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6/25/2014 6:42 am  #1


Khromarium

Let's hear about your Khromarium!

Have you written up an inn or a tavern? A thieves guild hideout? A forgotten temple or tomb, buried beneath the city streets? One of the mysterious black gneiss towers in old town? A ghost ship that appears in the harbor on special occasions, like full moons? A lost library filled with arcane knowledge or laboratory filled with ancient technology? Alien spacecraft sunken in the Lug Wasteland? Secret societies or powerful NPCs? Maybe you've sketched out rumor lists or even a basic map?

If so, I'd love to hear about it. I really like how Jeff has left much of Khromarium open to interpretation and customization, but I'm also curious to see what others have done. You never know what might come in handy or be inspiring. I'm planning on starting a Khromarium-based campaign in a few weeks, so I'll share my ideas as well.

Last, if you are a player, tread carefully here as there may be spoilers ahead. If you are a referee and are revealing key details that might contain a spoiler, either provide a warning at the top of your post, use the spoiler tag or hide key sections by matching the text color to that of the background. Thanks!


Blackadder23: Insanely long villain soliloquy, then "Your action?"
BORGO'S PLAYER: I shoot him in the face
 

6/25/2014 7:26 am  #2


Re: Khromarium

Haven't done anything with it. I believe there a few nuggets in the published adventures to extrapolate from-such as the current Mayor; his guild affiliation, and the old city versus the post green death settlement/build up by barbarian settlers. I look forward to anything that anybody comes up with!  

 

6/25/2014 9:20 am  #3


Re: Khromarium

Tim Callahan has been doing some cool stuff with it. Here is a map he worked up for the city:

http://i58.tinypic.com/1hdxq8.jpg


Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea - A Role-Playing Game of Swords, Sorcery, and Weird Fantasy
 

6/25/2014 10:58 am  #4


Re: Khromarium

I basically use CITY STATE OF THE INVICIBLE OVERLORD as Khromarium.

Last edited by Maezar (6/25/2014 10:59 am)

 

6/25/2014 2:49 pm  #5


Re: Khromarium

Khromarium is presumably based on Commoriom, in the Hyperborean stories by CAS.  Smith doesn't really have a lot to say about that place (other the fact that it was abandoned after the government repeatedly failed to execute an outlaw who eventually turned into a blob-monster and engulfed the city - you know, the usual stuff), so you'll have to look elsewhere for inspiration.  I do like the fact that Jeff left the details up to the individual referee.


Michael Sipe 1979-2018
Rest in peace, brother.
 

6/25/2014 5:12 pm  #6


Re: Khromarium

@Agricola - Good call! Some of my players have already read the Khromarium-based modules, so I had planned on re-tooling those with fresh stories and challenges, at which point I will keep an eye out for details.

@Ghul - Nice map. I like how he has a river running through the city. I may have a couple in mine to help delineate a few main areas. I might also add an area where part of the city is literally sinking into the sea, like Venice when it floods. Anyway, I also like how he's just labeled areas generally and not tried to map the contents of every single alley and street. I read somewhere, maybe at ODD74, that Morgan took a hexmap approach to it, which I could see that working well too.

@Maezar - That's a good idea. One point I'm still thinking through is how big I want the city to be. I think Jeff said his measures something like 10-12 miles across, 8-10 miles north-south, but I am not wedded to those dimensions. How big is CSotIO?

@Blackadder23 - Thanks for saving me the trouble of scouring CAS for references, as that had been on my list too. Luckily in this thread and in general I am not so much interested in learning the "true details" of Khromarium as represented in source material (though I am not opposed to it), as much as I am interested in seeing people share their ideas to create a good community resource. As for me personally, if I can include some iconic elements, like the black gneiss towers in old city, I will, but I plan to build out a lot of custom material as well.


Blackadder23: Insanely long villain soliloquy, then "Your action?"
BORGO'S PLAYER: I shoot him in the face
     Thread Starter
 

6/26/2014 3:51 pm  #7


Re: Khromarium

I don't have my books in front of me but I picture Khromarium as originally a fairly large city, although much of it now lays wasting away. The city at it's height spanned a failry large area, on both sides of the harbor. However after the decadence of the Hyperboreans and the ensuing Green Death much of it in now in disuse. The Old Town is a dangerous place where the downtrodden reluctantly cling to life, continually threatened by the depradations of the twisted beings that emerge from the darkness to prey on those whom will not be missed.


