Friday, November 22, 2013

[Urbis] Monsters of the Cold Frontier, Part III

Continued from Part II...

Let us now search the Pathfinder Bestiary 3 for creatures appropriate to the Cold Frontier campaign.
  • Adherer: Inland, Underground. Possible "survivors" of the Great Scourge that destroyed the inland ancestors of the coastal tribes.
  • Adlet: Highly appropriate, since these creatures are from Alaskan myth! Inland, and one of the major nonhuman cultures in the region.
  • Akhlut: Coastal, Inland. One lives in an area of "permanent storm" it has created.
  • Allip: Anywhere, but especially native ruins.
  • Animal Lord: One or two of these might live in the region.
  • Ascomid: Underground.
  • Bandersnatch: There are likely legends of this creature - and perhaps an old footprint set in stone - though none currently inhabits the region.
  • Cecaelia: Coastal. Linked to the "Octopus Totem". Likely trades with the coastal tribes where the Octopus is a prominent totem, and the PCs might be interested to learn where that particular village gets its trade goods.
  • Cerebric Fungus: Underground, Desolation. Immigrant from Calturus.
  • Cold Rider: Inland, Desolation. May be connected to the myths of the Inland Tribes.
  • Crab (Shark-Eating, Shipwrecker): Coastal.
  • Deathweb: Any. Possibly a remnant of the Great Scourge.
  • Dire Corby: Underground. Might control some surface regions as well.
  • Drake (Rift): Inland, especially in the northern canyon lands.
  • Drake (River): Inland, rivers and lakes.
  • Ecorche: Anywhere. There needs to be some powerful necromancers which create these.
  • Festrog: Haunt native ruins in great numbers.
  • Fey Creature: Somehow, fey animals seem to be particularly appropriate for this region. I need to work out some specific examples...
  • Flail Snail: Underground. Immigrant from Magrith.
  • Flumph: I have to put a few of those in there somewhere, warning the PCs about the great dangers... Likely an immigrant from Yethrod.
  • Ghorazagh: Underground. Also an immigrant from another planet.
  • Graveknight: One might be controlling the old native Fortress City - he or she might have been the local commander who contributed to its fall.
  • Guecubu: If the PCs have to pronounce the death penalty on someone in their colony, he might rise as this entity.
  • Herd Animal (Elk): Common in the Inland areas. Totem to the Inland tribes.
  • Hodag: Mythologically appropriate, will haunt the Inland.
  • Huecuva: There might be tribal equivalents.
  • Hungry Fog: Fits great with the scourge that devastated the ancestors of the Coastal tribes and will thus haunt Native ruins.
  • Kamadan: Both the normal and the Dusk and Polar varieties will exist Inland.
  • Leshy (All): While the original leshies were from Russian mythology, this interpretation of plant beings created via the infusion of spirits would work well with local spellcasters.
  • Myceloid: Underground.
  • Owl (Giant): Totem to the tribes. Will watch over certain forest regions.
  • Owl (Great Horned): Common in the forest regions.
  • Phantom Fungus: Underground. Immigrant from another planet.
  • Porcupine (Common and Giant): Common in the Inland areas.
  • Pukwudgie: None-too-infrequent danger to the tribes. May serve as villains in the first campaign arc.
  • Sasquatch: Inhabiting the forests throughout the region. Lone PCs should encounter these from time to time, though indirect encounters should be more common - the PCs should feel that they are frequently being watched.
  • Skunk (Common and Giant): Yes, the PCs will encounter these.
  • Spider (Giant Crab, Ogre): Inland, Underground.
  • Spider Eater: Desolation. Another immigrant from off-world.
  • Tupilak: Highly appropriate for native shamans - often of an evil one, considering what is usually used for its construction. The Coastal Tribes will have access to plenty of whalebone for this purpose.
  • Zuvembie: Anywhere. Might be a secret ritual of the native tribes.

To be continued...

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

[Urbis] Endgame of the Cold Frontier

I think I've finally figured out the "Endgame" and the "deep history" of my Cold Frontier campaign. Tell me what you think of the following:

A very long time ago, a prehuman race coming out of the vast reaches of space established an outpost on Nardhome, in the center of a vast crater in the interior. There, they created a portal network connecting different worlds which focused vast energies into a location which I will call the "God Chamber" - named this way because its intended goal was to turn a mortal being into a god. They succeeded in their goal, but at a terrible price - the resulting god was Tekel, the God of Fear (and possibly the oldest God of Urbis), and the resulting psychic backlash killed all of their race on all of the worlds currently connected to the portal network, as well as damaging their machinery.

However, their machinery was so advanced that it was self-repairing, and over the course of eons the outpost slowly started to function again. Then explorers from the First City discovered this place, and after studying the site for decades they, too, attempted to turn one of their own into a God. But the resulting god was Nyros, the God of Diseases among other things, and while the resulting plagues might not be the main reason for the destruction of the First City, they certainly spelled the doom of the First City outposts on this continent.

Then the ancestors of the current Coastal Tribes arrived and settled this continent, building many cities. Their understanding of magic was not as great as that of the First City, so the purpose of the earlier ruins was not immediately apparent, though the danger of the fluctuating portals was, and so they built a great city to guard against the abominations that would emerge from the central crater from time to time. But eventually a powerful wizard arose from the natives who realized the true potential of the God Chamber, and he gathered his hordes of minions in the central crater while he studied the ruins for many decades. Eventually he thought he had learned what he needed and activated the God Chamber, but his understanding was incomplete and he became an entity of hunger and madness (the "father" of the wendigos and similar beings) short of a god. The excess energies went into his minions and spread across the land - the Great Scourge that killed most of the natives and forced the survivors to wait it out at sea.

But again, the prehuman machinery repaired itself, and just as the PCs arrive the ancient portals are beginning to flicker alive...

This backstory has numerous consequences for the campaign:

First of all, there are several sources of ruins / dungeons in the area. The Prehuman ruins will primarily be located in the far north, inside the crater (beyond the map I already posted), and will be the most dangerous - parallels to the Elder Things colony in Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness" (and the "sequel" Call of Cthulhu campaign "Beyond the Mountains of Madness) are fully intended - though I don't plan on using Cthulhu Mythos entities directly.

The First City ruins will be more widespread, since they didn't initially come to Nardhome for the God Chamber - there may be abandoned mines, an old Hot Springs resort, research complexes, temples, and an old administrative center and the like. The PCs might also find abandoned and sealed complexes where the plague victims were thrown in - which might have been transformed into "ye liveliest awfuleness" since then (possibly Gibbering Mouthers?). Ultimately, these ruins will also be more "familiar" and understandable than the Prehuman civilization, since modern-day magitech is approaching that of the First City.

