Our summer series continues with Week 4 of Ray Otus’s work book, The Gygax 75 Challenge. This week covers “Town Features,” including details on important NPCs and resources in the community where your campaign begins.
If you want to follow from the beginning, you can find the other weeks here:
The challenge is based on an old article by Gary Gygax about how to create a setting and get it ready for actual play with your home group in roughly 5 steps. This thread is for posting notebook photos, text in bullet points, links to markdown, etc. The informal accountability group on the NSR Discord server started the process on June 1st, 2022, so Week 4 covers progress from roughly June 22 - June 29.
If you haven’t started yet, no need to worry – some of us started a little earlier, some a little later than others. The important part is to keep a steady pace without burning out or losing your initial spark of creativity!
Gygax 75 - Week 4 - Town Features (WIP!)
- [x] Find or sketch out a city map
- [x] Name several shops where most generic items can be bought
- [x] Locate and Describe each of the following in a short sentence:
- [x] A political faction and its rival
- [x] The place where the PCs can lose all their money
- [x] A place where people gather to hear news or speak their minds
- [x] A secretive guild hall and its reputation
- [x] Best place to obtain a hot meal and clean bed (or crappy meal and flea infested pallet)
- [x] A religious center and the god(s) to which its devoted
- [x] A feature unique to this town (a view of a natural wonder, a strange clock, a healing spring, etc)
- [ ] Create 5 NPCs, each with a “DNA”
- [ ] D - Distinguishing Trait
- [ ] N - Needs the most
- [ ] A - Agenda, secret or otherwise. or Asset
- [x] + name
- Extra Credit
- [ ] Create 4-5 hirelings or specialists the characters might recruit.
- [ ] Generate 7-9 rumors that are going around town
map key and numbered locations not accurate
Magic supplies placeholder
Locations of Interest
- Reclaimers Rebout has been established in the old keep on the western side of Town as a base of operations for this region
- The Hiders a religious sect which aims to keep buried things hidden from the world
- The Glowing Ooze is the local sketchy dive bar with an active gambling scene
Hear News/Speak Freely
Secretive Guild Hall
- Reclaimers Rebout is the base of operations for The Reclaimers
- Their overall goal of expeditions and excavations of The Rend are public knowledge
- Most of the details of that goal are secret
- The Glowing Ooze is essentially the meeting location for a proto-thieves guild
- The Glass Palace is where The Hiders meet secretly
Hot meal & Bed
- Reclaimers Rebout has cheap beds and meals available in their mess hall and barracks respectively
- Sunset Inn is the attempt at refinement and luxury here on the frontier of The Rend. Expensive food and drink. Chances to run into “high class” NPCs
- Sparks Chapel is a makeshift small 1 room chapel to Our Lady of Perpetual Tears run by Comrade Sparks
Unique to Town feature
- The Glass Palace the ruins of a building made of colored glass. Certain times of day in certain times of year, sunlight reflects off The Palace to turn the town into a kaleidoscopic landscape
- Is used as a clock in town
- Sigra Bartender The Glowing Ooze
- Winfre Innkeeper Sunset Inn
- Rannulfus Volusus Leader of The Reclaimers
- Sidur Leader of The Hiders
- Comrade Sparks runs Sparks Chapel
Week 4: Town Details
• Find or sketch a map
• Create shops for generic equipment
• Locate and describe the following
° A political faction and it’s rival
° A place for character’s to lose their money
° A place where people gather to hear news and speak their minds
° Secretive guild hall and its reputation
° The best place for a meal and a bed
° A religious center and the deities it’s dedicated to
° A unique feature of the town
• 5 NPC’s with a “DNA”
• 4-5 Hirelings and Specialists
• 7 to 9 rumors
• ‘The Hammer of Heaven’. Weapon shop ran by a pair of brothers. Supplies most of the town guards.
• Grel. Not an official shop, but rather a person. This old Tsuurik warrior makes sturdy armor at reasonable prices.
• ‘Szaren’s Stupendous Steeds’. Ran by a former warflock leader, this stable claims to have the finest steeds in the city ranging from agile Terrorbirds to hulking Merrik beetles.
• ‘Last Chance Supplies’. A general store near the north gate. The last place to get supplies on the way to Aelin or the Screaming Sands
• Sha’ir Telmer’s Keep- home of the leader of Rudain. This imposing structure looms over the center of the city. The Sha’ir and the local Zarunite temple have an uneasy alliance, but tensions are growing as the Zarunite’s influence grows.
• Temple of Zaru- pyramid shaped structure in the southeast quadrant of the city. Honors Zaru Nol, Lord of Metal, and his brother Sol Kotar, Mind of Heaven.
