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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Seven Voyages of Zylarthen - Review Part 4

Continuing with Volume 4 The Campaign

The first thing that he does right off the bat is dispel the "myth" promoted by the anti-DIY, anti-MIY (Do It Yourself, Make It Yourself) gatekeeper lunatics. You do not have to create an entire mapped out world with a full-blown history, mythology, culture or more fully designed up front. 

SIDE NOTE: Promotion of that "myth" is why there is a fanatical cult surrounding the religion of adventure modules. Is it wrong to use an adventure module, no it is not. Do adventure module tend to be railroads and teach that as a play style, yes they do. So if you really do not have the time to do what is spelled out in Zylarthen, then don't use one adventure module, go grab 10 or 20 (100's are out there free) rip them up a little, do a little interconnecting and destroy the railroad and give your players options.

Back to the review

The world should grow organically, nourished by actual play. C.S. Lewis described the creation of his novel Perelandra - a rich and complex work of a few hundred pages - as beginning merely with a mental picture of small islands floating on tossed seas. Far from having a complete plot and set of characters already in mind, the author discovered the story after he started writing.


There are strong parallels as he points out to campaign world building. Whether you are strapped for time or have lots of it, you can create as you go, you don't have to spend years up front, anyone can create there own campaign world on the go as they play.

The first section covers standard dungeon building with a host of little extras as he discusses building and designing the dungeon, addiing monsters and adding treasure. A multitude of useful tables to aid you with these things are provided.

I understand that supplements are planned and in progress. I would hope that one of them would go more in depth about how to design unique, interesting dungeons, that provides continual surprises for the players. He provided a lot, but it just scratches the surface of what is possible.

The next topic covered is the wilderness saying

Sooner or later the referee will want to create background maps containing mulitple dungeons, mysterious and unexplored forests and swamps, sinister strongholds of evil men and areas of relative safety such as villages, forts, towns and cities, as well as other points of interest that the players may choose to explore. The wilderness is what connects these features, but it is also, so to speak, the nourishing soil that many of them may grow out of without the direct predesign of the referee.


This "The wilderness is what connects these features, but it is also, so to speak, the nourishing soil that many of them may grow out of without the direct predesign of the referee." can't be emphazied too much IMO.

Section titled Alternate Wilderness Movement with tables.

Wilderness Wandering Monsters, the table includes 16 different terrain types, the chance of being lost using a d6 and the chance of encountering a monster using a d20. Check once per day to see if you are "lost." Wandering Monsters checked twice per day. Other issues are discussed. He goes into encounter distance and suprise considerations and a number of other issues. Then you get into a Wilderness Encounter Tables and sub-Tables. Useful, useful, useful.

Advice is given on "How to create a 'World' in under an hour" using the fantasy cartography progam Hexographer by Inkwell ideas. The mapping advice I think is quite good and would help for ideas for handdrawn maps. I have not used the program and can't speak to that. Overall a lot of good general and specific advice for map making.

There is a brief bit of advice on Finishing Touches that is well advised.

He spends a fair amount of time on the subject of monster languages and as part of that he created a list of monsters sorted by intelligence. Low, Cunning, Average, High and Genius. I would add feel free to switch this up in ways that make sense for your campaign.

There are tons of languages, I like this one

All: Native (this will be an utterly primitive, incomprehensible, alien or "lost" language, understood by no other races)


Treasure classes and distribution and then a an Appendix: Sources and Suggestions for Further Reading specific to each of all four volumes.

Thus ends my comments on this Book 4 and on this game.

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