I picture a sprawling city, with the current occupants settled in the New City; a scattered horde of poor living in squalor amidst the Old City, where foul creatures come out at night. There most likely exists catacombs and secret tunnels below the city, especially under the Old City. The black gneiss towers that emerge from the shambles of the Old City likely also extend underground. I'd probably have a sprawling dungeon level under the Old City, with a couple lower levels for special areas, and connections up to towers as needed. I'm thinking some tower crawling would be fun: Hyperborean labs, undead, forgotten constructs, left behind treasures, lost magics, etc. Who knows what one may find in the "haunted" spiral towers of black gneiss.

 

6/27/2014 5:12 pm  #8


Re: Khromarium

That was a great post, Bill. I agree there is a lot of potential for adventure in the Old City, from the spiral towers to the underground.


Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea - A Role-Playing Game of Swords, Sorcery, and Weird Fantasy
 

6/28/2014 9:32 pm  #9


Re: Khromarium

First draft below (and apologies to Tim). You can see that I have departed a little from canon already, continuing the wall all the way around and tucking two harbors behind it. To the the north, the old city is separated somewhat by a few canals. As I said, this is just a first draft. I have a lot more work to do, adding various other areas and reorganizing it all, so don't judge me quite yet. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/wink.png


http://i1018.photobucket.com/albums/af303/Chainsaw78/Mobile%20Uploads/photo_zps2e077ff3.jpg


Blackadder23: Insanely long villain soliloquy, then "Your action?"
BORGO'S PLAYER: I shoot him in the face
     Thread Starter
 

6/28/2014 9:56 pm  #10


Re: Khromarium

Interesting! When I look at your portion of the city called "Sinking City", I'm reminded of of K.E. Wagner's version of Kordava, Zingara from Conan, The Road of Kings. What did you have in mind for that area?


Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea - A Role-Playing Game of Swords, Sorcery, and Weird Fantasy
 

6/28/2014 10:20 pm  #11


Re: Khromarium

Ghul wrote:

Interesting! When I look at your portion of the city called "Sinking City", I'm reminded of of K.E. Wagner's version of Kordava, Zingara from Conan, The Road of Kings. What did you have in mind for that area?

I'm not familiar with that reference, but I have in mind a largely abandoned area older than the more populated areas to the east, but newer than the black gneiss towers in the old city. The architecture is distinct from the rest of the city and, for some unknown reason, the ground has long ago begun to sink below sea level, resulting in water levels ranging from ankle deep to waist deep to shoulder deep, with many places even deeper (usually more westerly spots). Most believe the area's cursed.

Periodically dead, bloated bodies wash up into the shallower streets that bridge the sinking city with the west shipyards area. Usually they're just drunken sailors who took a wrong turn on the way back to their ship, but rarely they have been ancient Hyperboreans who've finally floated out of their hidden tombs, complete with small fortunes in their pockets... or maybe that's just a story. There have also been scattered reports of strange fish-men lurking in the water, undoubtedly up to no good, but those have not yet been confirmed.

Most reasonable folk avoid the sinking city, same as they would the old city, but sometimes adventurers and treasure hunters explore it anyway, lured by stories of lost treasure hoards.


Blackadder23: Insanely long villain soliloquy, then "Your action?"
BORGO'S PLAYER: I shoot him in the face
     Thread Starter
 

6/29/2014 6:54 am  #12


Re: Khromarium

That's fantastic, Chainsaw. Really inspiring stuff! In the KEW Conan book, that portion of the city that sunk is called "The Pit", and it is home to some of the most nefarious underworld people. Anyway, what you have here is great fodder for the imagination. I'd like to use some of these ideas in my own campaign!


Astonishing Swordsmen & Sorcerers of Hyperborea - A Role-Playing Game of Swords, Sorcery, and Weird Fantasy
 

6/29/2014 7:33 am  #13


Re: Khromarium

While I have sketch map for personal use, I've intentionally not given my players a map of the city. In my mind, Khromarium is a big, noisy, crowded, chaotic place. I want to foster a feeling that the players can never really know the whole place or feel too comfortable there.

Last edited by chrisj (6/29/2014 7:34 am)

 

6/29/2014 10:51 am  #14


Re: Khromarium

Ghul wrote:

That's fantastic, Chainsaw. Really inspiring stuff! In the KEW Conan book, that portion of the city that sunk is called "The Pit", and it is home to some of the most nefarious underworld people. Anyway, what you have here is great fodder for the imagination. I'd like to use some of these ideas in my own campaign!

