A Short Genesis
When the decision was made to start a new RPG campaign with my regular gaming group, I decided to stop using pre-made background and adventure material and to create a new sandbox setting - The continent of Illias was born! Illias is intended to be used as the background setting for a GURPS Dungeon Fantasy flavoured dungeon- and hexcrawl. It will be populated and grown whenever I find the time to do so. It will also be an opportunity for our group to relearn the GURPS rules, which we haven’t used in years, and to try to use more of the crunch this system offers, than we have done in our earlier attempts.
Tools of the Demiurge
For the creation of the regional map of Illias I have used Hexographer by Inkwell Ideas, a great tool for easy hex mapping. I have picked up the Pro version of that software to do so, but for everything I have done with my map so far, the free version would have been sufficient. The finishing touches (city and region labels, the cloudy fog of war, etc.) I have added with GIMP.
Detailed maps of towns, dungeons and other places, I draw with pencil, pens and limited skill on paper, scan the images and give them a finishing touch in GIMP. For now that produces usable maps I can import into our Virtual Table Top (we still have to decide between Roll20 and Fantasy Grounds), overlay with hexes, and place some tokens upon. In the end it looks like this:
Sources of Inspiration
The idea for the style of campaign came from a great series of articles about the West Marches. Although I am not actually planning on running a West Marches campaign in the Illias sandbox, a few of the concepts will be similar:
- There is a small strip of rather civilized land on the western border including and surrounding the city of Abydos and the farther one moves away from there, the more dangerous it gets.
- There won’t be any huge NPC-driven schemes happening in the background - everything happening will somehow be connected to player actions.
- Everything the PCs do will have persisting consequences on the setting.
I have also drawn a lot of inspiration from the excellent series of articles about sandbox creation by Bat in the Attic, where you can find a great way to design a sandbox with the top-down method, and from the Welsh Piper who describes a more bottom-up method of doing the task.
What GURPS Dungeon Fantasy Will This Be?
In our actual campaign we will be using the following GURPS books:
- GURPS Basic Set - Combat will be run using the system described in ‘Combat’ and ‘Tactical Combat’ and we will be using the optional rule ‘Influencing Success Rolls’.
- GURPS Magic - Most spells will be available, modified by the rules in DF1.
- Dungeon Fantasy 1 Adventurers (DF1) - Character creation is based on 250CP with a maximum of -75CP in disadvantages and -5CP in quirks. Templates from this book have to be used, but ‘Martial Artist’ and ‘Swashbuckler’ are not available and ‘Cleric’ will be modified according to DF7. All gear from this book will be available for character creation and in the city of Abydos throughout the game.
- Dungeon Fantasy 2 Dungeons (DF2) - We will use everything from this book besides ‘Travel’.
- Dungeon Fantasy 3 The Next Level (DF3) - Most races are available for character creation (no winged races though) and will be fitted into the background when need arises. ‘Mixing Professions’ is allowed as well (still no ‘Martial Artist’ or ‘Swashbuckler’). There will be no extra points for races or mixed professions. Players will have to find the needed points in their character templates or aquire a mixed profession with CP earned in play.
- Dungeon Fantasy 5 Allies (DF5) - All allies are available.
- Dungeon Fantasy 7 Clerics (DF7) - All types of clerics are available and will be fitted into the background in time.
- Dungeon Fantasy 8 Treasure Tables (DF8) - I will use these to generate or pick treasures.
- Dungeon Fantasy 11 Power Ups (DF11) - These will be available to buy with earned CP.
- Dungeon Fantasy 13 Loadouts (DF13) - We use these to speed up the initial equipping.
- Dungeon Fantasy 15 Henchmen (DF15) - All types of Henchmen are availalbe as Allies or Hirelings.
- Dungeon Fantasy 16 Wilderness Adventures (DF16) - Instead of DF1 ‘Travel’ we will use the wilderness travel rules in here.