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Started by fatolaf, August 22, 2009, 01:58:12 pm
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QuoteThe Gathering Storm is officially "on the boat" and headed our way from the printers. With the campaign adventure set close at hand, I wanted to share a bit more information about Stromdorf, which is situated in arguably the rainiest place in the Empire. In an earlier diary, I shared some details about what goes in within Stromdorf's walls. In this diary, we'll take a closer look at the region around Stromdorf.The Surrounding LandsStromdorf And Its EnvironsNorth of Stromdorf lies the Reikwald, a wall of forest on the horizon. To the south lies the Fleuchtschussel, where farmers scratch a living from waterlogged lowlands and bleak hills, the Grey Mountains glowering in the distance. The closest towns are Ubersreik, forty miles west, and Auerswald, twenty five miles north, which can both be reached by road or along the River Teufel. Nuln lies about a hundred and forty miles east along a dangerous overland route.RoadsThe road from Ubersreik follows the Teufel north to Auerswald and beyond, bypassing Stormdorf. Given the unreliability of the roads, no coaching lines have regularly scheduled runs to Stromdorf. There is little traffic eastwards; the lonely road to Nuln skirts the Reikwald, stretching through the haunts of bandits, beastmen, and goblins. Few roadwardens patrol this road. South of Stromdorf, farmers are sometimes forced to use pack animals to carry their produce into market rather than wagons when the rains have turned the dirt roads to little more than muddy strips.RiversStromdorf lies near the confluence of three rivers, the wide Teufel, the angry Ober, and the lazy Tranig.Some say the Teufel's reddish tint is caused by blood flowing from a never-ending battle between dwarfs and goblins, fought at its source in the mountains near Ubersreik. It flows north passing Auerswald and Grunburg, until it hits the Reik at Castle Reikguard a little more than 100 miles from Stromdorf.A rickety bridge spans the river about a mile west of Stromdorf. A half mile to the south, the Tranig meets the Teufel near Stromdorf's Garden of Morr. The Tranig winds lazily from the foothills of the Grey Mountains. No fish live in its black depths, and it is known as Morr's Stream. Its only crossing point is at a cascade known as Frothing Ford, where boulders behind the waterfall provide stepping stones. Here the local town hero Stichelm won a famous victory against invaders.The Ober roars from a lake high in the Grey Mountains. It disappears into swampland before re-emerging as a gushing torrent a few miles east of Stromdorf, where an old wooden bridge crosses it.A Narrow BridgeMost journeys from Ubersreik are done by river, and inns dot every dozen miles or so along the Teufel. Roadwardens patrol the banks, guarding against bandits.Outlying AreasWithin Stromdorf's immediate vicinity are the mill and wharfs, the Stromdorf ferry, and the town's cemetery.The Stromdorf FerryOn the west bank of the churning Ober, just north of Stromdorf, a large raft is tethered to a wooden quay, an iron bell hanging from a post nearby. Another quay and bell are on the opposite bank. An empty ramshackle hut stands on the west bank, a rook squatting on a perch by the door, appraising visitors with beady eyes. The ferryman can usually be found drinking at the Thunderwater Inn in Stromdorf.The Mill & WharfThe mill is situated a mile north of Stromdorf, where the Ober meets the Teufel. A waterwheel turns lazily alongside an old thatched building of wood and plaster. Nearby is a stable for the mill's donkeys and a barn to store flour sacks. Eel nets hang in the water. Near the mill is a rundown wharf, which is rarely used.The Garden of MorrMorr's GardenStromdorf's cemetery, surrounded by a tall, forbidding wall, can be found where Morr's Stream meets the Teufel. It is situated far from town so that should the dead be stirred by dark magic – as it did nearly five centuries ago – the townsfolk will be safe from them.From the Reikland Gate, a narrow coffin track leads to the Garden of Morr, cutting across fields until it reaches the Tranig, which must be crossed by a small wherry. Stromdorf's dead make their last journey along this path.The cemetery attracts ferocious tempests. Local legend claims that the rain has never stopped falling over the Garden since the time of Stichelm's burial there. It is said that the gods weep inconsolably over the grave of this brave hero.LowlandsTo the south of Stromdorf, a large, low-lying flood plain nestles between the Teufel and the Ober, with the Tranig flowing slowly in-between. During the winter, the rivers regularly burst their banks, covering this plain in rich, peaty sediment. As a consequence, farmers take advantage of fertile soil throughout the rest of the year. Farmsteads dot this heavily cultivated region. East of the Tranig are fields of vegetables and cereal crops, as well as hops destined for the town's brewery.Much of the land around the Ober is unfarmable – an eerie landscape of sucking slough and twisted trees known as the Oberslecht.To the west of the Tranig, cattle graze in watermeadows, a hardy, short-horned breed inured to the wet summers and biting winters. The land rises dramatically to form the Blitzfelsen Hills, but before then, the only piece of high ground is Tempest Knap, a high mound topped by ancient ruins.The ObserslechtA great, brown morass of sharp rushes and peat moss extends for many miles southeast of Stromdorf. Clumps of stunted trees and twisted thickets rise from the swampland. The clouds gather blackly over the marshes, rain spattering the mud and lightning splitting the sky.In those rare moments when the storms abate, it is eerily quiet – no birdsong; only the low drone of the ravenous midges that swarm over the quagmire. Sometimes, at night, the silence is broken by the bark of a mysterious creature, and maybe an answering howl. There are stories of a race of wild half-men living deep in the marsh, but no one dares enter the Oberslecht to corroborate the tales.The fringes of the Oberslecht provide those living nearby with a few meagre opportunities. Peat is cut from the bog and used as fertiliser and fuel for fires. Some impoverished folk search the edge of the mire for meagre lumps of bog iron which bring in a few extra pennies at Stromdorf market. A brave few head into the Oberslecht to collect eels and other animals that live in the bog, such as frogs, snails, crayfish, and catfish, or to harvest cloudberries. Thunderwater ale includes these delicious berries in its brewing process.However, even traipsing around the fringes of the Oberslecht is not without its dangers. Areas of deep mud have sucked victims to their doom, and the mire is home to many wild animals and poisonous plants. If a person goes inexplicably missing in Stromdorf, he or she is said to have 'Married Mistress Oberslecht.'Tempest KnapThis lonely hill dominates the flat landscape all around it. About 150 feet high, crumbling stone walls and a broken pillar crown its summit. The hill seems to be a frequent target of lightning, and the hillside is slick and muddy from the unrelenting rain.Local lore speaks of the anger of the gods destroying the once-proud tower that stood on the hill, divine vengeance for the hubris of the evil sorcerer who once dwelt there. It is said that the gods still vent their fury on the ruins, hence the constant storms. The ruins have a haunted reputation, and no one dares explore them.
