Gary Gygax 75 Challenge - Week 1

First step towards a new campaign setting

21-09-2020 - 2 minutes, 58 seconds -
osr gygax75 homebrew

As many readers might be aware of there's this thing called the Gary Gygax 75 Challenge going on. The gist of it is to use a simple framework to write a complete campaign setting in just 5 weeks.

You can read more about it here.

I just finished the first week yesterday, and even though I didn't spend nearly as much time as I had wanted to, the rules say to stop when the time is up.

So here I am. I probably only spent an hour or two compiling up this, but we're off to a start!

Gygax 75 Challenge - Week 1

Name: Borealis, The Frozen & Savage Archipelago (Working name)
System: Generic OSR/system-agnostic

The Pitch

  • Arctic seas. To travel these seas, most ships must be equipped with icebreakers. Fights occur on top of ice shelves between ships. Sometimes they are frozen together before the fight ends. Many islands are connected by ice sheets in winter and become isolated in summer when the ice thaws.
  • Scarce resources. Farmlands are almost non-existent, and even animals are rare. This means that furs are an incredibly prized commodity. Metal is also rare. Trade is done with coins made of bone (silver coin equivalent). It’s a rough place where only the toughest survive. Even scraping together for a day’s meal might take your life.
  • Eternal ice is a sought-after highly potent fuel. This ice can only be mined in the far reaches of Borealis. Following the discovery of the eternal ice, people started flocking to the wastelands. It was an ice rush. The ice is used to fuel machines, mainly vehicles. Ships, sleds, etc.
  • Lawless. Pirates and bandits are everywhere. They will attack travelers to strip them off their clothes and leave them to freeze to death in the wilds. They hunt by shooting harpoons with ropes that attach to the hull of their victim’s ship. The pirates have no interest in dying themselves though, and can usually be paid off to leave without a fight.
  • Magic is rare. Magic is unknown to most in this part of the world and is considered something only practiced by crazy old people in the wilderness. Magic spells may be learned from reading ancient runes or taught by the strange native shamans. The shamans believe that all living things have a soul which remains in the material world after their passing. They claim to be able to draw the energy from these souls to power their magic.
  • Unexplored wilderness. There are several empty spots on the map. Places where nobody has set their foot yet. Who knows what might hide there? Rumors say that an ancient civilization used to live here before the area froze over. The rumors are true. The people are still alive, but have taken to the skies in an eternal ice-propelled airship. They no longer live here, but come back once every 10 years to pay respect to their ancestors.
  • Bright red evening star. Whenever the evening star is visible the lands are covered in a crimson hue. This hue is said to amplify magic but also make the animals more fierce and aggressive.

Sources of inspiration

  • DCC RPG: For gonzo craziness and random tables
  • The Black Hack: Random worldbuilding tables
  • Maze Rats: Mostly for the magic and monster tables
  • Hot Springs Island: Supercharged hexcrawl with tons of goodies and random tables
  • Ghosts of Saltmarsh: Pirates, oceans, islands, ships
  • Forbidden Lands Gamemaster’s Guide: Breaking loose from traditional fantasy race tropes
  • D30 Sandbox Companion: Tons of random tables

Moodboard (extra credit)