The next in Ray Winninger's series of Dungeoncraft articles deals with two topics: Government and Economy. So I will now turn my eye to these arenas of development for my Icosa setting. This post will focus on the Player Character's home base and government while a future post will delve into economics.
Ray gives a nice breakdown of the possible configurations for the PC's home base as well as the format that principality's, and, by extent, the campaign at large's, governing body. According to the First Rule of Dungeoncraft, I should only develop what I need to get started. Ray goes on to say that the PCs will eventually outgrow and, therefore, move on from this locale so there is no point in putting extra effort into details.
I beg to differ on this second point based on aspects of Lamentations of the Flame Princess, the system I've chosen to run my games in Icosa. One very important aspect for both the magic-user and cleric classes is their ability to create magical items: scrolls of spells and protection, potions, wands, staves, and holy water. In order to produce these items efficiently and economically a spell caster needs access to a library or temple, respectively, of the appropriate size. Unless there is already one in the area (which there most likely will not be the case, see below) most PCs will need to build one of their own. Once built, players are reluctant to move elsewhere. For this reason I may spend a little bit more time on it to get the most bang for my buck.
Of the types of home bases Ray mentions, the one I'm choosing to go with is a somewhere between stronghold and a town. I could go with the stronghold and riff on that Keep-on-the-Borderlands-vibe that seems to run strong in those of us that first rolled dice in the module of the same name, but because I want to make it a little more substantial I'm going to beef it up.
It's a town that's seen better days. It is on the fringe of civilized lands and a shadow of it's former self. The dilapidated state of the town will be perfect for the PCs to inject some life into it with their adventures. Because things are bad now, they can only get better, right?
The town will be situated in the foothills of one the foreboding barrier peaks (wink, wink) at the northern mouth of a large lake where it narrows into a river. There will be small well-kept areas of town on either river bank and a keep in a strategic position to guard passage between river and lake. These will be surrounded by the less well-cared-for areas of town and several farms. Because the town is the gateway to the unknown and fords a river near a lake, the name will be something like Riverford, Rivergate, Gateford, Lakegate...I'll figure it out.
The town is part of a larger League of city-states. These city-states form the core of humanity in this realm. The (predominantly) human and (scattered) demi-human tribes have banded together once they threw off the chains of their former masters, the Archons, a race of nigh-immortal, chaos-worshiping sorcerers. Over the centuries since their freedom, the city-states have coalesced into three major powers: martial, clerical and scholarly/mercantile (the number 3 will be a recurring theme in this campaign).
Each of the major city-states have passed from anarchy, through monarchy into a comfortable oligarchy. This has allowed them to achieve a state of renaissance and expand their control over neighboring tribes to consolidate their power. The flavor for this form of government is certainly inspired by ancient Greece culture. I think this fact will influence many aspects of the upcoming design. For this reason I call this first realm of Icosa: Arche.
The League must work together to stave off the threats that surround them: the remnants of the power-mad Archons to the west, the barbaric tribes of Beastmen from the blasted lands to the east, and the marauding sea barons to the north. The PC's home base is on the southernmost edge of the League and staving off Archon slavers, Beastmen pillagers, and falls under the jurisdiction of the martial city-state and is therefore ruled by an appointed Marshal.*
In keeping with the Second Rule of Dungeoncraft I must now create at least one secret to go along with each of these points that I've developed. While I won't put the actual secrets here, I will say the secrets will deal with the origins of the Archons, the town, and the League.
Follow Your Bliss,
*If it seems like this came together rather quickly, it didn't. This has been percolating in the far reaches of my mind for some time now; I've finally committed to giving it form.