• The Hall of Blood- part restaurant and part gladiatorial arena. Very popular among both high and low class citizens. Betting on the matches can be very lucrative.
• Lohatel Square- a wide open area in front of the Keep. Sometimes houses an open air market. Poets and entertainers often perform here in the evenings and most news passes through here.
• Hall of Spiders- home of the journalism guild. They have a reputation as being spies.
• Mata’s Inn- a small rest stop near the east gate. The owner adamantly maintains neutrality in her establishment. Violaters of this peace may find themselves missing appendages. Home to the best kebabs in the city.
• Garden of Glass- an open air exhibit of beautifully crafted glass sculptures on the west side of the city.
• Dolbrok, Captain of Telmer’s Guard. This burly man has a ragged chunk bitten out of his lip from an encounter with Rhokar raiders. He needs more money to support his family and secretly hopes that Telmer will name him heir.
• High Priest Kellos. This middle aged woman has a crystal eye and metal replacing half of her face. She needs to turn some of the guard to her side and wants more control over Rudain.
• Tchal, proprietor of the Hall of Blood. This 5 eyed Rhokar dresses in ostentatious silks. He needs the guard to stop sniffing around his business and wants his gladiators to provide security for the city.
• Kanja, head journalist. A tall woman missing two fingers on her right hand. She needs big stories and wants to expose the truth no matter the cost.
• Mata, innkeeper. An older woman with grey hair and a several scars. She needs to maintain her neutral status and wants enough money to retire.
• Dolbrok’s wife is the lost daughter of the Sha’ir.
• There is a Casket of the Ancients under the temple
• Tchal supplies soldiers to the Zarunite’s
• The Spiders are a group of assassins and spies that want to destabilize the city
• Mata is the killer of Khagan Odan, former ruler of Aratec.
• Eldra and Arden, owners of the ‘Hammer of Heaven’, are refugees from Aratec fleeing the new Khagan.
• Grel is the last of his tribe and once killed a half dozen Rhokar with his bare hands.
• Savoi. This scrawny Vrosh brags about being the best tracker in Rudain. He’ll sell his services to the highest bidder and guide them through the wastes. He demands high prices to support his children and wants to find steady work so that they will be taken care of.
• Cyka. This quiet Rhokar is a gladiator deeply in debt to Tchal. If her debt was cleared she could provide extra muscle to her helpers.
• Adan the Swift. A “second story man” as he styles himself. This short human has an overinflated ego, but his work speaks for itself. He can crack most locks and disarm most traps. He wants fame and riches.
• Dryda. A Priestess of Zaru Nol. This woman has had much of her body replaced with cybernetics and wields strange magics. She seeks the knowledge of the ancients and will accept artifacts as payment for her services.
Week 4: The Town
This week is getting posted before Week 3, because the point of this challenge is to create something for your own usage. The notes I have from Week 3 are done in pencil and unreadable no matter how I try to photograph them so that post will have to wait until I’ve recreated them dungeon diagram digitally.
I knocked this prompt out in a day. Typically I don’t go into this much detail for “starting towns” and when I do, I end up going into too much detail and creating an urban adventure. 90% of the reason I was able to complete this so quickly is because I had a map to start with. Since I knew that I wanted Goron City to be set in a sinkhole, I used the map from Beak Feather & Bone, quickly dropped a “dirt” color on the ground layer, and started labeling buildings. I don’t know if it’s because the source material is a bit goofy, or if it’s specifically because all of the NPCs were Gorons, but I had a lot of fun making this.
I didn’t do any rumors yet, because I don’t know enough about the dungeon to generate them. If I were to spend more time on this, like an entire week instead of a single day, I’d definitely be adding more info on some of the sites in the overland that I don’t know too much about at this point, as well as fleshing out either The Roadhouse or The Millworks.
Without further ado, here’s my notes for Week 4:
Built out of a sinkhole on the western side of the Gataga mountain range, this is the ancestral home of the Gorons. As is the case with most Goron construction, buildings are carved out of the rock face or constructed of simple stacked boulders. There are a number of more modern crudely-wrought iron constructions as well, most notably the series of elevators, funiculars, and minecarts that the Gorons use to ascend and descend the tiers. It is incredibly hot here, and only gets hotter the deeper you descend into the pit. As such, the Goron use very little in the way of flammable materials, and you’ll be hard to spot a cloth banner or wood signpost. Social stratification, what little there is in Goron society, is on display here, with the eldest and most respected members of the city living in the bottom of the pit, where it is the warmest.
Gataga Pass Funicular
- Main entrance into the city
- Stops at the first tier, which is typically the last survivable level for non-Gorons who are susceptible to the intense heat here.
- Managed and operated by the Liftman’s Guild, who also operate a small stall selling Fire Resistance Potions here for non-Gorons looking to stay.
