It has been hard trying to find imagery of what The Shatter would look like. Portals, broken land, broken everything. I think this painting by Mr Cole grabbed me – water, desert, sunshine, night. All at the same time. I think this would be a perfect view of the Shatter.
In making this #10monstersetting I really had to think about “what this place is”. Who would live here? By choice? The one thing that struck me about this place was the amount of portals that were generated here, which made me feel that “The Shatter” doesn’t just refer to the landscape, but also to the very fabric of the world itself. Then by happenstance someone posted this… Distant Lands and the Creation Thereof (thanks Lexi). So I am definitely going to be making encountering random portals a thing here… perhaps when rolling a 6 on the encounter die you spot the influence of another world and can choose to track down a new portal? (or maybe turn that around, and require a navigation check to ensure you dont accidentally go through to a new world) The portal remains open for 1d6 weeks? (imploding perhaps? roll 1d6, number = T. roll again, if new < T add. equal or greater stop.)
Yet, people make a living out here – its actually the area with the most “civilisations” in the Broken Lands. The “Gondolin” expy down south, and the refugee kingdom up in the north with the controlled villages.
1. humanoid: Lost Tribes (B/X Nomads)
These are people (humans, orcs, other things) who came across portals some time in the past. Some tribes are new, some tribes have lived like this for generations. They all have different traditions (roll your own here?)They have learnt to live with this shifting terrain, and may even have ways of navigating between worlds. But nothing is for free – always be prepared to trade something when encountered.
2.undead: Ghouls (B/X Ghouls)
With the realms all jumbled, often when a person dies their soul gets lost and cant move on… in the Shatter this is especially common, and the result is this. If you touch them they infect you, causing you to be trapped by the shifting planes of reality (paralysis). And most likely you will join them shortly thereafter.
3. fey: Eld ( Misty Isles of the Eld)
The Eld sometimes send parties out here. The land is so inundated by dimensional energies that many objects have become supercharged. Here they often bring slave-gangs to mine, or just trade their own trinkets to superstitious locals for the “useless” rocks and other objects.
4. giant: Earth Elemental (B/X elementals)
The amount of magical leakage from the portals lets vast amounts of magical energy seep into the land. Sometimes that energy spontaneously awakens. These creatures are very similar to summoned elementals, but only really interested in revelling in their own existence. Do not try to bind them… seriously.
5. reptile: Void Hunters (B/X Horned Chameleon)
This is cheating a bit… Its basically a Moorwen from the movie Outlander
These are creatures that hunt the edges of realms – they reach through the veil to grab their prey. Victims will sometimes see lights, similar to will ‘o the wisps, which lure the victims closer (add a charm spell?) They attack through the veil – appearing suddenly from nowhere. Just as quickly they vanish, leaving confused companions wondering where the screams came from, and where exactly they left Bob the torchbearer.
6. arial: Air Elemental (B/X elemental)
In a similar manner to the earth elementals, the leaking energies from between worlds is polluting the very air – and sometimes it reaches a critical point that gives rise to sentience… that positively enjoys the violence of storms and gales…
7. lurker: Lizardmen (B/X)
I struggled with this .. until I remembered the swamp and river in the Southern Shatter
There are many intelligent beings that have adjusted to life in the Shatter – most have become nomads, some have settled. But they are able to get along and co-operate. Lizardmen are very different. They have a totally different culture that is incompatible with most warm-blooded beings – unless they are fine with becoming food.
8. dimensional: Shadows (Codex of the Black Sun)
These are (semi?) sentient foci of the energies leaking from the rents in the world – the energy from between worlds that is magic itself. Some call these things “Demons” or “Devils” but they are not from any realm or world. Some practitioners of the magical arts have learnt to create them, but “wild” Shadows will pattern themselves on something nearby when they appear, then try to grow.
9. mythologic: Dragon (B/X Red Dragon)
These beings are innately magical, and require large amounts of magical energy to properly mature. The nature of the Shatter has attracted dragons to temporarily nest. Once the eggs have hatched, these creatures quickly learn to hunt, and to travel through the portals to develop their own lairs. Or they are hunted for their parts which are very useful for arcane crafting.
The usual warnings about approaching nesting animals strongly apply!
10. underworld Kobold (B/X)
I consider Kobolds, Lizardmen, and Dragons all to be related…
When a mound of Lizardmen eggs isn’t kept in the right conditions, many of the young never fully develop, and Kobolds are the result. They are cast out by the tribe and left to fend for themselves. While not as physically imposing, their hard life leads them to develop cunning and trickery. Much more likely to trade or at least play nice until they can find a way to eat you.
Once again, the #10monstersetting is proving to be a valuable exercise. Already I am imagining some connection between Dragons and the Lizardmen. Perhaps I should call them Dragonkin? Are they the result of dragon eggs that dont develop properly? Or moved to a different environment. This is making me think of the lovely series of books “The Memoirs of Lady Trent” where dragons change depending on their birth environment. Perhaps true dragons can only be born in a magic-rich environment? Maybe this explains their habit of collecting hordes that contain magic items? This would make the Lizardmen into a natural “minion” of Dragons.
This is exciting – Dragonkin are a eusocial magical reptile… with different castes.. maybe they are some kind of magical haploid species where unfertilised eggs become one caste, and depending on the food (or magical environment) the eggs develop into special castes? Dragon, Draconian, Kobold, and others?
Anyway.. onto the Wastelands next.