SDM Design – Three’s company, Four is a crowd. (3/31/2015)

Perhaps my last Google Hangout with Thor!

We’ve been doing this about once a month since last September (missing November and January due to either holidays and/or more development time needed). The calls are about 90-120 minutes long and damn…Thor is awesome.

He asks the questions that I should have been asking from the beginning. Why? How? What’s it look like? And even better he gives suggestions. Really, really, good ones. I think I’ve used 75% of his ideas, and the ones that I’ve tossed back, I’ve often still used some kernel of later on.

Today we talked about the faction motivations. The three different people on the mountain, as well as lowlanders from below. While the term “lowlander” pretty much encompasses the rest of the world, in the context of Stone Dragon Mountain lowlanders all share some important characteristics. 1) They don’t know anything about the mountain, and 2) what they do know about, they want to plunder. These defining characteristics work well for both adventurers and the salt merchants eager for Stone Dragon Mountain’s rare pink salt.

The fun tension we’ve put together is that every faction on the mountain is vying for control over the other and it’s ultimately the outsiders (player characters) that can/will tip the balance between them. And if it wasn’t the player characters (should they leave the mountain early) it would still be lowlanders that instigated tension leading to conflict… though probably not in anyone’s best interests.

But what did we actually do during this meeting?

  • Playtest question added – specifically about how usable/easy to reference the text is?
  • Discussion of wandering monsters and where to place them. There are some that can appear anywhere, some that are only outside, some only inside, and some only outside at high altitudes. That’s an interesting needle to thread.
  • NPCs motivations and activities. I’m really going for a living world here where things are in motion, but that’s hard to put into text without scripting outcomes (BAD BAD BAD). We talked a lot about what the characters in the story want from the NPCs and what do they need. What will they do to get those. This has gotta be the 5th time we’ve gone over NPCs (a talking point nearly every meeting) but it’s worth it to keep looking at the world through their eyes and bring them to life.
  • Moving some things around to remove clutter in certain locations.
  • Treasure! More treasure added!
  • A whole mess of other stuff I didn’t write down because there were changes made on the fly.

Sneak Peek – Jhala

A Sharwa woman who speaks an accented version of the common tongue and warmly greets lowlanders. She is intrigued by any stories from the lowlands and affectionate, even motherly, to adventurers.

If they inquire about guide she will shake her head solemnly and explain in a disappointed tone that her daughter is a guide, though she wishes she would give up that life and move down the mountain where it’s safer, but she is already up the mountain, leading another group.

Jhala is fond of foreign tokens and charms. She has a lacquered cherry wood humidor that preserved pipe leaf tobacco. She also wears a colorful rose quartz pendant which she frequently rubs for good luck.

Jhala is a prominent member of Sharwa and others in the camp will defer to her.

Instinct: Walk the camp every morning.