Behind the Curtain: Designing Gurutama

One of my friends has an obsession with Skype chat groups. Skype lets you add people into a chat so you get a group chat.

I think most people just use that and then recreate the same group everytime they want to talk with those folks.

My group of friends creates chat groups for specific topics and then revives the chat when we want to use it again.

We’ve got a group for discussing our ongoing D&D campaign, a group for RSVPing to D&D, a group for discussing Hackmaster, another for Crusader Kings 2, another for Overwatch, and one for discussing our ongoing collaborative effort to develop Gurutama as a fun campaign setting.

We’ve been typing in the Gurutama one a lot lately, talking about things like Continue reading

Gurutama Cosmology

I’ve been doing some more work on the Gurutama campaign setting at the wiki. It’s by no means finished, but you can take a look at the site and see what we’ve accomplished so far.

Moving to the wiki has been a good thing for progress on the world. When I was posting stuff here I was the only one contributing. Makes sense, as I’m the only one with access to the content creator on this site.

On the wiki other people in my group of friends have started contributing or showed interest in contributing. We’ve had discussions that include the whole group on what articles we want to include and where we want to take those articles. Overall, the wiki has been great for the collaborative creative process I was hoping for when we set out to make Gurutama using Dawn of Worlds.

Which brings me to this post! One of the larger pages on the wiki is done, the Cosmology page.

Cosmology in the usual sense means the study of the origin of the universe. In roleplaying games it also means the origin of the gods, the gods relations to each other and the world, and where/if other dimensions exist that are accessible from the main campaign setting.

The cosmology of Gurutama is cyclical. If you’ve been following along with the timeline updates, you might’ve noticed that the Dwarves are a survivor race from the last cycle that recorded valuable information for use in future cycles in their Books.

We’ve elaborated on that concept and the cycles are now portrayed as a sort of eternal contest between four elemental gods and the god of death.

The present cycle for Gurutama has been disrupted because a sixth powerful force entered the world, Navillus. He’s disrupted everything which might spell the end of the cycles for good!

My original plan for future work on Gurutama was to have some of the articles moved here for people to look at, but that no longer makes a lot of sense. The wiki’s organization is just so much better in terms of page structure for easy reading of long articles with multiple sections (like the Cosmology article).

I’ll keep what I’ve done on Gurutama on this site posted and available for people to read, but I think all future content will be posted on the wiki.

I’ll still be doing occasional blog posts like this to call attention to the good completed pages on the wiki though!

For example, besides the completed Cosmology page, we’ve also completed good articles on The Sword of the Hero and The Great Canal. Check ’em out!

-GoCorral

Jevanicia

Jevanicia

Jevanicia was a small mining town of around 3,000 inhabitants established by Queen Anajakaze after the destruction of Tectoctar. The town was named in honor of her son, Jevaninada the Second. Jevanicia was built with military precision after scouting out a good location, both in terms of access to resources, such as the nearby mines and farm fields, and firm ground for construction of permanent buildings. In almost every way that Tectoctar was bad, Jevanicia was good.

Jevanicia was expanded from the basic plan of a military encampment. A stockade surrounded the town proper with areas marked off outside the walls for planned expansions. This blueprint gives the town decent defense capability and provides a clear layout for foreigners. Most buildings were made out of wood while permanent structures were built out of stone. The intent was to move the “temporary” structures such as the smithy and stable, to alternate locations if the town expanded in the future.

A fair amount of rice was grown in Jevanicia just as it was in Tectoctar before. Shorehorn flowers were also often used in dishes. Jevanician citizens used similar protein sources, lizards, fish, and snails, as the people of Tectoctar but with one important difference. Jevanicia was not cut off from the Xoria Empire and thus the new city had  ample access to spices to make their vile food much more palatable. Peppered snail and curried leeches are only a few of the delicacies one could’ve eaten in Jevanicia.

The new city did not serve as a refuge for exiles as Tectoctar did. Jevanicia’s primary draw was working in the mines. The city had an iron mine, a silver mine, and a stone quarry. Hundreds of tons of metal and stone were taken from the earth and sent downriver to the rest of Xoria. These raw materials were made into coins to fund the war, weapons and armor for soldiers, and keeps that protect the roads of Xoria. Unfortunately, the flow stopped recently due to an attack on the town by the Geriviar giant, Bill.

