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Thread: WIP - Archipelago

  1. #11
    Community Leader Facebook Connected Steel General's Avatar
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    Definitely an interesting style - looking forward to seeing where you take this.
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  2. #12
      jeffsheets is offline
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    Thanks!

    Next up, I believe I have the scale that I want decided. Not a big region by any means, but big enough. At the scale given in the map, sea trees are one kilometer in diameter, which might be a bit too wide. The coral pillars in the map are also 1 km wide, and this is something I need to make new brushes for, if every one of them is that big, they'll be too uniform. The giant mangrove forest is broken up enough that I think it looks fine without messing with that. I still haven't placed any of the new Marishrooms, but mostly because I don't want every map feature to be in every place all at once.

    I also added in my current version of the sea-swamp kelp beds, using the small galaxy brush from GIMP. I actually kinda like it, but I might run an emboss/bump filter on it to see if it makes it look any better.

    If anything, I think I need to get more than just the five variations of each brush. I need something more like 20 variants per brush, and sometimes including smaller features.

    WIP - Archipelago-archipelagowip2.jpg

  3. #13
      jeffsheets is offline
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    After doing a bit of research, I realize now that a 1 kilometer wide sea tree is definitely not the size I want it to be. That would make it unbelievably huge. I want them to be more along the width of an average skyscraper, or perhaps bigger.

    WIP - Archipelago-tallest-skyscraper.jpg

    (Image stolen fair and square from a google image search. I most certainly did NOT create that myself.)

    What this means is that I need to make my sea trees about 10% of their current diameter. I may need to do similarly with the coral, if only so I can make the coral more sprawl like. I'm actually happy with the size of the floatstone islands... I intended them to be amazingly huge.

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      Gidde is offline
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    If you don't want to make whole new brushes, try just setting the Brush Dynamics size to random (for the coral that you didn't want uniform, that is).

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      tilt is offline
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    the new style of map is looking good - but I did love the old one ... but I'm looking forward to seing a lot more of your world
    regs tilt
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gidde View Post
    If you don't want to make whole new brushes, try just setting the Brush Dynamics size to random (for the coral that you didn't want uniform, that is).
    Only problem with that is that I generally want the line widths to be identical. And I have a good idea for making the corals less uniform and more like what I really envision them to be.

    Quote Originally Posted by tilt View Post
    the new style of map is looking good - but I did love the old one ... but I'm looking forward to seing a lot more of your world


    Here's the changes I've made so far, I scaled the mangrove trees a bit smaller, which makes each individual cluster about 500 meters wide. You can see a single cluster to the east of the group of five of the new sea trees. The new sea trees range in size from 200 meters across to 250 meters across, which I am happy with. A bit thicker than most skyscrapers, but I'm fine with that.

    My next goal is to get the coral brushes fixed up and replace that layer. After that, I'm going to work on a way to shape the shallows and depths of the water based on the drawn layers, pretty much any of the above water vegetation in this world occurs over shallow waters (around 100 feet depth). The coral pillars grow from the sea floor, forcing new growth under the pillar (which is only possible because of the unique magical hand-wavey nature of the pseudo-elemental life that creates it), so they can often occur at deeper depths. There will be some exceptions, and the floatstone islands can occur nearly anywhere.

    WIP - Archipelago-archipelagowip_3.jpg

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      Gidde is offline
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    This sounds like an incredibly interesting place!

  8. #18
      jeffsheets is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gidde View Post
    This sounds like an incredibly interesting place!
    Exactly the effect I wanted. I have the coral pillars re-worked, using smaller brushes with more variety. I like the result, especially since, like the mangroves, it's stackable.

    More background on the campaign world: Unlike most fantasy worlds, humans are decidedly NOT the predominant race in the Archipelagos. Instead, dwarves and elves compete (amicably) for that title. The dwarves survived in the mountains, which became the floatstone islands, while the elves are the very reason there are giant mangroves, marishrooms, and sea-trees. The dwarves have learned how to mine and use floatstone to create large floating sky-ships, and this technique has spread somewhat to other races. The elves, and indeed druids everywhere, cultivated the surviving flora and fauna, and have preserved griffons, hippogriffs, and pegasi. Obviously, horses have long since died out, cats have thrived, as cats always do. Dogs are only found on the floatstone islands. Many other small creatures have either died out completely or thrived. Birds are just about everywhere. Gnomes have become almost a subclass of dwarves, predominantly living among dwarves and rarely among other groups. Halflings have taken to the coral pillars and have even developed a sense for empire building that they lack in other worlds. Humans... humans are found everywhere. Just not in the same numbers except in the few floatstone islands they have claimed for themselves.