The Native Ruins will be more widespread still, and more recent, though culturally more alien to the PCs. They can range from small villages to entire cities, up to the Fortress City up in the North. They probably also include some sort of magics to prevent their destruction from the rather common earthquakes of the region, and they will likely be filled with all sorts of undead as well as spirits of hunger and madness - the remnants of the Great Scourge. Many of these ruins will be great "starter dungeons" for the PCs.

There will also be ongoing changes. First of all, the fluctuating portals will cause all sorts of alien creatures to show up in the north and gradually migrate south - the Surtus Termite being just one example. The PCs need to guard their fledgling colony against these new arrivals.

There are also a number of villains who will become aware of these ruins and - once they realize the potential of the God Chamber - will attempt to take control of it. The "ultimate villain" of the campaign will be the one who comes closest to accomplishing that, but any of these villains have a shot at it - this way the campaign arc can continue even if the PCs kill one of them. Possibilities include:

  • The Worm That Walks - a Native sorcerer who turned himself into a living swarm of worms.
  • A witches' coven from the Inland Tribes.
  • A powerful priest of Nyros following in his deity's footsteps.
  • The Athanatos Club, learning of a potent way of transcending human limitations.
  • A rival city-state to Dartmouth, attempting to establish its own colony on Nardhome and trying to reach the God Chamber first.
These should be hard, though not impossible for the PCs to eliminate as rivals. Note that "eliminating" does not necessarily mean killing - especially since the human factions at least have access to the same resurrection magics as the PCs!

Also note that for controlling the God Chamber it is not sufficient to be in possession of its physical location - it is also necessary to research the whole facility in detail, a process that will likely take many, many months even if the PCs get outside assistance (as they should). In Kingmaker game terms, whoever controls the site needs to erect a town with specialized research facilities there, and and only with such fully-staffed facilities will the meaning of the various pieces of machinery become clear. Then they also need to restore and control the counterpart facilities on the worlds reachable through the portals before they can actually power up the God Chamber itself.

If one of the villains controls the location, then that gives the PCs some time to try to wrest control from them. And if the PCs control it, the villains will of course attempt to do the same (not to mention steal their research notes). And once they fully understand what the God Chamber is capable of, they will have to wonder whether they should use it or not. Even without the God Chamber the location is still immensely valuable for the portal network alone, and understanding the magitech of the prehuman civilization will likewise boost human knowledge tremendously. But destroying the God Chamber permanently is difficult, and as long as it exist the powerful factions of the world will attempt to gain control of it...

So, what do you think of this outline?

Monday, November 18, 2013

[Urbis] Monsters of the Cold Frontier, Part II

Continued from Part I...

Let us continue with our examination how to fit the various Pathfinder monsters into the Cold Frontier campaign, this time using the Bestiary 2. Again, I am sorting the habitats of the creatures into the rough divisions of Coastal, Inland, Desolation, and Underground.

  • Akata: Very highly appropriate for the Desolation, where some of their cocoons may survive, waiting to be released by an unlucky human.
  • Amoeba (Giant, Swarm): Underground.
  • Aranea: Inland.  While the Cold Frontier is far away from their usual tropical homes, a small colony of these beings might hide in the northern forests. One of them might even live in the colony itself, to learn more about the strangers' magics and who might become a mentor to a PC mage. One has to wonder about their ability to adapt to the form of a single humanoid being - perhaps they evolved it to better fit into their respective environments, and other forms than humanoid are possible, though unlikely in this world as having a humanoid form is just too useful. They might come from the planet Magrith.
  • Atach: Inland. May be the result of First City experimentation.
  • Aurumvorax: Inland, Underground. Will be found at sites which are suitable for mines.
  • Badger (Common, Dire): Inland. One tribe may have trained some dire badgers as village defenders.
  • Bat (Mobat): Anywhere.
  • Bat (Skaveling): Underground, Desolation. Might feature in the myths of the inland tribes.
  • Beetle (Slicer): Inland, Desolation.
  • Blindhelm: Underground. Possibly immigrants from Yethrod.
  • Blink Dog: Inland. Will feature in the mythology of the tribes.
  • Carnovirous Blob: Desolation. May be found in First City or Prehuman ruins.
  • Catoblepas: Inland. There should only be one in the region.
  • Centipede (Giant Whiptail, Titan): Desolation, Underground.
  • Charda: Coastal, Underground.
  • Cockroach (Giant, Swarm): Desolation.
  • Crypt Thing: May be guarding specific ruins.
  • Decampus: Inland, Underground. Likely common in the coastal forests, and I should probably emphasize its links to the Pacific Northwest Tree Octopus. Also note that like with the Kraken, 10 tentacles = bad.
  • Destrachan: Underground, Desolation. An immigrant from Yethrod, and in my personal canon they are this irritable because the air pressure of the world they are finding themselves on is so low.
  • Devilfish: Coastal. Another evil octopus, but with seven tentacles instead of eight!
  • Dragonfly (Giant): Inland, Desolation.
  • Faceless Stalker: Inland. Likely feature as prominent bogeymen in tribal legends. Might have its own local culture, based out of one of the swamps.
  • Fetchling: A First City colony might have been transported to the Plane of Shadows and turned their inhabitants into this, and now they have found a way back.
  • Frost Worm: Desolation.
  • Fungal Crawler: Underground. Immigrant from Yethrod.
  • Giant (Marsh): On the map, the only suitable swamps are Inland, but perhaps they migrate to the sea annually to mate with the "abominations from the deepest sea".
  • Grick: Underground. Immigrant from the planet Calturus.
  • Gryph: Inland, especially in remote and filthy regions of the coastal forests.
  • Hangman Tree: Inland. Darkest areas of the coastal tribes.
  • Howler: Desolation.
  • Krenshar: Inland.
  • Leucrotta: Inland.
  • Moonflower: Desolation. May be an immigrant from Magrith.
  • Mosquito (Swarm): Inland. Hey, this is the northern tundra!
  • Mothman: Inland. Known as a harbinger of ill omen to the tribes. Their appearances have been more common as of late.
  • Mu Spore: Desolation. Immigrant from Magrith.
  • Neh-Thalaggu: Desolation. Unknown origin.
  • Phycomid: Underground.
  • Quickwood: Another plant monster that might lurk in the Inland forests.
  • Reefclaw: Coastal.
  • Seugathi: Desolation, Underground.
  • Shining Child: May appear later in the campaign, though I haven't worked out the reasons yet.
  • Skulk: Anywhere. Bogeymen to the tribes. Intelligent race that might be a full-fledged faction in its own right.
  • Slime Mold: Inland, especially in the coastal forests.
  • Slithering Tracker: Ruins, Underground.
  • Slurk: Underground.
  • Tendriculos: Inland. There is likely a site or two in the coastal forests generating those.
  • Tentamort: Inland, Underground. Immigrant from Yethrod.
  • Thoqqua: Volcanoes.
  • Thunderbird: Inland. Likely a totem animal to the tribes.
  • Totenmaske: Everywhere. Bogeyman to the tribes, though likely called something else.
  • Twigjack: Inland, likely in the coastal forests - and the first fey creature I feel fits into the region.
  • Vampiric Mist: Inland, likely in places where ruins can be found.
  • Vemerak: Underground, Desolation.
  • Water Orm: Inland. And I really need to put a lake on the map somewhere...
  • Wendigo: Inland, Desolation. Highly appropriate, and likely the leader of a cannibal cult or two among the inland tribes and sapient monsters.
  • Whale (Common, Great White): Coastal.
  • Winterwight: Desolation.
  • Worm That Walks: There is likely one or two of these entities haunting the coastal forest areas who once was a native shaman. May not necessarily be hostile and willing to negotiate with spellcasters willing to deal with it for new magics. There are stories about these beings among the coastal tribes, as well as tales of a drunk trapper who swore that he saw something like this, once.
  • Xtabay: Inland, Desolation.
  • Yrthak: Inland, Desolation. Immigrant from Yagrith.

