Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Map: Joy's Farmstead

Here is a map of the area surrounding the Farmstead where Joy begins her adventures. The hex encompasses approximately 5 or 6 miles, give-or-take. It is meant more to show relative placement of landmarks and actual distances may vary on a case-by-case basis. All in all, it's about as useful or accurate as any map ripped from a children's storybook might be...

What's In the Immediate Area?

The Enclave. The oldest section was built into the hillside and connects to at least six small, zig-zaggy tunnels that run out to the old hop yard, the Still Shack, the Old Owl's tree, the edge of the Pastures and one or two other well-hidden and trapped exits. The second-story protrudes out over the ground floor forming a flagstone-paved porch area where a series of heavy old manlets and shutters can be pinned into place before the first hard frost. Around the main manor-structure are a number of apiaries, trellises, herb gardens, a pumpkin patch, some out buildings and roofed-over wood-piles--all the things you'd expect on a working farmstead. The main well is located at the base of the three-story stone-and-timber square tower set to the back of the main structure. The family has managed to defend this place through many a hard winter.

Briar-Lands. A natural barrier of dense black thorns, nettles, brambles and purplish-black, yellow-green, and red roses. The family has a pact with the roses and the plants form a tough barrier every autumn that both hinders travel and makes the main Farmstead more difficult to locate.

No-Go Mound. Joy's mother told her to never-ever go near the old mound for fear the Moundfolk might take her.

Cave. Joy discovered this cave just this Summer and she has been thinking about exploring the place one of these days...

Bear Hill. A Medium-Sized Bear dwells somewhere under this hill. The Bear used to trade old books and other things it brought with it from its time in the city for honey, molasses and Grampa's hootch in the Summer time. Joy's father always set aside a portion of maple candy for the Bear each Spring as a special treat.

Rubezahl. Sometimes a small group of the very tall folk from the Southern Mountains would come this far north in search of their favorite mushrooms. They also engaged in a little extortion or banditry along the Trade-Road if they thought they could away with it. One of Joy's grandparents drove them off more than thirty years ago and they still won't go any closer to the farmstead.

Black Trees. There are some gnarly old trees toward the South who spend their days complaining and grumbling about the good old days when thieves were hung from their branches and the crows came round to gossip. A few of them are so old and venerable that they still have a shield or some piece of armor embedded in their trunks from the times when knights and nobles were ambushed by peasant-gangs and their corpses were bound into the trees to hide the evidence from the sheriffs.

Spiderwood. Huge spiders and their kin have held dominion over a small, but very fiercely defended copse ceded to them by ancient kings no one remembers any more. Over a hundred years ago all the wolves were driven into this copse and the spiders finished them off, hence the absence of wolves in this area until just recently. The Spiders eagerly hope to receive a petition from the local land-holders proposing another wolf-hunt.

Feral Orchards. Twisted old apple and pear trees that have been left to grow wild ever since Vizri ran off to Wermspittle quite a long time ago. The apples can be bitter or sweet, depending on the time of the year and how well you bribe the tree. There are some very strange purplish apples in the orchard, but they only seem to be found during the dark of the moon. The Western edge of the orchard has been overgrown by thorns and roses, so there are some strange fruits in there as well.

Old Owl's Tree. A majestic oak older than anyone can rightly say. This tree was old before the Farmstead was first settled and there has always been an owl in this tree. If you know how to make friends with it, the owl can teach you a spell or two.

Sometimes Bridge. There is a low stone bridge that crosses the stream here, but it can only be seen or used during certain times, like during a Full Moon in Autumn or high noon in Summer. Sometimes the bridge leads to somewhere other than just across the stream.

Lamiak's Stream. A small family of Lamiak has lived near this stream for longer than anyone else has been here. They were nearly exterminated by vigilantes who blamed them for the crimes of an Iaralei that drove people mad with its singing, but one of Joy's ancestors intervened and protected the duck-footed marsh-folk. They are reclusive, shy people, but they still feel gratitude toward the family and will help anyone descended from Good Steven to safely cross the stream.

Tartulo's Cave. Amidst many massive, overgrown megaliths and standing stones is a cave that leads deep under a hill where an old one-eyed Tartulo resides. He has been a shepherd and something of a hermit living peacefully here on the northern edge of the Pastures for many decades. He raises several varieties of sheep and has traded wool and mutton to Joy's family ever since he settled in this area. He is very fond of Joy's mother's knitting, especially her socks and mittens and the extra-long scarf she made for him. Joy's family has a Pact with the Tartulo and he helps defend the Farmstead by re-directing travelers, misdirecting officials and scaring off nosey-types. He also fought beside the family a few years back when a large group of bandits passed through the area looting, pillaging and burning as they went. He hand-crafts excellent pipes and other household objects from bone and horn.

