Posts From Yesteryear (Or Just Earlier This Year....Whatever)

I happened to stumble across this post I made in January of this year over on the Paizo boards and thought it might make an interesting read for any folks interested in the Lost Lands Campaign Setting design process. I thought it made a nice summation of our efforts. So for anyone who hasn't seen this before...enjoy:

The Lost Lands Campaign Setting

...This is the compilation of ALL of the old Necromancer Games products AND the FGG products into one coherent campaign setting. I've been slowly working on this nonstop for the last 4-1/2 years ever since we formed Frog God. (Okay, let's be honest, just like everyone else I've really been working on this for my home campaign since Necromancer Games started publishing in 2000).

Anyway, it's been a long, slow, tedious process. I love reading our stuff and the old NG stuff, but I've had to read through every single product with a fine tooth comb and a highlighter in hand to mark every single instance of something that affects the campaign world as a whole (yes, I committed the sacrilege of marking up all my old Necro stuff--but hey! it's the "design edition" for the Lost Lands, so that ought to be worth something someday, right?), be it a geographical feature, a nation, the names of nobles or neighboring nobles, population types and densities, particular races, languages, snippets of history, original spells, magic items, feats, religions, technology levels, even types of plants in particular regions. Then I add them all to my big binder full of sheets of notebook paper that hold all these little peeks at the larger world. From these I have to reference and cross reference to create a coherent world map that encompasses all of the previous products plus review and account for all new products to create this giant picture to hold all of the older smaller pictures.

My goal with the campaign setting is to allow people to use their old NG stuff without having to change anything for them to set them in the Lost Lands while staying true to the intent of the original authors. If you've got the original adventures, you shouldn't HAVE to buy the updated versions to be able to use them in the Lost Lands.

NG put out something like 80 products, mostly by all different authors, with very little to hold it all together beyond the First Edition Feel philosophy and some individual attempts as interpreting and connecting some of the iconic areas (Bard's Gate, Rappan Athuk, Barakus) while giving tantalizing but uncoordinated hints about other places (Reme, Tsar, Tircople) without ever providing any real detail. These were all considered to be plug-and-play for dropping into the GM's own campaign, so there was very little if any organizational oversight of how they were all developed. You can still use our stuff as plug-and-play for your own campaign, but the setting will give you the option of using ours if you want to.

Some things I learned during this process: 
1. Orcus is everywhere (no really, he's everywhere). I like Orcus. He is cool. He is iconic. He is representative of Necromancer Games. And he will continue to enjoy that status with Frog God Games. But, seriously, he's everywhere. 
2. Where Orcus isn't, there Tsathogga will be (and sometimes even where Orcus is--I'm looking at you Tomb of Abysthor). It's almost like the founders of Necromancer Games personally identified with Orcus and Tsathogga or something. I don't know; I don't really get it. Anyway, fortunately we at Frog God Games have no such strange predilections. :-P 
3. Almost every adventure takes place on the frontier, somewhere at the very edge of civilization. But hardly any actually take place in or describe this alleged civilization. I get it, The Keep on the Borderlands and all that. The edge of civilization is a great place to put the action. But for there to be all this frontier there has to be a civilization somewhere that's encroaching in all this wilderness. To make a complete campaign setting, you really need to have this alleged civilization. So either, all of these adventure-laden frontier areas are within like 5 miles of each other (one seriously bada$$ place to roll for random encounters) or the campaign setting is HUGE with lots of areas for frontiers to exist and lots of civilizations, ex-civilizations, and quasi-civilizations that have encroached upon the wilds enough to create these myriad frontiers and also enough wild places left over for them to be frontiers of. We opted for the latter, so the Lost Lands is a really big place with all the attendant issues and details that accompany that (hint, these don't speed up the development process). 
4. There...are...a...ton...of...gods. I think every author created a half-dozen gods, or something like that. Sometimes a fully fleshed-out pantheon and stat block and sometimes just an throwaway reference. (Yes, this is an idol to another forgotten not that forgotten god, another one). Don't get me wrong. I love this hodge-podge of crazy unassociated deities that have been thrown into the mix over the past 15 years. They give the campaign world a real sense of depth and age, but man, they've got to all be catalogued, given descriptions (if they haven't already), placed in some kind of pantheonistic context (or determined to be outside such a context), and have enough diverse cultures, epochs, and landmass to justify these apparently super-religious folk. This leads me to a small request for current and future FGG writers...NO MORE GODS! PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF THESE SELFSAME OVERABUNDANT DEITIES, NO MAS!!!! That's not entirely true. MY spreadsheet is sitting at somewhere over 250 unique divine powers introduced in NG and FGG products. For the most part we're good on the number we have, but there are actually a few pantheonistic holes to fill. WE'll figure out how we want to fill these remaining few slots, and it'll be cool. But that's going to be a seriously huge chapter with even only short write-ups for these deities. 
5. If you like evil cults, the Lost Lands is the place for you. There's other stuff for PCs to kick the crap out of, but there are definitely plenty of evil cults to sharpen your swords on. This is not a negative in my opinion, it is just a fact. Our Q1 book (the now-released Cults of the Sundered Kingdoms) is basically all about a number of these evil cults, why the exist, how they operate, and putting them in context with each other. I like evil cults, nuff said. 
6. There are all kinds of craziness going on here in the way of campaign styles. Just think: Rappan Athuk, Khemit (from Gary's Necropolis), Bard's Gate, Hawkmoon, Razor Coast, the Northlands, The Blight, and all the others all have to fit and have to make sense as well in their own context without breaking, denaturing, or intruding on any of the others. Heck, at Green Ronin's request we even wrote a sidebar in Razor Coast detailing how Freeport could be placed in the setting. This is no one-flavor campaign setting, I tell you.

