Friday, December 22, 2017

Lore of Ahneria: 20 Questions about the City of Garton (and 20 more questions that make me second guess the sanity of my campaign setting)
This is part of a series on the lore of my homebrew world, Ahneria. As I outlined here, much of this information will be pulled from existing D&D lore and tropes. At the end, I'll be including a section on how to use this sort of thing in your own games.

The City of Garton, seat of power in Garlancia. Recently, thanks to a certain chaos wizard, it became known as the City of Glass Statues, but before then it was known as the City of Free Trade, the Guildmaster's Paradise, and The Bazaar. It was long ago built on top of an abandoned dwarven mine, and became the seat of power for Garlancia.

More importantly, it's a size that I can finally summarize easily with actionable, adventurable content. You'd be forgiven for thinking we'd never get to this point.

To assist in this matter, I'm using two lists of 20 questions, one by long-time DM Jeff Rients, and the other made as a parody of that list by Scrap Princess, who is a wonderfully weird DM who did the art for a few of the modules I play.

This is part of my goal to make this city extremely playable for my characters. If you're looking for a map of the city, I made one in my city-generator article.

Here we go...

1. What's the deal with my cleric's religion?
The Gods are a big influence here in Ahneria. If you're a good servant to them, they'll grant you power. But not too much...

2. Where can we go to buy standard equipment?
Garton is famous for being a hub of trade throughout Garlancia. You can find anything here if you have the right connections and the proper amount of gold. For standard gear at Handbook prices, I'd recommend visiting a Merchant's Guild post in the Middle District, where most commerce happens.

3. Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?
A specialty order requires a specialty craftsman. The higher-ups in the Merchant's Guild can point you in the right direction, but you'll probably have to go into the High District and rub shoulders with master craftsmen to get what you're looking for. Dress nicely - the rich make a lot of money in Garton.

4. Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?
For this answer, we'll limit it to this particular city. It's generally accepted that the leader of the Mage's Guild is the arcane authority within the confines of the city. However, he recently was removed from the head of the organization, so that spot is up for grabs. If you seek arcane advice, though, there are several small bardic colleges and magic tutors for other types of magic.

5. Who is the greatest warrior in the land?
For this answer, we'll limit it to this particular city. Though there is a fighter's guild in town, the greatest warrior is currently Lieutenant Floris, the leader of the city watch. He is benevolent and doggedly protective of "his city", and has taken an oath to defend it against all harm. He was temporarily a member of the adventuring group C.H.A.O.S. when they prevented the Cult of Kam's takeover of Garton. Now, he resides in a repurposed clocktower at the center of the Middle District, known colloquially as the "Dethklok".

6. Who is the richest person in the land?
That'd be King Faustus, of course. He is a young ruler, backed by an elderly and wise advisor. He has a strong interest in building up the "mercenary presence" within the city, which is to say he opens the city to adventurers of many stripes. His policies help keep the city diverse and wealthy, as trade flows from southern Garlancia and Norstone.

7. Where can we go to get some magical healing?
Garton is rife with temples and shrines, usually manned by those whose words can heal and comfort. If you want high-quality healing, the Church of Pelor is supported by the government and paid for by generous noble donations. Otherwise, nearly every God has a small following here, whether it be a temple of a Good Deity or an underground sect of an Evil God.

8. Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath?
Poisons and diseases can be cured at any temple. Lycanthropy is a big problem in Ahneria, so of course many temples will also sell cures of varying effectiveness. Things like curses, level drain, death, and undeath would likely require the assistance of a high-level priest of Pelor, and if you've been polymorphed you'd better see a wizard from the Mage's Guild about it. Alignment Change is a tricky one: If it's your garden variety curse, a church can get you feeling better. But if you've been branded by a God, there's no helping you. You're stuck.

9. Is there a magic guild my spellcaster belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?
Absolutely. The Mage's Guild is the big one, but here in the City of Free Trade, you can learn anything if you've got gold to pay the membership fees. I tell PCs to assume their spells they learn by leveling up are a result of being a part of a guild or working under a tutor. And of course, if you've got the money, you could learn some quite unscrupulous spells as well...

10. Where can I find an alchemist, sage, or other expert NPC?
The question is not where, since you could walk down a Garton street and meet a dozen of them. The real question is, "Can I actually trust this person?" Finding a legitimate fortune teller in the city is rare, and you'll probably go through a score of "herbologists" before you find someone who can brew an authentic healing potion.

11. Where can I hire mercenaries?
Same as last question. If you've got payment, anybody will work for you. Their actual combat effectiveness is much more difficult to gauge. Those who actually have skill are usually so in-demand that they can get jobs guarding noble estates, working for the city watch, or getting a well-paid position in the Fighter's Guild.

12. Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed, or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?
Oh yes. Having a visible weapon in the High District is an arrestable offense, unless you're in the livery of the city watch or you have a permit from them. Permits cost money, which means if you get into an altercation with a noble, his guards can draw swords without consequence while you'll be arrested if you do so. If you ever want to bring the city down on your head, try mugging a rich person. Also, it's illegal to truck with devils and demons in the city, after the close call they had with the Cult of Kam. Unfortunately, this has lead to a ban on
all Warlocks, forcing them to go into hiding.

13. Which way to the nearest tavern?
Stand at any place in Garton. You're already within stumbling distance of a tavern. Of course, quality may vary, but the merchant's guild cracks down on those who try to outright extort their customers. If you want to go somewhere famous, try the Coldiron Inn, ran by dwarven barkeep Griffin Coldiron. It's where the famous adventuring group C.H.A.O.S. used to hang out and drink!

14. What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?
The city is always collecting bounties on Gnoll ears, Wererats and Thieves. Despite rumors that Romero Calabra (Master of the Thieves' Guild) has a connection to the adventuring group C.H.A.O.S., the bounty on his head is sufficiently high that you'd be the talk of the city for killing him. However, the Thieves' Guild is hidden deep in the city's labyrinthine sewer system, so you might die on the way there.

15. Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?
One just ended, actually. The War of Fools (so named because both sides were being manipulated by fiendish forces) ended with a hell portal opening up in the middle of Norstone. Survivors from the war can be found everywhere in the city, and at the moment nobody is particularly interested in starting another inter-country conflict. However, if you're willing to travel to the Isle of the Dragonborn, there's a civil war brewing there at the moment.

16. How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?
Just stop by your local Fighter's Guild outpost. They usually have a rudimentary fighting ring set up for duels, training, and competition. If you want to go big, though, the Guild's Arena in the High District is where you can go to see the best fighters in the guild crush one another in glorified combat. And if you're good enough, the nobility might take an interest in sponsoring you.

17. Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?
Absolutely! Though three major ones (The Cult of Kam, the Purple-Hooded Gang, and Havok) were quelled recently, there's still the Thieves' Guild, The Black Hand, the river pirate crews that frequent Garton's ports, dozens of small Evil God worshipping cults, and a small but growing following dedicated to simply causing chaos.

18. What is there to eat around here?
Just about whatever you're interested in. They import seafood and exotic meats by the river that runs through the city, and if you've got the coin then a master chef can put together quite the feast. For most folks, however, the bread, cheese, and ale of the local tavern will suffice.

19. Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?
Absolutely, just ask around! Being a city of trade and mercenaries, treasure maps are a common product for sale. The validity is usually questionable, and you never know if you've been sold the key to a lost Vorpal Sword or a map leading you to the merchant's friends, who will beat you up and take your money.

20. Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?
It's said that in the depths of the sewers, tunnels and pipes give way to the caverns of the underdark, where you can find Purple Worms, Demons, and Beholders guarding ancient treasure. Of course, that's if you make it all the way down in the first place: the sewers teem with rats, oozes, lycanthropes, diseases, vampires, undead, ghosts, thieves, and a twice-reanimated janitor named Stinky Jake. Good luck.

Now on to the second set of questions. Wish me luck.

1. Is there weaponized squid? Can I start with one? How much are they? Can I have one as a pet/best friend? Can I play one? Can I dual wield them?
Yes, here is its stats:

Weaponized Squid. The squid has 5 charges. You may expend one charge to cast Color Spray at 1st level. At the end of every hour it is kept unsubmerged in water, it loses one charge. This time is tracked in increments of a minute. The charges replenish at each dawn. If the squid is out of water when the last charge is used or lost, it shrivels into dust.
You can start with one if you are an aquatic race such as a Triton, a Sea Elf, an Aquatic Halfling, or a Water Genasi. You can buy them in Garton for 8,000 GP, they are probably cheaper elsewhere though. They are hostile unless you can speak to them, then they can be convinced to be your pet or friend. You can play one if I run a pet game, but I've had some bad experiences with that. They can absolutely be dual wielded.

2. Is there undead robots? What is the nature of consciousness and the existence of the soul in your campaign and can I play one? Or have one as a pet or a gun that shoots them?
I think the closest you'll come is the warforged, which in Ahneria are the remnants of an ancient race of dwarves that could impart free will into their creations. Technically, they can be raised from the dead, so yes, there are undead robots. "Souls" are technically the absence of divinity, but include handy things like free will, so they're good enough for mortals. If you want, you could play one. They might take offense to being called a pet or being shot out of a gun, though.

