Thursday 31 January 2013

Maps of the Drowned Kingdoms 1: Fathomdeep

Fathomdeep - click to make bigger!
So it's the dawn of a new year, and a brand new D&D campaign rises on my horizon.  For a while now I've been drawn to the 5th Edition playtest - I admit I wasn't impressed initially, but I'm really liking the direction it's taken in recent packets. I'm going to give it a proper chance. Or at least, lay down preparations for a proper campaign. Which means a new campaign world!

I'm also aware Beholder Pie has been gathering dust recently. Though I've hosted my fair share of aborted serials here on this blog, it's time to gear up for a more regular posting schedule, and a new campaign world gives me something fresh to talk about.

So, welcome to Drowned Kingdoms! I'll be posting maps for this new world every week*, building it up map-by-map into a proper setting. I've always wanted this blog to be packed with original art, but actually getting artists to provide artwork (for nothing!) does mean it's been rather stop-start. Maps, though, I can do myself (to a degree - Stacey colours them!).

The idea for the world is pretty simple. It's the dying days of an empire of giants, decimated long ago by a great deluge. They still rule the archipelagos, but the flood has robbed them of their glory. The storm giants are forlorn drunkards, haunted by lost glories. Hill giants have descended into savagery, while stone giants are a beaten race hiding out in the mountains. Fire giants? Just a legend, supposedly fled to the Elemental planes. Beneath them all are men, elves, dwarves, and halflings - the subjects of the empire. And now, their time has come!

Stacey and I had the idea for Fathomdeep after watching the Hobbit (which we loved, in case you're wondering!). That scene at the start where the camera dives into the depths of Erebor, past clanking chains, to a lone dwarf miner uncovering the Arkenstone - now, just imagine if that was underwater? That same dwarf with his beard floating around him, fish flitting past, a flare hissing in the rockface at his side, working on a rockface of coral - well, that's Fathomdeep!

Fathomdeep is a deep sea mining platform perched atop a giant statue in the ruins of a flooded storm giant city. The dwarves mine the sunken city for pearls, gold and gemstones, using waterbreathing potions to survive the crushing depths.
Population: Up to 300 dwarven workers can be found here at any one time. Roughnecks, roustabouts and miners work the rig in rotation, spending roughly a quarter of the month onshore. Servants and managers stay full-time on annual contracts. Supply ferries make the journey to the mainland on the first day of every week.
Government: The platform is owned by the Jeweller's Guild of Salvation, a nearby town. The current "toolpusher" (foreman) is called Torgi:  a grizzled veteran who commands his men's respect and is fiercely loyal to the guild.
Inns and Taverns: Rum is generously meted out every night in the "Crab's Taphouse": an annex of the rig's mess hall. Visitors are welcome to stay in the taphouse's rat-infested bunks, but may prefer the comfort of their own berths. The taphouse is run by Bald Olli, a merry dwarf who's always interested in tales of distant shores.
Supplies: Fathomdeep is a regular stop-over for sea traders, so it keeps a good supply house. Visitors can be sure to restock on fresh water, timber, hardware, and other shipping goods, but can also find a fair supply of adventuring gear. After all, the sunken city is home to worse things than fish.
Temples: The platform maintains a small shrine to the old gods of the sea. It's a dangerous job, so miners usually pay a visit to the shrine before "going below". Visitors can buy simple curatives from Ocram, the platform's crippled ritual worker. Ocram was lamed by a shark, whose teeth he now uses as runestones to predict the weather.  
Check back next week for a map of Salvation!

*Okay, maybe every other week. Let's just see how it goes.


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