How I Prep Part 2: Starting Town

You can find the entire “How I Prep” series here.

In Part 1, I talked about Session 0. We discussed some house rules, and I covered the Discord that I set up for sharing in game information with the players.

In Part 2 here, I will discuss my first bit of world building for this game, set on my World of Eska. Eska is based somewhat on the real world. Some possible far future/alternate timeline/multiverse version. I had decided to start this upcoming game in the equivalent of Taos, NM. I lived in Albuquerque and Santa Fe for many years, and thought there were some great areas to explore there. Pueblos, White Sands, Carlsbad Caverns, Route 66, Roswell, Los Alamos…

Starting Town

Looking for inspiration, I looked through my Blog Database. Linked in the menu For Dungeon Masters, For Players, and For Monsters. These three categories mirror the DMG, PHB, and MM, and grew from my collection of bookmarks that I featured in my old Recommended Links series. The Blog Database is by bookmarks on steroids. I read and follow a lot of blogs and YouTube channels. Whenever I come across something that I feel could be useful in my game, I add it. New monster? Magic item? Spell? There’s a page for it.

So I started looking through the Desert and Mountain pages. Clicked through all the likely locations, keeping a half dozen or so pages open for further considerations. I really liked the feel of Wolfsbane Hollow, but wanted a smaller town than the map provided, so chose Mayer’s Fort. Wanting to learn more of the secrets of Wolfsbane Hollow, I purchased the Campaign Backdrop on DriveThruRPG. I’ve purchased other Campaign Backdrops from Raging Swan Press, and highly recommend them. While the At A Glance series they do gives you a good general idea, enough to run a session on, the Backdrops really expand upon those, enough to use as a home base.

Connections

Now I had to find ways to tie my players to the town. Fenris is the son of a blacksmith, and our youngest character, so he became the local boy. He’s happy, and helpful, if a bit naive. Perfect for using to feed information to the party, but still unaware of some of the major plots. Momma Coco is a monk, so I added a monastery. The large H-shaped building against the large rock pillar at the bottom center seems like a perfect monastery. Theo is an adopted son of MC, and the Redclaw Reaper plot is of interest to him. Hom is like an aunt to Fenris, and a frequent visitor to town.

As I’ve said before, and I’ll link it again, Great DMs Steal Relentlessly. (That and other world building advice can be found in A World of Your Own page.) Steal, but put your own twist on it. Like I did by fitting Wolfsbane Hollow into the Mayer’s Fort map. I’ve also changed some of the details of the setting, like changing the ruined temple of Ignus to one of Bomus, a god written up by Theo’s player.

Bringing it Together

I don’t remember what generator I used, but I wanted a new name for the town. Wolfsbane Hollow and Mayer’s Fort weren’t doing it for me. I ended up with Roxaluna. Aha! Red Moon pairs nicely with the Redcap Reaper!

At this point I shared some images in the Discord to inspire. The rock pillars on the Mayer’s Fort map matched up in my mind with Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument.

Of course, the old pueblo in Taos itself.

I keyed up the map and added a channel for Roxaluna in my Discord, copy and pasting over player friendly descriptions for easy reference for my players. I included several possible plot hooks in these descriptions. Nothing that will impose a roadblock for anything, but enough that the players can get some reward for reading (and thus interacting) with these hooks.

I have this map uploaded to Roll20, with player tokens on it that I use when the party is in town. They get to move around to show where they are at in town, which is helpful since they often split up. Also helps to remind them of locations during play. I’ve also added in a few things in addition to the monastery. I changed Wayward Enterprises from an exploration company looking to build a bridge to a magic item shop. I used this conglomeration of two different D&D products and made it my own, as well as adding in bits for further adventures.

Discord Sessions

At this time I started bringing the party together. Fenris lives there, and Hom was visiting. Hom has ideas for making a car of some sort, so the two of them are working with Coal, Fenris’ father in the blacksmith workshop on building something. MC and Theo make the journey from Lovelace (Albuquerque) through Ogapoge (Santa Fe). I had asked the players what season we were starting in, they chose winter, so I choose the middle of Deepsnow.

I handled the journey/failed car invention stories over Discord, in small group messages. Once they all were in Roxaluna, Fenris was appointed to be MC’s and Theo’s guide in town, with MC being a candidate to join the order. I then proceeded to have the who party finally meet…in a tavern.

The players decided to start investigating the Redcap Reaper, by checking under the ruins of the Temple of Bomus, where the last stand of the Redcap Reaper against the angry mob of townsfolk with pitchforks burned the temple down. The youth of the town, Fenris included, would dare each other to go down and touch the soot-stained statue of Bomus in a chamber under the ruins. A couple of doors led from this chamber, but no one has explored further. Many strange voices could be heard, leading the town to believe the ruins were haunted…

All of the above gameplay happened in Discord, either in small group messages, or in the Gameday channel.

Coming Attractions

Next time we’ll prep for under the ruins of the Temple of Bomus!

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