a long combat segment. We will be designing that later.

    The second Scripted Encounter will be the reservoirs and canals around the city districts because the players may question whether it is possible to avoid traversing the districts and instead cross these bodies of water by swimming or finding a boat to reach the final boss. This would mean the PCs would bypass most of the dungeon, but such an option must remain available to them. Therefore, we define this as a Scripted Encounter.

    Iron Runners gang member stats

    Now, let’s get back to the big picture. First, we need to decide on the theme of the dungeon (cave, castle, necropolis, etc.) – I’ve decided on a city district.

    The dungeon type will be a Quantumcrawl, which means that the dungeon will be in a Pointcrawl format, but the Scripted Encounters in this dungeon won’t just depend on where the PCs are.

    Next, we need to decide on the length and duration of the Dungeon Turn. We can assume that the PCs will be able to move through the city streets at a relatively normal pace, but since they are in a dangerous area, their normal walking speed will be a bit slower as they try to stay alert to any dangers.

    Let’s say the Dungeon Turn is about 200m long, and the PCs can traverse it at a cautious pace in 5 minutes.

    Finally, we need to determine the Dungeon Mapping Difficulty Level – DL 4 seems sufficient in the context of a city. Although the streets may be winding and complex, getting lost should only happen in cases of bad luck.

    Next, it’s time to divide the entire dungeon into sectors. Each sector takes one Dungeon Turn to traverse at a normal speed, during which Hazards and Opportunities are rolled and each PC has one Action. Scripted Encounters may occur between sectors.

    I’ll divide the dungeon into 12 sectors, which means it’s a fairly large dungeon, but to reach the final encounter, only 3 sectors need to be traversed if taking the shortest path. Based on this knowledge, we’ll prepare only a few Hazards and Secrets. It can be assumed that the PCs won’t wander in the dungeon for long.

    Next, lets start adding Hazards and Secrets.

    To be continued …


  • Day 62 The Start of the Adventure in Irongate

    Day 62 The Start of the Adventure in Irongate

    I have devised a plan to kick off the adventure in Irongate in a way that the PCs are not familiar with the city (since the players are not) but still have a connection to it. To achieve this, I have drafted a game-opening text directed towards the players, serving as a preliminary campaign pitch. It does not include details on what the campaign entails, what the PC would be doing, and the like, making it only a partial campaign pitch.

    Campaign Introduction

    You are all members of the Tepozatli clan, hailing from the grand city of Irongate. After years of traversing foreign lands, you have returned to your birthplace upon hearing news of your old clan leader Ahau’s passing. You left a decade or more ago, when the city’s formidable navy – the lifeblood of the Itza empire – was obliterated, leading to the collapse of the entire once powerful empire and its capital, Irongate.

    As blacksmiths, the Tepozatli clan’s fortunes were intrinsically tied to the navy. The clan had amassed significant wealth by supplying the warship with arms and other iron goods. However, with the navy’s demise, the clan lost its riches and had to lay off all its workers. Many clan members sought better prospects elsewhere. Despite being children at the time, you vividly recall the fear and melancholy that shrouded the city, even playing outside after dark was no longer allowed. The Tepozatli clan villa where you lived, always crowded and noisy (because giant mechanical hammers worked there all day), became empty and silent. Eventually, you too departed with your parents, leaving only Ahau and his family behind.

    Whilst you can fashion your characters’ attributes as you wish – nationality, gender, age, appearance, and further background – you all share a common past, having grown up in the Tepozatli clan villa situated in the Blacksmith district. You may even come across some childhood friends or rivals in the city, whose current whereabouts remain unknown but may be of assistance if needed.

    You all arrived in the city on the same cargo ship that belonged to the wealthy Asteanic merchant, Lardes. If you need money, it may be possible to work for him. You arrived in the city only this morning and went straight to the Quirigua (Kali death god) necropolis, where the clan leader Ahau is buried. There, you learned that Ahau has been dead for six months and there is no one left but you to inherit your clan’s large forge-villa in the Blacksmith district. You have no other home to stay in.

    The game starts when you step out of the Quirigua necropolis.


