Thursday, August 2, 2018

The Village of Fishtown

I wrote this town as a starting point for my group of new players. I used to live in Fishtown when I lived in Philadelphia and this place is dedicated to it. It's meant to be a simple sandbox village that's not too big and only dangerous if the players get into big trouble. I sort of intended it to be fun for only a session or two, and eventually less engaging and not very lucrative, so there's good reason to get out into the world. However, my players are obsessed with this place and honestly so am I, so I'm building in ways to change and expand it as time goes on.

I present to you...

THE VILLAGE OF FISHTOWN

The squares are buildings.

The BLACK TREES cluster closely to the edges of the stone city. The trees press against the outermost houses as if trying to get in. Here it is only day-time for SIX HOURS A DAY, and when the sun rises it is a WAN WHITE, but warm. Everywhere under the stone eaves and stone cobbling and sitting upon stone benches and upon the edges of the fountains and perched on the rooftops are the CATS. They live among the people and say nothing — they keep their own secrets.


These are only a small population, the forest is well known for the cats. In the forest they are as common as squirrels and birds, of which there are now few. There are rumors of LUCKY CATS, cats made of SILVER AND GOLD, cats that can FLY, cats that can SEE THE FUTURE. It is thought the Forest of Cats used to hold a city, before the forest overtook it, and the only remnants of the city are its population of cats, and the ruins which still lie under the trees. 

PLACES

CONVENIENCE STORE: POLLIS MUDGROT bent, old, numb, a smoker, sells gum, candy, liquor, beef jerky, cigarettes. 2 cats: OIL (orange) and MARGARET (fat). 4 old ice-cream sandwiches in parchment paper, 10g each.

“MY SON WENT WALKING TO CASTLE HEXX TO BECOME A PORTER. IS HE WELL, I WONDER?”

PAWN SHOP: TENNRIS RILYA, 1 white cat named CHORT. Tennris can buy treasure and other random junk players might recover from dungeons, almost no questions asked.

THRIFT STORE: TONRUX BELTON, an older gentleman, grey-haired, a little sad. Imagine the sort of guy who used to work at a small town video store. He lives over his thrift store and owns 4 cats: 2 greys, a black, and a siamese.

INN:THE DIRTY DOZEN” Proprietor CORNTER YUN. This place is a little nice. Rooms are 1g a night, and 1g can get you 5 beers. Here they are fond of a dice-game called ROLLING ROCKS, the point is to match 6s and 2s. 2 cats: HATHBORN and TULCH.

CORNTER YUN: “I MET A CAT CATCHER WHO FELL INTO THE WET WELL AND SAID THERE WAS A HOUSE DOWN THERE. HE WENT INTO THE WOODS AND NEVER CAME BACK.”

Staying here is a rich novelist from Castle Vortaric, BLENSOME OTE. Every day he doesn’t write, an imp comes through his window and scratches him horribly. He put this curse on himself.

WEST BAR: “THE WET WELL.” Bartender VINX OLTOON is pouring heavy. This is a dive bar with a fine back patio. There is a ruined car back here but no one knows what it is. 1g gets you 10 beers. Bands play here on the weekend. Prominent corner table with lamp. 4 cats: BORT, JULIUS, ASHLEY, and CRAB, who always has a real crab riding on his back. Dinner: sausages, mushrooms.

“I SURE DO LOVE MADISON (co-owner of EAST BAR), BUT I WISH SHE LOVED ME BACK. I WOULD DO ANYTHING TO MAKE HER LOVE ME.”

In bathroom: graffiti contains spell of ENLARGE, BUT NOW YOU’RE BLUE.

EAST BAR: “WET BAR” Proprietors KORCHULA LOGAIN and MADISON LANK. 1g will get you 1 drink or 2 beers. A fancy bar. No back lounge. Mounted on wall is leopard fighting snake, hidden inside leopard is gem worth 100g which if dropped into water turns it to glass (10’ cube).  Aquarium holds SEA CUCUMBERS. 3 cats.

CHEESE: ARJAX DROPE sells all manner of cheese. No cats, the man likes dogs.

HOSTEL: VACKNEY MORRIS, a cruel man, is mean to people he befriends. A bed is 2sp a night, but you’re in a room with 4-8 other people. 1 calico cat: PLATOON.

Staying here are a party of 4 CAT-CATCHERS from CASTLE VORTARIC. ANDU, CRAFF, OLGA, and BENTON. They have caught 8 cats, and need to catch 8 more before they can return to the castle. News of them has spread among the cats, and no cat will appear in sight of them. There are 4 of them, all 1st level thieves armed with nets and loop staffs. Every day they go out into the forest and return with d4-1 cats.

“I HEARD THERE IS A SILVER CAT THAT LIVES BY A HEART-SHAPED POND TO THE EAST. I WOULD LIKE TO CATCH IT.” 

