Sunday, April 18, 2021

A look into the progression of Parn, pt. 1 - The Map

My partner and I started trying to flesh out Parn in 2012. The goal was to have a persistent campaign world shared between all of our OSR games. In the first incarnation, the game was a single PC game run for my partner, who at this point played Camelia, a half-elf Bard. We generated characters, and the town, using the D&D 3.5 ruleset. 

A crudely drawn, MS Paint Parn Township

We wrote up several campaign documents at the time, from our ideas on the cosmology of Parn, to other humanoid playable races, and our goals for the game. We were (and still are) really more focused on the non-combat aspects of the game. First and foremost, interaction between characters, but also exploration, resource management, and a theme of building rather than destruction. Camelia worked quite a bit to put her adventuring money into expanding and enriching the town.


The community of Parn is a new community consisting of mostly farmers and associated trades (carpenters, blacksmiths, masons) protected by a Ranger's Guild, the <Order of the Emerald Bow.> The leader of the Ranger's guild, Quarian Gemblossom, possesses an Amulet of Proof Against Detection and Location, which protects against scrying and other location spells. Any local wizards or sorcerers think the area is barren and uninhabited by intelligent species. Parn consists of one tavern, "The Dizzy Dragon," a Ranger's guild outpost, and three emissaries of foreign trading companies. A sizable house has been built in the town by Camelia, whose operations have brought the town a recent influx of gold. Being beyond the borders of civilization, the town generated a very small amount of money, mostly being self-sufficient. Recently thousands of gold and an influx of lumber for construction have employed more carpenters in the area, and the town is poised to expand.

Parn is suited on a small hill in a temperate plain. Small dirt roads connect outlying farms to the tavern and traders on top of the hill. The weather is generally moderate. Recent snowstorms have left remnants -- small piles of snow dotting the countryside and some parts of town. Rocks and weeds dot the plains, although cleared land yields decent crops. A few miles to the south dead trees poke out of wetlands that stretch as far as the eye can see -- no villagers have explored this area, and the Rangers do not share knowledge of the surrounding world with the town. It is known that forests border Parn, but they are just out of sight. To the north the terrain gets more rocky and gradually slopes uphill towards distant snow-capped mountains jutting out of the horizon.

Population 50
Leader: unofficial Ranger's Guild Leader Quarian Gemblossom, unofficial Sheriff/Militia Captain
Level 8 Commoner x1
Level 4 Commoner x2
Level 2 Commoner x4
Level 1 Commoner x8
Level 6 Expert x1 (Potions and General Goods)
Level 3 Expert x2 (Jameon Bearcharger [Bearcharger Armory], Weapon Importers)
Level 1 Expert x4 (Blacksmith, Blacksmith, Carpenter, Carpenter)
Level 2 Barbarian x1 (Arianna Tigersoul)
Level 4 Bard x1 (Camelia)
Level 2 Cleric x1 (Dizzy Dragon Owner)
Level 1 Cleric x2 (Dizzy Dragon Owner's son and daughter)
Level 2 Druid x1 (Landscaper, terraformer, gardening consultant)
Level 1 Druid x2 (Assistants to the higher level druid)
Level 4 Fighter x1 (Militia Captain/Sheriff)
Level 2 Fighter x2 (Militia Members)
Level 1 Fighter x2 (Sons of Militia Members, farmhands)
Level 10 Ranger x1 (Quarian Gemblossom [Ranger's Guild Leader])
Level 5 Ranger x2 (Theranis Moonshadow, Rionne Moonshadow, [Rangers Guild Elites])
Level 2 Ranger x4 (Soveliss Gemblossom [son], Cheyenne Moonshadow [daughter], Petunia Starbloom [guild], Mialee Oakenheel [guild])
Level 1 Ranger x7 ( Jessica [human, guild], Dimitri [human, guild], Aust [guild], Shadeed [guild], Vanania [guild], Anastrianna [guild], Silaqui [guild])
Level 3 Rogue
Level 1 Rogue x2

Rumors and Adventures
Small bands of Goblins (3-5 to a pack) have been assaulting those who wander too far from town. Goblins had captured a local druid worker, torturing and abusing her, until they were slain by local adventurer Camelia (Bard.) Goblin incursions have mostly died down, but rumors from farmers indicate that a figure clad in black platemail and capable of using magic has been convincing nearby goblins to join his cause. They were spotted moving en masse southwards into the marshes.

Mysterious groaning sounds aroused suspicion from townsfolk, and fears of zombie incursion. Camelia's investigation found that a local woman was having a secretive relationship with a Gnoll in the woods. Upon returning to town, however, a member of the Militia on watch for the night had been bitten severely and killed by a strange beast. Fear runs through the village of zombie attack, but no zombies have surfaced.

Two orc tribes have been waging war for quite some time to the north. Orcs who seek no part in the bloodshed are migrating southwards, warning passerbys of the dangers ahead.

The townsfolk fear invasion based upon rumors of the growing power of faraway nations. It seems unlikely that any invasion will target Parn, however.

A tower of damned souls lies deep in the marsh, protected by the dead. None who enter make it out alive.

Caravan safety is a growing concern. Currently the roads seem "too safe."

Emissaries are needed to secure investors and traders for Parn's growing economy.

The Dizzy Dragon (Wealth: 20-40 gp)
A small tavern and inn (three rental rooms, one kitchen, owner's room, and the common area/bar.) The Dizzy Dragon's patrons are the farmers and tradesmen in the area. The bar serves beer brewed here in the basement called "Dragon's Drool," created from yields from nearby farms. The food menu consists of only one choice of meal per evening, usually some sort of meat (pork, lamb, or venison) with bread. The proprietor is Paul Dizzy, a level 2 cleric devoted to brewing "Dragon's Drool." Two barhands are level 1 clerics, and also study brewing; Daughter Yunalynn Dizzy and Son Otifer Dizzy. The Dizzy Dragon purchases animals caught on the hunt by the Rangers, and also purchases grains from local farmers. These patrons usually are well received and get a discount.

