Saturday, October 2, 2010

Planet Algol 2.0 - The Wilderness Shall Be Howling

Lately the design and writing for the Planet Algol material has taken a turn and I find myself in the position of radically revising the material. This has been the result of a combination of factors: the sessions that I've been DMing; rereading and analyzing the literature that strongly influences the material; the continuing Geoffrey McKinney influence; getting my hands on a copy of the Dictionary of Mu; and the design goal of being usable "out of the box" with minimal prep by the DM while still allowing for a wide variety of interpretations.

This particular post is regards increasing the scale of the adventure area. The original campaign map  is 24-by-16 5-mile hexes; the current map I'm working on ("Red Sands") is 50-by-30 24-mile hexes, and will be re-rendered as four 50-by-30 6-mile hexes.

The original campaign map came out as way too small in playtest; once the PCs got mounts they could zip-around. And as I had several settlements strung out along trade routes, the party could jump from fortress to town to city; swamps and mountains would take the wind out of their sails, but the wastelands were definitely not "vast."

Although my idea was to depict the center of known civilization remaining on Algol, it was too civilized; no weeks long journeys between ancient, crumbling cities. On this new map the routes between settlements ranges from being 144 miles to 480 miles of shifting dunes, aside from a mountain route of 48 miles that will take 6 days at the least.

With a much larger wilderness scale the resource management of food, water and pack animals/bearers should become a bigger part of the game. With Dune being one of my influences I certainly want water management to be an important part of many expeditions. 


  1. One of my most common mis-steps was a failure to anticipate all of the PC's methods of travel. It even showed up in tactical as opposed to strategic situations. I remember once, I had prepared a towering high pinnacle of rock with a staircase winding up the outside of it, the entire affair several hundred yards out into howling seas.

    It was highly dramatic and exciting!

    Then the mage said "I cast fly."

  2. So, should resource management be the most important part of the campaign? Please say it ain't so, I'd rather play a eurogame
    Geoffrey's Garden of the Bone Sorcerer is tiny and there is plenty of adventure in just one hex.

  3. I'm currently having the same thoughts under the Dying Sun. I think the difficulty is that IF the players are more-or-less setled int he region, then a fairly small area is awesome. Thye have base of operations and go search through each hex - once, twice, three times - looking for stuff everyone else has missed, maybe put together a coalition of villages to fight against the naughty City-State, whatever.

    BUT, if they, instead, by the fastest wheel around and head off in one direction, they are very quickly off the map.

    You can, of course, constrain the options by making transportation difficult, encircling the region with impassable moutnaisn, etc., but that can easily feel a bit contrived.

    So, should resource management be the most important part of the campaign? Please say it ain't so, I'd rather play a eurogame

    Different strokes. But if the setting is a deady wasteland, I have trouble seeing how wilderness travel wouldn't involve a healthy dose of resource management.

  4. Its fun to get a party halfway to nowhere and reveal that the supplies they bought from Mercantor Ahk'Sool are tainted.

  5. I've been doing a lot of similar thinking. I also want everything pretty spread out. I also like a little resource management. In the ME everything is tainted unless its grown or raised under ground. so you can stop and shoot a braindeer or two, but eating is risky.

    P.S. Blair, I finally got a ride to the kinkos shop and had the big drawing scanned/reduced (it was too large to do on a standard scanner or copier) and will have the two illos scanned and sent out to you by tomorrow. Sorry for the hold up.

  6. P.P.S How do I go about getting a hold of some of that giant ass hex paper you have int he pic above?

  7. @ Migellito: Haha, have a NPC steal his spellbooks!

    @ B. Portly: Not the most important, but important in the same vein as carrying a light source, tinderbox, ranged weapon and dagger. Dune, The Dying Earth, Urth, Hyboria...all the epic settings involve a lot of mileage.

    @ Matt: I think in a big map henchmen/followers make more sense. Set up an armed base camp and use it as a base of opertaions whil striking out with guards and bearers.

    @ Al: Haha, Yes! Unfortunately when I tried something like that involving a con-man selling bunk potions I totally forgot about it when months later the players used the potions.

    @ Aos: The Metal Earth is pretty big...Goddamn Fucking Big! No worries aboutthe artwork delay, this thing isn't coming out anytime soon!

    I made the graph paper in Hexgrid - and printed them out at a print shop.

  8. So that's why you said to bring "waterbags and sunscreen" tomorrow night...

  9. The more Algol the better :)

  10. I'm stoked you've got the adjacent hex maps in early production. Stoked to check them out hex by hex.

    That said...

    I have a feeling that now we're using the LotFPWFRPG encumbrance rules that we'll be a lot less excited about traveling long distances. Get used to short journeys only. Either that or drop us a few hooks involving more stillsuit technology.

  11. Ha!

    I just read your response about the con man potion seller! One of the potions was the Potion of Speed Rodan used to outrun the Talos. Good thing your memory is bong-riddled!

  12. Empire of the Petal Throne got around the scale problem by having no mounts. You have to travel everywhere by foot and slaves have to haul everything manually.

  13. FWIW, one of the coolest parts of the Algol setting is the different settlements. It'd be a shame if a massive hex map meant players didn't get to deal with the different rulers, customs, etc.

  14. @ Sean: Pack animals!

    @ Cyclopeatron: And how about those hex-sizes! That must have been a good chunk of the globe on that EPT map.

    @ Crom: It just makes for the settlements being more eccentric and arbitrary by virtue of their relative isolation.