    Before the game, friends and rivals must also be drawn (as cards), and I already have some thoughts on this that would help get the adventure going.

    By the way, the first adventure and BBEG will be driving Tzakla Ulu out of the PC’s clan palace. As it later transpires, Ahau had succumbed to drug addiction, allowing the leader of a notorious drug gang, Tzakla Ulu, to occupy his palace with his gang. In addition, Tzakla Ulu will also be one of the rivals, and if that doesn’t help, one of the PC’s friends will also have a problem with Tzakla Ulu. And if even that doesn’t help either, if the PCs choose between Lardes and the king, Tzakla Ulu will still get in their way.

    Thoughts on friend cards:

    1. Someone from the same district who also has problems with Tzakla Ulu and can warn the PCs about him.
    2. One Nitzmanji tribal leader, who will bring the PCs into contact with Morena Truthseeing and ask them to solve the problems with her. (read also: https://sake.ee/day-19-of-dungeon23-%e2%94%82-city23-project/)

    Thoughts on rival cards:

    1. Tzakla Ulu

  • Day 59. of #city23 │ #dungeon23 Otokos also known as frog-people

    Day 59. of #city23 │ #dungeon23 Otokos also known as frog-people

    Time to add some creatures to the world. Otokos fit especially well to the swampy jungles and mangroves near Zipopan and they live in smaller numbers in other areas of Kaliland also.

    Otokos also known as frog-people

    Otokos are a species of small, amphibious creatures that inhabit primitive communities in the swamps and jungles of Kaliland and the Orenic regions. While little is known about their history, humans have historically shown little love for otokos, and they have been eradicated wherever human civilization has spread. As a result, these creatures can only be found in the most untouched swamps and jungles.

    Distribution and relationship with humans

    Otokos are typically wary of humans and will begin tracking them if they enter the area that an otoko community considers their home and hunting grounds. If a person gets too close to an otoko village, the community may ruthlessly attack them in an attempt to kill or drive them away.

    Otokos live in communities of 40 to 160 (4d4x10) members, with the community being ruled by a matriarch. Male and female otokos build the village, hunt, fish, and guard their hunting grounds.

    While otokos generally avoid humans, there have been instances where new otoko communities have formed near human settlements on the edge of the jungle. In such cases, the community may harass the settlement by attacking individual people, stealing and killing their livestock, and so on. There have also been cases where otokos have attacked entire villages with large numbers of people.

    Characters with a +4 Instinct who are beastmasters can learn the otoko language and command them.

    Otoko settlement
    Otoko settlement

    Anatomy

    Otokos are small amphibians that stand upright and can grow up to 150 cm tall. Adult otokos typically weigh about 40 to 50 kg. With their frog-like bodies and powerful hind legs, they are skilled jumpers. Like frogs, otokos have only four fingers and toes, with one finger developed like a thumb, which allows them to use tools and weapons. Otokos have a relatively short lifespan, reaching sexual maturity at 6 to 8 years old and living to be about 20 to 30 years old.

    The birth and development of otoko is unusual. Every year, otokos have a mating season. A few weeks after the mating season, all fertilized female otokos leave their areas and search for a distant body of water to lay their eggs. When they are done, the female otokos return home. From the eggs that are not eaten by predators, tadpoles are born that live and feed in the selected body of water. The first otoko to come out of the water becomes the matriarch of the new group, usually about 2 to 3 years after birth. The young matriarch starts creating a living space for her community out of nothing while protecting the selected body of water so that her community members can come out one by one.

    Otoko tadpole

    Otokos are born with the knowledge of how to make throwing weapons, harpoons for fishing, traps for hunting, and so on. They also know which plants are poisonous and which are not, and they are able to use poisons to their advantage. The collective subconscious of otokos is highly developed, and usually, a new generation of the tribe remains in the same place where they were born.

    If the mother of the tribe has chosen the spawning ground wisely, there will be no conflicts between the new and previous generations. However, the unique way in which otokos are born means that no otoko tribe lives longer than its oldest member, resulting in no progress in otoko knowledge and skills. Sometimes, a new otoko tribe takes over a village of a previously extinct tribe.

