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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Return to Moria: Status Report

In my last post about my upcoming Moria-based campaign I talked about the three main tasks I was pursuing at the time, character creation, mapping, and encounters. The last two weeks have seen some good progress on all three fronts (my players keep out).

Characters

All my players have now created their characters. Yes, characters, plural. Since the first session of this game is going to be a full weekend of gaming (my gaming group is 4 states away), we're setting things up to insure a couple of character deaths don't lead to excessive downtime for the players. Here's the full list of characters:

A trio from Gondor:
  • 2nd paladin Man of Gondor
  • 1st cleric Iron Hills Dwarf
  • 1st fighter/magic-user Elf of Lothlorien
War orphans from Rohan:
  • 1st fighter Man of the North
  • 2nd cleric Man of Rohan
  • 1st thief Man of the North
A pair of brothers and their shifty friend:
  • 2nd cleric Man of Gondor
  • 1st paladin Man of Gondor
  • 1st/1st fighter/thief Western Dwarf
Three strangers:
  • Man of Gondor, Ranger, 2nd Lvl
  • Hobbit, Thief, 1st Lvl
  • Iron Hills Dwarf, Cleric, 1st Lvl
Three more strangers:
  • Man of the North 2nd level magic user
  • Iron Hills Dwarf 1st level cleric
  • Elf of Lothlorien - 1st level fighter/magic user
A pair of Dwarf cousins and their chance companion:
  • Iron Hills Dwarf fighter, 2nd level
  • Iron Hills Dwarf cleric, 1st level
  • Man of the North magic user, 1st level
As expected, a solid Dwarf contingent, plus a heavy dose of clerics and fighters. Pretty typical for this group. We already have a betting pool going on which character dies first.

Mapping


I now have a near complete set of level maps for the entire dungeon. After doing rough drafts of each major level by hand I switched to using Open Office's Impress, which is theoretically presentation software, but does a very nice job of creating flow-chart style maps. Compare my lame rough draft with this close to final version.

Using Impress I've been able to color code a ton of information into the basic map. I can also jump between levels with the application's interactive features, which link slide navigation to mouse-clicks on objects.

I'm still working on naming and tweaking the level maps. I'm also adding at least two more layers of connectivity between the levels: sewers and natural waterways. Other potential links include natural unmapped caves and volcanic vents.

Next steps for mapping include descriptions of the blocked out areas of each level map. I'll be starting this process with the levels most likely to be visited, then work inward from there. The party has a few clues about various entrances into the Mines, so I'll be focusing my efforts on those levels. As I do this I'll also be sketching in sewer lines and waterways, and drawing up unique maps as needed.

Encounters

I've continued sketching out the various groups that currently inhabit the depths of Moria. I now have 20 major groups inhabiting the depths. My biggest challenge now is placing them all in some sort of reasonable fashion. There's a lot of connectivity between the Mine levels and I'm trying to lay out groups so there's some rhyme or reason to it. Some of the recent additions to the bestiary include:
  • A cult of curiously twisted Dwarves who worship at a strange stone altar dedicated to a previously unknown God.
  • The reptilian Grimmve, primitive tribal creatures who use living weapons in combat.
  • The Ettercap, my own take on the original, half-spider / half-human cross-breeds that serve one of the other groups in Moria.

All in all I'm pleased with how Moria is developing, though I find myself spending way too much time thinking about it. I've also discovered I can waste hours tweaking map layouts, something I have to put a stop to if I want to keep moving forward. There's still a ton of work to do, but I love world building, so it's all good!
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