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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RogueGirl

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    Default Building a Starter Village with Tortle Monastery

    Hi everyone!

    I want to create a new starter village for a new campaign setting. At the moment I don't want to create too much of the world and start just with the first village and surroundings. And for that I would like to get inspired a bit - so if you are interested in Brainstorming...

    What I've got so far is very rudimentary and doesn't have yet really conflicts established

    • Small fishing and farming village
    • Located where a river leaves a lake
    • A bit of farmland but mostly surrounded by a swamp or bog (with sunken ruins?)
    • Some ancient woodland nearby (who lives there?), somewhere else at the lake shore there's a logging settlement (relationship?)
    • Orginally mostly a Tortle settlement there is now a large human population (40%?)
    • Some individuals from other races possible, but no Player Handbook Races except Humans and Half-Orcs for NPCs (for a different flavor)
    • Half-Orc Smith?
    • Has grown around a fortified Tortle Monastery (at least some of the inhabitants should be of the Monk class)
    • The Monastery was once more important, but then it lost importance for some reason
    • Depending on the actions of the PCs the Monastery may regain importance (attracting pilgrims?)
    • Something hidden in the lake?


    Any ideas how to flesh it out? People? Politics? Places? Peligion?
    Last edited by Wasp; 2019-12-30 at 08:50 AM.

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    DwarfBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Building a Starter Village with Tortle Monastery

    Well, there's obviously a dragon turtle in the lake. The tortle monastery is responsible for keeping the beast docile/asleep.

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RogueGirl

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    Default Re: Building a Starter Village with Tortle Monastery

    Quote Originally Posted by the_david View Post
    Well, there's obviously a dragon turtle in the lake. The tortle monastery is responsible for keeping the beast docile/asleep.
    Definitely! It's so obvious ;-)

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    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    Lleban's Avatar

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    Default Re: Building a Starter Village with Tortle Monastery

    Building on the Dragon turtle point, maybe the Dragon turtle guards a holy relic of the tortle diety.

    Maybe the settlement attracts treasure hunters that frequently conflict with the tortle pilgrims.

    Another possibility that human & half-orc metal workers are deforesting the area, which is really screwing with the local dryads, who are seeking to summon some druidic assistance.
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    Ogre in the Playground
     
    HalflingPirate

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    Default Re: Building a Starter Village with Tortle Monastery

    The tortles have a dark secret beneath their monastery: ages ago a corrupt tortle priest spawned a cambion which is now trapped in a maze over which the monastery was built. Only the seniormost staff know of this. The dragon turtles relic is the key to the cambion's prison.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    DwarfBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Building a Starter Village with Tortle Monastery

    Quote Originally Posted by Wasp View Post
    Definitely! It's so obvious ;-)
    I know that I've suggested a dragon turtle in the lake, but I take it back. It obviously has to be an elder tojanida.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Building a Starter Village with Tortle Monastery

    For a slightly darker turn --

    The village is currently heavily divided since a human child started manifesting strange magic powers and went MAD WITH SCIENCE and warping some of the lake and woodland creatures into strange mutant forms. The tortles see her as a threat while the humans want to protect her. The human leadership, however, see her as a potential weapon to take control of the area....

    People report gaining small cuts and wounds appearing suddenly with no pain or explanation, but never seem to be looking in the right direction to see what is causing it...

    Half of the members of a recent caravan of human traders to the village has disappeared into thin air. The other half have shown up floating facedown in the lake or stark raving mad.

    ---------------
    The reason for all these happenings, of course, is that the town is built on a dangerously unstable rift/crossroads between realities. The artifact guarded by the tortle monastery was a stabilizer of reality which protected the area, but the human caravan was in fact a cover for a cult that desired the artifact. They stole it and murdered the elder tojainda (though its many angry spawn will still challenge any entering the lake), and reality is slowly unravelling in the area.

    This serves a few purposes -- it gives a hook (returning the stolen artifact) should they wish to expand the campaign past the village, allows you to put in a lot of unexplained events and monsters (explaining a lot of random encounter type stuff), and inflames tensions between humans and tortles to allow for a secondary political objective if your players enjoy that. Lastly, it allows the area to natively spawn higher and higher level challenges to reflect reality unravelling, which fixes a lot of the suspension of disbelief issues that sometimes come from wondering where these high level NPCs appeared from all of a sudden.
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  8. - Top - End - #8
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RogueGirl

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    Default Re: Building a Starter Village with Tortle Monastery

    I really like where this brainstorming is going. If we have some nature warping I could see some kind of turtle swamp witch as an NPC - maybe a Tortle Spore Druid that is both dangerous and helpful in the Baba Yaga vein. Inspired by The Neverending sory she could be named "Morla".

    Oh and talking about inspiration: What about Pizza for the Monk Tortles?