Very nice of you say, Jeff. You're obviously more than welcome to use them as you see fit. I could post here for years and still be in your debt for AS&SH.

chrisj wrote:

While I have sketch map for personal use, I've intentionally not given my players a map of the city. In my mind, Khromarium is a big, noisy, crowded, chaotic place. I want to foster a feeling that the players can never really know the whole place or feel too comfortable there.

On the one hand, I can totally understand that sentiment. I also want Khromarium to feel the same way in my campaign. On the other, I have to admit that I am a very visual person and imagine that some of my players may also be from time to time. So, I plan to give them a map like I've shown here (apologies to Tim), as it gives us a common framework for thinking about the city and they would easily be able to access such vague information in real life anyway. As I have presented it (apologies to Tim), I think it can still have a large, unknown feel - I do not intend to map out each and every street and structure. I might place The Laughing Skull tavern in one hex and The Spiral Hell tavern in another. In each of those hexes there will be many other buildings that may be put to use down the road, but are irrelevant at the moment. If and when the time comes, I'll detail them.

When I think of an 8-10x10-12 mile city area in real life, I basically get an area from the southern tip of Manhattan to just north of Central Park, around Columbia U., but then the same thing on the East-West access. That's big. If you walk straight south from the top of Central Park to Wall Street briskly, unencumbered and making no stops, it will take you several hours and you will be tired (take a cab!). Everything north of Midtown would basically be the old city, with its gloomy towers, and everything south of Midtown being 1-4 story buildings, all jam-packed together in a twisting labyrinth of streets and alleys. It's a big, big area that I could never fill out even if I tried. Granted, much of it would be only sparsely populated given 30k people, but I think that's good. Leaves plenty of opportunities to add things. Oh yeah, we haven't even started talking about everything underneath the surface either!

At the end of the day, though, Chris, I think both approaches (map, no map) are perfectly valid. You have to do what works for you and your players. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png


Blackadder23: Insanely long villain soliloquy, then "Your action?"
BORGO'S PLAYER: I shoot him in the face
     Thread Starter
 

7/01/2014 3:19 pm  #15


Re: Khromarium

Threw together half a dozen inns and taverns for my campaign. Feel free to use and abuse in your campaign as you see fit. Spoilers follow, so my players should not read!

Death's Door Inn and TavernAn Ixian named Nabazos Methakos owns and operates the Death’s Door Inn and Tavern. After recovering a small fortune while adventuring in the Spiral Array, he returned to Khromarium, bought an inn and gave it a name honoring his many brushes with death. Surprisingly charismatic, Nabazos can frequently be seen welcoming patrons, tending the bar and even busing tables, aided by a dimwitted, but harmless servant. Adventurers seeking information on the perils of the Spiral Array often seek out Nabazos for his wisdom, which he usually gives freely to patrons.

In truth, the man behind the bar is not Nabazos at all, but Pagos Methakos (WARLOCK 5), his cousin. The real Nabazos poses as the dimwitted servant, but is actually a chaotic, evil necromancer (NECROMANCER 7). Nabazos acquired the building when his research revealed it was located on top of a forgotten temple to Thaumagorga. He has discovered an entrance to the temple's catacombs, from which he engages in an active slave trade and various wicked experiments. To avoid raising suspicion, Nabazos does not prey on his patrons, choosing instead to kidnap his victims from other parts of the city. Through Pagos, Nabazos maintains a strong relationship with the local thieves guild, offering to “dispose” of any unwanted bodies in exchange for privacy and protection from the guards. Nabazos has also recently discovered a magically sealed door within the catacombs, but has found no means to open it yet.

Activities/hooks: investigating the disappearance of an NPC could lead the PCs to the inn; the PCs could discover a treasure map or other rumor revealing the crypt beneath the inn.

Spiral Hell Inn and Tavern – Artigan McLoran, a gregarious Kimmeri-Kelt, successful adventurer and long-time Khromarium resident runs the Spiral Hell. Artigan offers the widest selection of libations in Khromarium, making the Spiral Hell popular among locals and travelers alike. Drinking contests are common, music plays without end and the crowds can be rowdy! Perhaps more importantly, Artigan is well known to trade in treasure maps, acquired through a vast network of contacts throughout Hyperborea. Sadly, these do not come free. Artigan typically charges north of 250GP per map, but the portraits on his Wall of Heroes, commemorating those made wealthy, make this price seem cheap. Occasionally, dissatisfied customers return to grumble, but Artigan’s famous Laser Blade often discourage real complaints.

