Happy New Year! It’s 2018 and after my little holiday hiatus, we’re back to our regular schedule of fortnightly posting! (That’s every two weeks for all my American frens c; )
In my final post of last year, I shared two towns with you from the world of Merth. The fictional setting which I use to run homebrew one-shot Pathfinder games. I wanted to try bring everything we talked about last year together for this post, and so for the first post of 2018, I’ve put together a tiny Merth one-shot campaign setting for all of my fellow GM’s out there. It includes a map pack, random encounter tables and new monsters. I’ve thrown the two cities in as well to keep it all in a nice neat package!
For those of you who tuned into the streams on Tinker Tabletop, you’ll know I created some new monsters based on myths and folklore with a yuletide theme! My one-shot was just for fun, and humour was a big part of the way I tied everything together. I wasn’t afraid of going too camp with the Christmas references or the regional influences.
One of them was the Mari Lwyd, which is one of the creepiest Christmas-time monsters humanity has ever come up with.
Because of the folky element, I drew a lot on fey and ethereal creatures that existed within the Pathfinder system, and worked on balancing their stats against the stats of my creatures and abilities to fit with my themes. In my opinion, this is one of the easiest ways for me to go about designing a unique monster specifically for a system, without having to throw the rule book out the window.
With the Mari Lwyd in particular, I had a lot to think about if I wanted to create a fun, new kind of monster with some unique properties that still captured the essence of the Welsh myth.
I focused on its undead appearance, and gave it ethereal abilities, as well as creating a little bit of back story lore which explained its presence in my world, and drew enough parallels with the real myth to make it a true homage.
In one of 2017’s earlier posts, I spoke about making maps, and the tools and assets out there to help you make beautiful maps for any purpose.
To make my maps for the encounters in Upnorthon and Underdown, I combined different artists brushes and tokens to help me create interesting terrain.
I used Photoshop to create my maps, but any program that lets you use layers and adjust opacity settings will allow you to make something similar.
When I’m creating encounter maps, I want them to be interesting but not so cluttered my players have no idea what to look at. My aim is to strike a balance between a clean grid and some eye-catching flavour. Both of the locations I created in Merth gave me the opportunity to play with elevation, which is one of the simplest ways to make a map more interesting both to play on, and to look at.
If you’re wondering where I got such awesome assets, wonder no more;
(They’re also all listed in the PDF!)
Even though I went into GM-ing with a super lighthearted idea and a casual approach to the encounters and adventures. I still spent about a month brainstorming, designing and preparing the two one-shot games I ran at the end of last year. Seeing your ideas through from the idea phase to the finished product can often take a lot longer, especially with more original and complex settings. At the end of the day, world building of any sort is a labour of time (and love.)
I’ve got some exciting stuff planned for us this year! The podcast will be back of course, and we’ll be hearing from more of our fellow world builders and learning from their insights!
Until next time, happy world building!