Bill believed the town was responsible for the death of his pet dog, Scruffy. He beat the buildings of the town into dust and splinters. Hundreds died in the attack in a vain effort to save their town. After Bill left Jevanicia in ruins, slavers descended on the area, capturing those who attempted to rebuild their homes. Many miners were taken captive and sold downriver. By the time the Xorian government learned of the destruction of Jevanicia it was too late to reverse the decline. No manpower could be spared to rebuild the town, so it was left abandoned.

-GoCorral

Balin’s Holt

It's hard being an anti-magic city in a high magic setting.
It’s hard being an anti-magic city in a high magic setting.

The little town of Balin’s Holt was originally a large city called Fangaroot. Fangaroot had high crop yields and was very prosperous due to the healthy silt of the Black Lake the city. A Green Dragon, Kenderax, desired all the wealth the people of Fangaroot had acquired. This Dragon organized all the Kobolds in the Kobold Lands to the north of Fangaroot. They attacked and in the process Fangaroot’s physical shell was destroyed. Kenderax was slain by the Dwarven paladin, Shalein, before the citizens of Fangaroot abandoned the city to the Kobolds and fled south to found Dalleer.

In 616 BC, 430 years after Fangaroot fell, a descendant of Shalein, named Balin, decided to reclaim the city for his family’s honor. He led a band of like minded people against the Kobolds and managed to defeat them with Balin’s magical abilities and a Halfling scouting brigade led by Terry, the accomplished rogue, who disarmed the Kobolds’ strategically placed traps.

Balin headed the council of the new city and named it after himself when the councilors rejected using Fangaroot as the name again. Balin ruled fairly for many years and he never had a serious opponent in the annual elections for head councilor. Balin developed a strong friendship with Terry; but, with Terry’s unfortunate death, Balin became a recluse. He no longer attends the council meetings and is the leader only in title. He is only seen for the hour of midnight in the Dragon’s Den pub on the south of town looking out over the lake. The pub is named Shaelin’s Glen after Balin’s ancestor. When he goes there many people ask him sage questions that only he knows the answer to. Balin is also he only person licensed to sell or buy magic items in the city, making midnight hour at the Dragon’s Den very popular for the right kind of person.

With Balin gone the council has begun to increase taxes for scientific pursuits. Arcane magic is not very well thought of in Balin’s Holt. The people there see it as only destructive. They instead hope to use nature’s normal laws instead of manipulating them to create fire or lightning. Magic is not outlawed in the city, but it is pretty close to it. Magicians are constantly watched by the Forsakers, a group of secret police who forsake magic of all kinds and in doing so gain some immunity to it. Detection spell are punished as trespassing in people’s minds. Any crime committed with magic is punished doubly than if done without magic.

In contrast, divine magic is generally accepted by the people in Balin’s Holt. It saved their ancestors from the dragon, Kenderax, and they have continued to trust completely in it. Detect spells are still not allowed by divine casters. It is believed that if evil is to be punished it must reveal itself in an obvious manner first. The temple in Balin’s Holt is large enough for two times the 6,000 people who live there and services are attended by almost everybody in the city on every holiday and full moon.

Balin’s Holt has a port on the Black Lake where trade is done with the other small towns to the north and with the large cities to the south. The lake is black because of the charcoal deposits created during the Titanomachy just upriver. This doesn’t taint the water, but instead acts as a filter for the water making it very clean. The people of Balin’s Holt are offended at the smell of most people in the rest of the world because they bath at least every three days. The charcoal also fertilizes the ground near the lake making Balin’s Holt’s crops larger and juicier than any other city’s. The specialties of the town are root vegetables and squash.

A thieves guild was formed in Balin’s Holt by Terry. It was sanctioned by the town as long as they did not steal from anybody poor, were seen while stealing, or if any tax money was taken. Since Terry’s death and Balin’s eventual departure from the council the thieves guild has become more of a scientists guild. They are no longer allowed to steal things in any way at all. The thieves now research new technologies that will benefit the public.

Many works of art are produced in Balin’s Holt. The city’s most famous piece is in the center plaza. It is a large painted marble miniature of the battle in which Kenderax was slain. The whole thing is fifty feet in diameter with each man in it being about a foot tall. Other masterpieces can be seen throughout the city and many people who wish to be artists for their trade come here to be indentured.

