I've been busy working on the upcoming module The Heart of Atroxis and I've also been putting the finishing touches on the first Book of the Archon, so there hasn't been as much time for blog entries as I would like (but don't worry I have a dual review of The 14 Amazons coming up). Today I am going to briefly talk about how we begin developing a module.
Usually the idea starts at the table, with something Bill or I run. In the case of The Heart of Atroxis, it began as a campaign Bill has been running set in the far reaches of the north, where remote orc tribes are starting to rise. The Orcs in our setting are predominantly civilized, so these orcs are something of an exception. They exist on the periphery of a powerful Orc empire and until recently were of little note. About fifty years ago a local chieftain named Malka united the tribes with the support of a powerful lich god named Ozias. This religion swept over the northern Orc tribes and Malka became their king.
I think Bill was just intrigued by a society that worships a lich and is at ease with undeath so he set the campaign there. Whatever his reason, he started the campaign off with a great adventure where the party was sent by Malka to a newly discovered island with rumors of two powerful crowns buried beneath the ice. Malka had already sent men to the island in advance of us and we were to go with his daughter there to retrieve them. When we arrived we found a land inhabited by giant tribes, trolls and other nasty things. In addition to finding the crowns, we allied with some of the local giant tribes and formed an agreement with some that our king would give them land if they came and fought against the Caelum Empire. We were not authorized to make such a promise but it seemed like something Malka would approve of.
So this was the start of the module. When Bill ran it he had to decide which island on the map to use. You can see in the image above that there are quite a few options, but it was narrowed down to two.
After we had our island and after Bill ran us through the adventure, I was able to step in and contribute. Bill's original island was meant for something less extensive than what we ended up aiming for. There were kernels of everything in that first adventure but parts of it never got explored and Bill would have only developed it if we had stayed and done so.
First we took the history of the island that Bill had developed and reworked it to make sure it was as seamless with the rest of the setting as possible. We also populated the island based on the history we developed and how things had appeared in Bill's adventure.
The map above uses 100 mile hexes. We needed to get something more granular so we printed out the map with 30 mile hexes and started placing things. To the right you see an early attempt. Once we had this fleshed out, we had someone make a proper hex map for us, this time switching to 5 mile hexes (which fit our goals more).
While I can't yet show the new map, I can say it is starting to look quite nice. It is done in a traditional style and works for the exploratory nature of The Heart of Atroxis.
I don't want to give anything away, because much of the content is GM-only kind of stuff, but we are really excited about this adventure. It explores the ancient history of the setting from a completely new point of view and is shaping up to be a marvelous venue. While Bill already ran it as an adventure in our campaign, it has evolved considerably from the original idea. It also is going to require a bit of play testing.
I will share more details in the coming weeks.