To be continued...

Sunday, November 17, 2013

[Urbis] The Surtus Termite

We interrupt our examination of the Pathfinder Bestiaries for a new creature which I thought up just now and need to write down before I forget it.

Explorers of the planet Surtus have encountered encountered the so-called Surtus Termites (named for their similarity in size and appearance to their Rothean equivalent) but have largely dismissed them as a nuisance, or at worst a dangerous pest. In fact, they are one of the dominant intelligent life forms on the planet. To understand how this species could be so misunderstood we must look at its life cycle.

From time to time a large and healthy hive will generate a number of fertilized females with wings. These female termites will fly as far as the wind will carry them, and then dig into a suitable location and start laying eggs in order to form a new hive. In the beginning, this hive is not too different from other insect hives, building a large mound to shelter it from the elements and predators, but as it grows larger, it becomes self-aware - intelligent. With an adult hive, the swarm intelligence is easily equal to that of a human. However, this intelligence is also fragile - if enough members of the hive are killed, it looses its intelligence and accumulated knowledge. To prevent the loss of knowledge even in the case of disaster, each hive also instinctually creates so-called "memory stacks" beneath its mound where all accumulated knowledge is encoded in physical patterns and trace chemicals the termites can decypher. The precise encoding varies from hive to hive, but genetically "related" hives tend to have similar encoding patterns. Thus, if portions of the hive are killed, it can recover over the course of days or weeks by breeding new termites and recovering the information from the memory stacks into the gestalt intelligence. Conversely, if the memory stacks are destroyed an intact hive can recreate them - but if both are damaged, the loss of knowledge will be permanent.

Each hive starts out as a "blank slate" that rapidly learns from its environment. Apart from the limitations (and advantages) of its natural form, it is fully capable of learning as much of a human being, and it is often quite a lot faster in learning new information than humans are. In Pathfinder game terms, the hive starts out as an intelligent insect swarm that can learn class levels. A swarm in a tough, hostile environment might gain ranger or fighter levels, but a swarm that observes magical phenomena might gain sorcerer levels. And a swarm that might be able to observe a wizard over a long time might become a wizard itself... (Damage will, of course, cause negative levels which are gradually healed over time if the memory stacks are available - 1 negative level removed per 3 days sounds about right.)

When encountering humans for the first time, a Surtus Termite swarm will almost certainly not have any prior knowledge of that species. It might quickly deduce that these beings are intelligent, but will not have any means of communicating with them. While it will eventually learn how to understand human language after sufficient observation, it will not be able to speak (barring use of magic or similar extreme cases). However, if it is able to observe human writing, the termites will be able to form letters.

Relationships to other intelligent beings will greatly depend on the past experiences of a particular hive. That being said, hives quickly become aware of their inherent vulnerability - they cannot disperse themselves too greatly or else they will lose their intelligence, and they cannot leave their memory stacks unguarded because doing so would risk their entire memory. Of course, the termites can come up with strategies to counteract these weaknesses - many will start maintaining multiple memory stacks at different locations (though only one will be truly "up-to-date"), and they might form some kind of symbiosis with other beings to defend their mounds. In extreme cases, hives with magical knowledge might create magical constructs as protectors.

Ultimately, Surtus Termites have little in the way of loyalty to their species as a whole - their first loyalty is always to the hive. In fact, they often get along better with other intelligent beings which do not need the same resources as they do, and newly-established young hives are often savagely attacked by older hives to prevent them from becoming rivals for the same resources. That being said, termites are fully capable of understanding trade and agreements for mutual benefit, and from time to time whole regions on Surtus develop vast networks of trade and knowledge sharing between termite hives.

Unfortunately, a certain paranoia always remains. To destroy a hive it is important to strike suddenly and hard so that it is greatly weakened for further attacks - and the hives are aware of this and use this as their attitude in warfare. They do not posture or threaten - if they determine that something threatens them, they gather as much information as they can and then strike as hard as possible. Thus, a hive always fears being betrayed by those it deals with, and the more insecure they perceive their position to be, the more likely are they to lash out to solve the problem preemptively. Larger networks of hives - "nations" of termites - can only exist because any hive that attacks another can expect to be attacked by others in turn. The relationship of individual hives with humans will also be colored by how much they see the humans as a threat to their survival and to their memory stacks.

This paranoid streak also explains why the population of termite hives on Surtus often collapses on short order - from time, their "mutual assured destruction" agreements fail, and all-out warfare devastates whole regions, with artificial bio-plagues and specially bread anti-termite life forms killing off hives in enormous numbers while the hives that originally created them have long since died. Surtus recently had such a die-off on a planetary scale, and the termite hives have only begun to recover - though the strange artifacts of the dead hives still litter the landscape.

So much for the description of the creatures themselves. But of course, I want to tie this into my Cold Frontier campaign. I've already hinted that the "Northern Desolation" possibly has gates to other planets. One such gate - to the planet Surtus - has opened recently and some fertilized females have passed through. Now new hives will begin to pop up in the Cold Frontier, and after a while the PCs will stumble across them. Nobody will know where they came from unless someone reads the right magazines about interplanetary exploration - and the hives themselves won't be able to tell them how they came to this world, since they have literally no memory of coming here. And even that assumes that the PCs will be able to establish communication with them. They are an enigma - a sign that the Cold Frontier will gradually grow stranger over time just as the PCs cement their hold on the region...

