Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Players meet world: Concerning the alchemists

If I can hate computer RPG's for one thing, it's the over abundance of potions. When you have players that come from that sort of background, they just seem to expect every town to have one dude whose sole vocation is to constantly crank out healing potions in the hopes that maybe, some day, a group of wounded or soon-to-be wounded adventurers will show up.

It makes no Godsdamned sense, and I hate it.

I like my worlds low-magic, and that goes for potions too. When things like magic and potions are common, they are no longer special.

The Magic Potion becomes the band-aide and is no more special than the 10 foot pole. Less, even, because the magic potion has an obvious use, is disposable, and generally uninteresting. No one every gives a healing potion a second thought.

Additionally, when a player is toting around a bag of healing potions, he knows, he fucking knows that he only has to give up a single combat round and he's got hit points back. If the roll is good enough, maybe he'll drink another next round. All the while, the orc is smashing him in the face.

Furthermore, think of the applications to the world if healing potions were plentiful? All war would be almost constant stalemate, and alchemist facilities would be huge targets. Furthermore, the market for materials used in the preparation of potions would also be huge. An entire industry.

Fuck healing potions. /rant

All potion hate aside, my world has Alchemists. Though not available as a character class, alchemists have an in-game history.

Before the Consolidation, when magic was wild and free, The Alchemists were a brotherhood of thinkers and experimenters who specialized in the mundane sciences. Many of the members of the Alchemists were mages, but the group was dedicated to unlocking the secrets of the natural world without the use of magic. Their pursuits were not limited to just science, however. Mathematics, philosophy, architecture, and many other fields of study were explored inside their lodge halls.
Their arguably greatest creations were forged by a group known as the Hyperzenians. The Hyperzenians crafted the deadly firelances, unparalleled weapons of terror.
However, when the Alchemists opposed the Consolidation, they were destroyed and many of their secrets, including the methods used to construct the firelances, were lost.

The ancient lodge halls of the Alchemists can still be found scattered throughout Skovorod, however these ancient ruins are perilous to say the least. Many an experiment was left half finished and the promise of forgotten knowledge has undoubtedly lured foul things to these haunted sites.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Into the Underworld

Over at Howling Tower, Steve Winter posted his Kobold Quarterly column regarding that venerable D&D locale, the underdark.

When I read it, I realized that I'd fallen into the same trap that many a DM has been victim to, cutting and pasting the Forgotten Realms underdark into my home campaign without a thought.

It's an easy thing to do, and in my experience, it's what players expect. This is precisely why no DM should ever do it.

With all the time I've investing in crafting a the world above ground, why shouldn't I do the same with the subterranean elements? I'm lucky in that my players have yet to venture into the earth. I've established that drow exist, and worship a spider demon, but other than that, my canvas is still blank.

I could easily make drow a warlike race of raiders that have been driven to the fringes of the subterranean world, which is why they sometimes raid the surface. I'll probably spend some time digging through the monstrous manual to get ideas for what sort of creatures inhabit das unterworld.

And by "inhabit", I mean what nations struggle against each other below our feet.