Friday, December 29, 2017

Forest Castle

Still working on my Zelda-themed octet of dungeons.

I now hate everything I wrote about the Moon City.  I'm going to scrap the whole thing and start over.  I need to make the city more boring, more focused on the Moon King, and work on making the NPCs more interesting (rather than the city's districts).

Certain parts will be frankensteined elsewhere.

What This Is

I'm trying to generate content for the Forest Castle and the surrounding area.  I'm constantly rewriting stuff, so expect things to stay in a state of flux for some time.

Normally, I wouldn't publish such early stuff in a blog post, but maybe it'll be useful to see how I do things.  (Basically, come up with a heap of ideas first, and then postpone stitching them together for as long as possible.)


Still trying to decide on names.  Current favorites:

Moon City = Casmir.  Sounds like a font, which I like.  Other options are cheesy shit like Maluna (but this is Zelda, not Shakespeare, so I might go for cheesy).

Fallen City = Gafferdy.  The location of the Forest Castle.  This place was destroyed by Siege Castle.

at the Gardens of Bomarzo

Getting to Gafferdy

Probably easy.  Overgrown road.  Ivy-covered mile markers tell the distance from Gafferdy (since Gafferdy was once the largest city-state of the region until the Moon King destroyed it).

Forest dungeon is a good first dungeon.  Players are introduced to a little bit of history, shown examples of the Moon King's strange cruelty, and lots of foreshadowing for the Siege Castle.

The Siege Pit

After the Siege Castle walked to Gafferdy, it stopped a short distance away squatted onto the farmland beneath it.  While its limbs were bombarding the city of Gafferdy, its ass was busy shitting out siege tunnels while turning the excavated earth into projectiles.

The city has fallen and the Siege Castle has moved on, but the tunnels still remain.

Their nexus is the Siege Pit.  It looks a lot like a small, shitty strip mine.  A pool of poisonous brown water at the bottom.  Tunnel mouths gape over the pit.  Most of them are collapsed.

This is a microdungeon, I guess.

A scarm is just a flying scimitar, except its a much larger category that includes all tools of war, not just things that are weapons.  (The Siege Castle is full of them.)

HD AC chain  Weapon 1d6
Fly as human  Int Mor 18
*Double damage from bludgeoning.
*Cannot fly more than 10' from the ground.  More of a hover, really.

The Fallen City of Gafferdy

After he conquered it, the Moon King decided to punish the filthy tree-worshippers in the most appropriate way possible--he turned them into trees.

So it's a fallen city--a  huge ruined pile.  Roofs have collapsed and roads have split open.  The aquaducts have toppled and now streams run through the streets.  Coyotes slink out of tilted doorframes.  The buildings are covered with thick tufts of grasses and wildflowers growing from between the bricks.

And everywhere: the trees!

Picture the bodies in Pompeii, except trees.  Clustered together indoors, hugging each other.  Sagging against a wall, pierced by a sword.  Cowering in corners.  Lined up in the town square, kneeling in surrender.

They've all be reduced to wood, with the crown of their head forming the bulk of the new growth of the tree.  You have to use a little imagination to see the human shape inside the tree, but not much.

The trees all show emotion.  Some are afraid.  Some are angry.  Most are hopeless.

The Elder Trees

Gafferdy used to have four plazas.  In the center of each plaza is an ancient tree.  These are the things that they worshipped.

The Moon King ordered them all to be chopped down, uprooted, and burnt.  The first of the elder trees was destroyed in this way, but they could never locate the other three.  You'd think that it would be easy, since each was located in a large plaza, but nope.

The three surviving elder trees can only be found if you follow their song through the ruins.  Let the music be your guide.

However, each tree only sings under certain circumstances.

The West Plaza can be found from the start.  This is where the Father Tree was cut down and burnt.  If you are undead, or if you can see invisible, then you can hear the Father Tree singing.  Disembodied but not voiceless.  This will probably tie into the Skeleton castle somehow.

Also located at the West Plaza: Plague House, or possibly the Taffen House.

The East Plaza can be found by following the voice of the Mother Tree.  She only sings during weddings.  If you want to find the East Plaza, someone needs to get married.  (The Plague Spirits would love to do it.  Cholera is an ordained priest, and they have a very beautiful garden out back.)

The North Plaza can be found by following the voice of the Sister Tree.  She only sings during festivals and dances.  Specifically, you need a bonfire and at least 20 people dancing around a maypole.  Your best bet is to conscript the Taffens somehow.

The South Plaza can be found by following the voice of the Brother Tree.  He only sings when the warriors set out to war, or when they return.  He hasn't sang since the fall of Gafferdy.  He'll sing if you kill the Forest King, but only once.