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Stranger in the Playground Moderator Ventruenox's Avatar
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    Default Re: Building a Starter Village with Tortle Monastery

    Quote Originally Posted by Wasp View Post
    Oh and talking about inspiration: What about Pizza for the Monk Tortles?
    Only if you name the monastery K'b'n'ga and an important NPC Eastman Laird.
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  10. - Top - End - #10
    Orc in the Playground
     
    GreataxeFighterGuy

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    Default Re: Building a Starter Village with Tortle Monastery

    Let's talk about all those half-orcs! I'm thinking that in the mountains on the other side of this lake, there is a small tribe of orcs that trades pelts and other goods with the village on the lake. There may have been a lot of tension/violence when these groups came into contact with each other, but perhaps the tortles helped broker a peace treaty? Now, generations later, a fairly stable trade relationship between the village on one side of the lake, which provides metal, and the orc tribe, which provides leather goods. Perhaps a few of these orcs work in the logging camp. Over time, a number of half-orcs have been born in both the village and the tribe, The low-level PCs could undertake a perilous journey or lake crossing to get information from an orcish druid, or human expansion coould encroach on the orcs' mountains and lead to tension.
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  11. - Top - End - #11
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Default Re: Building a Starter Village with Tortle Monastery

    Monastery Held a relic that has been broken or a collection that has been partial scattered (but part is still in the monastery and is hard to move). This will give the basis for fetch quests. When assembled some magic effect that gives a boost to the area or those who pray at it etc, for a very real concrete "we helped" feeling.
    This could help if you ask what the monastery DOES with its time. Remember lots of historical monasteries did stuff. They may have owned farmland which they had peasants worked but many had specialty farms (spices, rare fruits, etc), bakeries, breweries (both booze and vinegar). Now if the better working monastery can grow some special spell component, foodstuff, etc that would also help the town's economy (may even be linked to the relic...special silver raspberries that hold the "goodberry" spell to infinite duration or whatever but only if the blessing of St XXXX is on the land)

    Downside to swamps...hard to explain why any ruins or tunnels exist UNDER them without getting filled with silt and water. Doable but something to think about. You may want to look at the island in the moor type mines that existed in southwest England for some useful ideas.

    Also if we have some half orcs in them there swamps....What if the half orcs were kind of semi-nomadic tinker folks. They wander through both orcish and human lands. Trade where they can. may have skills that a single village can't support. This also allows you to have when the story needs to and not when the additional resources are not convenient for the story. Plus you can bring in troublemakers, theatre troupes, etc with them as needed without disrupting the town too much.

    Also - who lives out in the swamps? tough old humans who have little patches of dry land and herd water buffalo, fish, etc? cozy little homesteads that float on reed beds and are rebuilt each summer some[place new? nobody but the monsters that keep the sentient population hidden within the town walls at night?

  12. - Top - End - #12
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    WolfInSheepsClothing

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    Default Re: Building a Starter Village with Tortle Monastery

    The village was once a small but important outpost on a trade route that used the river and lake to bypass some mountains. Recently the emperor cleared out some bandits/monsters and built a road through a pass, providing a new, quicker route for trade caravans. The village has now fallen on hard times with the tortles feeling unhappy with the central government. This is manifesting itself as racial tension with the human population which moved in after the village became part of the empire.
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    RedWizardGuy

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    Default Re: Building a Starter Village with Tortle Monastery

    The monastery was created to hide an artifact or great evil: the Hand of Vecna. The ruse was good for several hundred years but many at the monastery have grown lazy with the years of peace, and their watch is faltering. Others have moved away from this boring duty.

    The king of the area was famous for wearing an eye patch, now he is not....he found the eye and is bending all his will to find the hand.
    There is the ultimate BFG for you. He only needs this hand to spread a second darkness upon the world.

  14. - Top - End - #14
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RogueGirl

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    Default Re: Building a Starter Village with Tortle Monastery

    Hey! This forum is back! Thank you everyone who has posted in the meantime!

    I have brainstormed a little about all the different ideas regarding the purpose of the Monastery and what it guards, combining them into one hopefully very simple concept.

    What do you think of the below?

    The veil between realities is thin in the swamp surrounding the village leading to gateways to other planes of existence forming easily along the shifting leylines weaving through the land. But there are also several semi-stable gateways, one of which lies at the bottom of the lake. It leads to "Tojanida's Lair", the lair of... well, an Elder Tojanida and its spawn.

    Before the monastery was built, creatures from other planes regularly terrorized the land. But then Followers of the goddess Atuyinh appeared and brought with them mighty artifacts - the Seven Keys - that stabilized the leylines and closed most of the paths to other worlds - including the gateway to the Tojanida's Lair. As a side effect protective(?) magic - like Magic Armor or Shield - cast in the area by people attuned became slightly more potent.

    In order to keep the Keys safe and the gateways closed the "Mist Veiled Monastery of Celestial Balance"(?) was built over the nexus of the ley lines and the monks and nuns of the monastery kept watch for centuries. But over time the purpose of their mission was forgotten and only a few people still know why they are there. Even one of the keys got lost some years ago - and while the gateways stayed (mostly?) closed, the magic boon blessing the land faded away...

