The next step in the campaign prep stage was establishing the PCs’ “home base.” This was a much easier phase than settling on a region in which to set the campaign—largely, because I cheated.
I’ve always enjoyed and appreciated maps, even before I discovered RPGs. One might even argue that my fascination for this hobby stems from that love. I still recall a map from the interior of some children’s book I owned that showed the protagonist’s journey through a forest, diagramed in dotted line fashion like a “Family Circus” cartoon. For me, the attraction wasn’t what adventures were documented, but what possible events might occur in the areas unvisited by the hero. Maps still have that effect on me.
The “cartographilia” has manifested in a peculiar habit of mine. I find it incredibly relaxing to sketch maps of small towns and sylvan areas, rending such landscapes in either regular or colored pencil. My mind wanders during the process, pondering who lives in these imaginary places and what life must be like for them. It’s a wonderful way to de-stress when something’s bothering me. As a result, I have a number of little maps tucked away in various stages of completion. When it’s time to introduce a new community into a game, I check this collection first to see if anything fits the bill. In this case, I had the perfect map.
Coming up with a name for the community was a quick chore. I imagined that the settlement was situated on a place where the elves and humans first came into contact, a place to trade and negotiate the accord that ultimately led to the human settlement of the outskirts of Southwood. Picturing a forest glen along a riverbank, a place where elves once danced graceful waltzes underneath a summer moon, the name “Elf Water” sprung to mind as an appropriate human-given name for that place and the community that arose on that site would share that moniker.
In the past, I’ve gone to great lengths to detail most of my home bases before play begins. The pages accompanying my old Ashabenford map is a good representation of how much effort I’d expend before the game started. But this time, going along with the “this is supposed to be fun” mantra, I whipped up just two pages of notes documenting a few important NPCs and buildings to guide me. I plan to flesh Elf Water out as future play dictates. I know who’s in charge, what temples are in town, who has their fingers in quasi-legal (or outright illegal) pies, the major wizards, and a few other colorful individuals. That’s all I needed to get things rolling.
The final step was to scan my village map and key the important buildings for the players to consult as needed. A quick trip through Photoshop and—viola!—Elf Water was ready for PC inhabitation. With plenty of space to add new material, I can get a lot of use out of this community, now and in the future.
|Yes, I know what "festhall" really means.|
That’s it for this week. There’ll be a post on Elf Water’s outskirts and some actual play reports next week as I continue to ramble on about the Realms.