3. Do Icebergs walk across the land? Can I be from one? Is Godzilla frozen in one? Can I play a Godzilla?
Yes, but not around here: Garlancia is a tropical climate, but if you're from the icy plains of Craitane, most certainly. Currently, Craitane is under a terrible curse, but if your curse was broken, you'd probably be able to be from there, and you'd get to be a minotaur. There are absolutely ancient evil monsters frozen in the ice of Craitane, and maybe someday I'll run a campaign where people can play as them. For now, no, not a character option.

4. What do birds know? No further questions.
Birds are emissaries of the Gods of Nature, so here in the city they don't know much. They vaguely understand that the farmlands outside the city walls are a good place to get seeds, and there are plenty of garbage piles with good scraps throughout the city. Forest birds are much wiser.

5. Does medicine work like it does here but no-one knows CPR or does it work like a cartoon so I cure amnesia with more head injurys or does it work like medieval euro people thought it did with demons in your teeth? Do I start with demons in my teeth? Do I know CPR? Can I invent CPR? Can I give myself powers with additionally organs? What planet is in ascension in my spleen midmorning?
Here in Ahneria, magic is common enough that medicine hasn't advanced far. Sure, a Lesser Restoration spell removes disease by killing germs or undoing damaged organs, but people understand that it works and make up bogus theories as to why. If a doctor tells you he's banishing the demons from your teeth, and then your teeth feel better, you'd probably believe him. If you want to start with teeth demons, that's not a problem. Though if it's bad enough I might make you start with a lingering injury. You don't know CPR, and you wouldn't bother inventing it, just Mage Hand the object out of the choking person's throat. Adding organs to your body won't give you powers, but some monster organs can have an effect when eaten. Depends on the theory of the doctor you ask, but some would say Viribus rises in the spleen at midmorning.

6. I want to play a hobbit but really I'm the fleas controlling the hobbit. Where is that in the book? Could I take over a new guy with my fleas? Or another players guy?
Just make a halfling and give them personality traits that reflect your true, flea-ish nature. Honestly, it's basically already been done. As for taking over other guys, that sounds like an awesome way to interpret a Charm Person, Dominate Person, or Geas spell, so I'll allow it once you get to the appropriate levels and only if you can cast those spells. As for another player's character, only with their permission and cooperation.

7. How much could I rent my body out to spirits before I lost control of my character? What are the names of the spirits? Are they cool?
You could get away with having one spirit in your body and maintaining control, but only if you were their friend and you didn't make them angry. So you'd have to find and befriend a specific ghost, likely a cool one, before you could rent out your body to it. If you have more than one, suddenly it's a roommate situation and you're more likely to run into conflicts.

8. What level do I have to get my character to before I am the g.m? Can I half be the g.m at an early level? What about when they leave the room?
To be the DM, you have to forsake your character sheet. Let go your earthly tether! Do not be bound by levels - instead, let your mind encompass the world! However, I'd highly recommend you've played for a few sessions as a PC before you become the DM. And if you try to wrest control of the world from me mid-game, I reserve the right to alter the timeline so your character ate bad chicken the night before and has to run into the bushes every 5 minutes.

9. What is the dumbest thing I can spend my money on? No dumber than that but cool. Like a pet with a weapon? Can pets dual wield?
Someone bought roller skates in one of my games. Oh dumber than that? How about a massive, wyvern-mounted crossbow that shoots bear traps attached to chains? How about a rubber-band gun style slingshot that shoots exploding beans? How about bread that compels you to eat more if you fail a save? Also, pets can definitely have weapons and can dual wield if they have enough hands.

10. How ugly can my guy be? Like can I basically be a walking fish? No wait I wanna be a walking fish. What is the reverse scuba technology like in this world?
Really ugly. Go wild. You can be an aquatic race. The fish people mostly stay underwater, but fish wizards do have a handy spell called Air Breathing that they can cast using a 3rd level spell slot. So yeah, walking fish is go.

11. The lamp oil? Is that like cooking oil, kerosene, white spirits or napalm? How much can I buy of it?
It's like kerosene. Cooking oil, alcohol, and napalm all technically exist, but they aren't very efficient at lighting lanterns. You can get a flask of oil for a silver piece. So, in my games - yeah, a lot.

12. How does physics work in this world? What makes the planets stay up? Are there planets? Is it elves? Can I play an elf from another planet? Does everything work like how we thought it did in the past? Can I discover stuff and pass it off as magic? Is it possible to use the scientific process to organize the concepts of magic?
Physics is just a building block of reality, which means those can access divinity (Gods and spellcasters) can affect it. The planets use Gravity to stay aloft, but again that's just because Pelor thought it was convenient. It isn't elves. Right now there's no spacefaring in Ahneria, and other races haven't made it here yet. Unless you count Gibbering Mouthers. Similar to medicine, everything works based on solid rules, but those rules are interpreted incorrectly by nearly everyone. Not only can you discovery stuff and pass it off as magic, everyone will just assume it's magic anyway. One of the reasons Ahneria doesn't have gunpowder is because the magic in sulfur basically does that anyway. Also, magic has a rational system behind it, so yes, you could organize magic via the scientific method and that's exactly what wizards do.