Friday, November 15, 2013

[Urbis] Maps of the Cold Frontier, Part I

For a hexcrawl campaign you need, of course, a hex map which the PCs can explore. Basic hexes from the Pathfinder Sandbox Exploration Rules are 12 miles from corner to corner, and roughly 10 miles from side to side. For the generation of the hexes I have used an online hex grid generator, with the following settings:

  • Hex radius: 1 inch
  • Grid columns: 8
  • Grid rows: 11
  • Grid color: #000000
  • Enable labels: yes
  • Label format: %x,%y
  • Label color: #999999
  • Enable guides: yes
  • Guide color: #000000
which gives me a hex grid 8 hexes wide and 11 hexes deep, with small dots that mark the center of the hex and numbers representing hex coordinates. This is large enough for a region that's about 50 miles wide and 110 miles deep - plenty of space for exploration for the first campaign arcs.

I envision a rugged coastline with forest-covered mountains and plenty of islands, a long river with the trading outpost at its mouth and extensive canyons further north, and plenty of hills, marshes, and even a volcano or two. After some doodling, this is what I came up with:

The trade outpost the PCs start in is hex (4,9). The volcanoes are in hexes (7,4) and (7,10). The green-yellow hexes in the middle of the sketch are the marshlands. The brown lines surrounding the river in the upper half of the sketch are supposed to represent the canyons - many ruins of Ancient Native settlements will be found there.

While I will come up with a nicer version of this map at some point in the future, this will do for the moment. Now I will have to fill it with details the PCs can discover.

To be continued...

Thursday, November 14, 2013

[Urbis] Coastal Tribes of the Cold Frontier, Part I

As outlined in my first post, the coastal tribes of the Cold Frontier will be loosely inspired by the Inuit and the Native American tribes of the Pacific Northwest. All in all, they are not particularly aggressive, though they will likely come to resent the new settlers - how quickly that happens will depend on the actions of the PCs. None are really evil, though some are more ruthless than others. They have a strong cultural taboo against venturing deeply into the interior, as they believe it to be haunted by entities of death, hunger, disease, and madness - and they aren't really wrong.

Many centuries ago, their ancestors lived across Nardhome, even inland - where they even erected cities. I imagine something akin to the ancient Pueblo dwellings of the American Southwest, though adapted to the much harsher northern climate. They would still have been nestled into cliff sides, because that's simply great scenery. But then a great plague or disaster emerged from the center of the continent and consumed all that was in its path. Only those who were able to escape on their boats onto the open ocean escaped this scourge and they waited for weeks until the scourge subsided.

This has several effects: First, the coastal tribes live close to the coast because they fear this scourge will return some day and they need to get back on the ocean again. Second, there are all sorts of native ruins scattered across the interior which can serve as adventure locations for the PCs. Third, this "scourge" serves as a background threat that can erupt at any time - preferably when the PCs are ready to face it, near the climax of the campaign.

Now, let's talk names. Unfortunately, Google Translate doesn't offer Native American languages, but I found a basic English-IñupiaQ Dictionary which will have to do for our purposes. The results will be mangled further for easier pronunciation, just like explorers did since time immemorial. When entering the word "people" as a search term, one of the replies is "ieuksraqtaaq" for "chosen people". Which is a mouthful, so the foreigners will call them the "Iuksra" instead.

They largely support themselves via the bountiful fisheries along the coastline, and also hunt whales, seals, and walruses. Their agriculture is largely limited to cultivating herbs - with the bountiful fish, there was never any need for more extensive farming. Unlike the Inuit they do have permanent wood or stone stone dwellings, and most homes have oil lamps fueled by whale or seal blubber.

To contrast them with the rather patriarchal Flannish Cities, let's make the Iuksra matrilineal. While the men have their traditional role as hunters, it is the women who tend to the villages and represent the center of society. The women own the houses and everything therein, which are inherited from mother to daughter, while the men own their weapons, hunting gear, and a boat that it is at least large enough to carry themselves, their wife, and their children - and these are inherited from father to his wife's sons.

To prevent inbreeding, extramarital affairs are common and accepted, especially on long hunting trips - the Inuit Culture Wikipedia entry mentions the charming euphemism "lamp extinguishing games". Among the Iuksra, it doesn't really matter who the father of a particular child was, as everything is traced through the mother. This will likely give them a reputation as lecherous adulterers by the colonists.

Their marriage vows state that the man is obligated to protect and provide food to his wife and her children (that is, not necessarily his as well), which includes maintaining that boat large enough to carry them all in the case of a new outbreak of the Scourge that wiped out most of their ancestors.The woman is obligated to look after the house and the household and always provide a warm bed and shelter to the man whenever he is in his home village. This means that most Iuksra men don't care if their wives sleep with other men while he isn't home, but when he does come home they are expected to have the decency to get out of the house so that he gets his warm bed.

Note that these are gender roles, not roles of a particular sex. To the Iuksra, someone is a man who goes out of the village to hunt and fish, while someone is a woman who owns a house and takes care of the children. Their actual sex is irrelevant for this distinction. That doesn't mean that they are not aware of the sex of a person, as in who lusts after whom. But they have no cultural problems with two people of the same gender sleeping with each other, regardless of the actual sexes involved. Female-sex hunters and fishers are expected to give up children born to them for adoption, while male-sex house owners are expected to adopt children whose mothers have died (or have to give them up for adoption). Their language reflects this - they will consistently refer adventurers visiting them as male, even female PCs - after all, they left their homes far behind so they are obviously hunters. Conversely, most will initially refer to all the shop and home owners in the colony as female, to the great irritation of the colonists. Children who are too young to have shown specific gender preferences will be referred to with gender-neutral terms.

The villages will have a (male) chieftain, but he is mostly in charge of village defense and at times of war, in which case he is expected to lead the warriors of the village. For most other decisions, the village discusses all issues and decisions together, with the village elders usually pulling the strings.

The Iuksra are generally quite hospitable to polite visitors. The village decides which women will host the guests in their houses, which are often the houses where the women's husbands are away on hunting trips for the pragmatic reason that there is more space available, although a more personal interest of the hostess is not uncommon - and in the case of old women they will often joke that "it has been a long time since a man has slept in their house", which the old folks tend to find hilarious, to the frequent consternation of their guests. The guests are then expected to offer a house gift as compensation for the bother of hosting them, usually some fresh food though metal knives and other useful gifts are highly appreciated.