Goron Mining & Exports Co.
- Head of trade with other communities
- Most concerned with what happens outside Goron society, in contrast to typical Goron disposition
- DonGoro, leader/CEO. Wasteful but Honest.
- Needs: a new, safer route out of the crater for trade
- Agenda: get more lazy Gorons to work!!
Belching Boulder Boarding House
- The local watering hole; the best place for conversation amongst Gorons
- Serves human drinks as well
- Known outside of Goron City for their seared steaks, which are cooked right on the volcanic rock
- Centered around a large boulder that is an active magma vent, intermittently belching new lava into the central pool.
- Gorons come here to drink MagMead, the lava from this “tap”
- They say that the boulder filter adds a certain flavor that can’t be found elsewhere
- Whether or not it is actually alcoholic is the subject of much debate amongst Royal Scholars
- Offers beds for the night for both Gorons and humans.
- Gorons sleep on beds of hot coals
- Humans are offered a rock slab that has been carefully polished to a slight smooth bowl.
- Ash is piled in as bedding
- A number of Gorons live here, and its the best place to find Hirelings
- GorPachi, head chef. Chipped Nose, Booming speech. Matty Matheson if he were a Goron.
- Needs: a new shipment of steak spices from the Desert Traders.
- Agenda: Make a more portable meal for the miners
Liftman’s Guild Hall
- The Liftman operate all of the elevators, funiculars, and minecarts used to get around Goron City
- A Liftman is undeniably the best source of rumors and hearsay.
- No-one knows how to become a Liftman, and no Liftman has ever quit.
- Either the job is that good or something is keeping them there.
- Menon, Wiry frame… for a Goron.
- Needs: An in with the elder council
- Agenda: control all information in the city
- Sells everything off of the Bomb Shop item list
- Also sells kegs of individual bomb-making components to wholesale buyers
- Used to sell Bomb Bags before the supply of Dodongo Hides ran out
- Bumo, Painted patterns on chest and arms depict explosive warning signs and pyroclastic eruptions
- Needs: Dodongo Stomach for a new Fire-Resistant Tunic concept
- Agenda: Make enough contacts outside the region to open a franchise
- Sumo wrestling dojo and arena
- Gambiling on tournaments is the main attraction here
- Named after legendary sumo wrestler and martyr-leader Kado
- Tankobi, current champion, has a residence here
- Rock garden of Gorons who have passed on
- The Gorons practice ancestor worship, and as such this place is the most sacred and respected location in all of Goron culture
- Large rock statues of past Goron leaders are carved into the back wall, above the Elder Cairn, a stack of their bodies.
- Romik, elderly Goron, gives off a serene atmosphere.
- Needs: a protege
- Agenda: pass on the stories and names of the dead
- Home and workshop of the best blacksmith in all of Goron culture, arguably the best in all the land
- Can make any weapon for you… for the right price
- Dorogon, covered in Tattoos, extremely Humble and Courteous
- Needs: Special mineral dust to make magic weapons
- Agenda: invent a new hammer for extracting rock
- Works with the GM&E, co. when convenient, but doesn’t have any opinions on the matter
- Home and Seat of the Elder Council, the de facto leaders of the Gorons
- Needs: to come to a decision on whether to evacuate or shelter in place
- Agenda: maintain the sovereignty and wellbeing of the Goron people
- GorPachi, DonGoro, and KaKugro make up the current council.
- Former members GanLolu and DuMaku are thought to be lost after leaving to investigate the eruptions
- They took Death’s Trail x Weeks ago and were last seen on the ridge line x+2 days ago.
- Currently the hall is full of the overlapping arguments of many Gorons concerned with the recent eruptions and the missing councilmen.
Hirelings (Who’s currently staying at the Belching Boulder Boarding House?)
- Drinks here nightly but has a residence in Kado Hall so long as he remains the champion
- Skill: Champion Wrestler and excellent Porter.
- City Boy; doesn’t know the mountains very well
- Burly, even by Goron standards. Dual-colored skin, like Diorite
- Always wears his ceremonial sumo garb no matter the occasion
- Needs: a strong leader or else he’ll get too Arrogant
- Agenda: Constantly push his training to maintain champion status at Kado Hall
- Goron Miner, permanent resident of the boarding house, and older brother of Nekokbe
- Skill: Knows the mines better than anyone
- Extremely Cautious, currently holed up in the boarding house until the mountain calms down
- Needs: For someone to go into the collapsed shaft in Kado Tunnel and retrieve his Lucky Pickaxe
- The pickaxe isn’t special, but it holds sentimental value
- Agenda: Make an honest living and be a good role model for Neko
- Goron child, lives here with his older brother Dom-eh
- “The Big Brothers won’t let me drink the MagMead yet!”
