Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Rough Guide to Nowhere

Tonight in the Google+ pocket universe we'll be kicking off the first session of Domain Game II, hand-powered by the increasingly wild and wooly Stormbringer hack. Group Two will be taking their own stab at lordship on October 30th. (One seat still open in each group.)

Domain Game I's foray into the brave new world of Nowhere was shrouded with a dense fog of war. The 15+ players only knew the situations of the other expeditions when they stumbled into them and forged diplomatic channels. Even then there was a fair amount of duplicity and hand-hiding (right James?).

It was immensely fun, but also incredibly difficult to maintain. Essentially, I was running multiple, simultaneous, but related campaigns—all mediated through a small mountain of paperwork (over 300 pages, by the time it just slowly slumped).And worst of all, because of that fog, I couldn't lift the window too much and share all that beautiful madness with readers of the blog.

Fortunately for lazy me, Domain Game II is much closer to the traditional play group. There will be off-season play that will be secret and individualized, but the central play arena will be a “face-to-face” with a somewhat traditional party structure.

A sneaky, shifty, look-at-the-hand-holding-the-keys emphasis on that somewhat. Technically, the face-to-face will be video-conferenced. There will also be some serious curveballs and twists: an asymmetrical array of some playing lordly characters and others playing their hanger-no's. And only like the open books of other games, some players may not be who the rest of the party thinks they are...

Not having the same limitations on reportage, readers will start to be able to check out what's happening with this experiment. Which I am duly going to start today with the first installment of the Rough Guide to Nowhere, the background material and running notes that players will have in their hot little hands (the longer, more detailed version can be downloaded in PDF form here if you are interested) .

Map of Known Lands in Nowhere

Places of Note, Installment I

“The Gate Between the Worlds” (Hex 65.62)
Mysterious black obelisksseem to be spread throughout the landscape of Nowhere. This is the only one accessible to date by the Colony, the gate leads back across the dimensional void to a remote forested area in Elsewhere (50 miles distant from closet town). Tightly-regulated, closely-supervised caravans wind their way through the gate twice a month.

Lyk Ku'tah (Hex 65.61)
The preeminent...well, the only...town and administrative center of the Colony. Close to 3,000 residents are packed into a circular crude but stone-walled and double-trenched townsite.

The High Satrapy's silver-masked eunuch-officials, bureaucrats, courtesans, popinjays, and small horde of hanger-ons and slaves manage to cling to an unusually high level of decadent (if insular and provincial) civilized luxury in the Jade Quarter.

Recent buzz in the quarter's high circles centers on leaked news from Elsewhere that transparent, orange-hued wrap-around sarongs have seemed to push out last season's more somber fashions. Gauze is indeed the new Black Toga.

Black Ziggurat (Hex 55.66)
Scouts report a massive, multi-tiered, dull-black pyramid in the ash-choked burned out southwestern verges of the Colony. Attempts to penetrate the mysteries inside have been reputedly met with quick, ignominious death. One brain-addled, burn-scarred survivor spins wild tales of brass-sided urns filled to the brim with luminescent opals and hollow-tooted demonic guardians .

But then don't all sole survivors go on in such an unbecoming manner? Really now, it's hard to find good explorer help these days. Another pinch of black lotus powder?

Ash Wastes
A burned out wasteland stretches off to the west. Grey ash piles up like snowdrifts around rows of jagged-toothed trunks. The wastes are broken up every few miles by great crude stone-blocked ruins of villages and what look to be ceremonial spaces. The Colony has had a hit-and-go running war with hooded Serpetmen bands that haunt the western portions of this area (Hex 53.65 and surrounding).

The Pasturelands (Hex 63.65 and surrounding grassland hexes)
This is a grasslands, savanna-like area thick with game especially near deep naturally occurring cenotes (sinkholes).  There is an other-worldly, mixed-matched strangeness to the local ecosystem. A number of the species seem unsettingly divergent from each other: a six-legged furry mammalian-looking herd animal here; an exotic vermillion-streaked, many eye-stalked frog beast there.

Forest of Whispers
The Colony's is bordered to the south by a thick band of mixed wood forest. In the deep, eerily quiet reaches of this forest there are dense groves of ebon black-trunked trees--some rising tall and straight over 200 feet. The deep groves are surrounded by gentle rolling ridges with broad-leafed hardwood trees that give off enormous, sweet-meated nuts the size of a child's fist.

Ferocious warbands of white-furred apes haunt these woods and make terror-producing raids every High Summer all along the southern reaches of the Colony. Nothing is known of the fates of the children carried away by the brutes.

Crater and Dome (Hex 65.68)
A recent punitive raid on a White Ape war-camp by the outgoing Southland Satrap revealed a massive crater near the banks of the river here. Even more mysterious was the gold-domed edifice at its center surrounded by a circle of fine, dark gray gravel. The dome reportedly seemed to shimmer and be almost translucent in the glare of the noon-day sun.

The party walked the perimeter of the dome and found a small metal door with a bronze-looking circular value. The space beyond was a large open space (as wide as the dome), with a smooth-bored shaft leading precipitously down, down, down. How deep remains a mystery as the first party's lacked sufficient rope to descend.

Southlands Satrapy (Hex 68.65 and 69.64)
Player starting area, a small border fiefdom ruled by that cruel, young overlord, Jeremy D. (or some other player-tyrant).

The fief's total area is 48 square miles of coastal prairie land. There are currently a mere 10 square miles of the fief under cultivation running in a roughly quarter-mile wide band along the northern banks of the narrow, shallow (and still unnamed) river that marks the southern boundary of the colony in general.


  1. "Black Ziggurat (Hex 55.66)"

    Awesome. :)

  2. @Samwise
    There just might be some yak-loving theocrats around those parts too...

  3. Heya Chris, just wanted to let you know I appreciate that you're moving forward with the Domain Game, regretful that I didn't volunteer to pick it up again but will be following along. Love the setting stuff above, keep it coming, man. Good luck with the game.

    And yes, exploring that little bit of intrigue and seeing what you would come up with in terms or rules etc... was a huge draw for me during round 1.

  4. "A bunch of wide eyed people wearing yak hair clothing come down from the hills..." :)