    Diet and natural enemies

    Otokos are skilled at survival in their jungle environment, relying on hunting, fishing, and gathering to sustain themselves. Being omnivores, they can hunt practically any animal thanks to their speed and use of poison, with some even claiming they are capable of hunting elephants and large predators.

    However, otoko also face threats from natural enemies, including simple fish that can consume an entire tribe before it grows large enough to leave the water and large predators like jaguars, giant gorillas, crocodiles, and anacondas. Despite these dangers, the greatest enemy of adult otoko is humans.

    Tactics

    Otoko ambushes can be very dangerous. They ambush game or people passing through their hunting grounds in groups of up to 10, and their method of attack is to weaken the opponent with poison, then quickly retreat and set up a new ambush against the confused or fleeing victim. They repeat this tactic until they believe the opponent is weak enough for a direct attack. Then they pounce on the weakened opponent with the whole hunting party.

    By water, they can ambush from below because they are skilled swimmers and amphibious.

    Combat stats


  • 53. day in Irongate Some thoughts on Campaign in Irongate

    53. day in Irongate Some thoughts on Campaign in Irongate

    More water has flown to the sea, and it’s time to jot down some thoughts regarding Irongate once again.

    As I’ve mentioned before, I design adventure, not just a city, because a city without adventure is not particularly exciting behind the table.

    This post will be a bit scattered because I will write down all the thoughts I’ve had in the meantime.

    The Nature of Adventure

    Throughout the campaign, the PCs will have the power to determine the destiny of Irongate, which is the crux of the adventure. As we’ve established previously, the city lost its empire in a war and its status as the sole trading hub between Kali states and the rest of the world. This has led to a threat of famine, as the current land cannot support the city’s needs. Although I haven’t determined the source of additional food yet, it’s clear that the supply of food will eventually run out, and this could even be the first adventure.

    The king’s curse, brought about by the “Itza-Zipopan Open Seas Peace Treaty,” has caused him to direct resources away from rebuilding the city and restoring the glory of the Itza empire. Instead, he focuses on suppressing and persecuting relatives who want to restore the city. Yunu Itza, a relative of the king, has already attempted to overthrow him, but the king managed to quell the rebellion. Yunu is currently held captive in Iron Palaces, while his son Kzalpa leads the rest of the rebels in the mountains.

    At some point during the campaign, the players will have to choose a side, and their decision will shape the fate of the city. At the moment, the possible choices seem to be the following:

    • The PCs ally with the king. The empire is unlikely to be restored, but there will be many internal struggles. Perhaps the PCs can somehow break the curse?
    • The PCs ally with the rebels and lead the king’s overthrow. They are likely to start with the secret murder of Nene and other important officers. Will they eventually try to restore the empire? The new opponent will be Zipopan again?
    • The PCs find some other party to ally with (e.g., Asteanic merchants, Roadic pirates, or some other major city-state) and use that alliance to establish their own regime. The opponents are likely to be both the king and the rebels.
    • The PCs do not participate in city politics, and things will go as they go.

    Broadly speaking, whatever the PCs do, it falls into one of these four categories. This means that the following preparations are needed:

    • Metaplot of what happens if the PCs don’t intervene.
    • Short action plans for all parties. The GM can use these as a basis even if the PCs do something unexpected.
    • Character sheets for the parties and a number of palaces/dungeons.

    Overall, the campaign is essentially sandbox-style.

    One thing that currently bothers me is that no thread currently points towards the emergence of a powerful BBEG. Rustking and Nene are not super warriors, nor are the rebel leaders, and I am still not sure if I want to bring the god-lich to the game as an enemy.

    The beginning of the adventure and who are the PCs

    I haven’t fully decided yet how exactly the PCs will first get to know the city, but it seems to me that I will already tie them to the city from the beginning, i.e. they have some home, relatives/friends, rivals, etc. there, already at the start of the game. To do this, I will use cards or let the players choose. Both approaches work.

    A personal connection to the city raises the PCs’ motivation to deal with its problems and not just leave when the problems (hunger, city battles) start to become overwhelming. Of course, this means that before the city becomes too problematic, the PCs need time to deal with their friends, acquire assets for themselves in the city, and in every other way start feeling the city as their home. So the city should be more friendly towards the PCs at the beginning of the campaign (or at least partially).