    One of the things that always bothers me about standard fantasy fare is the perception that goblins, hobgoblins, kobolds, etc. are inherently evil. This quality stems from their roots as evil fey in our European folklore. In the Archipelagos, however, such creatures can't afford to be evil. Thus, like humans, they are often found in any community, mostly in lower class positions, but no longer are they considered evil by fiat, even by elves and dwarves. It is because of this that half-orcs and orcs have actually become rather accepted and relatively civilized, though orcs generally tend to live in the mangroves. As a result, half-orcs exist anywhere the populations of humans and orcs overlap.

    The general quality of the world is predominant, though not exceptionally powerful, magic is everywhere. Anyone you meet may be able to use a cantrip or two, and some people will learn a cantrip well enough to use it at will. In game mechanics, the campaign is going to be D&D 3.5, capped at 6th level, and thus restricting spells to 3rd level spells. Some higher level spell will be accessible in the form of rituals, none of which can take less than four hours to complete. For details of the house rules, look up Ryan Stoughton's E6 rules. (I think I spelled his name right...) Some of the racial characteristics of even the basic races have changed slightly to reflect the different world they live in.

    And now... progress:

    WIP - Archipelago-archipelagowip_4.jpg

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      tilt is offline
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    thanks for the background - always nice to know whats behind the map ... only thing I don't understand is capping the level - I can understand that one might want to limit spells, but capping the level at 6th is pretty early on, and one would think that people develop beyond that ... it also limits the number of monsters - but then again, in your world they might not exist at all... anyway, very exiting - good job
    regs tilt
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  10. #20
      jeffsheets is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by tilt View Post
    thanks for the background - always nice to know whats behind the map ... only thing I don't understand is capping the level - I can understand that one might want to limit spells, but capping the level at 6th is pretty early on, and one would think that people develop beyond that ... it also limits the number of monsters - but then again, in your world they might not exist at all... anyway, very exiting - good job
    Although the level is capped at 6, every 5,000 XP after that, characters can gain an extra feat. And a LOT of feats are available. The choice of 6 is simple... a number of people calculated that the level 1 to 5 range is accomplishable by real human beings. At 6 or higher and you progress to a level of inhuman ability. Jumping, balancing, research, science, strength, etc. are all far more astounding beyond that point. Here is the best explanation I have ever seen for this evaluation: The Alexandrian.

    As for monsters, well, I have to adjust some things, but in my humble opinion, the overabundance of higher level monsters is caused by a need to provide more and more complicated and challenging monsters as characters progress beyond 6th level. In addition, it makes those battles against CR 8+ enemies all the more epic for it. Generally CR 10 is at the top end of the range, and at that challenge rating and higher, some extra benefits will be needed to take down such a monster.

    At 6th level, a single character can take on a few 1st level enemies... but he can't go and annihilate an entire city. If anything, the level cap is there to make an unrealistic game a bit more realistic. Also... at higher levels, there is a greater chance that certain classes will far outshine others. This is why the Tome of Battle sourcebook was created... and in effect, that book just made fighters and such into--- Magical fighters. :/ I prefer to solve the problem by eliminating the top end imbalance, by reducing the top end.

    The average population is 1st level, not including children. Any blacksmith can ply their trade well enough at 1st or 2nd level, and a legendary blacksmith will be only 3rd or 4th. Leaders of militaries and governments can easily be lower than that. I think a few of our recent American presidents don't qualify as even 3rd level. The biggest reason I've seen against this play style is the fact that 20 levels is what's shown. People tend to think that people like Gandalf HAD to be a 20th level wizard, despite the fact that he never did anything in the novels or movies above the capacity of a 3rd level wizard. Aragorn, for instance, was probably not a high level character. He was depicted as a real human being, who had real limitations and abilities.

    Then there's the fact that spells such as resurrection and stone to flesh are only accessible with a long and drawn out ritual in the Archipelagos, and thus death and the evil "save-or-die" spells are much more realistic threats. Though I'll also be using a system where a player can risk the potential death of their character at limited times, in return for a bonus to other actions. All other times, their character may be defeated, but won't die just because.

    Finally, one of the best reasons for this style of play: A GM can afford to be lazy when playing this way. Specing a new 5th level enemy is much easier in comparison to an 18th level enemy with 6 monster hit dice. Thus, I can spend more time creating the unique languages, cultures, and world, rather than depend on expensive, and more and more rare, sourcebooks. I use house rules that give the game world the flavor I want... such as a variant of the Defense Bonus house rule from OGC Unearthed Arcana, which will support a more swashbuckling style of play, and reduce the need for full plate armor. (How fast does a person wearing heavy metal armor sink into the world covering ocean?)

    Okay... back to work on the map after the digression. And thanks for the "good job"!

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