"Black Dougal gasps 'Poison!' and falls to the floor. He looks dead."

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Northern Marches: Creating New Hareth

One of the things I am working on for my Northern Marches campaign is the small town of New Hareth that will act as the "homebase" for the characters. I have mentioned in a previous post my self-perception of not being able to functionally referee a city-based adventure and it is my intent for Northern Marches to keep New Hareth as a safe place for the characters to do other things. So what purpose will New Hareth serve?

1. Rumours
2. Provisions
3. Temples
4. Wizards
5. Hirelings
6. Lords (Barons, High Priests, etc.)
7. Lodging
8. Civilization

Many of these already have rules in B/X, and in serving my love of random stuff and gameism, I can make up some tables for the rest of it.

1. Rumours
Rumours lead to adventures. Sources of rumours are typically inns, taverns, Lords, priests, etc. New Hareth will also have a Bounty Post in the town square.
To begin with rumours will be about a couple of introductory adventures I have placed in the Northern Marches, mostly involving the recovery of treasure from somewhere.
Later I will use some random tables ala Barbarian Prince to generate some more rumours. These rumours will be about the basic ingredients that go into an adventure:
Goals + Location + Obstacles = Adventure.
Goals are easy. To begin with focus on the recovery of treasure and after a bit you can follow the players' lead. In a sandbox game the characters goals are determined by the players so developing rumours about their goals becomes a bit easier.
Locations are either specific based on what I as the Dm want - for example if I have placed a mysterious wizard I know the location. Or locations can be determined randomly - roll a d6 for direction and a dice for distance in number of hexes.
Obstacles can be determined with either a little imagination or by using encounter tables or the dungeon stocking tables.
The final question about rumours is if they are true. I will typically roll a d6: 1-3 rumour is true, 4 some of the elements of the rumour are true, 5 one of the elements of the rumour is true, 6 the rumour is completely false.

2. Provisions
I am going to handwave a bunch of this but a few tables will give a sense of a dynamic environment.
Is the item available? Assign a percentage chance based on the size of the town and what resources are like. For New Hareth, there is a base 65% chance that the item is available immediately; 66% to 80% that it will be available in 2d6 days; and 81% or greater that the item is unavailable (roll d6; 1-3 the materials are unavailable, 4-6 the craftsmen in unavailable).
The other question is what does it cost?
Roll d6: 1=80% of base cost, 2= 90% of base cost, 3-4=at base cost, 5=110% of base cost, 6= 120% of base cost
Of course, if the players want to haggle then we can RP it and make a reaction roll.

3. Temples
This will get into a whole other post I plan on making about the deities for the Northern Marches campaign. For now suffice it to say that the main religions of the Great Kingdom and the Barony of Hareth are the Holy Church of the Dragon (stolen from jrients) which is replacing the Old Faith of the Dodekatheon. I am pretty open to anything though based on how a player views his character - if he wants his fighter to be a viking I have no problem with him using Norse gods or anything else they may dream up.
For the most part Temples are used for such things as healing, removing curses and raising the dead. So we need to know the level of the clerics at the temples, their access to magic items and what they may want in return - tithes, favours, etc.

4. Wizards
As I mentioned in an earlier post, I LOVE the Moldvay-specific rules for magic-user spellbooks. This makes access to higher level magic-users very important. Access to NPC wizards is important to learn new spells, to pay to have spells cast by them, to identify magic items found and to possibly sell some of the magic items you find. You can try to buy a magic-item from him if you want but beware any wizard you may want to buy a magic item from is likely to want something other than gold in return.
So for New Hareth, I need to know who the NPC magic-users are? What is their level, alignment, motivations? What spells do they have in their spellbooks?

5. Hirelings
All of the usual places to find hirelings will be in New Hareth and postings can be put on the Bounty Post. All of the normal B/X rules apply.

6. Lords
Lords in new Hareth include the Baron, the High Priests and the mayors of the various villages. Gaining an audience will be difficult at low levels but not impossible. To make things interesting I always try to give each lord something they want that they can eventually get the PCs to aid them with and a secret that they do not want discovered.

7. Lodgings
Lodgings serves a few functions - a place to rest and heal, a place to find rumours and a place to find and put up hirelings (to keep their morale up).

When I know those seven things, I can draw a map for New Hareth and then it will be ready for players.

The eighth, is that I don't award XP until the party gets back to civilization.


  1. Any relation to the Hareth of The Companions series, or is this a totally new invention with the same name? The Companions stuff was so wonderfully detailed and inviting to set adventures in, I've always wanted to use one of the villages as a base of operations for a campaign.

    And I surely do love me some rumors...reminds me of the rumor lists in classics like B1. Nothing starts that adventuring itch like good rumors!

  2. It is a new creation but I stole the name. I am continuously stealing names from various places.

  3. As am I. My theft of maps is also approaching the level of a Brinks armed car robbery.