Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Where I'm At With Galbaruc

I've been thinking a lot about my Galbaruc setting lately, which I've let lie fallow for a while now, and more significantly, writing things down.  It should be obvious, but for some reason, I have a weird reluctance to actually put this stuff in writing.  It might be tied into being indecisive in general (a long-standing character flaw) but it's something I've been growing increasingly impatient with.  As long as it's this gauzy, intangible thing floating in some rarefied brain-mist, it's not actually being explored and gamed in, which is, after all, the point.

Somewhere along the way, I got so wrapped up in the hypothetical, world-building minutiae aspect that it became the focus instead of simply making a place to play games in.  This would lead inevitably to stalling and frustration over my lack of progress.  It's the same problem I had back in school.  I'd obsess about everything so much in my head that I couldn't get anything down on paper until the last minute and I had to work my ass off through an all-nighter or two because the paper was due and the professor had already given me an extension.  Far better to get it down on paper first, warts and all, and then take the scalpel to it.

So here's where I'm at with this thing.  It's all subject to modification and revision, but at least it isn't just in my head anymore:

SYSTEM: LotFP, with house rules and add-ons liberally swiped from Small But Vicious Dog, GURPS: Goblins, A Mighty Fortress, Tales of the Grotesque and Dungeonesque.

CLASSES: Limited to (Human) Fighter, Specialist, Cleric, M-U, Dilettante (Elf stats/abilities minus the business about enhanced senses), and (Non-Human) Vat-Spawn.

ALIGNMENT:  No Alignment restrictions for any class.

GUNS?  : Wheel-lock pistols and muskets are the most advanced weapons being fielded currently, but are prohibitively expensive and not ideal for dungeon environments.  Primitive grenades are also available.  Greater destructive power = greater potential risk of horrific fuckups.  Adventurers tend to be armed and armored in archaic fashion, with heavier armor, swords more robust than are currently fashionable in most civilized places and a greater reliance of crossbows, stone bows, etc.

Basically, something like this:

Everyday clothes

Adventuring Gear

Fashion-wise, it's all over the map, a' la the Dying Earth, with an emphasis on dash and flamboyance (especially among adventurers).  There'd be lots of equipment jury-rigged for adventuring purposes -- primitive mining helmets with lanterns mounted on them, or a shallow bowl for luminescent fungus, even more primitive diving suits for exploring undersea ruins, etc.

Speaking of adventurers, I'm taking a page out of RQ's Big Rubble:  No self-respecting City-State is going to stand for hordes of violent transients descending into its ruins, vaults and caves without wanting a cut themselves.    To that end...

FREELANCE ADVENTURER LICENSES are mandatory for non-citizens (all PCs, at least at the beginning, fall into this category) wishing to explore and plunder known "dungeon areas."  Failure to produce a valid license upon request can result in fines, confiscation of goods, imprisonment, branding, and, for repeat offenders, death.  Licensed adventurers pay a 10% exit fee on any loot obtained within the Galbaruc Senate's jurisdiction.

Players should keep the following in mind:

1.  Fake licenses can be obtained, meaning that the PCs forgo taxes after expeditions, paying nothing other than a one-time forger's fee.  There is always a chance of the forgery being recognized, however.

2.  Sites unknown to the Senate and kept secret by PCs cannot be taxed.

3.  It's amazing what a little bribery can accomplish.

DUNGEONS:   I took a course in Italian Archaeology once, and one thing that kept coming up over and over again was how so many now-famous sites and artifacts were discovered completely by accident.  Workmen digging wells and channels, farmers ploughing into the tops of ancient burial mounds, etc.  In areas where there's been continuous occupation for millenia, like Rome, you've got layers and layers of forgotten sites being accidentally discovered, looted, re-buried, forgotten, rediscovered, etc,  A building is destroyed, you set to work on a new foundation, and there's a temple under your feet.

I want to go for the same sort of feel with Galbaruc.  There are still plenty of sites outside the city limits, but you've got dungeons, crypts, catacombs, and ruins beneath the still-populated urban areas.  I loved this idea when I encountered it in EPT, and I wonder why it isn't a more common approach.  The settled, civilized areas are intimately lip-locked to the weird, otherworldly ones, and both sides are engaged in frenzied tonsil hockey as adventurers venture below and the monsters from beneath find their way up to the light.

There'll be more to come, but I thought I'd get this all down while it was on my mind.  I've mapped out 4 levels of dungeon and I'm about to start stocking them with monsters.  I can't wait to roll out the welcome mat and open for business.


  1. i figure a common thing in galbaruc is "farmer plows over a dungeon entrance, is devoured by monster"

    1. Distressingly common. You could do a whole table of rural dungeon discovery mishaps.

      1. Farmer plows over a dungeon entrance, is devoured by monster.

      2. Farmer plows over dungeon entrance, is soon possessed by ancient, freshly-released evil, makes his way to the big city.

      3. Farmer enters dungeon, emerges with ancient artifact which he takes home to his farmhouse. Entire area becomes epicenter of unearthly Color Out of Space awfulness.

      4. Farmer gets hammered on scrumpy at local tavern, flaps his jaw to anyone who'll listen about the weird hole in the earth he found the other day, and how he brought back a gold coin as big across as his fist. Area soon overrun with vile murderhobos on the make.

      5. Farmer makes a drawing of the strange symbols he found on the door to the dungeon entrance, and shows it to the local priest. The priest is a secret M-U and is into all kinds of weird, horrible shit. Farmer and his family inexplicably disappear soon after, to be replaced by new tenants -- the M-U's cultist pals.

      6. Farmer's meddling releases a horde of slumbering/captive monsters who track farmer back to his village and begin systematically laying waste to the countryside

      and so on...

  2. One thing to I always keep in mind when working on world-building is that things can always be changed. I started on The World Between setting back in high school...but now only a few place-names remain; everything else is vastly different.

    Also, will your dilettante get both the fighter's increasing attack bonus and the magic-users spell progression? I actually think the elf is a bit underpowered for the XP chart in LotFP.

    1. That's something I have to keep reminding myself of over and over again. I just have this ridiculous recurring delusion that if it isn't perfect from the very beginning, it's irrevocably, fatally flawed and it wasn't worth doing in the first place.

      Re: The Dilettante: I was planning to just go by the book with that one, for simplicity's sake.

    2. You will find (or at least I find) that's it's distressingly easy to backtrack and revise even fairly significant details of the setting. The home group of the HC laughs and takes it in stride when a layer just gets totally reworked or dropped down out of the sky.

  3. Damn.

    When does ol' Manzy get to forge his adventurer's license?

    1. Hopefully by next week. I'm following Chris' lead in how he's handled the Hill Cantons -- starting out with some broad details and sketching the rest in as you go.

    2. Right on. I did so for a recent Gamma World mini-campaign, and it worked quite well.

      The adventuring opportunities are what is important - everything else can be improvised as needed.

  4. I like the idea that a dungeon could be anywhere, just waiting to be unearthed by a careless plow...