    However, this approach presents the challenge of the players knowing little about the city while their characters have lived there their whole lives. One solution could be to have the PCs return to the city after a prolonged absence. Or something else?

    To prepare:

    • Friends and rivals’ cards.
    • Find a reason why the players know significantly less than the PCs.
    • Beginning adventure. I prefer it when all campaigns start with a clear task right away. In this case, getting to know the city happens organically because the task leads them everywhere.

  • Day 39. The state of Itzan state

    Day 39. The state of Itzan state

    Last week, much of the map was drawn and the area around Irongate (which seems to be the official name of the city now) was expanded. Now it’s time to analyze the results and see what new NPCs and adventures will come out of it.

    Former Itzan empire

    First of all, it seems that Irongate is still the largest and most powerful state in the archipelago. Although its navy was destroyed in a war 15 years ago and the empire fell apart, it does not seem plausible to me that the Itza state has not at least partially restored its former power in the past 15 years. The population is sufficient (200 000), the timber to build ships is not gone from the forests, and most importantly, most of the former vassals are smaller than the Itza state.

    However, I want to stick to the fact that only Irongate and its surroundings remain in the Itza state. This means that I need to find some additional obstacles that have prevented them from at least partially restoring their empire.

    One possibility would be simply to say that Zipopan has taken the place of the dominant sea-faring nation, but I don’t like that because the region meant for PC shenanigans is best if there is not one totally dominant force, but rather a number of small factions that can be played against each other. I believe that in the end, the PCs’ adventures will take them away from the Irongate and I don’t want one all-powerful empire waiting for them. For similar reasons, the ring defence is also out, meaning former vassals are not in a defensive alliance against the Irongate and are still fighting among themselves.

    Generally, I have the idea that the region is somewhat like a no man’s land after the collapse of the Itza empire. All the small tribes and city-states compete and fight over resources and influence. This in turn leads to the fact that even Zipopan has to have a reason why it does not dominate the islands. Generally, we can say that Zipopan is a mainland state and its interests are not so much on the islands. However, Zipopan is still interested in foreign trade, and we wrote that Zipopan built a powerful navy that destroyed the Itza empire’s navy. This fact must now change slightly.

    A section of the city’s history previously:

    „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.„

    https://sake.ee/day-20-of-dungeon23-%e2%94%82-city23-project/

    The new section of the city’s history:

    “In 1492, King Tzek III was forced to retreat from the continent. This was followed by a period of recovery. During this time, the Zipopans employed ban Bogodan, an independent roadic prince, and his navy as mercenaries. Under Ban Bogodan’s direction, the Zipopans established their own small navy and, together, they triumphed over the Itzan imperial navy in a series of battles in 1497. The events of 15 years ago are still fresh in the city’s memory.

    Ban Bogodan, however, never left the archipelago. Together with his mercenary crew, he seized a former Itzan naval fortress and the nearby islands, and is using it as a pirate base to attack Asteanic merchant vessels in the southern seas.”

    Potential locations of the pirate base.

    With this change, we justify why Zipopan does not rule the islands and naturally add more chaos and intrigue to the islands, as there is now also a base of pirates.

    Pirates do not solve our issues with the Itza state — why it has not yet recovered from the war. Zipopan and the pirates do not stop Itza, in fact, there is almost no good reason. But luckily we are in a fantasy world, so magic can come to the rescue. And I have an idea. In SAKE there is a powerful priest ritual: the Contract of Menes:

    Contract of Menes

    Price: 10 EXP

    Prerequisite: Ritual: Cursing, Channelling +14, Law and Society +6

    Description: The priest of Menes has the capability to compose a Contract of Menes that links the agreement between the parties with a powerful curse. The signing of the contract must be done with full knowledge and voluntarily by the parties, regardless of their understanding of the curse. The curse applies personally.

    The priest performing the Ritual: Cursing, adds their Skill Level in Channelling and Law and Society to determine the strength of the curse bond in the contract.

    If a party breaches the agreement, they are given a Spell Resistance roll against the applicable curse. The curse imposed by the Contract of Menes can be lifted in a similar manner as any other curse.