While I haven't worked out the details of Iuksra religion, they do venerate various animal totems and pay them respect in the hopes of gaining some of their abilities, the favor of their mundane counterparts, or just avert their wrath for slaying the latter for food or self-defense. Different villages will emphasize different totems - for example, the eagle rider village will obviously favor the eagle totem. These animals are considered the spiritual ancestors of the village, often fathering children with the women of the tribe in their myths, and are represented via elaborately carved totem poles.

While the Iuksra have no formal tradition of wizardry, they do have their share of spellcasters who either have innate talents (such as sorcerers) or gain powers via various spirits. These are collectively considered shamans and beyond the traditional gender role system - they are never referred to with a specific gender at all (though again, this does not prevent them from having any type of sexual relationship they please). Their role is to deal with whatever supernatural problems the village may have, in whatever way they can, as this is seen beyond the duty of the warriors. As befits their variety, their approaches to problem-solving are often highly idiosyncratic, as each shaman has a different variety of supernatural powers.

To be continued...

[Urbis] Monsters of the Cold Frontier, Part I

As outlined in my previous post, the native inhabitants of the Cold Frontier should not include the "common D&D races" (apart from humans) and avoid any creatures that are too closely tied to "Old World mythologies" - Europe, Asia, Africa and so forth - while anything drawn from North American mythology would be ideal. Since I am entertaining notions of eventually publishing this campaign at the moment, I also want to draw the creatures from Pathfinder canon, in particular the four Bestiaries published so far. Thus, I will go through each Bestiary in turn and see what they have.

While it is too early to come up with specific encounter tables for different terrains, I will group the creatures into four rough categories which I can build upon later:

  • Coastal: Living in the oceans or close to the shore. Will likely feature in the lifestyle of the Native coastal settlements.
  • Inland: Living away from the shores deep in the interior. May have links to the inland barbarian tribes.
  • Desolation: Living far inland in remote mountain regions where the land becomes "uncanny" and hostile. May venture further south in the winter.
  • Underground: Lives in the local "Underdark". May venture up to the surface for raids, especially at night.
With that in mind, let us start with the first Bestiary:

  • Aboleth: As aliens from the planet Calturus, they can show up pretty much anywhere on the world, and thus can fit in Underground, though likely below the Desolation.
  • Animated Object: There might be a few ruins of First City outposts that generate these for some reason. Finding out why objects become animated might be a minor plot point. It might even happen to stuff the PCs brought with them if they stay overnight!
  • Bat (Dire, Swarm): Everywhere. May be an animal totem of some of the tribes.
  • Bear (Grizzly, Dire): Inland. Likely an animal totem of the inland tribes.
  • Beetle, Fire: Desolation. Note that in Urbis these creatures come from the planet Surtus.
  • Black Pudding: Desolation, Underground. Another immigrant from Calturus.
  • Boar (Normal, Dire): Inland. Likely an animal totem of the inland tribes.
  • Cave Fisher: Underground. Might be a common feature of certain coastal caves, which the natives know to stay clear of.
  • Centipede (Giant, Swarm): Underground, Desolation.
  • Choker: Underground, Desolation. Likely a result of First City experiments.
  • Cloaker: Another immigrant from another planet, likely Calturus. Underground.
  • Crab (Giant, Swarm): Coastal. Likely an animal totem of the coastal tribes. I imagine a cave that is filled with crabs during the flood, and a rite of manhood in a nearby coastal tribe involves staying inside for the duration - and (male) outsiders trying to impress the tribe may be asked to undergo the same ritual. Of course, they won't be secretly handed the tribe's crab repellant tincture, but if they manage to stay inside nonetheless they will impress the tribe.
  • Dark Mantle: Another Calturus native. Underground.
  • Dolphin (Common, Orca): Coastal. Likely an animal totem of the coastal tribes.
  • Doppelganger: An interesting case, as these beings are currently manufactured by the city-state of Bargeto. But the Bargeto entry mentions that they rediscovered how to create these beings - so where did they learn it from? I can picture it now, the PCs stumbling across a First City or even a Prehuman ruin and finding an old, enchanted tank with a large, milky-white blog suspended in an unknown fluid. As they approach, the blob reacts to their presence and gradually forms limbs... eventually taking on a humanoid shape similar to their own.
  • Dragon (Chromatic, White): Desolation for the older ones, Inland for the younger ones - the younger white dragons will be driven south by their older and more powerful peers. As the younger ones are still inexperienced, they will likely observe and stalk the party for quite some time before attacking them - preferably in an ambush.
  • Eagle (Common, Giant): Coastal, Inland. Likely to be an animal totem to both the inland and coastal tribes. One of the tribes will have trained/befriended a group of Giant Eagles, and they consider themselves the protectors / scouts of the other coastal tribes, warning them against hordes of monsters, inland tribes and whatnot. They will often be found circling overhead in the coastal regions, watching the PCs.
  • Elephant (shaggy woolly mammoth): Inland. Likely an animal totem to the inland tribes.
  • Froghemoth: Inland. Likely from the planet Yethrod.
  • Gelatinous Cube: Underground, Prehuman ruins.
  • Ghost: Eveywhere, but especially Desolation where they will often be based on rather alien base creatures.
  • Ghoul: Desolation, Underground. Famous bogeymen to the tribes. Possibly remnants of what destroyed the ancestors of the coastal tribes.
  • Gibbering Mouther: Underground, Desolation. Likely has some link with either First City or Prehuman ruins.
  • Golem (Ice): Someone produces these things, and they shamble across the frozen wastes. Perhaps the PCs will learn their origin.
  • Gray Ooze: Inland marshes, Desolation, Underground. Another immigrant from Calturus.
  • Herd Animal, Bison: Inland. Likely an animal totem to the inland tribes.
  • Intellect Devourer: Possibly found in some First City ruins.
  • Invisible Stalker: Desolation.
  • Kraken: Maybe a long-term menace threatening the coastal tribes and the coastal colony.
  • Lycanthrope, Werewolf: This form of Lycantropy may run in some of the inland tribes.
  • Merfolk: Coastal. May trade with one of the coastal tribes for pearls and whatnot. The PCs might discover that trade and attempt to muscle in.
  • Mimic: Underground, Desolation, possibly the same ruins where the Doppelgangers can be found.
  • Mite: Underground.
  • Morlock: Underground. Will likely be called something else by the native tribes, and feared as monsters who emerge from the depths of the earth to steal and murder.
  • Neothelid: Desolation.
  • Octopus (Common, Giant): Coastal. Likely a totem animal to the coastal tribes, and one of them might have a giant octopus as a village guardian. Contrary to what the PCs might expect, that tribe is not evil.
  • Otyugh: Underground. Immigrant from Yethrod.
  • Owlbear: Inland.
  • Purple Worm: Underground. Immigrant from the planet Surtus.
  • Remorhaz: Desolation. Immigrant from the planet Surtus.
  • Rhinoceros, Woolly: Inland. Likely an totem animal to the inland tribe. And isn't a herd of these animals thundering across the tundra an awesome image?
  • Roper: Underground. Immigrant from the planet Calturus.
  • Rust Monster: Underground. Immigrant from the planet Surtus.
  • Sahuagin: Coastal. They will initially be confined to the deeper oceans (and the native fishers know which regions to stay clear of), but may venture closer to the coast if the increased traffic to the trading outpost disturbs them.
  • Sea Serpent: Coastal. There should likely be a single sea serpent of note with its own nickname.
  • Shark (Common, Dire): Coastal. Likely an animal totem to the coastal tribes.
  • Skum: Possibly Underground, but if I use them I will do away with the "rape human women to procreate" aspect.
  • Spider (Giant, Swarm): Underground, Desolation.
  • Squid (Common, Giant): Coastal. As they are linked to the Kraken, they are considered evil by the Natives, and are not considered a totem animal.
  • Treant: Inland. Likely a problem for the timber needs of the growing colony. The treants might even gather to a moot.
  • Troglodyte: Underground. Perhaps they were the original builders of the Prehuman ruins?
  • Vampire: May arrive with the colonists. One might also be a survivor from the previous colonization wave, 250 years ago.
  • Vegepygmy: Underground. Likely the result of a First City experiment.
  • Violet Fungus: Underground. Immigrant from the planet Yethrod.
  • Will-O'-Wisp: Inland. Possibly another remnant of the great disaster that killed the ancestors of the coastal tribes.
  • Wolf (Common, Dire): Inland. Likely an animal totem of the inland tribes.
  • Wolverine (Common, Dire): Inland. Likely an animal totem to the inland tribes.
  • Wyvern: Inland.
  • Yellow Musk Creeper: Inland, Underground. I imagine these beings are a regular plague in certain region, going dormant during the cold of winter. Most of their musk zombies will be animals.
  • Yeti: Desolation. I especially like their "guardians against uncanny things" aspect, which I will probably use in some way.
To be continued...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