The heart-shaped pond is to the east half a days travel. It is surrounded by blue frogs. The silver cat appears only at sunset, as if materialized from air, to hunt the frogs and drink from the pond. It is a familiar to the witch Malice Astarion, who lives in an invisible palace carved frozen night, far to the south east.

The Cat Seeketh: HP 12, AC 14, Dex +6. May jump 30 feet. If anyone touches the cat, they are stuck to it, and then infinite skin chain with permanent duration. Arrows that strike it turn to flowers. 2 attacks: Claw/claw +4/+4 1d4/1d4. If it is stolen, Malice Astarion and her other familiars will seek it relentlessly.

After 4 days the cat-catchers will be attacked by 3 evil panther sisters, and only ANDU will return with his life.

WET WELL: 40’ down is water. Under the water is a wooden door emblazoned with a rose and skull. The door seems stuck, but if you open it (STR 15) it opens inward. Inside is a waterless room, dark and sparkling, as if filled with water. This is the home of the spirit HENWE VLO, who appears as a red skinned man with no eyes. He sits upon the couch, completely still until someone approaches. Comfortable but spare, a couch, a low table, a statue of an owl, a lamp. HENWE VLO says (in spirit language, which sounds like hissing electricity but is nonetheless intelligible): “I have been captured by Ectinel the Warlock! My flesh is put to crude purposes. Do not let me be a slave! Free me!” Henwe Vlo then turns transparent and disappears. In his place is a blue egg, inside the egg is a key that will unlock any door in Ectinel’s tower.

Ectinel’s tower lies three days to the south. 

In the couch: d100 gold. The statue of the owl turns into an owl when exposed to moonlight, and will perform 1 task. The lamp burns continuously, but as long as the lamp burns it cannot be moved. 

DRY WELL: has a stone covering. if you go to the bottom and close the top, a skeleton will rise from the ground and strangle you.  

NAIL SALON: DORDA YENT. Nails: 5g to 50g.

“THERE USED TO BE AN EVIL TOWN FAR TO THE EAST. BUT MEN FROM CASTLE HEXX DESTROYED IT.”

The evil town was called Selfoss. They betrayed each other, stole from nearby towns, tortured criminals, and refused to help those in need. Eventually they started to form raids on Castle Hexx and attempted to take the castle, so Lord Hexx rallied a party and routed the town. Now it’s a ghost town, with a handful of evil merchants, thieves, and monsters.

CAKE STORE: GRUULA LORM creates fabulous cakes, miniature cakes, cupcakes, sheetcakes, cake-bites. Full window display of amazing cakes. Limited supply of cake slices per day. Cakes range in price from 100g to 1000g. Once per year cakes are commissioned from Castle Vortaric for the wedding anniversary of Lord and Lady Moan. 

CAFE: Only serves milks and tea-milks. 1g gets you 4. 1 cat: CHAMPAGNE. Proprietor ORIANG TORCHULA. Must be dressed fancy to attend. Fanciest ladies in town come here to tell secrets.

SCHOOL: A boarding school for girls. No boys allowed. Excessive schoolgirls learning sums, sewing, history, etc. Ballet class, chanting, bullies, menstruation. You could go full Suspiria with this if you wanted. Staffed by nun sisters SISTER AGRATE and SISTER FRET. On moonless nights they take the most gifted girl to a frozen pond deep in the forest and perform loathsome rituals, in order to unlock latent psychic powers.

They worship a creepy Virgin Mary analogue called the GREY LADY, who is severe, overbearing, cruel but claims to be kind, insistent on celibacy, manifests to annihilate her enemies, and worshipped by only women across the continent. Male priests claim this goddess does not exist, while her worshippers claim she is simultaneously the mother, wife, and daughter of whatever god is primary in the area.

Magic girl: YOVA BARU, age 17. HP 3, AC 20 until hit once, and then her power breaks and she has AC 9, Powers: Eyes bulge and she DOMINATES PERSON to bring her sweets and kill enemies, MIND BLAST in a 15’ cone 1d8 damage (Cha save DC 12 for half), ARM ERUPTS AND BURSTS into 2 TENTACLES provides 2 attacks 10’ range +5 1d6 damage and grab

SISTER AGRATE: HP 6 AC 15 (monk-like reflexes) Wavy dagger +4 1d4 and poison, 1d4 poison damage every hour until CON save DC 12. 1 spell: She radiates a sickly moonlight, healing allies within 30’ for 1d8 and inflicting a level of exhaustion on enemies within 30’ (Con DC 12).

SISTER FRET: HP 9 AC 12 Cruel gaze: unable to directly attack Sister Fret while she is looking at you (no save)  Serrated dagger: 1d4 damage and then bleed for 1d4 damage for 1d4+1 rounds or until Medicine check DC 12.

