In Session – The First One

We’re going to play a little catch up today. My group has played quite a few gameplay sessions in this new world and despite not getting very far physically or chronologically, much has happened! So today, I want to introduce you to a small portion of Alsa and some key people in the Islands of Wetmoss.

Wetmoss transparent

Above are those islands (minus the capital island, Paltos, which is about 200 miles to the East). They all have kind of Greekesque names even though I originally intended the local culture (mostly wood elves) to have a heavy feudal Japanese influence, but anyway… From West to East we’ve got:

  • Maln, the less-populated but mind-blowingly beautiful island frequented by Monks and Wizards looking for the seclusion of its cavernous mountains and sweeping plains; While it’s grassy plains and scattered forests yield bountiful food resources a lack of potable groundwater makes permanent settlements here sparse.
  • Torpos, which is mostly covered in a dense canopy of rain-forest and almost uninhabitable by humanoids due to the rampant dinosaur population boom happening currently (which may or may not have to do with crazy druids).
  • Noscis, the most heavily populated. Many communities of various sizes are scattered about it’s coasts as trade largely occurs by sea. There are big things that like to eat people in the untamed rain-forests throughout the island which may or may not include wereapes. In general, Noscis is a natural population hub and villages here tend to flourish.
  • The last of the islands on this map is Dirros. I don’t have much in the way of development for this one except for some old ruins in the middle but until the players have a reason to go there I probably won’t worry about it! Such is the way of a homebrew-happy DM.

There be your islands, and now to the PCs. They are obviously the main characters of the story taking place in Wetmoss. I’m a firm believer in the idea that while the players should feel immersed in a “living” world, with realistic and personable NPC’s, dungeons that make sense functionally, and a flavorful culture within which the players actions are considered, the players should genuinely feel like they are …for lack of a better term… the shit! I’m not saying they should feel like indestructible gods in a sea of mere mortals, but if the story was being told in a Song of Ice and Fire style the PCs would have the only POV chapters in the book.

With that established, let me introduce our main characters for the first act:

  • Ruma Russet. Hailing from the Empire of Lahndor this Dragonborn Cleric turned sharply to religion after witnessing great death and destruction laid upon her people at the hands of her fellow mercenaries. Ruma worships Bakoryu, the Ancient Dragon, and hopes to help her people (and similar dejected races) rise out of poverty and servitude.
  • Thia Galanodel. A Mernese Wood-elf Ranger who was, in fact, raised by wolves, she loves to ramble and adventure. Thia is uncomfortable with big cities and learned to read and write by observing travelers in small villages (and rummaging through their carts). She wishes good will on all creatures… except those who have earned an arrow in the head.
  • Orryn Mathyk. This axe-weilding Gnome Barbarian has a knack for picking the wrong fights and his past troubles have made him tough as an Iron Dwarf. He doesn’t say much outside of paranoid mutterings to himself and I’m not sure that he has any personal goals other than causing a lot of pain to anyone who makes him angry.

These three are going to awaken in a jail cell with no memory of how they got there all “Elder Scrolls” style. From there they will be forced through a gauntlet of challenges in their attempt to escape the clutches of the malicious Red Moon Cartel. More about that on the next In Session.

In Session – The First One

Getting Started

This is always the most difficult part of any project, isn’t it? No matter how many campaigns I run, songs I put together, crafts I craft… It never gets easier to actually take that first step.

Seriously, those two sentences took one episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt each to get out. Anyway, this is hopefully going to be a place for me to put new maps and resources as I run games and build my current world, Alsa, which you can see a political map of below.

Alsa, political map

A crappy scan of the known world of Alsa.

This world was created to be a fresh start for my game group as we picked up the new(ish) Dungeons & Dragons 5e system. I was rather familiar with 3.5 and Pathfinder, and some more obscure systems like Tephra, but 5e just intrigued me with its intense emphasis on character background and development. I wanted a world that was more vast for my PCs to explore as they increased in power that would have lore natively compatible with the new D&D system and that had a wide range of cultures, geographies, and climates so that they could take advantage of this more story-driven system and a variety of settings.

When I made the decision to start work on a new world I was playing Minecraft. Now, we all know that one of the core features of Minecraft is its random terrain generation; it was actually the feature that drew me to the game back in the days of Infdev. I decided rather than using some of the methods I had used in the past to generate islands, and continents, and worlds (dice rolls, random squiggles, donjon) that I would make a new world in Minecraft, craft a very big map, and trace that for the coastlines and mountain ranges of my fictional world. I had to try a few seeds, usually just a string of random letters, before I found one that I liked (and had enough ocean biomes to look like continents) and I eventually settled on “also” which became Alsa, the name of this new tabletop world.

So cool, I’ve got my land masses. Now what do I do? At this point one has to ask themselves, “why am I making this world, and why would someone use this instead of another one?” Fortunately I had already answered that question; I want this world to be natively compatible with the 5e system, but I want it to have unique lore and add a depth to certain aspects of the system that might not be there in the core books. This means I need origin stories and home locations for every race/subrace, I need cultures to populate these spaces that fit in with said origin stories, and I need these cultures to not only be compatible with the information in the core rulebooks for 5e while also adding more depth to that information.

Next time I’ll explain how I approached those goals and give you some actual information on what those random splotches of color are on that political map! DFTBA – Joe

EDIT: Here’s a threshold adjusted version with higher saturation, if you prefer that kind of thing…

threshold adjusted map

Getting Started