[Urbis] Company Men of the Cold Frontier

As explained in my previous post, the PCs in the Cold Frontier campaign will be hired by the Far Shores Trading Company to explore the remote northern wilderness of Nardhome, and the same company will also eventually sponsor the colony the PCs can establish there. Thus, the Company will require further detailing, as its interactions with the PCs and the colony will have a major impact on the campaign.

The Far Shores Trading Company is intended to be loosely based on the British East India Company (including opium trade in the Far East, which will become a plot point later...). Wikipedia writes about its leadership:
The Company was led by one Governor and 24 directors, who made up the Court of Directors. They, in turn, reported to the Court of Proprietors which appointed them. Ten committees reported to the Court of Directors.
I think I will rename the Governor into the "Director-General", since that will avoid confusion with the governor of the colony. Furthermore, "Court" is a term with monarchistic associations, but the Flannish Cities don't have monarchs any more (with one exception) and it is not politically correct to associate oneself with the aristocracy these days. Thus, the Director-General leads the Board of Directors, and both report to the Board of Proprietors (which are appointed by the shareholders and review what the directors and the company as a whole are doing).

I imagine each of the Directors being responsible for a particular region or a particular trade route. Thus, there will be a Director of Nardhome which the PCs will answer to. The Committees will each focus on one aspect of the Company as a whole - types of trade goods or other issues involving more than one Director. I am thinking of these:
  • Auditing: Widely feared - "Nobody expects the Auditor General!"
  • Drugs: Including medicines, but also including the very profitable opium drug trade to the Tsan Empire.
  • Enchantment: Magic item and Azoth trade, as well as supplies for ritual magic components. In competition with Spices.
  • Finances: Intra-company loans, financial speculation.
  • Grains: Food of all types.
  • Livestock: The creature trade (sheep, cattle, etc.) and derived products (wool, leather, etc.)
  • Mining: Ore extraction and smelting, as well as timber and earth moving and construction.
  • Public Works: Political lobbying, public relations, assisting company directorates and committees with negotiating contracts.
  • Spices: Oldest of the Committees, as the wealth of the Company was originally founded by the spice trade. Has acquired alchemical products to their portfolio and is in fierce competition with Drugs over turf.
  • Textiles: Clothing and fashion.
The turfs of these Committees shift frequently as new products are developed, and the turf battles tend to be fierce - contemplate all the stories about office politics you have ever read, and apply them liberally. The leaders of the Committees have all the word "General" in their titles - "Grains General", "Textiles General" and so forth. Technically they are subordinate to the Board of Directors and report to them, but because there are less Committees than Directorates the actual power of the Committee Generals is at least equal to a Director, and often more so.

Below the Directors are the Factors, the leaders of a particular trade outpost in a particular city or region. Their actual power and prestige varies a lot - the Factor of a major Flannish city-state is someone to be reckoned with, while the Factor of the small Nardhome trade outpost the PCs start in is a drunk nobody. Factors who run an actual colony will also get the title "Governor" (note that "colonies" in Urbis terms are still fairly small trade outposts for the most part, and not the vast colonial empires of our own history). Their titles are always "Factor of <location>", i.e. "Factor of Bodenwald".

To assist the various Factors in their mercantile endeavors (and more importantly, to ensure that their interests are protected), the Committees may elect to send representatives to the various trade outposts, which may or may not have their own staff. Their titles are "<Committee> Factor of <location>", i.e. "Drugs Factor of Bodenwald". They are subordinate to and report to their local Factor but also to the General of their own Committee. The largest outposts will have representatives from all 10 Committees, while the smallest will have none. This is the case with the Cold Frontier outpost in the beginning, but as the colony grows more of them will show up like lice, and they may help or hinder the smooth running of the colony. The PCs may elect to give them leadership positions in the Kingmaker rules, though this is risky as they will have their own agendas and divided loyalties.

Below them are "Senior Associates" and "Associates" filling middle and lower management positions, respectively - these are people who have "made it" and usually have lifetime jobs with the Company and all sorts of added perks which make them largely loyal employees to their bosses (though not necessarily to the Company as a whole. The PCs start out as Associates. Below them are the numerous and largely disposable and interchangeable "writers" (clerks and similar lowly white-collar positions) and "aides" (those who are doing more physical labor). They know that they may be fired at any time should they slip up, and are often desperate to prevent such a fate.

So much for the overall structure and operations of the Company. Let us look at two Company members in particular with which the PCs will interact frequently.

