Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Unfocused Thoughts on City States of Arklyrell

Jeff Rients, who I imagine needs know introduction, recently commented on the suitability of City States of Arklyrell as a campaign map.  One of the commenters, rorschachhamster, suggested that the setting could be in the twilight zone of a tidally locked planet in order to explain why there is so little space between the frozen north and the desert in the south.  This fired my imagination pretty much instantaneously so heres some notes on how I'd use the setting.
  • The "clear" hexes are brown, so I'd imagine they're more like Mediterranean shrubland than what I typically mean by "clear" on my maps.  That gives me kind of a Ray Harryhausen Sinbad vibe, so let's run with that.
  • I've also been watching a lot of original Trek, so I imagine that the habitable zone of the planet looks like this:
  • Since it's already tidally locked lets just say that Aklyrell is the name the inhabitants give Gliese 581 g.
  • It's unlikely that humanoid life would develop on such a planet, so maybe the inhabitants are the descendants of Earth colonists in the far distant future.  The colony probably got cut off in a style similar to Tekumel, but maybe without getting ripped out of the universe.
  • That means some of the dungeons might have ray guns.  Let's make those phasers.  In fact, let's make some of the races and monsters descendants of Federation aliens.  I wouldn't really stress it, but it'd be there.
  • The cold side of the planet would probably be called the Night Lands.  Don't know what I'd call the hot side yet.
  • I'd probably use Labyrinth Lord or BECMI for the rules with some AD&D monsters.
  • Elves can see in the dark because they come from the Nightlands.   How they exist in the extreme cold is a mystery to humans.
  • Even if I use BECMI the setting will be covered in Morlocks.
  • I'll probably use the Monster Manual II's system for random encounters over BECMI or Labyrinth Lords.  When you have that many forests in such a small area it's important that you make sure they feel different and encounter tables are a good way to do it.
  • Theres probably some non-Sinbad looking barbarians running around.  They look like this: 

  • I won't add any other settlements.  All of the humans live in fortified citadels that look like Mycenae in order to keep out the monsters (including the Rocs!).
  • I would add some monster lairs though to compliment the bigger multilevel dungeons.
  • The hexes would probably be 10 miles across, with a party able to cross three clear ones in a day.
Thats it for now.  If I think of anything else I might post it.


  1. I read a series a few years ago, something like 'Codex Alera' by the Dresden guy, that was about a Roman society in a fantasy world. A lost Roman legion had stumbled into another dimension (one with magic) and over thousands of years, humanity had built a Roman-style empire squat in the middle of a world with alien races and monsters.

    Your transplanted Greek heroes idea made me think of it - I like it as a hook for a campaign setting, and lets you rip off the real world with impunity.

  2. Sounds like a pretty boss plan to me. I'd love to see race-as-class D&D rules for Vulcans, Andorians, etc.!

  3. All of these ideas sound ace!
    Now I feel inspired to mash up loads of different rulesets and genres. :)
    (That's a really intriguing map stylistically speaking, I must take a closer look at Jeff's Gameblog post ...)

  4. The top of the map would of course be Nightside, and the bottom the Hot Pole... I'm figuring Aklyrell is tilted 'way over on its axis like Uranus, and the inhabitable slice is the 90 degree-displaced equator. Gliese 581 would hang perpetually over the horizon like an eternal July evening, and a solar god associated with it might well be assumed to be watching everyone constantly, hanging motionless over its domain.

    It is a flare star, like most red dwarfs, so the strange creatures on its surface might be attributable to mutations caused by flare radiation.

    Note, too, there's some speculation Gliese 581c could be habitable as well, meaning you'd have another whole world next door that might have a totally different ecosystem. Thus any creatures it would be hard to explain as mutants (beholders, thi-kreen, whatever) would be invaders/visitors from Planet C.

    Hell, why not a Smoke-Ring type torus of gas around the two planets, allowing flight from one to the other? You could strap a whole building to the back of a Roc and fly over to Planet C in comfort...