This is the twenty-third post in a series detailing the 34 steps I recommended for making a Fantasy Sandbox Campaign.
Today's post will cover steps 29 to 32.
- Pick the 12 most important NPC or Monsters
- Write a paragraph describing each and fully stat them.
- Pick the most six common encounter type. (City Guard, Border Warders, Bloody Hand, Orcs) Write a paragraph and fully stat them.
- Scan your description for any regional organization and write a paragraph on them. Fully stat the most common encounters involved with them.
My choice of using a small example like the Isle of Piall constrains my choices of what to pick for important NPCs, Monsters, encounters, and organizations. It does illustrate an important point about making a sandbox, its scope.
The details increase geometrically with the area covered by the setting. Piall is five hex columns by five hex rows and has about 27 entries. Blackmarsh has 27 hex columns and 19 hex rows and has 94 entries. Finally my upcoming "Into the Majestic Fantasy Realms" has four maps each with 31 hex columns 41 hex rows along with 200+ entries each. The amount of detail grows geometrically as the size of the map grows. Make the map twice the size in terms of hex rows and columns, and you will have to put in four times the work.
If you pick a smaller number of locales to flesh out on a larger map this will mean more to make up as the campaign progresses. For your first sandbox make it a size that you feel comfortable with. The time estimate that accompanied the first posts of this series was based on an area the size of Blackmarsh, a map the size of a regular piece of paper, with about 100 entries total.
What to Detail?
The most important NPCs or monsters on the Isle of Piall should be the ones that the players are likely to interact with. Once you determined this list then describe their capabilities and/or plans in detail. Given the limited scope of the Isle of Piall I opted to describe 14 individuals and their associated organizations.
The NPCs of Piall
Those involved in the Barony of Piall
- Valard the Yellow Mage
- Sheriff Tomar Revan
- Baron Argus Gorvon
- Master Arven Rowe of the Order of Thoth.
Each of these individuals is a significant person that will impact the characters as they adventure in and around Piall. For others mentioned in previous posts, the normal stat blocks and initial description should suffice. It is possible that players will decided to focus on interacting with one of these character in which case you will need to flesh them out.
Related to the above is the Thieves Guild of Piall which includes
- Stephen Clar of the House of Fish in Mikva the guildmaster,
- Moran Lodar of Carra a smuggler.
Thieves Guild and criminal underworld have long been a staple of fantasy campaigns so the odds are high that these two and their followers will be a factor in the campaign.
Finally, a pair of unrelated human antagonists are detailed
- The imperial spies led by Sir Iago Dunth
- Captain Arvis Black and his ship the Red Revenge.
The main source of adventure are the various undead haunted ruins left over from the time of the Dark Lord. And there are three primary antagonists that need to be fleshed out.
- Sir Avar the fallen Paladin of Bone Keep
- The Rot Lord of Sable Port,
- The Black Queen residing in the Fortress of the Lich Lord.
Another source of adventure is found under the waves.
- The mermen of Aventis lead by King Touris
- Aventis is threatened by Sahuagin lead by Prince Xatharazzax
- Also the mermen suffer from factionalism caused by Prince Ormus.
Much of this information was written up in earlier posts but scattered among the descriptions of the different locales. This section pulls them together to paint an overview of how the region's inhabitants interact with each other and potentially with the PCs.
For centuries the Kingdom of the Isles was a confederation of barons led by a king who was a first among equals. But the rise of the Empire of Po and its threat to the independence of the Isles has led to increasing royal control.
Sir Iago Dunth is a spy in the service of the Emperor of Po. He and 10 scouts landed on the north shore a fortnight ago and now planning to make their way south to map out the island and its defenses.
(Aventis Village, Hex 0401)
(Aventis Village, Hex 0401)
That is it for part XXIII next is Part XXIV where we wrap things up with rumors and random encounter charts.