Saturday, June 13, 2020

The Gygax 75 Challenge Part 6

When detailing the Town for the Gygax 75 Challenge, Otus suggests by starting with the equipment list. With it, various locals can be intuited: “a smith for arms and armor, a stable for mounts, etc.”

I haven’t really looked at Moldvay’s equipment list in a long time. I am normally playing a clone due to the fact that having one or more physical rulebooks at the table is both satisfying and useful and my physical copy of Basic D&D is rather fragile. So I was rather shocked that there is a glaring omission from his list: there isn’t anything there having to do with travel. There are no horses, no other types of animals, and no vehicles whether land or water. I guess this stems from the fact that I actually never played with Moldvay’s rules back in the day. When I did play Basic, it was with Holmes and his list has a mule, four types of horses and two each for land and water vehicles.

So, strictly speaking, if I am staying within Moldvay as much as I possibly can (and I have only violated this limitation twice in this whole process: once to grab the pterodactyl from Cook and once to grab a 3rd-level magic-user spell for a treasuries my dungeon), I really only have two shops in town: the place that sells armor and weapons, and the place that sells everything else.

At this point, Otus suggests using a name generator. I don’t disagree; however, I do have a piece of advice. In order to give a campaign a sense of place and culture, it is useful to assign real world naming conventions to different cultures in the game world. For example, one of the coolest non-gaming books I own that I use almost exclusively for gaming is The Celtic Book of Names by D. J. Conway.  It lists names from Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Each list of names could represent a different culture in my world. In order to give a fantasy flair to these lists, a random name table can be easily generated by choosing first and second syllables from each list of names. For example:

First Syllable (Irish)

  1. Aed-
  2. Bra-
  3. Cal-
  4. Con-
  5. Dub-
  6. Fin-
  7. Mac-
  8. Shan-
  9. Tor-
  10. Uil-

Second Syllable (Male/Irish)

  1. -ach
  2. -aed
  3. -an
  4. -art
  5. -bre
  6. -ger
  7. -ghus
  8. -lain
  9. -lum
  10. -thi

Second Syllable (Female/Irish)

  1. -ait
  2. -cla
  3. -dre
  4. -eal
  5. -een
  6. -ind
  7. -is
  8. -ith
  9. -na
  10. -ri

With a ‘3’ and a ‘5’ I get Calbre (male) or Caleen (female) and with a ‘9’ and a ‘2’ I get Toraed (male) or Torcla (female). A repeated letter here or there to make it look better is up to you. This exercise will result in names that sound slightly familiar, seem to be related, and yet are far enough outside the real world to fit in a fantasy setting. Of course, these lists can be expanded well beyond just ten entries. I limited myself for brevity’s sake.

My two stores can thus be called: Calleen’s General Store and Toraed’s Armory.

I know that I will eventually need to give my players access to Cook’s list of land and water vehicles, so I need to have a place for them. The randomly generated map I used for my town offers an intriguing solution to the problem. Outside the walls of Darkport are two small communities. In the north, there is Newsteps and opposite is South Ward. Given the harsh conditions of the immediate area (arctic), population growth isn’t a satisfying answer to explain why these two communities exist.

A far more satisfying answer is economic necessity. Vehicles and animals of burden are not allowed inside the walls of Darkport. Thus, all economic activity that relates to those items found on Cook’s equipment list would have to exist outside of Darkport. Thus, Newsteps and South Ward come about to cater to this economic need.

1 comment:

JB said...

Yeah, no overland (or overwater equipment) are to be found in Moldvay. PCs aren’t supposed to start exploring the wilderness till 4th level (which is why they show up in the Expert set).
; )