Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Digging the Hyborian Sandbox Part I: Module Selection

One of the most exciting (and thrilling) aspects of Sandbox creation is, to my mind at least, picking out what modules to place on the map. The great appeal of the Barrachan Isles as a specific Hyborian setting is, frankly, the sheer joy of being to peruse some of the more “out of the way” module settings that otherwise rarely make an appearance in my sandbox. Specifically, I'm thinking of such classic jungle and desert modules as Isle of the Ape, Isle of Dread, The Hidden Shrine of Tamochen and Drums on Fire Mountain. I just don't get to use them in my more medieval campaign settings, purely because the location is such a major feature of these modules that to transplant them away from the natural home is, to me, simply an aberration. A jarring waste, if you like, of a good module.

Having been unable to find a “canon” map of the Isles, I'm also really excited about the opportunity to shape the Isles in my own vision. In effect, I have free reign to create my own maps of the Island chain (assuming I include all the canon locations that do exist, for the benefit of my puritan “Conanites”) enabling me to enjoy the entire sandbox creation process from start to finish. Step one in this creation process has (for me at least) always been module selection. After all, I don't know what location and terrain features I'm going to steal from published modules (and the geographical relationship between them as outlined in a given module), how the hell can I go about creating a decent map? I can't anyway, not without a half-dozen edits and even an outright re-draw or two.

So here we are at stage 1 of sandbox creation. I have a number (a very large number) of modules short-listed for consideration. Fortunately the Isle's are a fairly large geographical setting, even if most of the main map is going to be water and many urban scenarios will fit comfortably into the city Tortage. Happily, this means I won't be savaging the list too much with cuts. More happily, it gives me a good solid source of semi-regular blog posts while I go through each module, weighing up the pros-and-cons, deciding whether or not it has a place on the Barrachan Isles. The presence such principle elements as suitable sword & sorcery flavour and ease of conversion to a Hyborian setting (and the Isle's in particular) will be the primary factors in determining whether a given module receives a yea or nay.

Good times.

Here's a link to the working short-list, in no particular order. Numbers in brackets are the suggested level range. If anyone has any comments or suggestions for additions or subtractions to the list they would be most welcome.


Anonymous said...

I found a couple of adventures on Lulu that were pretty good, both set on islands as well.

Temple of the Ape

Voyage to Plague Island

I'm sure with very minor adaptation you could fit them into the campaign you're planning, or at least get some good ideas from them. The electronic versions are pretty cheap, and Lulu is having a 20% off sale for Veteran's Day (tomorrow), too. And no, I am not the author of either, nor am I affiliated with them. :)

Dangerous Brian said...

Excellent. Thanks for the suggestions. It might be a little hard to get the characters captured by slavers again after having escaped that state the first time. Knowing my players they would have their characters fight to the death to avoid it. Even so Plague Island looks pretty interesting.

But I think Ape Island might very well be a winner. Apes are something of a Hyborian trope after all.The Lulu entry doesnt give much away, but at that price I'm not complaining. I'll add both to the short list and review them in the blog later.