Quote from: Workslave on March 18, 2010, 01:39:37 pmIs this released yet? It says preorder on the shop.
QuoteAs discussed in my previous designer diary the Colleges of Magic have a significant impact on the Empire – it's a powerful cultural influence. But beyond that, magic adds a layer of fantasy and fascination to the setting. Magic and its study also lends itself to the exploration of interesting locations, peoples, and organisations.For a roleplaying game, magic provides a Game Master with a number of great adventure hooks built around these people, places, and things – even if there is no wizard character in the party. This designer diary takes a closer look at some of these points of interest, as well as includes a downloadable two page spread from one of the Winds of Magic books.Winds of MagicAltdorf, Home of the Colleges of MagicWhy is the hub of magical activity, experimentation and progress for the entire Old World, located exactly in one of its most populous cities? Do the Colleges need the common folk around? Of course not. They would much rather go about their business without the staring in the streets, and the apprentices getting beaten up by thugs, and the occasional stoning or burning. Why not build Colleges far from the madding commoners in locations steeped in the appropriate wind?Well, for sure there were ancient settlements on the site of Altdorf many years ago. It is known that dwarf fortresses were nearby and elven towers had been built there over the previous millennia. Rumours around Altdorf go so far as to hint that the Celestial College is built upon an ancient elven tower. It is academical consensus that during the War of Vengeance, battles were fought over this very scrap of land.Certainly, too, any Jade Wizard will point out that many a leyline converges upon the Jade College in the city. And it is well known, the Wind of Light which is drawn to the city and which powers the machinations of the Light College cannot be matched in intensity anywhere within a thousand miles. It is said that the Amethyst wind collects not just about the graveyards and historical catacombs of Altdorf, but also around forgotten battlefields and burial mounds much more ancient. Perhaps other Colleges have good and apparently secret reasons to base themselves here.Are the Colleges here just because Altdorf was here first, or is Altdorf itself only here because one day it would become the home of Imperial magic? That is an oft-debated topic by a number of wizards and scholars.The Colleges & the Outside WorldThe Colleges attempt to hide their interactions with the outside world to varying degrees. In general, the more it relies on the outside world, the more a College does to blur its relationships.Many local grocers and tradesmen support the Colleges, supplying them with innumerable goods and services, although many do not even realise they are doing so.A quality vintner might not realise that the Bretonnian wine he delivers regularly to a sleepy livery stable actually finds its way onto the high table of the Gold College. Or an innocent sausage maker would never dream that the blood sausage he supplies to the scriveners at the back of the Amethyst College is regularly used in some of that order's most powerful rituals.And so too, in this way, are the Colleges often visited by professionals and adventurers. A clerk requiring a signature upon a title deed might find himself at Frau von Miggins' pie shop meeting with a wizard, little knowing he is already within the College of the Celestial Order itself. Or a gang of sell-swords might return from negotiating a contract with the proprietor of a corner delicatessen, never suspecting they have been in and out of the College of Light and met with a Master Wizard.Magic LaboratoryOn the other hand, when it suits them, the Colleges make it clear where the goods and services they purchase end up. Every year the Colleges spend hundreds of gold coins on general upkeep and supplies, a good proportion of which goes to locals. So even though they are feared and not trusted, those who earn their livelihood in support of the Colleges are not so foolish enough to jeopardise such a thing.Other Points of InterestThe Winds of Magic book is full of new background information, rules, adventure ideas, and advice on integrating magic and wizards into your games. Here's a look at the content breakdown from the Table of Contents: * Chapter One: The Roots of Magic * Chapter Two: The Great Colleges * Chapter Three: College Hierarchy * Chapter Four: Exotic Magic Disciplines * Chapter Five: Expanded Magic Rules * Chapter Six: Playing a Wizard