There are important things at their locations.  Exactly what, I'll decide later.  Perhaps Lucky Pig Statues or Professor Vekko or whatever.  Maybe they just give you good advice about the upcoming dungeon along with a useful item.  I'll figure it out later.


Lucky Pig Statues

Here, and in other places, you will find big stone pig statues with slots in their backs.  Put enough coins inside the pig statue, and it will vomit out advice.  Or perhaps a little pink, flying pig will appear and if you successfully chase it down, it will lead you to a certain location.

I haven't really figured it out yet, but there's probably going to be 8-16 of these things scattered around the campaign.

Professor Vekko

When people in Casmir hear that you are going adventuring, they'll tell you to keep an eye out for statues of an old man bearing a lantern, riding a crocodile.  That is Othellus, a wisdom spirit who is fond of helping travelers by providing maps.

The statues are always near a body of water.

You summon him by throwing some barbecued meat into the water.  (The barbecuing is mandatory.)  When he arrives, you must give him some liquor and tobacco.  Only then will he be inclined to answer questions and provide a map of the area.

If the players do all of these things near one of Othellus' statues, they'll successfully summon a giant albino crocodile.  The giant crocodile will eat the barbecued meat, eat the barbecue, drink all of the liquor, and then eat all of the tobacco.  Only then will the giant crocodile answer questions and provide a map.

The only question he won't answer is "Where is Othellus?" That question will cause him to leave in a huff.

He functions like Tingle.  Giving the player a map helps them get a handle on a new location quickly, and all of the secret locations aren't marked, so why the hell not?

<DM Note>Yes, crocodile spirit ate Othellus.  The wisdom spirit is in his brain now and its making him crazy.  He's behaving erratically, making him refer to himself by the name Professor Vekko. (All the whiskey and tobacco probably isn't helping, either.)  He's actually more of a hybrid of the two individuals, since both spirits are melding together inside the crocodile's brain.</DM Notes>

The Taffen Family

Most of the people living in the city are members of the same family: the Taffens.

The Taffens serve a huge aspen.  Long ago, the aspen captured the family elders.  It has been holding them hostage ever since.

Basically, there's two old people trapped inside a cage made from a living tree.  The tree is sentient (like all trees) and bosses the Taffens around.  If the family doesn't perform as expected, the old people get the squeeze.

What does it want the Taffens to do?  CRIMES

That, and also plant more of its children around town, in order to increase its spy network of loyal aspen mobsters, but mostly it wants CRIMES.

So the ruins of the city are full of these similar-looking people who flinch whenever they walk past a tree and will constantly be trying to rob/scan/tattle on the party.

How Do These Trees Talk?

They creak like motherfuckers when they want to say "no".

That's about it, really.

All the trees here are capable of talking like this.  Most of them prefer to ignore you.  Who wants to spend all day talking to mammals?

The Madman

He worships the Siege Castle as a god and is building a replica in order to summon it back.  He probably wants you to go fetch cogs from the Siege Pit or something.

The trees don't kill him because they're scared of the (mostly harmless) thing he's building.

Plague House

A bunch of friendly disease spirits trying to invent a cure for themselves.  They wear cute masks and struggle with human language+culture, adorably.

They want to throw parties and invite all those delightful humans over, but their guests keep dying on them.  This makes them sad.  It was rude of the guests to die at the party, but it was also rude of them to infect their hosts.

I guess these guys are quest-givers, too?  I might have too many.

They're actually pretty powerful.  So are some of the things in their house.  If you want to loot it, good luck.

Squirrel House

The squirrels will lay a trail of acorns, hoping to entice you into the mill.  Once you get inside, they'll ambush you.  You'll probably realize that you're in trouble when you open the silo and all these human bones come spilling out, and you realize that there are now thousands of squirrels gathered on the rooftops above you.

There is no treasure here.

Low level players can easily escape by diving into the nearby stream (3' deep).

Botanical Knights of Keldoon

I don't know anything else about them except that I like the sounds of Botanical Knights.  Possibly here to buy interesting plants off of you (unless that's why the Plague House is here).

Alternatively, recovering a deserter.

Alternatively, they open a new class option.  Now you can be a botanical knight!

at the Desert de Retz

Things Yet to Come

-Getting to the Castle
-The Courtyard Meadow
-Forest Castle


  1. This series is a god-damned monument to creative campaign building. Please, for the love of Gygax, package this this up into something I can purchase and run! Much kudos! Keep em coming!

  2. Do the Botanical Knights say “NIH”?

  3. Loving this setting! Also, food for thought, Aspen trees spread by extending underground roots and then sprouting a new stem (trunk) from there. They can also be transplanted to other unconnected areas like you suggest. Because of this, a grove of Aspen is usually all one interconnected organism. There's gotta be some fun RP value to that hive mind sorta thing... again, keep up the amazing work!