    So, when the current king Wadcha VII Itza came to power after the war, he was forced to sign a peace treaty. As a young ruler, he panicked after the destruction of the navy and made a decision without thinking about the consequences. The peace treaty prohibits Irongate from rebuilding the navy and re-conquering its neighbours. For the past 15 years, Wadcha has been looking for a way to escape the curse while sabotaging his own kingdom, forcing it into inactivity. That’s why he’s called The Cursed King or Rustking.

    The Cursed King presents us with future adventure arcs and ideas to develop around the curse:

    1. Breaking the curse, of course.
    2. Who was the priest, so powerful, that the King of Itza has not been able to find anyone to break the curse?
    3. Why hasn’t the lich god Yaxchila, who lives in the city, broken the curse? Maybe he was the priest?
    4. What other points are in the peace treaty?
    5. Clearly, the rest of the Itza clan’s important members are not happy with the situation. The city could actually rebuild its navy and retake its former vassals, at the cost of simply killing the king. This means that Wadcha actually fears his close ones the most and has shut himself into the Iron Palace with his personal guards, not letting anyone close to him. And Nene, his loyal military leader, doesn’t search for the city’s enemies but instead actually hinders the city’s development and power restoration.
    6. And, of course, the Cursed King has enemies among his closest relatives who would want his death or removal from power (and thus death through the curse).

    Added for day 40:


  • 33. day in Irongate Problems with the Food Source

    33. day in Irongate Problems with the Food Source

    As I mapped the lands around the city yesterday, I encountered an intriguing problem – the city may not have enough food to sustain its population, which could in turn be a metaplot and source for adventure.

    Two main agricultural areas around the city

    There appear to be only two more prominent areas for agriculture around the city. Both areas are densely populated with settlements and fields. They both fit into approximately 1625 km2 hexagons, which means that if all the land was fully populated with settlements and fields, there would be 3250 km2 of land with 812 villages and a total population of 203 125 people.

    Note: These calculations are based on data from the SAKE system domain module, which is not yet translated into English, but will be in the spring.

    However, in reality, no land is 100% populated, but we can take the highest population density in the Asteanic world as a reference, which are the Thefna’n grasslands with around 30 people per km2. It is likely that the areas surrounding the central city of the historical Itzade empire are very densely populated. As a result, there are 97 500 people living in 390 villages in the area, which is the same as in the capital of the Itza state itself, for which we decided to have a population of 100 000. This population must now be fed.

    Kaliland is relatively close to the equator and covered in dense jungles, which means that the soil there is not so fertile red soil. The soil fertility of the villages would be a d6 compared to a maximum of d12, which is very low. However, as the area has been inhabited for a long time, it can be assumed that all cultivable land has been crisscrossed with various irrigation and drainage canals, resulting in a soil fertility of d8.

    Let’s see if we can feed the city!

    100 people require 10 tons of food per domain turn (3 months). So, the city requires a total of 10 000 tons of food per turn.

    In a region with a soil fertility of d8, 8 city families (or 80 people) can be fed for each village in addition to the villagers.

    390 villages x 80 city people = 31 200 fed people. That’s not much! But before starting to map Turtletown, we made one more calculation:

    Turtletown population calculation

    Here we can see that half of the city is actually fed by the Turtletown fishermen. That means:

    100 000 – 50 000 (seafood) – 31 200 (land food) = 18 800 unfed people, or a food shortage of 1880 tons of food for the city during the domain turn.

    Back when the city was the centre of the empire, this wasn’t a problem – importing 2000 tons of food from the surrounding islands wasn’t very difficult. But now, with the collapse of the Itza state, there could be all sorts of problems. Where this extra food will come from and what adventures may arise around this are left open for now.

    I’ll leave a reminder for myself here: the empire fragmented 15 years ago, and the city’s population still stands at 100 000, meaning it has been able to sustain itself for 15 years from an unknown source. Significant food shortage issues are likely to occur only when the PCs reach the city.

    PS: And we got the whole population of the remaining state – around 200 000. And remaining borders for now:

    The Itza kingdom


  • 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.


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