- Birthmark in the shape of a walnut on his chest
- No matter how much Dom-eh tries, his clothes are perpetually stained
- no-one knows where the stains come from and Neko’s story changes every time.
- Honest but always rambles in run-on sentences
- Knows how to get to the entrance to the Fire Temple in Geho Gorge but “Dom-eh won’t let me play there when The Five Brothers are angry”
- Goron miner who works in the West Mine. He’s lived in the boarding house for the last 2 years.
- Undersized clothes cling to his rugged physique. Wears a helmet 4 sizes too small for his head
- Skill: used to be an Adventurer exploring all of the mountain ranges in the land
- Needs: to scratch the adventuring itch
- Agenda: Retire in safety
- Human Mountaineer and Prospector, renting a room here for the last month
- Poses as a geologist and volcanist but is actually incredibly greedy, searching for gems
- Burly, looks like the Hiker Pokemon Trainer.
- Needs: Someone willing to accompany him along Gataga Pass
- Agenda: Steal the ore and gem mining trade from the Gorons
Ok. I half-assed this a little. Just spent a few hours on it today (outside of trying to get the Midjourney AI to do some of the work for me, haha). To be fair, I was at a business conference all week and I am fairly high up in the software company that ran it. Also I caught COVID and have been a little bit down (not too bad) for the last few days. So here is my sketched out ideas on the “town” of Into the Yellow Planet.
Into the Yellow Planet
Week 4: Town
Name the places where equipment can be found/bought
The advantage of a ship is that it has to carry everything with/on it. So this part was kind of easy.
- Stores (1) for linens, general use items, cleaning supplies, etc.
- Stores (2) for dry goods and emergency equipment, ammunition, etc.
- Pantries for food
- Machine Shop for tools, raw materials
- Weapons Locker for … uh … weapons
- Exploration Room for protective suits, shovels, ropes, gen. “adventuring” gear.
- Various other items as makes sense (chairs in Dining Hall, matches in parlor, pinups in crew quarters…)
Locate five+ …
Again, surprisingly easy because of the nature of the ship. But I could have put more effort in for sure.
- Political faction and rival - captain is a true explorer at heart, but his crew (led by the first mate) are commercial driven. In fact, the first mate is controlled by a Bastion enterprise that wants control of the ship. Any “accident” or disgrace that befalls the captain would likely put the Provident in the hands of the company. The captain is only vaguely aware that something seems off about the first mate and considers the man to be “a bit greedy is all, but otherwise a stalwart fellow with a fine brow and singular powers of concentration.”
- Where characters can lose their money - gambling in the crew’s mess or drawing rooms
- Where people gather to hear news or speak their mind - observation deck, perambulatory, drawing rooms (for secretive stuff)
- Place for hot meal/beds - lots of staterooms, dining hall, kitchen
- Secretive guild hall / Religious center - three star cultists are on board. They meet and have services in one of the deluxe staterooms. It comes off to others as some rather inappropriate socializing/partying.
- Natural wonder - the engines, no one but the captain and his right hand man, chief engineer Morely, understand how to make them work. Neither really understands how they work (only how to make them go). Huge, copper (?) tanks, pressure gauges, levers, steam vents, purple particles floating in the air - barely perceptible. Translucent dome with cascading lights inside.
Create 5 NPCs
Actually I intend to create the full crew and some of the passengers. But I’ll just use these:
- NPCs (see generators above)
- The yellow planet is yellow because it is covered in streams of gold!
- Zeddic Curlew holds unsound hours and several women passengers have been seen hanging out near his rather posh stateroom at unseemly hours.
- The ship’s water tanks are running dangerously low. That’s why the captain has us on rations!
- The fellow with the unusual moustache is an assassin, fleeing the law
- Descriptions … will have to wait, but honestly I feel like one could easily wing Victorian style rooms. The trick will be making them a bit weird. Who built this ship? I still don’t know.
Part of me is in “re-think” mode right now. I think I got off the rails somewhere and making this TOO odd, too silly. I want to, when I revise, dial it back in some and make it more subtle and nefarious and just weird (not gonzo or always bizarre).
Some Midjorney stuff, related:
Reworked that first image slightly on my iPad to scale down the figure and outline the front of the ship better. It’s almost perfect now, for my tastes. Not sure what the story is tho. Are they hovering over a sentient lake-moon (ala Solaris) while staring through the phlogiston up at the yellow planet?
Is that your map? Killer!
No, no, haha. If only I had that much artistic talent. This is the map from a map-labeling/world building game called Beak, Feather, and Bone. All I did was a quick recolor of the base layer in GIMP, followed by basic labeling and cropping it to size.