I continue rushing headlong into the second year of writing Coldforged material, and this year I hope to cover enough topics in preparation to print as is possible. I hope we’re in the home stretch. I’m starting a new series here about writing adventures and trying to get the flavor of Coldforged setting to come through. Here, though it is the first draft, I look at different types of adventures, and where each one could take place.
Adventures can happen all over a given setting, and Coldforged is no different. Sometimes, adventures that run counter to the predisposition of a region, kingdom, or ancestral history can be great fun. Knowing what types of adventures work best in which setting is important to knowing what exists in each region, and how to turn those expectations sideways for your players when the time comes. rolling on the charts, as well as simply selecting, are perfectly fine methods of choosing an adventure.
While dungeons and catacombs exist nearly anywhere in the world, there is a history of building these within The Ten Kingdoms and Killbarum specifically, with the Drimmak Mountains containing lairs of richest to be located. Tyndaria has a rich history of nations that have died on its soil, from Occurians to Eshkin and Elthrim to even older civilizations lost to time. Killbarum is simply riddled with the hideaways, experimental labs, and isolated underground library of the Magus, both vile and pure. The Drimmak has a vast underground network of tunnels, catacombs, and dungeons, some explored and inhabited with others abandoned and unexplored for thousands of years. The Drimmak can be either a group of adventurers on their own or even at the behest of the Aldashiri, with the interesting possibility of a completely Aldashiri force. All of these make great, typical adventures for a gritty, fantasy setting.
There are great wilderness areas all over Tysis, and lost places full of undiscovered locations, resources, and perhaps even cultures abound. The mountains, both of Ironarm and Drimmak, are rife with possibilities, potentially hiding any number of treasures within their valleys and on the slopes of seemingly inaccessible mountains. The Gray Morass, far to the south, is extremely hard to travel through, riddled with bogs and fens, swamps and marshes, and every known and unknown wetland between. It’s an unnatural, fetid location that is difficult to explore and impossible to map.
Both Thrax and Lev are massive forests that, while populated, are much harder to traverse than the great southern forests of the Ten Kingdoms. The simple difficulty of going anywhere within Thrax leaves vast tracts of land unclaimed and unexplored, while within the Forest of Lev, the fey who live their respect the untamed and unspoiled wilds, leaving much of it pristine.
Finally, the Northern wastes, north of Levisha and the Ironarm, is a vastly unexplored and harsh wilderness. Once called Hyran, abandoned ruins abound, where no foot has likely tread in centuries.
Politics and Intrigue
People in power strive for more power, those without strive to grasp it. This is true for any civilization and culture. There are those, however, who make it an art form, to put into place complicated and tangled structures to prevent their unseen enemies from gaining ground on them. Killbarum, with the warlord’s tenuous grasps on power and mages who lost everything and seek to return, is inundated with politics and power struggles. The Ten Kingdoms, a land where nobility, family, and power are the basic foundation of the region, creating the conflict and the system that ensures it in place for hundreds of years, is also perfect for these types of adventures. Less typical, but still very reasonable, is the power struggles of the Aldashiri, who in the aftermath of their exodus are still trying to define themselves, with a King who is single-mindedly focused on vengeance and each of the once extremely powerful Orders struggling to climb to the top in the citadel and control it once again.
What happened during the mind plague and the mage purge in Killbarum has left its eternal mark on the remains of the republic. There are colleges that have locked their doors but still contain activity, and those that were burned to the ground, leaving only ephemeral traces of the magic that was once held within. The deaths of so many arcanists in so little time left broad scars across the republic, inspiring tales of mystery and bewilderment for years. There are also other places on the continent, though, that suffer mysterious and unexplained happenings. The Forest of Lev is suffering under a different plague, one which can make whole towns disappear. The Toldiri hills are the home to the Hrondring, who have multiple forms and strange rituals that could cause all variations of mysterious happenings. The northern wastes are a vast and unexplored region in itself, likely filled with the ghosts of the past and unknowable secrets simply waiting to cause problems. The Grey Morass is the home to the alien and inscrutable children of Jet, the cold and calculating lizard and amphibian folk who serve their similarly alien overlord.
Coldforged is a setting that has a dark and unforgiving past, and with that came numerous tragic events. These events continue to have repercussions to this day. Within the Forests of Lev and the old territory of the Killbaran Republic, unnatural disasters propagate with worrying regularity. Killbarum, both the main republic and it’s Northern Highlands territories, tends to suffer events more arcane in nature, whether it’s an old arcanists lab exploding, a dangerous summoned storm, or an open portal to the Realm Beyond, the remnants of the arcane disasters still linger.
To the north, the Levishan forest seems to suffer more malevolent disasters. From unheard of plagues to elemental portals and shadowy rends in the fabric of the universe, these events have repercussions far beyond the reaches of their immediate surroundings, forcing people from well beyond the region they happen into mitigating and setting right the consequences of these events.
The world of Coldforged is one where the deities influence can be a major part of the setting, though often through their agents on the world, as they are trapped in combat on the Iron Marches. The agents of the demon queen and the accursed are often attempting to bring forth death and destruction to the continent, planet, and world. These cultists are often underground, spreading in the rotten underbelly of the civilizations, preying on the weak-willed and susceptible. In the Ten Kingdoms, this is often those members of petty houses seeking to get ahead with the power and influence offered, In the Forests of Lev, those who have determined that the world that would be best destroyed in an attempt to start over with a glorious, empty wilderness, all souls sucked into the demon queen who rules from a throne built from the bones of gods. In Thrax, its violent visions of conquest and war built from the need to prove one’s power and might to those who would seek to otherwise wrest control from those in power. In Drimmak and the Grey Morass, its those creatures – Giants and the Children of Jet, who see no difference between following an accursed and a paltonarch. The power is there for those who seek it, with no need to question the source. All is drowned and all are cast down, in time.
An adventure or campaign focused on military action is likely to be placed with one of the great armies of the setting. Killbarum, for all its fractured and piecemeal present, can still muster legions of dedicated fighting soldiers, with battles fought between waring cities and individual warlords intent on conquering each other. The Ten Kingdoms themselves are constantly in conflict; Between each other, with Killbaran warlords, with their own civilians, and with Thrax beyond their territory. The military marches to war every season behind nobles seeking glory, priests in service to their visions, and mages according to the auguries. There are few places where war doesn’t reach is deadly fingers every few years.
Aldashir, within Tyndaria, is itself built on war with the giants of their home. They are mercenaries, selling their services to those who need it, both individually and as units and, rarely, as whole armies. The Aldashiri seek battle in order to hone themselves to eventually take their homeland back, and units often fight together for years. Thrax, on the other hand, raids each other with honorable, if deadly, conflict to establish their might and glory, gaining power and prestige in order to strengthen their claims to leadership and other powerful positions. These raids are considered a matter of course but have been known to swiftly escalate into warfare, with two tribes seeking the complete elimination of the other, for slights both real and perceived.
While these are the most likely adventures to be found in a given region, or inversely the best regions to place adventures, that does not mean that you cannot have Mysterious Happenings in Thrax, Political machinations in Levisha or an Unnatural disaster on the Southern Coast. These are simply ideas, combined with last week’s adventure ideas, to get the creative juices flowing. Take these as you will, and have fun.
Until next time,