    Recently cultists trying to find a way to their Elder God have gotten into possession of the Lost Key. They are planning to send some of their agents to steal the remaining Keys, which - when successful - would destabilize the region and could even bring doom to the whole world. This could happen when the party is on a different quest, opening up new challenges in the region.
    Last edited by Wasp; 2020-03-14 at 04:46 AM.

  15. - Top - End - #15
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Default Re: Building a Starter Village with Tortle Monastery

    Great in theory, though I worry. if this is a starter village and the monestary is linked to "End of the World" level threat I generally have to ask why? As a starter village I'd expect the PC's to be 1-3rd level. So this brings up both game play issues (once they have saved the world how do you ramp things up as the game goes on) and logical ones (if this threat is so dangerous and in such a widespread manner wouldn't the biggest and toughest agents of the power centres effect be sent to deal with it? And if those threats can be dealt with by your PC's at 1-3rd level (of maybe 5th by the time they complete the whole quest chain) wouldn't the higher level agents other people send be more able to do so easily thus undercutting the dramatic tension of the PC's trails?)

    Those problems are not impossible to deal with, but it does take planning and thinking.
    For example. The PC's save the world before other concerned parties can send people...and now they are famous, whisked off to the major cities, palaces, and powers centres and have new adventures there being famous and always trying to deal with an overhang of you'll never be as useful as you were in your first adventure...which could drive a very interesting line of character evolution...choosing very different goals (political ambitions would be a classic) or becoming agents a power centre they saved both as political tools and a problem solving team. But going back to "normal" adventuring would be tough. Once you have saved the world what do you do next is harder than if you start small and work up.

    Or why nobody who would be horribly effected by this planar collapse issue (say neighboring kingdoms, trading coasters, churches, other tortle tribes who are still strong, etc etc etc) would send agents more capable than the PC's could be that there is not time to gget the information to those groups, get them to recognize, decide, and organize a response, and have the agents get to the village...would totally work as long as you put the time limit on the PC's from the start. And even if the PC's don't think to call in help I would guess if any of the locals with connections to the outside world would do so.

    I'd recommend scaling things down a ways...that failure would wreck the village or the valley...that way it makes sense that others wouldn't care what happens there. But if you say "It effects the whole in-game world" then the whole in-game world has a reason to get involved which just makes your life more complicated. Also it means that once they have saved the village then next time they can save a county/barony and a kingdom after that, and the "save the world" can be your big send off for the characters at whatever level you consider "high" (maybe even linking back to your initial monastery in some way if you really want to make it a key to ending the world)

  16. - Top - End - #16
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RogueGirl

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    Default Re: Building a Starter Village with Tortle Monastery

    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    Great in theory, though I worry. if this is a starter village and the monestary is linked to "End of the World" level threat I generally have to ask why? As a starter village I'd expect the PC's to be 1-3rd level. So this brings up both game play issues (once they have saved the world how do you ramp things up as the game goes on) and logical ones (if this threat is so dangerous and in such a widespread manner wouldn't the biggest and toughest agents of the power centres effect be sent to deal with it? And if those threats can be dealt with by your PC's at 1-3rd level (of maybe 5th by the time they complete the whole quest chain) wouldn't the higher level agents other people send be more able to do so easily thus undercutting the dramatic tension of the PC's trails?)
    Thank you very much. When writing the summary, I tried to set this up in a way that at the beginning the threat wouldn't be "active" while the party is there and it only activates later in their adventuring career and they can return and see that this was baked in the setting all along. But I admit that I may have lost that thread while writing the summary

    Quote Originally Posted by sktarq View Post
    I'd recommend scaling things down a ways...that failure would wreck the village or the valley...that way it makes sense that others wouldn't care what happens there. But if you say "It effects the whole in-game world" then the whole in-game world has a reason to get involved which just makes your life more complicated. Also it means that once they have saved the village then next time they can save a county/barony and a kingdom after that, and the "save the world" can be your big send off for the characters at whatever level you consider "high" (maybe even linking back to your initial monastery in some way if you really want to make it a key to ending the world)
    Yes, I think both scaling down and returning at high levels may be the way to go.

    Maybe changing the last paragraph to

    This is a relatively stable situation. Due to the lost key you as the DM can have monsters that would be unusual for the region appear without revealing to much about the role of the Keys. And then later at higher levels the Lost Key may fall into the hands of cultists trying to find a way to free their Elder God. They could be sending some of their agents to steal the remaining Keys, which - when successful - could wreak havoc in the region! And if the cultists could actually use the keys to open their Elder Gods prison, who knows what opportunities this would bring for the adventurer later in their career.

  17. - Top - End - #17
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    Flumph

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    Default Re: Building a Starter Village with Tortle Monastery

    sounds really good.

    just figure out what change the players can cause at the low levels that will make them feel like they achieved stuff. Either preserved or added to.

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