Okay, so you get the idea. This process has been going on behind the scenes for several years and, surprisingly, I have been able to assemble this Frankenstein's Daddy with very little change to the source material. There are a few instances where a directional descriptor had to be changed (different authors just sort of made up their own version of the world's geography), but these are actually surprisingly few and unobtrusive. Some of my favorites actually stem from when this was Bill's home campaign world in high school and college, and Rappan Athuk and Sword of Air were adventures that he wrote for his own players. His personal campaign maps were 2 parts Middle-Earth, 6 parts Wilderlands, and 5 parts I don't give a crap just roll for initiative. He was running adventures, not world building! So you get things like Rappan Athuk being on the east coast of the continent as published by NG way back at the beginning of this century and then a throwaway reference to the Amazon Village in Sword of Air (that I didn't catch DADGUMMIT!!!!) that states it's just a few miles east of Rappan Athuk. Apparently it was supposed to be a floating village or something (not really). Anyway, if you bought SoA you'll get that amusing little non sequitur to laugh at. :-/ (Don't worry, the SoA maps and adventure geography totally work, I just failed to catch that single reference in my canon review of the manuscript so you'll just have to ignore it...or consider it an Easter Egg, yeah, that's it, an Easter Egg!)


michaelsandar's picture

I think I totally want to create a floating Amazon barge village now... that would be awesome. :)

Indeed it would. Indeed it would.....


michaelsandar's picture

So I finally got around to typing up my Amazonian Barge Village that is East of Rappan Athuk!

Amazon Barge Village

East of the fabled Mausoleum of Rappan Athuk, in the ocean between the Pontine Strait and the Amrin Estuary lies a tract of ocean floor that is surprisingly shallow.  For centuries, the edges of great tectonic plates have pushed land closer and closer to the surface, creating pockets of ocean that are only tens of feet deep.  Merchant ships long ago learned to avoid the area in fear of danger to the ships, but a different kind of attention was attracted. 

Nearly two hundred years ago, a cult of merfolk who worshipped the great sea demon Dagon built an underwater temple atop a cyclopean block of green sea stone.  They operated in secret for years, defiling the ocean and causing problems for goodly members of their race until a great earthquake sunk the majority of the shrine.  Twenty years ago, the constant shifting of the earth thrust the ruins of the ancient temple to the surface as a small island surrounded by nearly a mile of incredibly shallow water only a foot deep or less in many areas.  The strange flowing architecture of the temple stands atop shattered green sea stone and now looms 50’ above the surrounding water. 

Not long after the temple was thrust to the surface, a group of seafaring amazons who call themselves the Tylitic’a discovered the shrine while whale hunting.  They were seduced by the voice of Dagon that called like the great beasts of the sea into crashing on the rocks just below the surface.  On the partially submerged island they discovered massive tentacled horrors, strange creatures with suckers and fins, and undead aquatic creatures of all sorts.  They were horrified, and yet enthralled.  Against their better judgment, and some against their will, they entered the temple and were forever changed for the worse.

The Tylitic’a were quick converts to Dagon, and sent out a call to their sisters all across the Pontine Strait.  In time, a floating city was built of bits of barge, ship, driftwood and anything else that would float, in a great ring around the island.  Few of the Tylitic’a actually travel to the island or the temple itself anymore save the priests, but all have been there at least once and been affected by its horrors.  Some simply went mad, others kept their sanity but gained physical aspects of the demon prince of the waters.

