Last week I wrote about creating the map for my new campaign. Finishing the map (for now) wasn’t the end of my prep for this campaign, of course. Before I could even think about prepping the dungeons, I had to get down some details important to character creation.
The first thing I did was give each of the settlements on the map their own skills and traits so the players could choose for their characters to come from those places. In a pinch, I could have just used the templates from the core book. Asktoft could just be a Busy Crossroads. But this is an opportunity to give the place its own character and feel.
As I noted in my last post, I started a new Torchbearer game a few weeks ago. I’ve subjected this particular group to a number of playtests of new adventures recently, all of which have ended in TPKs. They’ve been good sports, but they were ready to commit to something longer term (with the hopes of actually surviving a dungeon or two).
For my part, I wanted to get back to Torchbearer’s roots. One of the key ideas in my head when I first started working on the game was the idea of a map that would start with just a few locations and then grow over time as the group explored it and new details were added. That’s the core idea behind the Prepare Thyself chapter in the book.
I decided that we would start the game in the Middarmark, specifically in the Gottmark of the far north because it’s been unexplored territory in our games so far. I went to my Middarmark map and selected the boxed part of the map below. Specifically, I think it’s the little saddle between the mountain in the southwest portion of the map and the hills above it.
For me, the hardest part of making any map is where to start. I often find that picking an anchor geography point or points helps get me going. Part of what drew me to the section of the Middarmark map I chose is that big mountain at the top of the box. I chose that as my anchor point. I also know that I want to include Highwater (the port city from The Secret Vault of the Queen of Thieves). We’ll put it somewhere on the coast, though probably not on the initial map. That’s my second anchor point.
I know many of you that missed the Kickstarter have been eagerly awaiting the release of Middarmark. Well the time has come. The Middarmark book+PDF ($20) and PDF ($10) are now available on the Burning Store, as is the new and improved Torchbearer GM Screen ($15).
For those of you who may have missed it, Middarmark is a setting supplement for Torchbearer inspired by Scandinavian myth and folktales. It’s chock full of adventure ideas to give you a jumping off point for your campaigns, along with new settlements, legends of infamous lairs and harrowing places, details on the more popular Hero Cults of the Young Lords, and, of course, new spells, magic items, monsters and more!
Contend with the slave-taking pirates of the Skera Strait and the Kraken that preys upon those waters. Explore the Trollfjells for signs of the chaos cultists of the Jotunn Hrym and the terrifying Temple of Black Skulls dedicated to him. Follow the legends of Sigrun, Lady of Battles, to the fog-shrouded barrow downs in hope of winning her war-magic. Aid the elves who quest ceaselessly for the Tower of Seven Dreams where the Erlking holds the key to ending their long exile. Seek the fate of the fabled dwarven kingdom Nidavellir, near the gates of Hel. Adventure awaits!
Middarmark opens new vistas of possibility for Torchbearer. Within you’ll find nature descriptors and questions for six human tribes, a new class in the form of the human skald, rules for steadings (a new form of town), rules for how various weather conditions affect your adventurers and much more.
Thor showed me this draft over four years ago. I told him it was amazing, but it wasn’t done. Since then, Thor has regretted that day and every day since. For I have born the lash against him, driving him to frenzy and madness.
But he finally did it. Middarmark is ready to enter this world.
Like all of our best work at BWHQ, this book has been a challenge for us. We’ve never done anything like it. Traditionally, we eschew setting and focus on evoking atmosphere through the rules. But Thor’s work is so powerful, so evocative, that it was worth breaking our own Beliefs. Even so, we made sure that every detail in the book is hooked back into the system in some fashion. Because, as ever, we don’t just want you to read, we want you to play.