Pastures. Gently rolling hills and meadows mostly given-over to the Tartulo's flocks. Bitter-clover and a few other herbs grow here that can't easily be found elsewhere, so children were often sent here to gather such things as they came into season.

Hop Yard. Always a fragrant green place in the Summer, everyone always had to pitch-in to collect the hops once they were at their peak. Then the old-timers could get to work brewing fresh batches of beer for later in the year.

Jentil's Lands. A tribe of Jentils, large hairy folk who raised spiral-carved dolmen and standing stones very different from those set-up by the Tartulo whom they avoided and distrusted because he killed and ate sheep. The Jentil know a great deal about the local herbs, plants and growing things and have taught various members of Joy's family quite a number of secrets, recipes and lore. The family has a Pact with the Jentil who have long come to their aid and defense in times of trouble, and like the Tartulo, they misdirect and scare off would-be trespassers to the best of their ability. They are very gifted wood-workers and vine-crafters and are quite fond of the family's hootch which has attained a legendary status among the Jentil who zealously guard and defend the old still as though it were a holy relic...which...to them, it might well be.

What About the Trade-Roads?

Trade-Road to the West. This heavily-rutted and poorly maintained track leads past the  No-Go Mound through Jentil territory and on towards the Desolate Western Hills. It doesn't get used much any more but lately there have been sightings of Tripods and Refugees using it as they head South, though a few groups of desperate people have left the Trade-Road to cut cross country through the Briars, Black Trees and Spiderwoods to try and reach the Trade-Road that leads to Wermspittle. A few of them make it. The road splits just before it reaches the foot of the old Bear Hill. No one uses the road leading South-West.

Trade-Road South. This rocky, steep-sloping trail leads off to the Southern Mountains. It cuts through very dense woods and crosses at least two other Trade-Roads and passes by an abandoned trading post before reaching the banks of a great river. Nomads and merchants use this route to go to the West until that road connects with another route that leads towards Wermspittle far to the North. It is a long detour, but it is easier than cutting through the dense woodlands and many of them prefer not to take the more Southerly route but tend not to say why.

Trade-Road East.  This route leads East through a vast forested region that is dotted with marshes, small lakes and criss-crossed with streams and creeks. The way gets very twisty and splits several times before finally reaching the Eastern Reaches and the campsites of the various would-be settlers looking to claim and establish new farmsteads.

Trade-Road North. This way leads to Wermspittle, eventually. It is the direction all Joy's older siblings and cousins have used, as well as most of the rest of her family who have had to make the trip before her. Few of them came back that way. There is a coach that travels along this route from time to time, but it is not reliable and the driver always seems to be in a great hurry as though fleeing pursuit.

Joy in Wermspittle


  1. Evocative as usual, looks like there are some allies for Joy so she is not totally alone. I very much like the "No one uses this road" branch of the road.

    1. Thanks! This was fun to assemble. The more detailed Encounters for each of the sub-areas brought in a lot of the critters like Black Woods Dogs, so that was nice, at least as the DM. We'll be needing a few more tables for Bandits, Peddlars and such so those will be going up at the blog soon.

      Yep, Joy has a few options for allies as well as potential obstacles, hazards or challenges. Lots of choices, many options; that's the goal up-font. Once she starts making choices, things get a little more restricted, but right now it's all wide open...

      No One Uses This Road does kind of make that a curiosity magnet, doesn't it?

  2. That's a very pretty map and some great names and ideas, and very clearly of a piece with the material you've posted for Joy so far. I'm with seaofstars - evocative is the word. It gives us a lot more of what the setting can be as well, and maybe how it can be tied in with edges of other worlds for people who want to move into Wermspittle from more familiar approaches.

    1. I wanted a style that fit with the character and the opening gambit for this set of adventures. Joy is still something of a precocious child and her ancestral farmstead is a rich, old place full of nice things, even after most of the good stuff was taken along with the rest of the family when they left for the East. She has lots of things to choose from, so making those choices will be a challenge in terms of how much can she carry, use or really need...and how long she takes in making her choices is very important to how things go, as there are several encounters and events lined-up in the house and surrounding area.

      I received feedback from several readers who suggested that I provide people with ways and means of entering Wermspittle, this is one and there are several more on the way. The storybook feel to this map and some of the encounters and such is intentional and leads into some of the other ways a playable character could enter into this setting...or possibly leave it. Weak Points are not enough, though we'll be detailing a few things about those as well. The Coach is a bit of a hair-raising means for a displaced person to enter Wermspittle...but I'll get to that stuff later. I need to clear out some over-due posts before the end of the year.


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