13. Can I start with weapon hands? What about crab claws? Can I play a crab with human hands? Can I have one as a pet? Do they live on a different planet? Can we go there?
Yep! Anything from hooks for a hand to being a Shifter and making your own animal-hand weapons. You could certainly be a crab shifter. And somewhere in the vast depths of the ocean, you could find a crab with human hands. They are much nicer than normal crabs and would certainly be your pet. They live right here on Ahneria, and you can certainly go see them.

14. What cultures approve of cannibalism? What about if we are super rich? Aren't rich cannibals be default, I mean if you think about it? How is the class struggle here anyway? Is there a Karl Marx? How receptive are people to the ideas of anarcho-syndicalism here?
There are plenty, from societies of necromancers and odd humans to gnolls and undead and other monster groups. If you're super rich, you can eat whomever you like, assuming you can get away with it. I guess? Class struggle is pretty real here. People are constantly trying to work their way up, which discourages those who think it'd be better if there wasn't a system in the first place. Of course, everyone in Garton benefits massively from the system, and so it remains. There's no Karl Marx yet, but you could play him if you want. You'd probably get a good size crowd if you spoke out about anarcho-syndicalism, but they probably wouldn't be the best of people.

15. Can my character not be real, but a hallucination of another character? But I still wanna be able to do stuff. What are the stats for that?
Hm. I don't think your could a hallucination specifically, but if you wanted to be a spirit or ghost with class levels that inhabited the body of a weak-willed but otherwise normal character, I'd allow it. Just use the host's stats for Str/Dex/Con and your stats for Int/Wis/Cha.

16. Which is the rome but with lava fire country in this world? What about the ice circus country? Can I have a pet from there?
Ashlen, on the other side of the continent of Eiselon. However, I feel we're getting away from Garton at this point... So there's The Great Garlancian Circus, which tours around the country and comes to Garton once a year. It's a big event, they set up in a farm field and the place is packed. They do give away small animals as prizes, so yeah, you can get a pet there.

17. Can I invent an insect? As a player right now I tell you an insect and you put it in the game? Or as a character? Can my spells be insects that then exist in this world after I cast them? Can I play an insect who is actually a spell cast in this world? What about as a pet?
As a player, yeah, absolutely, hit me with every insect you got! As a character, you couldn't invent an insect, but you could absolutely play a druid that uses the magic found in rare insects to cast their spells. That sounds awesome. They could even be your pets. However, you wouldn't be able to play as them unless I did another pet game, and we don't talk about why I don't run pet games anymore.

18. Is there reverse fire? What about reverse water or earth? What do they wear there?
Reverse fire, or blackfire, exists in the shadowfell and the negative energy plane. It doesn't give off heat or light, in fact it absorbs them. Wizards who believe in entropy have trouble explaining it. Reverse water is what the fish people call air. Reverse earth is a nice place, but they wear their pants on their heads and it's difficult to take them seriously. It's actually a large demiplane made by a wizard who wore his pants on his head. Sadly, even in that demiplane, he is still treated poorly.

19. How much money can I make inventing siege engines? Can I play a siege engine? In what ways are animals used in siege engines?
You could make a living, even becoming wealthy or famous as an inventor in Garton. However, that won't help you gain levels as an adventurer. I don't think you'd have much fun playing as a siege engine, but if you want to, it'd be like playing a sword without controlling the person wielding you. Animals are used in the transportation of siege engines. Clever generals will launch diseased animals into a city in order to force a stalemate, but nobody throws cows with siege engines. That's what wizards are for.

20. What is the most significant tree to the economy of the starting place? Is it really a tree or maidens stitched together? If I play a maiden do I get spells or do people that worship me get spells but only if I'm mad at them?
Oak. There's a large forest near the city. Oh, or did you mean a specific tree? There's a lovely one in the City Square near the former clock tower that isn't maidens stitched together. The maiden trees can be found in the forests of southern Garlancia, and if you play one you can get the stats and spells of a dryad. If someone happens to worship you, you could give them some knowledge about how to get magic from the nature Gods. After that, though, you don't have much control over it.

Whew! Hopefully that gives you a lot of information about Garton. And Ahneria. And squids.

Using This Material in Your Setting

  • Answer these questions for your own setting! Seriously. The first 20 are questions that players will definitely ask, and the second 20 are the types of things you need to be prepared to either answer or come up with answers to on the fly. Because somebody's going to want to know.

Thanks for reading!

No comments:

Post a Comment