Numerous people come in and out of the Dizzy Dragon, some even spending most of their day there. Members of the town Militia "on patrol" will usually stop in for a few hours during their shift -- Level 4 Fighter and Captain of a Militia <Feliks The Younger>, Level 2 Fighters Boris Rockridge and Maksim Georges. A female Barbarian in hide armor (Bikini) Arianna Tigersoul (Level 2) spends most of her days here in the tavern, drinking new "Dragon's Drool" test batches, when she is not out adventuring. Four rogues can be seen here for less than an hour at a time, grabbing a quick drink before going out on another job.

A small band of thieves hide out here, Anya Kazakav is the leader. Together with her three apprentices they manage to rip off a noble in Felanecia and they are here to lay low in a place where nobody will expect them to be. The item they stole is of historical significance to the world, as it is one of the only books remaining in existence that suggests the Felaness had channeled divinity in order to enact some sort of genocide on the Dwarves.

Bearcharger Armory (Wealth: 1160 gp)
Jameon Bearcharger (male human level 3 expert) is an armorsmith and trader. He left his hometown to live on the frontier and hopefully get a prime location for a shop in a budding, prominent city. As such, he is committed to staying here for at least a few years to find out if Parn will grow into his permanent home. Jameon has struck up a deal with the local rogues to import magical armors.

Inventory: Bashing Large Wooden Shield +1 (4175 gp,) Hide Armor +1 (1165 gp,) Breastplate +1 (1350 gp,) Full Plate +1 (2650 gp)

Steel Heart (Wealth: 2315 gp)
Gracenys Arcanscape (female Elf level 3 expert) is a collector and re-seller of weaponry. She is sometimes interested in specific weapons for her own private collection. Gracenys is moderately familiar with Quarian Gemblossom, placing enough trust in him to protect her town and trade from harm. Gracenys has also struck up a deal with local rogues to import magical weapons.

Inventory: Rapier +1 (2320 gp), Keen Longsword +1 (8315 gp), Greatsword +2 (8350 gp), Two Bladed Sword +1 (2700 gp)

Gracenys and Jameon have pooled money to build two blacksmith shops that share one common wall. They have become good friends here so far, and trade tips of the profession.

Carter's Trade Goods
(Wealth: 150 gp)
Corkain Carter (female human level 6 expert) is an expert pawn-shop operator. Her only interest is making money, and generally seems to be able to get it. She imports all manner of goods from the local rogues.

Inventory: Potion of Swimming (150 gp,) Potion of Clairvoyance/Clairaudience x2 (300 gp each,) Potion of Cat's Grace (300 gp,) Potion of Ghoul's Touch (300 gp,) Nunchaku +1 (2302 gp,) Rapier +1 (2220 gp)

When we decided to open Parn up to multiple PCs at one time, we had to think of a reason for them to be there, and also what it looked like around Parn. So, much like the popular computer game Skyrim, it was decided that the PCs would start the game by being exiled to this wild land known as the Parnish Highlands, high atop a mountain, in the long-extinguished caldera of a volcano. It would be difficult for the exiles to scale the mountains and escape to other territories, and the way that they came from would be guarded by a giant wall, kind of like the wall in Game of Thrones. We needed a map, and eventually one was drawn up by local artist Jamieson McKay.

The Parn Hex Map

At some point, we also decided to rename the Parnish Highlands to the Eastern Wastelands, reflective of the disdain the western peoples had for this area. You'd be carted in through the break in the  mountains on the northwestern edge, and Parn was situated near the small outcropping of mountains and forests in the middle of the map. As we transitioned to Lamentations of the Flame Princess, weird 1600's AD earth vibe started to permeate the game world. Members of the Ranger's Guild were replaced by colonial British infantry magically whisked away to this world. Meddling wizards began to consolidate power by influencing barbarian tribes. A party of PCs accidentally unleashed some fire elementals that grew to extraordinary size, destroying nearly an entire hex of forest but eventually extinguishing it. Then, like most Lamentations PCs, they got a little too greedy. Pressed their luck versus a chamber of ghouls, over-extended, and got completely wiped. Suddenly, we were back to square one, with no living PCs to explore Parn.

Through many, many game sessions, we learned how to play our first hex-crawl. As you can see from the above map, the hexes were 24 miles wide, so about a full day's travel to get across a hex in most game systems. This very zoomed-out approach kind of left most of the hexes feeling empty and unimportant. As the PCs went on expeditions days-out from Parn without hitting other towns (because they weren't generated yet,) I began to have trouble thinking where I could add a town. I should have prepared better with a network of settlements. It worked fine for a session-by-session D&D 3.5 game, but ultimately wanted more opportunity for cultural exploration and NPC interaction. We would need a better map. A populated map, and probably one without walls keeping you inside the boundaries.

The initial idea was that Parn was in the caldera of an extinguished volcano. What if the "eastern wastes" adventuring area was instead an island located within that caldera? Turns out, such a thing exists in real life. Calderas can fill with water and become lakes, and islands can exist within them. 

Samosir Island, and the start of a new map

Finding this map was a treat, because the island looked so similar to the shape of the original eastern wastelands idea. So, we went to work on using this map for the new Parn campaign. This time, we'd have plenty of dots and trails already present, and we can focus on the landmarks and people they represent! And by 2018, we had a hex map with all of the real-life locations scrubbed off...

1 comment:

  1. Very cool, looking forward to reading more about Parn in the future!