Posting on Cimmeria

Map of Cimmeria

For a while now I’ve been rolling the idea around in my head of posting stuff about Cimmeria, my current D&D campaign setting.

I’ve avoided it previously because I want to post stuff about Gurutama and I didn’t want it to get too confusing with two D&D campaign settings in the same place.

I’ve decided I don’t care so much anymore. I’d like to start posting stuff about my Cimmeria campaign.

I’ve been posting campaign log entries on a thread of the Order of the Stick forums for a few years now.

But there’s just this immense pile of background info that I’ve created over the years of playing in this setting. I’d like to make that available, but how do I do it?

Through posts seems the most obvious way. I think I’ll start trying to post one thing a week about Cimmeria.

I’ll mirror the blog posts with pages setup through the top bar on the webpage so the content will be easily accessible in the future.

This serves another purpose as well. While all this information has been available for my players in the past, its been a little outdated.

About 45 years have passed in my campaign setting since I originally created it, so many of the things I originally wrote are no longer accurate. This king is dead, that building burned down, that city got founded, etc.

If I update that info it will give my players access to better information. Making it available through a website instead of a single word document might also be helpful.

So… I think I’ll start this week off by going through the cities of Cimmeria in alphabetical order. First up, Balin’s Holt!

-GoCorral

An Overview of Gurutama Part 2

This maps shows the vast trade area influenced by the Merfolk in Gurutama.
This maps shows the vast trade area influenced by the Merfolk in Gurutama.

Previous: An Overview of Gurutama Part 1

The Merfolk inhabit the seas, islands, and coasts of the flat world, Gurutama. At the edge of the world the sea runs off, so the Merfolk stay in the central seas where no such threat worries them.

The Merfolk have two basic sub races within them, true Merfolk and landwalkers.

True Merfolk dwell within the sea and leave their saline environment for extended periods of time. True Merfolk speak two languages, one for the water and one for above it.

Landwalkers are a race of Merfolk that can breath air just as well as water. They seen publicly far more often than True Merfolk, leading many people to think that there is only one race of Merfolk.

Landwalkers serve as the intermediates between True Merfolk and other races. Without them it is unlikely that the Merfolk would have the significant impact on the world that they do.

The Merfolk leadership was never described in our game of Dawn of Worlds, so that remains to be written. However, we did create an active and present patron god of the Merfolk, Drolfo.

Many of the tools and skills that the Merfolk have are attributed to Drolfo. He built the Great Canal. He tamed the animals of the sea for the Merfolk. He gave them ships. He modified the True Merfolk to make the Landwalkers. Or so the stories say.

Other fantasy worlds would make these stories fact, but we prefer an open interpretation. Whoever decides to DM with those myths as plotpoints may choose which way they go. Still, the stories remain and our characters can debate about which version is true and which version is false.

Along with the Avians, the Merfolk were one of the first races to develop a civilization. The two civilizations soon came into contact and conflict.

The Avians attempted to win the conflict by building a large nest on the Lower Maw. The nest is marked on the upper left of the Lower Maw as Nanatok.

The Merfolk prayed to Drolfo and Selcatnet, the giant octopus, tore apart the nest, causing the Avians to flee.

The Merfolk used their superior knowledge of hydraulics to flood the eastern half of Rontu-Aru, creating the swamp it is today.

The Avians are a jungle people and they could not adapt to the swamps fast enough to fight back against the Merfolk.

The Merfolk won the day and the Avians have essentially be a slave race ever since. If a slave is encountered in Gurutama there is a significant chance that the slave is an Avian with clipped wings.

Recently, a resurgence of religious zealotry entered the Avian jungle. More and more crusaders for the Avian god, Izquitl, joined the fight against the Merfolk.

The Avians retook the Fluren Peninsula from the Merfolk and rechristened Tortuga as Hubru-Peche.

From Hubru-Peche, the Avians flew across the Neck to the Halusho Forest in the Lower Maw.

The Merfolk retook Tortuga, but the Avians have become a force in the world once more.

That’s about all we got on the Avians from the Dawn of Worlds game, but there’s lots more to come about the Merfolk in the Maw!

-Mister Ed

Next: An Overview of Gurutama Part 3