SHRINES: Here are the shrines to the deities of the forest: TORUN (TOTORO) and the GIRL GODDESSES: GRETA (CHIHIRO), LORDA (MONONOKE), and ARGA (PONYO). No cats.

The local deities here are meant to be almost explicitly analogues of the Miyazaki girl heroes. I'd say it's definitely okay if the players recognize this. 

GRETA: She bested a cruel sorceress who operated a bath-house for the spirits, and who was subjugating the mortals of the forest by turning them into pigs. Greta reunited the sorceress with her doppelganger, ending her power. Domains: anti-magic, trickery, domesticity.
LORDA: She allied with the God of Cats and the beasts of the forest against an army of invading humans who sought Its heart. Domains: beasts, nature, war.
ARGA: She came from a secret ocean in the forest and married a human boy, to prevent the forest's destruction at the hands of her father. Domains: magic, water, love.
TORUN: A spirit of the forest, who protects travelers and finds lost things. He was befriended by two princes, who came to the forest after their mother the queen died of illness. Domains: spirits, friendship, travel.

FOUNTAIN: fountain of a fish spouting water. The fish is of an ancient species turned to stone. If turned back and eaten, gain 2d8 temporary hit-poits. 18 golden koi fish. 1 is black. they get 1 bite attack +2 1-2 dmg — this is why the cats don’t eat them.  1 white cat.

GUARD HOUSE: 10 guards, each 3rd level fighters in chainmail, armed with swords, nets, bows. they don’t guard full-time, there’s usually one 1 or 2 on duty, with 4 more on back-up back at the house. CAPTAIN FLENDER GRAVE is a level 6 fighter

JAIL: If you’re caught by the guards for something minor (theft, public nuisance, etc), you go to jail for 7+d10 days, or you can buy your way out early by paying a medium sum (d8x100 or something) . They’re tired of public nuisances and adventurers, so Charisma checks are made with disadvantage.

Bigger crimes (murder, etc) are jailed indefinitely and then transported by armed guards to Castle Vortaric for trial.

CITY HALL: Basically just full of government functionaries during the week, and only open during business hours. Lightly guarded at other times. There's a very small public library, a big echoey public bathroom in the basement, and in the main rotunda are statues of a serpent, a woman, and a two-headed man, under which is hidden THE SECRET GARDEN OF LORD VYRE.

BUS STOP: Just an iron bench and a lamp-post. Ancient. People call it a bus-stop, but don't know what a bus is. If you ask around, someone may tell you a spirit used to transport allies of Torun throughout the forest, and would come to the bus-stop. If players guess it's the cat-bus, you better use your best poker face.

ANTICHURCH: 45 minutes travel south to Fishtown’s gothic-style graveyard. Tall iron fence, 9 cats, claw-like trees burst from the ground and send roots under the stone paths, which were made from headstones found in the graveyard before. At center of graveyard is stairs down to an upside-down cathedral, upside-down saints, upside down candelabras. Scattered chairs where penitents pray for the dead. 

WIZARD: The tower of the wizard Craxus. The true tower is actually in Castle Hexx, but Craxus projects his tower into this one at times in order to do business with the denizens of Fishtown. When Craxus is not projecting his tower into this one, this tower is an empty ruin. I imagine him to be a cruel and myopic man, obsessed with power, condescending at all times, unable to admit fault, and annoyingly powerful. He can assist with anything magic related, but only for a steep fee or an over-involved quest.

Craxus: HP 60, AC 18
Spells: Black Lightning (at will), targets 1d4 targets, deal 3d10 damage with a +8 attack bonus; Hideous Shrinking (1/day): target shrinks to 1 foot tall, but looks like a hideous old man with Str 1, Dex 1, and movement 5; Club Foot (1/day): target limb grows 3x, becomes impossibly heavy, duration permanent; Vomit Spiders: target vomits spiders for 1d4 rounds, takes 2d10 poison damage on the first round, and then the spiders bite you, dealing 5 poison dmg every hour and you swell horribly until you die.

Protected by 2 shadow apes restrained by collars. HP 18 AC 15 Bite +6 1d8 dmg to maximum health. 1/2 damage from normal weapons.

Stuff to steal on his desk:
Glass orb with a spider in it (this contains his familiar demon JORGIT)
Sword with a face on the handle (this is the face of DUKE VLATH, who opposed the wizard 600 years ago)
Green crystal lamp worth 600gp
Spell book (inside the desk; the book is trapped: when you touch it you're launched backwards out the window)

DOES FISHTOWN HAVE A ...?

Fishtown's stats are as follows. If the players wanna know if the town has something in particular, just roll d20 under the target stat, or under half the stat if it seems unlikely.

