Tuesday, July 8, 2014

[Urbis] Cold Frontier - State of the Campaign 1

Last Saturday was the 10th session of my Cold Frontier campaign, so this seems like a good place to look at the current state of the campaign.

The PCs have been all over the southern parts of the map, and this is their version of the region:

Compare and contrast this with the current version of my map, which can be found here. The PCs haven't visited all of the locations on their map - they have only heard reports of Blue Octopus Village, and glimpsed the Spring Seeds Farm and the volcano in <7,4> from afar.

Recently they have learned that at least two shamans of the Mammoth Tribe (currently lairing at <2,5>) are secretly Wendigo worshipers, or at least possessed by "spirits of hunger". After talking with a shaman of Soaring Eagle Village, they have learned that Wendigo cultists prefer to hold their dark rites during the nights of the new moon, one of which is fast approaching, and they plan to expose the cultist during the next ritual night to their tribe (the shaman of Soaring Eagle Village encouraged them in this, since he'd much rather have outsiders like the explorers potentially agitate the Inland Tribes than doing that themselves).

However, the Wendigo cultists suspect that the PCs know about them, since the PCs stole a fetish with an imprisoned hunger spirit from them. Plus they took a guide and went out to search for the remains of another tribal shaman they had slaughtered the previous winter.

The Wendigo cult is currently not interested in a direct confrontation with the explorers. In fact, the Wendigo is rather looking forward to the colony - so many new people to devour...

Therefore the cultists will leave before the PCs return. However, so that the PCs feel they are making some kind of progress, they will leave magical doppelgangers behind. These can be defeated by the PCs and exposed to the tribe, which will establish the PCs as more-or-less trustworthy allies yet leave some doubt whether the shamans had been really Wendigo cultists all along, or whether they had been replaced by doppelgangers. I will have to read up on Native American legends about doppelgangers for this scene...

Another thing that happened is that the PCs sent letters home arguing for a much earlier start to the colony - they've found so many possibilities for mining ore that they want to get started right away. The Director for Nardhome of the Far Shores Trading Company recently received those letters and magically contacted them. He was open to the possibility, but asked them if they thought they could secure the colony sufficiently so that it would be able to last through the winter. The PCs said they wanted to eliminate one possible threat and he gave them until the end of the month (10 more days) to think about it before making his decision.

So, beyond the immediate needs of the plot, what do I need to do next?
  • Come up with stuff for lots of hex around the middle of the map, where the PCs have started to zip around a lot. I expected them to head for Blue Octopus Village, but they ended up going Northeast instead. I had to come up with the Ancient Dig during our dinner break, for instance - fortunately, this site was riveting enough to keep them occupied for the rest of the evening. But as I discovered, coming up with interesting grasslands locations is hard - with forests, mountains, hills and so forth it's easy to describe an interesting geographical feature, but with featureless plains...
  • Come up with an encounter table for the Southern Grasslands. This seems tricky - I want to largely stick to the Pathfinder Bestiaries 1-4, but most of the creatures that inhabit plains give off the wrong mythological vibe.
  • Read up on the Pathfinder Kingdom Building rules and come up with some ideas for how they interact with the GURPS rules. Since the buildup for the colony will have to be gradual, I will probably hand them 10 BP per month instead of 50 all in one go to establish their primary settlement.
Beyond that... I am accumulating a lot of material for this campaign, with a lot more likely to come, and I am giving serious consideration to publishing it in a more coherent form as a Pathfinder product. So I'd value your opinion. If I published it, would you consider buying this campaign? Or alternately, would you be interested in playtesting it, using the Pathfinder rules?

Note: A list of all Urbis-related posts can be found here.