Thursday, December 27, 2012

Happenings in Hommlet

I made this very simple relationship map as a quick-and-dirty explanation of how various different people in Hommlet connect with one another. It doesn't include everyone, just everyone I thought might be interesting to put on such a map. (For example, the braumeister and cabinet-maker aren't on this map; they're just subsumed under 'Townsfolk'.)

I'm using it as a loose who-gets-involved indicator. So, if Burne gets in trouble somehow, natural responders might be the Badgers, Rufus, the clerics of Cuthbert, and the village elder (and through him the militia or other townspeople).

There are some things not shown on the map, too. For example, Black Jay is the villager whose wife and child were killed while he was away during 'the wars', which I'm spontaneously deciding means they were killed by agents of the Temple during a raid from the Moathouse while he was away - the wars being, specifically, the one of Veluna against the Temple. Thus, if he finds out the traders are active agents of the temple, he's liable to gird himself and go burn them out, by himself if he must. However, seeing these relationships mapped out visually like this does make it easier to both represent the individuals in Hommlet with better veracity and to draw up a loose timeline of happenings.

Here's what will happen in Hommlet if the PCs don't interfere somehow (say, by raiding the Moathouse):
  • The traders and their agent will continue feeding information to the Temple fairly unimpeded.
  • At the same time, the agent will try to use his inside status as a member of the laborers (not pictured, whoops!) to compromise the building of Burne's castle somehow, probably by weakening the foundations or including a backdoor somewhere.
  • Within about a month, the traders will begin recruiting bandits and river pirates as laborers to work on the castle. Once there are enough, they will start using the abandoned secret room under the inn again for covert meetings.
  • Around this time, Gundigroot will notice something fishy is going on and the druid Laroo will start spending more time in the Inn.
  • The militia will get a bit edgy as well, with all the lowbrow strangers filtering in and spending a lot of time in the Welcome Wench.
  • After another month or so, a mysterious fire will catch in the Church of St. Cuthbert, razing it with only one survivor, who dies under the ministrations of the druid after spending a few nights in a fever-dream about 'evil in the flames'.
  • The militia will institute a curfew and begin patrolling the village. Burne's Badgers will tighten security around the castle. The two will not get along.
  • Nira will pack up and leave town.
  • Spuignor will sign on with Burne.
  • Fumok will disappear (off to Nulb or the temple, I imagine)
By this point, the village is still playable, but it becomes somewhat harder. Villagers are less inclined to trust strangers, and the Temple's influence is growing faster than ever. I could go further, but I don't see the point - almost certainly, the players will do something to keep anything beyond point 2 (possibly point zero) from happening. This is just a tool to make sure the village doesn't become stale.


  1. Neat, we use to make social network maps like this when I was playing counter-insurgency open-ended wargame. I do my prep as well by thinking of what would happen if the PCs are not there to mes things up: it takes a bit more effort, but the results is much more flexible, less scripted.

    1. I actually find that preparing this way is less prep and less work. Scripting things out as 'adventure paths' takes two forms: the restrictive or the non-restrictive. The restrictive is fine if all you want to do is get together, eat pizza, and imagine little plastic men hitting other little plastic men, but it isn't great for open-ended adventuring because it isn't open-ended. (That wasn't meant as a dismissive description; sometimes you just want to play GURPS Gladiators dressed up like a fantasy game.)

      The other, non-restrictive scripts require you to attempt to try to foresee all player actions, which is a lot of work, and when you inevitably fail anyway it defaults to either the first option (for a "bad" GM) or improv. Usually ill-prepared improv under pressure.

      The Alexandrian says all this better than I have here.