Wednesday 20 February 2013

Maps of the Drowned Kingdoms 3: The Pinnacles of Song

Dare you scale the windswept Pinnacles of Song?
So we needed a monk to test out all of the classes in D&D Next. I've never been big on monks; in fact, I don't think any of my previous campaigns actually supported them. Coming up with a monastic order for Drowned Kingdoms was going to be something new for me.

If I have any advice on campaign building, it's to draw inspiration from real life. History books are an obvious source to mine, but you can glean a lot just by listening to the news, browsing the internet, or flicking through back issues of magazines like National Geographic. Start thinking consciously about adapting real-life stories to your games, and it's amazing what you'll find. Give those stories a fantastic tweak, and you'll often end up with something truly original.

The idea of a monastery carved into a sheer rock face is hardly new - in fact, the internet is crammed with awesome pictures of them. However, I couldn't resist, as nothing says "monk" better than a precarious mountain sanctuary. This wasn't my only inspiration for the Pinnacles of Song though: somewhat surprisingly, most of it came from a short news story about the use of satellite dishes in Iran. It turns out that satellite TV is illegal under the regime, yet over half the residents still own dishes. The police swoop in and tear them down, a few people get fined, and then the residents wire them up again. Best of all, most people aren't using them to listen to foreign news or tune into pirate political broadcasts - they're using them to watch Turkish soap operas, comedy shows, or American serials dubbed into Persian. You know: basic feel-good entertainment. It was this story that gave me the idea for the Song Monks.

The wood elves of the Kithweald lived in harmony with the Four Storms - the untamed, magical winds that rumble over the seas of Diluvia. Looking out over their forest was like gazing over the rolling waves, the song of its shuddering leaves matching the endless rise and fall of the tide. It's said the elves learned to whisper on these winds, casting their voices for miles in a primal tongue that only they could hear.  
For centuries the giants had left the Kithweald alone. When they finally came, they took hundreds of captives, loading them onto their longboats and stealing them away to serve as their slaves. Lost and afraid, far from home, the captives listened to the winds but could no longer hear the song of their countrymen. The giants told them they had burned their forest, and put their people to the sword. But they were liars. When the spring winds finally blew, the elves heard the distant voices of their people, and though they couldn't talk back, they could listen - a secret that kept them warm through all the dark days of their slavery. Now, whenever the spring wind blows, they are reminded that their people are still out there. 
In time the cruel giants were overthrown, and kinder masters took over. Freed from the shackles of slavery, the elves went in search of their lost homeland, but were scattered even further by the Four Storms. Today they gather at the Pinnacles of Song to listen to the voices of their lost kinsmen - the songs, laughter, and whispered secrets of a life beyond their grasp. The winds moan weirdly as they sweep over the pinnacles' warped surfaces, amplifying the voices better than any other place. Those bold enough to live a life of hardship here can train as a song monk: contemplative warriors who seek mastery over the Four Storms. The monks learn to channel the winds over their bodies, tapping its power to perform amazing feats of physical mastery. The most powerful can even bend the spring wind to their will, tuning into its song at any time.
Every year, one of these adepts is dispatched in search of their lost homeland, guided by the Spring song. To date, none have found their way through the storms.  


  1. So, I am going to go ahead and request that you compile this "Gazetteer" when it is all done!

  2. Yes, absolutely yes!
    This is some of the most awesome stuff I have seen in the last years!

    What I really really like is that you have a very peculiar vision and style. Your posts and graphics are not mirroring other stuff.

    I'd like to see a setting book from you, and I wonder what you would do with that format.

  3. Thanks guys!

    Frothsof/Anonymous - I'm thinking about compiling the maps into monthly or bimonthly pdfs featuring different areas of the world. I probably won't have time to write much supporting text, so it'll mostly be maps!

    Greyhawk Knight - I'm really pleased you like the blog so much! Thanks for the great comments :)


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