STR 12 (Military Strength) 
DEX 15 (Economy) 
CON 9 (General Safety and Health) 
INT 7 (Books and Smarts) 
WIS 13 (Spirituality) 
CHA 12 (Beauty)

I PICK HIS POCKET (FISHTOWN EDITION)

Roll Sleight of Hand vs. Opponents Perception (Base -1 for a drunk idiot, d4+1 for a first level opponent, or +7 at max for a canny thief)

On failure, you're caught. On success, roll d20:

1. nothing
2. d100 copper
3 d20 silver
4-10 d20 gold
11 d100 gold

roll d10 as above, and:

12 scorched black coin with blood drop carved into it, present to a vampire of visigardia and they spare your life for the night 
13 invitation to castle vortaric anniversary party, however it is personally addressed to Naima Salm
14 mouse, dex save DC 10 or bites you 1 damage 
15 butterfly knife with matte black knife and handle
16 expensive salmon-colored handkerchief worth 75 gold 
17 tissue paper wraps a single chocolate enchanted with a spell of protection — next time you take damage, you take none
18 d6 dice
19 house keys with address
20 architectural map of city hall indicates a secret door under statue of 2-headed man, but not what lies beyond


Some other options when you run out:
locket contains hand-drawn picture of very handsome bearded woman
a sleeping kitten

rough map of Vomic Leth indicating location of the lost town SELFOSS

NEW PEOPLE TO INTRODUCE AS TIME GOES ON

1 Bolura Gren, a fortune-teller, is staying at the hostel. She plans to travel to Castle Hexx as soon as she can hire a bodyguard or four.
2 Cashra Bolt, a mage, has been wandering drunk through the streets and hexing people. The guards are scared of her and need her to go. She can cast Bestow Curse at will. She got broke up with by a stable-boy she loved.
3 Collaldo Mines, a reptile-owner, is staying at the inn. She is selling reptiles: crocodile 200gp, iguana 50gp, bearded dragon 20g, gecko 15g. She is also buying any reptiles or reptile eggs for at least 50g a pop.
4 Grenda Volsh, a carpet-weaver, has moved into town. She is selling fine rugs and carpets.
5 Boldin Breck seeks to open a cat cafe and is going door to door to raise the funds. He needs at least 3000 gold. When he funds, he’ll open a cat cafe / adoption center for cats.

6 Sir Olvey Varn, an aging knight from the woods, has wandered into town and is sleeping in public squares. Plants are growing on his armor and horse. He is lost and needs escort back to the Heart of the Woods, past Castle Hexx.

NEW STRUCTURES TO INTRODUCE AS PLAYERS SPEND MONEY IN TOWN

500g FLOWER SHOP
1000g DONUT SHOP
2000g TATTOO SHOP
4000g FRIED CHICKEN
6000g BOXING GYM
10,000g SPA 

WHAT'S THE WEATHER LIKE TODAY?

Roll d10

 -3 A Palace can be seen in the roiling clouds up there.
 -2 A thunderstorm for half an hour at least, lightning streams across the sky, very windy, movement at half-speed. Then roll again at -3.
-1 Pounding rain lasts for an hour, then rain until day-break. Roll at -2.
 0 Overcast, light rain for d6+1 days. Roll at -2.
 1 Humid and misty, everything is shrouded in moisture. Roll at -1 next time.
 2 Mounded, sparkling clouds high in the sky
 3 The stars seem close and bright, spells of enchantment and illusion are at advantage
 4 Foggy and misty, visibility reduced to 100’
 5 Heavy fog, visibility reduced to 15’
 6 A gold aurora streams across the sky from the north
 7 The shards of the Egg Moon are visible in the sky tonight
 8 The Skull Moon sits in the sky tonight
 9 A cold, clear night. A rainbow aura shines around the moon. 
 10 Very cold, persists d6+1 days. Roll at +1. 
 11 Light, sparkling snow, a dusting of sugar. Next roll at +2.
 12 Heavy snow, covers the ground for d6+1 days. Roll at +3 during this time.
 13 So cold the very air seems to be frozen. Words uttered tumble to the ground like crystals. Spells freeze in the air upon casting and must be thrown like snowballs. Next roll at +2 .

AND FINALLY OF COURSE

WHAT KIND OF CAT IS IT?

1 Calico
2 Tabby
3 Orange
4 Siamese
5 White
6 Black
7 Tuxedo
8 No fur
9 Grey
10 Fat
11 Ugly
12 Red

2 comments:

  1. This is really cool! As if Vornheim was a single location instead of a list of tables to make possible locations... and hitting that/my sweet spot between down-to-earth relatable and weird-as-wonka magical.
    Like, I could *run this* with only the effort of copying or printing out the info, which is a rare thing.

    Also really digging the built-in appearance of new npcs and businesses as the pcs stay longer 👍

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    Replies
    1. thank you! re: being able to run it, this is pretty much as it appears in my notes, so i need it to be as useable as possible

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