In truth, Artigan (THIEF 4) is an inactive, but well-respected member of the thieves guild. As such, he pays tribute to the guild, in both coin and intelligence, to secure protection and access to information, which he often uses to create his maps (he is an expert forger). He does not participate in missions or guild politics, but, if sufficiently persuaded, can make introductions to the Fat Man (see The Laughing Skull).

Activities/hooks: purchase a treasure map from Artigan; attempt to win the drinking title; attempt to contact the thieves guild through Artigan (usually requires money or a favor).

The Laughing Skull – Everyone knows that The Laughing Skull Tavern serves as a hangout for bushwhackers, ruffians, rogues, bandits and dangerous men of all sorts. Vicious fights break out on a daily basis, with the skulls of the slain hung on the interior walls in rows. Most locals avoid the Laughing Skull and the town guard steers clear as well. Nevertheless, many adventurers seek it out, as it also well known as a place to hire experienced mercenaries and get profitable, if dangerous work. Rarely has the same person been seen tending bar, though an exceptionally fat man (“The Fat Man”) can usually be found in one corner, sharing whispered conversations and smoking lotus.

In truth, The Laughing Skull is a well-known front for the thieves guild, overseen by the Fat Man (LEGERDEMAINIST 5), who is actually very fit and agile, but uses a magical ring to disguise his appearance. He is also an important fence for the guild. Any newcomer entering without an invitation is eventually challenged by the newest available guild apprentice through some contrived affront (looking at someone wrong, talking too loud, refusing to buy the house a round or simply having the wrong appearance). Survivors of these challenges usually find mercenaries available (actually guild assassins or spies) or job opportunities (ambushes or further vetting).

Activities/hooks: hire mercenaries; look for work; fence stolen goods; interact with the Fat Man.

Diamond Jim’s – The viking Jimorung Raudbjornson (“Jim”) owns and operates Diamond Jim’s, an inn and tavern that famously sells a chance to recover the Sunken Hoard of Erik the Red. Many years ago, a great and terrible storm supposedly swept the remains of Erik’s long sunken ships into the caves beneath Khromarium, where they sit now, waiting to be found. Anyone who pays Jim 100 GP is led to a sewer entrance in the cellar, then given some directions to an ocean-carved cave system, wherein supposedly lies the vast treasure hoard. Sometimes explorers return bearing loot, but more often they’re simply happy to be alive, as the sewers and caves harbor all manner of nasty creatures. When the fee for access (and directions) is paid, the party enjoys a customary night of revelry, then departs in the afternoon of the following day.

In truth, although the Sunken Hoard of Erik the Red is considered just a children's bedtime story by most, Jim actually believes that it lies somewhere beneath Khromarium. He has paid historians, sages, seers and magicians enormous sums of money to research the hoard’s existence and location – and all the evidence points back to Khromarium. Nevertheless, Jim intentionally appears not to take the legend seriously and cultivates a circus-like atmosphere in his inn, while he slowly accumulates information that he hopes will eventually lead him to the treasure. Unbeknownst to Jim, two dangerous and warring cults reside in the caves (one to Kthulhu, one to the Kraken) and enjoy the steady flow of sacrificial victims, occasionally allowing some to return with planted “treasure,” so as to encourage more delves.

Activities/hooks: find the Sunken Hoard of Erik the Red; investigating disappearances could lead to the cults.

The Watery Grave (aka Harpoon’s) – An Esquimaux known as “Harpoon” runs The Watery Grave, an infamous tavern on the docks. Card and dice games are popular, but betting on more dangerous games and stunts, such as five finger fillet (aka, “the knife game”) and swallowing live octopi, often takes the spotlight. Despite the establishment’s gloomy name, it’s often a traveler’s first choice for hiring a boat, as the best captains and sailors in Khromarium are drawn to Harpoon’s gritty atmosphere. Those looking for rumors and information from lands afar often look to Harpoon’s as well, given its status as a popular stop for many sailors.