Inside the temple can be found all types of giant sea anemone (ToHC), aquatic carrion creepers, giant fish, kuo toa, giant crabs and there are rumors of caves and a massive dungeon deep in the shattered cyclopean green sea stone.

Tylitic’a Commoners
The common caste of these Amazonian Dagon worshippers are by far the most common.  Even though they don’t bear the strangeness of mind that the priestesses do, nor the weird mutations of the warriors, they are still powerful foes in combat.  Most have been fully converted to Chaos, but a rare few still hold on to a moral medium and are Neutral.
HD 2; AC 8 [11]; Atk 1 or 2 (spear 1d6 or shortbow 1d6); Save 15; AL N or C; CL / XP 2/30

Tylitic’a Warriors
The warrior class of the Tylitic’a are those women who have been affected most physically by the shine of Dagon.  Roll or choose from the following chart to determine mutation and their method of attack:
1. Head grown shark-like, attacks with a bite
2. One or both arms replaced with octopus tentacles, attacks with bladed suckers
3. Has a thick whale skin, grants +1 to AC, attacks with spear
4. Thick sac of fluid under chin, can squirt ink 1/day.  Attacks with spear.

HD 3; AC 7 [12]; ATK 1 (method above) 1d6; Save 14; Move 12; AL C; CL/XP 3 / 60

Tylitic’a Priestess
The Tylitic’a priestesses of Dagon are wholly degenerate of mind.  Though many have avoided the sick transformations of the warrior caste, they are thoroughly perverted of mind and soul.  They have taken on a bit of Dagon’s psyche and he has granted them power for it.  Special:  Once per day, the priestess can surround herself with a five foot globe of fetid, swirling water.  She does not need to be able to breathe while in this globe and it has the benefit of stopping any fire based attacks, granting a +1 bonus to AC and lasts for 4 rounds.  Once per day, they can cast the following spells:  Lower Water, Water Breathing, and Transmute Rock to Mud
HD  4; AC 7 [12]; ATK 1 (spear 1d6); Save 13; AL always C; CL / XP  5 / 240; Special Demonic powers, spells

A particular item of note can be found on the island, deep in the old temple.

Dagon’s Blessing
Dagon’s Blessing is a small statue of a toothy-mawed fish rising from the waves of a stone bowl.  It is about nine inches tall and five inches wide and made of a deep green sea stone only found under the deepest of oceans.  The bowl is crusted with dried salt and strange images of fish men are carved into the curved surface of the bowl.
The cult of Dagon, the demon-fish god often uses items like this, though they are also favored by fishermen and sailors who believe the sea is a cruel mistress… and will take assistance from any power while at sea.  The pain caused by the transformation is enjoyed by the cultists and is often accepted or used as a way of testing the strength of their followers. Others who use these statues ‘grin and bear it’.  Several salvage ships are known to have similar statues in their possession.  
Anyone holding the statue and speaking the name “Dagon” causes the bowl at the base of the statue to fill with briny salt water.  For a brief moment the sound of waves crashing against rocks can be heard by the speaker.  If the water is consumed, the sides of the drinkers neck split open to reveal fresh gills.  A saving throw must be made or the drinker will take 1d4 points of damage from the change.  Anyone with the gills will be able to breathe in air and salt water for 5 + 1d4 turns.  Up to five characters can drink from one full bowl, and the bowl can be filled twice per day.


michaelsandar's picture

I just gave my pc's a few hints about this in last nights game.  Depending on how quickly they follow up on it, it's about time to start writing up the temple, which I imagine is a briny soggy mess of a place.  There could be a lot of cool flavor in a partially submerged dungeon.

MS, that is immensely cool. You need to send John Ling an email immediately and pitch that as a full adventure for a Lost Lore article and get it made into official Lost Lands canon (plus get that pesky misreference in SoA finally cleared up). :-)



P.S. I am totally not joking about getting that published as a Lost Lore adventure.

michaelsandar's picture

Thanks Greg, I really appreciate that.  I'll get on it right away!

cycnet's picture

I was SO CONFUSED by the reference to the amazon village being near RA... like I was seriously puzzling over it. I am glad I am not just hard of map reading.

michaelsandar's picture

Cycnet, it confused me too!  Keep your eye out for a Lost Lore on this, it's in the pipeline!

I can honestly say I've never felt more positively affirmed over something that I've written than I have been by the 30-odd spam posters above. I love those guys...[sniff]