I don't know if the general populace sees value in this, but Porky, Garrisonjames and me are having a great deal of fun finding out where the magic comes from, how it influences it's surroundings (be it regarding settlements, history, producing artefacts, etc.) and what signature a magic user might have (Porky's take on it is here). Garrisonjames gave some stimuli regarding Geomancy and the great movie Excalibur (among other ideas...) and I hope he will dust off this thingy he was working on! The whole story is here and some more here at Porky's Expanse!
Noircana - Fantasy Roleplaying Geomancy Toolkit (0.2)
We have no exact definition what Noircana will come to be (but I love that word). What we know is what a subsystem like this should have as a result: the origin of any magic item (invented or "official"), the background noise for the impact of magic in a D&D-mounted setting.
This is the first part of my contribution. I'll try and structure some of the ideas in a way easy to process for me. So let's connect some dots...
CSI: D&D ( you know you want it...)
This should be one possible tool for a DM to construct a setting in a way that allows him to a) randomly assign Ley Lines and Holy Sites b) have an easy reference to where a random magic item may come from c) create setting appropriate magic items (with flavour and history) d) use the result as a world engine (balance versus chaos, the eternal struggle) and e) include connectors for the characters that allow a more investigation oriented game (which is really just an expansion of the exploration-oriented game we all like to call our hobby). Something like:
|...or Hardboilded Fantasy?|
Individual signatures for everyone using magic are just the next logical step. But as mentioned before, it's only the background noise for a setting. An attempt to give the arbitrary assumptions delivered by the rules some structure and make it that much more accessible for an investigation-oriented variant of D&D (I love the fact that D&D delivers so much room for tinkering...). I'm not saying it's easy or even possible, but sometimes the road taken is more important than the destination.
Ideas, Drafts, Shenanigans
Some basics first. Years ago (no worries, I won't start telling long stories...) we started to use Mana for spells (see here). Using a fanned out approach like this, showed me one thing: there is creative leeway between a wizards brain (INT) and a spell (INT + subsystem = same amount of magic and still compatible).
So INT is a connecting factor that is already established in the rules. My first idea would be to use the character creation process as a template for regions (I'd say hexagons with 120 miles per region is big enough, isn't it?). Every ability score could be interpreted as a regional feature (with 10 being the axis):
STR - Structure of the land, 10 is the sea level here.
DEX - Is an indicator for defences, could mean creatures, could
mean lay of the land
CON - Fatness of the land, the axis is of obvious importance
INT - Centers of the Ley Lines, weak or strong
WIS - Holy significance
CHA - Beauty of the land
Old School = 3d6 in a row, please!
Now, rolling for ability scores generates a picture of a region. But there is more. Every time you roll a 6, a pair or a tripling, roll an additional d6, add the value and check Porky's d6 table (2d6 for triplets, keep rerolling 6):
Source Effect (1d6):
The already known bonuses apply, but should be open:
Bonuses and PenaltiesAlignment, Level and Class (only ideas so far)
for Ability Scores:
Alignment could easiely be climate, with chaotic being equatorial, neutral being extreme (polar) and lawful being moderate. This is of course subjective and will change as soon as history is added, but it works in between the system (for now?).
Level is the history of the land and the challenges it had to survive. This is still a sketch, but I think with merits. If you start to develop a setting from the very beginning (like I'm assuming here), your starting point defines the "Level" (that is: the stages of change). A hyperborian setting would have a pretty low starting point (1d10 per region, maybe), high fantasy would be pretty high (1d100 or even more?) with cataclysms every 10+1d10 levels (cataclym will affect all regions).
Class should be like used in the game. This is a rather abstract approach, but it translates nicely into the system. This is important because of:
A D&D group should have a balanced mix of characters. GJ mentioning Geomancy made me check Wikipedia (here) and I'll quote the passage that helped me get the concept:
"If the sum of the chart is 96, then the resolution of the query will be "swift, and neither slow nor doubtful;" in other words, that all things that could be acted upon in the situation described by the query would resolve without delay nor ahead of schedule. If the sum is less than 96, then it will resolve quickly, and in a degree proportional to the difference between 96 and the total. Conversely, if the sum is more than 96, then it will resolve slowly."
So if a region is in disorder, "balancing" the problems out helps dissolving the problem. Take the Arthurian legends, for example. The land (highly magical) is in chaos and the king and his knights (all fighters) balance this out. To make this possible, the land spawns a magical sword and quests...
Giving a region a class would then result in legends, specific magic items and folklore. And this is what we wanted to happen, right?
Ley Lines, Holy Sites (and finishing thoughts)
To assign the centers of the Ley Lines (or Holy Sites), the raw result of the 3d6 for INT (or WIS) could be used as coordinates in the hex field. It would look something like that (Sorry, I just had paper, a pencil and a glass... ah, well):
|Something like this could be part of a Region Sheet.|
To make this work, the results need to be alternating. Another roll on 1d8 should to the trick (1D8 for positive or negative coordinates: 1 x, y, z = +; 2 x, y = +, z = -; 3 x, z = +, y = -; 4 y, z = +, x = -; 5 x, y, z = -; 6 x, y = -, z = +; 7 x, z = -, y = +; 8 y, z = -, x = +).
This could work for STR, too. As soon as regions are connected, this could be a tool to create elavations like mountains randomly...
Next up will be a regions sheet.
This is not finished, but maybe it's mapping out what needs to be done to get there and where the connections between all those nice ideas are...
Some stray thoughts:
- Big Cities could be regions on their own (with a destructive effect on the region).
- I want floating islands (lawful region turned chaotic with high INT and DEX and maybe Fighter as a class)
- Porky's signatures could work with region level.