In truth, Harpoon (FIGHTER 3) has fallen in love with the viking slave girl (Halla) of a Hyperborean magician (Xanikon Kloon, WIZARD 6) that occasionally frequents his tavern to trade with sailors. Harpoon's offers to purchase her freedom have been spurned (rudely, he says). To make matters worse, Harpoon is deeply indebted to the thieves guild as a result of gambling losses. Perceptive PCs will be able to determine rather easily that all’s not well, as Harpoon will seem nervous and patrons will likely comment that he’s not been himself.

Activities/hooks: gambling; hiring a ship; if approached tactfully or after hours, Harpoon may share his sorrows, suggesting that if the PCs can kill the magician, all would be fixed – his love would be freed and they could split the Ixian’s treasure, with his share going to repay his debts. He tells them that he has recently learned where the magician lives.

King's Ransom Inn and Tavern – The King's Ransom Inn and Tavern, offers upscale food, drink, rooms and entertainment to wealthy patrons. Xulan Rhaan, youngest son of a prominent Hyperborean family, owns and operates the inn, which has become a popular and neutral spot for Khromarium's more powerful residents and visitors to socialize, gamble and conduct business. Xulan charges 100GP to even enter the building, thus preventing the baser elements from spoiling the mood, and employs a score of bouncers to keep the peace. Adventurers seeking council with Khromarium's more influential citizens often head to the King's Ransom.

In truth, all is mostly as it appears at the King's Ransom. The thieves guild leaves Xulan Rhaan (MAGICIAN 3) alone, probably because of his family's strong connection to the local temple of Xathoqqua, where his uncle serves as one of the high priests. Nevertheless, Xulan still has some enemies, including the Hyperborean Kolozun Graax, who believes he has insulted him by refusing the hand of his eldest daughter. Supposedly several attempts have been made on Xulan's life.

Activities/hooks: Kolozun Graax, through agents claiming to represent a notable Khromarium figure, hires the PCs to kill Xulan for treason; Xulan hires the PCs to carry a message to Swampgate, but he is using the PCs as bait to draw out and capture a suspected spy; a local sorcerer has advertised at lesser establishments for help collecting alchemical ingredients, requesting the PCs meet him at the King's Ransom to discuss the job.


Blackadder23: Insanely long villain soliloquy, then "Your action?"
BORGO'S PLAYER: I shoot him in the face
     Thread Starter
 

7/01/2014 7:18 pm  #16


Re: Khromarium

Well done! You have some great hooks in there! This thread has made me want to run a city campaign at some point... i've spent many a day in the wilds of barbaria.


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7/01/2014 7:57 pm  #17


Re: Khromarium

joseph wrote:

Well done! You have some great hooks in there!

Thanks! I did not post the maps, stats and some random tables that would be incorporated for each location, but perhaps I will when I get there. For me, the hard part is coming up with a memorable location and a motivation for the people there, so that's where I started. My next step is creating a pool of 8-10 non-tavern NPCs and a few factions that bring hooks with them. I feel like a city campaign needs to have a few different elements pushing and pulling at the group all the time, making them feel like they have to be careful where they go, who knows what, who their friends are, what "side" they want to choose and so on, more so than you normally get in a dungeon. Anyway, we'll see what happens. There will be plenty of dungeon opportunities as well, of course.

This thread has made me want to run a city campaign at some point... i've spent many a day in the wilds of barbaria.

Cool. I have never really run a city campaign either, so I'm wondering if it will ultimately turn out like any other campaign's city+wildnerness travel+dungeon, but minus the wilderness travel. We'll see. I actually do plan to create many opportunities to adventure outside the city, but my campaign starts late in the cycle, when there's little sunlight, so wilderness travel will be very slow and dangerous until the PCs have gained a few levels. So, I set to creating some ways for them to gain levels in town and in the immediate vicinity around town.


Blackadder23: Insanely long villain soliloquy, then "Your action?"
BORGO'S PLAYER: I shoot him in the face
     Thread Starter
 

7/02/2014 7:43 am  #18


Re: Khromarium

Those are really great!

 

7/02/2014 8:32 am  #19


Re: Khromarium

Agricola wrote:

Those are really great!

Nice of you to say, thanks. I think you could probably transplant these into any city if you needed a quick tavern, so I hope they are helpful.


Blackadder23: Insanely long villain soliloquy, then "Your action?"
BORGO'S PLAYER: I shoot him in the face
     Thread Starter
 

7/02/2014 9:01 am  #20


Re: Khromarium

A few of those ideas are immediately useful IMC. Thanks, Chainsaw!


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