Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Working on an Island

I'm sort of scattered right now, trying to prepare for Friday's session, deal with work and other activities, but I have been working on my island for the Sea of Os'r.  Here are some goals I set for myself:

  • Make it kid-friendly, (even though I'm not quite sure what that would mean)
  • Make it as close to non-violent as possible
  • Make it toy-like in that it has features that can be fooled around with and players can surprise their DM (what I was shooting for with the pools of the ancients)
I couldn't sleep last night and I think I turned the corner, figured out how to accomplish some of this.  First I wanted a machine that combines animals into crazy animal mashups.  But the realization I had last night is that I have to steer very clear of creepiness here.  I don't want the Island of Dr. Moreau.  I want the tone to be a sense of wonder (imagine a dolphin crossed with a peacock, a gazelle with a chameleon).

So, the Terraces of the Teratomest (think monster alchemist) isn't about a creepy mad scientist, but an artist with animals as his medium.  Well, was, because he's passed away now and only his machines and a few of his prized possessions are left.  I sketched up two islands close to each other, I almost completed animal encounter tables, my breakthrough last night means I have an idea of how to start the dungeon.  Also I want to include a way for DMs to incorporate playdough if they want and maybe jenga, too.  I need to go buy jenga because I have no recollection of how many pulls you can make before failure becomes possible (something essential to know if you want to use it as a mechanic).


  1. That sounds really cool.

    In my mind's eye I can see the mighty Peaphins spreading their multi-colored dorsal fins above the water in a rainbow-like mating display.

    One doesn't, of course, see the Chamelazelles. They only leave footprints behind on the muddy rain-veld.

    The jenga-dough, on the other hand, is the most curious beast of all.

    I want to play!

    - Ark

  2. You should know that I shamelessly stole your Jenga idea to represent the increasing chance of mutiny in my saltbox test-run a couple of weeks ago.

  3. Thanks, Ark. Now I'm thinking a dolphin/golden pheasant cross might be more of what I'm after and a gazelle/blue-bellied lizard- its lithe body is covered in iridescent blue scales.

    Jenga-dough is just crazygonuts, I don't think I'd want to clean that up, haha.

    That's awesome Charlatan, but I can't claim the Jenga mechanic as my innovation. I think I read it on Zak's blog first. He may have encountered it in that indie game he reviewed, Dread, or independently. Cool mechanic, though.

  4. That's great! I am working on a kid friendly adventure as well. You've sparked my imagination for sure. Thanks!

  5. Sounds very cool indeed. What's the bait and where's the payoff?

    I'd love to play in one of these. As long as I had plenty of spare characters.

  6. Lynley Dodd's children's book, The Other Ark, features alligatigers, armory dilloes, kangaroosters, blunderbuss dragons, sabre-tooth mice and stretch camels with "too many humps." That last one makes me wonder what happens if you cross a camel with a camel - intensifying the characteristics of the animal rather than mashing them together..?

    What I didn't expect to find while searching that: creationists are building a Noah's Ark theme park (possibly with taxpayer money? The post actually isn't totally clear) featuring a 500' "working" wooden ark. Now that's an adventure seed for a seafaring campaign.

  7. @Johnathan: looking forward to what you come up with.

    @richard: I was actually planning on the wreck of an ark near the island. Why spare characters though? I don't forsee it being deadly, just odd. Imagine chicken-legged cows, and mouse-headed snakes, etc.

    The intensification of one type of animal is an excellent point and one I probably would have missed. I was thinking of what would happen if a player puts an animal in one chamber of the Combinator and leaves the other empty though, buwhwahwahahahaa.

  8. You know they're going to try putting themselves in the Combinator, right? What if there's a PC in each chamber?
    And does it make new creatures, or just mix up existing ones? Does the total population of creatures go up?

    Sounds really cool. I was joking about the spare characters because I was remembering how your Black Pylon adventures seemed to take quite a few PCs out of the playable pool one way or another.

  9. What if there's a PC in each chamber?

    Aach, the possibilities are endless, rulings, not rules :) Seriously though, that is exactly the kind of point in play that it might be perfect to bounce ideas off of players "what do you think it might do?" especially kids, they might think up something my ossified imagination wouldn't be able to.

    I was remembering how your Black Pylon adventures seemed to take quite a few PCs out of the playable pool

    Yeah, but they got future self replacements! ;)

  10. Quick question: What age range are you defining as "kids" for the purposes of making this island? If the range is 13-16, "kid-friendly" might be quite different from if it's 7-10.

  11. Good question, C'nor. I'll make it a new post.