John Harcourt is the Director of Nardhome, and thus the direct superior of the PCs - he sponsored the exploration mission at the start of the campaign and then convinces the Director General to sponsor the later colony. While he is in it all for the profit, he won't suggest anything too unethical as long as the payoff is truly spectacular, as he takes the long view towards wealth acquisition and doesn't want to alienate too many future customers. He knows that micromanaging the colony from a continent away would be futile and largely lets the PCs act at their own discretion unless they truly screw up big. In short, he is someone who interested in building a positive relationship with the PCs, and they should be likewise interested in a positive relationship with him - until they decide to declare their independence, in which case they should at least a bit bad about cutting ties to him.

Richard Byrne is the Factor of the Cold Frontier trade outpost, and he resents being exiled to this frozen wasteland more and more every day. Much of the time he will be drunk from home-made spirits, including when the PCs arrive. He alludes to intrigues back home which caused his exile when he is drunk, but changes the story frequently. If the PCs can give him hope that the fortunes of the outpost will be reversed he will improve his attitude and actually turn out to be rather competent. Once one of the PCs is promoted to Factor and Governor of the new colony, they can decide whether to keep him around as an assistant or send him home (with or without recommendations).

More Company NPCs will be developed as the campaign demands.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

[Urbis] Building the Cold Frontier

One of the campaigns is involved in seems to be nearing its end, so I've been musing on what we could play next. Here is a pitch for a campaign idea I came up with for my Urbis setting:
The small continent of Nardhome is far to the northwest of the gleaming domains of the Flannish city-states. Settlements of native humans dot the rich coastal fishing grounds, but they refuse to go deep into the interior, believing it to be a cursed place of cold, death, hunger, and madness. The now-savage descendants of earlier Flannish settlers have no such taboos, but many of their tribes show signs of madness or inbreeding.
Yet the continent remains rich in resources - ores, furs, and strange substances found beneath its surface which the alchemists and industrialists of the Flannish Cities are willing to pay high prices for. Thus, the Dartmouth-based Far Shores Trading Company has decided to get into the action by opening a new trade depot on the southern shore, on the ruins of an old native settlement which has been abandoned for reasons unknown.
Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to explore the surrounding wilderness and find valuable resources to exploit - and if you impress the board of the Company, they might be willing to sponsor an entire colony in order to extract the wealth of the region in earnest. With you as the colonial administrators of this region, this Cold Frontier.
Basically, this is a variant on the sandbox-style campaigning found in Paizo's Kingmaker Adventure Path - first the PCs explore a wilderness region and deal with its dangers, and then they actually attempt to colonize this region by building towns, streets, infrastructure and military forces to deal with its dangers. While I wouldn't use Pathfinder as the base rule system (I prefer GURPS), I would adopt much of the Pathfinder Exploration Rules for the hexcrawling and the Pathfinder Kingdom Building Rules for developing the colony itself.

I'm not sure if I am actually going to run this campaign, but it's worth developing some thoughts into it nonetheless. Here are some initial ideas:

  • The Far Shores Trading Company - the sponsor of first the expedition and then the colony - is largely based on the British East India Company, and thus a rather dodgy employer. Like their counterparts they are smuggling opium into the Far East - the Tsan Empire, in this case - but their home base of Dartmouth is far weaker than the British Empire, while the Tsan Empire is far stronger than the declining Chinese Empire. At one point in the campaign, a Tsan war fleet will show up near Dartmouth and demand reparations for the opium smuggling. Thanks to their contacts, the board members of the Company have plenty of advance warning to smuggle much of their wealth elsewhere - including to the Cold Frontier colony. Thus, the PCs will notice all sorts of rich Company members to show up in their town with a lot of money while trying to assure themselves that the PCs are still loyal to the Company. Once the excrements hit the fan, the PCs must decide where their loyalties lie - with the remnants of the Company with their wealth and dubious contacts, with the city-state of Dartmouth which can ensure regular supply runs but will likely demand higher taxes so that they can pay for the reparations to the Tsan Empire, or with themselves, in which case they need figure out how to make the colony survive on its own this far away from the rest of civilization.
  • The native humans largely hug the coastline because of cultural taboos so that the PCs have much room to expand inwards instead of repeating the displacement of the native Americans in our own history. Sure, they control fertile fishing grounds, but the PCs can easily come to peaceful trade agreements if they approach their neighbors right. Their culture is based on those of the Inuit and the natives of the Pacific Northwest.
  • Conversely, the inland tribes are the savage descendants of settlers from the Flannish and Norfjell regions (think Western and Northern Europeans) who lost contact with their homelands 250 years ago when those homelands were ravaged by wars. Their cultures and ways will have some faint resemblances to the homes of the PCs, but are often twisted into something unrecognizable, and many tribes suffer from madness and inbreeding. They are a great place to use all those Lovecraftian tropes about "degenerate hill people" while avoiding certain Unfortunate Implications. Individual tribes might be friends or enemies of the PCs.
  • The terrain of the campaign area will be inspired by all those regions around our own Arctic Circle - Alaska, Northern Canada, Siberia, and Iceland (there should definitely be a volcano or two!). Rugged mountains, vast marshes, never-ending tundra, all that good stuff.
  • For aesthetic reasons, I'd rather avoid the standard Pathfinder non-human races except as colonists, and likewise most of the recognizable Pathfinder creatures derived from European or Asian folklore - those are more commonly found on the main continent, or the Known Lands. Creatures from North American legend are best, though other fairly obscure creatures will work as well. Nardholm and the Cold Frontier should feel like an alien place to players familiar with D&D canon, and the deeper into the continent they get, the more alien it should feel.
So these are my first thoughts. What are yours?

Note: A list of all Urbis-related posts - including all further posts related to the Cold Frontier - can be found here.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Cities of Urbis - Building Bodenwald, Part IX

Continued from Part VIII...

Yet another Munich district, Aubing-Lochhausen-Langwied, was created by joining several smaller communities together. There is mention of a planned residential area named Freiham which will be built near Gut Freiham, a former noble estate which was once used by sheep farming. The entry for the latter also mentions a "childless count" whose distant heirs eventually sold the estate after he died. A scenario presents itself: A consortium of wealthy real estate speculators of Bodenwald want to build a large new residential neighborhood in this still largely rural district - but the heart of the area is pasture land owned by an aging, childless Count who refuses to sell no matter what. His distant heirs seem far more amenable to a sale, but the Count acts as if everything that happened since the Feudal Ages is one huge mistake and refuses to listen to even the most generous offers. One of the speculators or the heirs might be tempted to hasten the demise of the old man...

But not all is what it seems - the Count is secretly a worshiper of Cryelis, and the ghosts of his ancestors (who are buried on the estate) are literally haunting him not to sell the land. The Count realizes that his days are numbered, though - and to prevent the graves of his ancestors (not to mention his own) from passing into the hands of unbelievers, dug up and discarded so that peasant homes can be built, he is now seeking a young bride of good lineage with whom he can sire an heir. While his wealth makes him an attractive bachelor despite his advanced age, such a bride is unlikely to know what she is getting herself into...

The PCs can enter this drama on any side - on behalf of the speculators, the heirs, the Count, a would-be bride or just as random bystanders who stumble into the crossfire.

Aubing mentions the Dachauer Moos, a large mire in the area, parts of which were gradually drained to make way for settlements and agriculture. Let's assume that this process is ongoing in Bodenwald, and that it uncovers bog bodies from time to time... some of which might dead, but not the restful type. A mummy of an ancient chieftain of the area might haunt the mire, and be rather confused about how the region has changed over more than a thousand years. Its goal might be to get a proper burial mound at the site of  his ancient village (long since built over) which was denied to it when it sunk into the bogs instead of being buried with honor (incidentally, there are details about ancient burial sites in Aubing in the entry for the history of the area).

There used to be a "Chemical Factory Aubing" which we can transform into an Alchemical Factory without breaking a sweat. A likely problem is alchemical wastes leaking into the bogs. There are remains of a motte-and-baily castle, which now has the delightful name Teufelsberg - "Devil's Castle". Nobody is quite sure how it got the name, but I am sure I can come up with something suitably devilish for Urbis.

The entry for Langwied mentions that in 1908 someone found a pot with 1700 old Roman coins, a number that increased to more than 2000 after others searched the area. In Bodenwald these would of be Atalan coins. The find was recent, and now there is a local treasure hunt going on as others attempt to find more coins. Possibly there is even an old Atalan dungeon somewhere in the area...

The district entries for Allach-Untermenzing and Feldmoching-Hasenbergl have nothing of interest. The Laim entry mentions that numerous families from South Tyrol recently settled there. I'm not sure what the equivalent in Urbis would be - Siebenbund halflings? I am amused by the fact that this is the first district entry that mentions where the local red light district is, though I am sure it's far from the only one in a city of that size...

Anyway, that's it for the districts of Munich. And I think that's enough material for me to get started with writing up the individual Bodenwald district and coming up with a rough district map for the city. After that we can figure out what's still missing from our city writeup...

To be continued...

Friday, November 1, 2013

Cities of Urbis - Building Bodenwald, Part VIII

Continued from Part VII...

Skipping Obergiesing-Fasanengarten, we come to Untergiesing-Harlaching. The name "Harlaching" may or may not derive from "forest clearing", and forests might imply elves... but we already have an elven-themed location and I don't want to overuse them, and frankly "an area cleared of forest" pretty much describes all of Bavaria except for the areas that are still forest (in the modern day, about 35%). So let's use gnomes as the original inhabitants instead - a small, hidden gnomish settlement that got started way before gnomes stepped into the public limelight and started to control international finance and whatnot.

Even back in the 19th century much of Untergiesing-Harlaching was what we would call a "Naherholungsgebiet" in German - a place close to a city which was fairly free of human habitation and thus was great for going on a walk, going on a swim, or otherwise frolicking in nature. It's also the home of a major zoo - which, in Bodenwald, will mean extraterrestrial species on display as well. While they probably won't show the most dangerous species there, it could still cause quite a few problem if the wrong species escapes - do I need to remind you that they bomb rabbit warrens with dynamite in Australia and have even attempted biological warfare against this invading species? Now imagine what happens if some species of hive insect from Surtus turns to be rather more intelligent than it was believed...

Harlaching was also the site of the Nazi Reichszeugmeisterei. Initially believing that the name derived from "zeugen" (German for "siring") and assuming that this was some sort of office for breeding the new Aryan Master Race, I learned that this institution had the far more boring job of handling licenses for which German companies were allowed to manufacture those Hugo Boss Nazi uniforms. But my first assumption is more interesting for gaming purposes, and the 19th century (on which Urbis is based) certainly was a time when eugenics was seen rather more positively. Thus, the "Zeugungsinstitut" in this part of Bodenwald attempts to "scientifically improve the human race by selective breeding". Their main difficulty is the difference in what they see as a "perfect match" and society's acceptance of the same - out-of-wedlock births are very much frowned upon, as are marriages transcending class boundaries in many cases. They may have connections to the Custodians of the Sacred Blood and the Queen's Gambit.

Next up is a district with the overly long name Thalkirchen-Obersendling-Forstenried-Fürstenried-Solln. Thalkirchen has the "Floßkanal München", a small canal used for timber rafting - so there will likely be extensive woodlands upstream, even beyond the impact crater. The district itself may have lumber and paper mills. Solln has its own Wikipedia entry, and it mentions a Bronze Age burial ground where the skeletons of a man and a woman were found, the latter having jewelry as grave goods. To make it more interesting, let's say that the skeletons in the Bodenwald equivalent had matching enchanted bracers. These were kept in the archaeological museum, but were recently stolen.

Hadern is the site of Munich's university clinic, as well of a biology research center. In Bodenwald, this will (of course) also cover research on extraterrestrial life forms, including but not limited to the many interesting effects they can have on the human body.

The district Pasing-Obermenzing has two subentries for its components. Pasing used to be a city in its own right until it was forcibly integrated into Munich by the Nazis. The Salt Route also passed through it, and the land used to belong to an Abbey. This time, let's turn it into a temple of Bucatar, the faith dedicated to "taming the wilderness" (which will likely see lots of visitors from the interplanetary explorers). It says that the area was ruled from the so-called "Wasserschloss", a fortress surrounded by the river Würm - certainly an interesting location for a temple-fortress, and easily defendable in old days when the region was still wild. While the focus of the priesthood may have moved elsewhere (since the district has been "tamed"), I imagine they will still come here from time to time to leave their trophies here, of which this temple-fortress will likely have an impressive collection (now including the heads of extraterrestrial creatures).

Obermenzing has as an interesting tidbit that the Sisters of Loreto built up an institute in a local castle. The Sisters of Loreto (or Congregation of Jesus) were founded by one Mary Ward as a kind of female counterpart to the Jesuits. She believed that women were intellectually equally capable to men (which is a minority view in Urbis) and her order is heavily engaged in girls' (and women's) education. Looking at the list of Urbis deities, Jorunnos might be an interesting choice for the patron deity of the order. However, this version probably won't attempt to convert their students (since that might alienate their parents) - they just attempt to help them reach their full potential, and thus became renowned for the high quality of their education. The Queen's Gambit probably has some secret recruiters in their rank, since they certainly are in need of highly ambitious women...

Continued in Part IX...