Part One: Return of the Axe
Before I jump into this, I'll give a bit of personal history. I've been involved in one degree or another with the tournament since the beginning. My first published work in this field was for Crypt
, where I had "Torture without End," "The Lever Vault," and "Pain's Forge." My nick on this board comes from the Chalychia's svirfneblin smithy, Jengenritz. The year Crypt
was played, I was a Judge.
I was only a Judge, but I got to run a round 3 table...I really enjoyed all of my groups for Vault
and had a lot of enthusiasm for the tournament...
...which brings us to Palace
. Apparently my enthusiasm was noticed, because El Capitán asked me if I felt up to being the Project Manager for the next tournament mod. I may be getting my chronology wrong, but I believe I had already agreed to be Tournament Manager at this time...this meant I'd be in charge of the tournament from concept to implementation.
The beginning was rocky, I must confess. I knew I wanted the tournament to be an ever-evolving creature, and my natural inclinations tend to take things in very odd territory BUT I repressed the latter at first. Joseph knew what he was more-or-less looking for in terms of big picture (see his What I Look For document). The trick was getting the two to align.
He asked for several thumbnail ideas, I batted out a few and none really took off, but the idea of a chasm with a chaos artifact in its bottom appealed to him the most. Around here I realized what I had submitted...Axecleft Ravine, which was lifted from my very first D&D home campaign setting (called "Axehome")!
I used my old mythology, and it survived surprisingly intact in the finished volume (more on that later). While originally Marduk was the guy who dropped the Axe, I changed it to Casd'ixtat (eventually changed to Cadixtat). While originally Marduk and another chaos god were fighting over the Axe, I changed the opponent to a paragon of Law, Eus (eventually changed to Teleus).
Then came a conversation with my buddy JP. I explained that there was this shard of the Axe of Unmaking at the bottom of a ravine.
Then he said, "A shard? What if the entire dungeon was built around a giant axe..."
And I immediately said, "...because it has to be kept safe and the severed giant hand of Casd'ixtat is still there! Oh my god...a giant hand is the foozil!"
I gave JP an "additional development" credit for that one sentence, because so much clicked into place plot-wise afterward.
For the defenders of the Axe, which clearly had to be placed there by Law at the conclusion of the great duel, I chose the tortogs from DragonMech (I had either just finished or was working on my chapter for Almanac
, "Duerok"), slightly modified to be the shaorti. It was decided that "shaorti" sounded too much like "shorty," so Joseph asked for alternates, so I sent him 26...one beginning with each letter of the alphabet...and we agreed that falsoom was the strongest of the lot. The regenerative crystal the falsoom mine in the Waste (and can be found in the gallery on level 1) was, therefore, named "shaor."
Why turtle-men? The meta-plot called for a race, snatched from History at the beginning of things, to guard the Axe, so I couldn't pick a "known" D&D race, and I didn't want to just invent...oh...something like "purple halflings" or "monastic elves"...I wanted something distinctive that would dictate a specific environment, culture, and "feel." Why has no one ever seen falsoom before? 'Cause they've been forgotten about...it's part of their inherent tragedy (read Korok's section on level 2...Luke did a fantastic job capturing what I was going for).
I decided shortly after I figured out the falsoom that I wanted a "fake" final battle. For some reason, the Chronopia Firstborn Repulsar Knight
http://www.chronopia-deutschland.de/1/a ... /50121.jpg
stuck in my head. I decided that would be a mad "angel"...something set to guard the Axe but eventually corrupted by it and turning on his falsoom allies (completing the metaplot point about the abject failure of the powers of Law to contain the Axe). Since it was an "angel"-analog, it clearly had to be named Yephaiel.
Now I had an ancient history, a recent history, turtle-men, a Yephaiel the Unyielding/Yephaiel the Mad, and the Axe of Unmaking. I had a vision, a clear idea of what, where, and how.
All I needed was people to write the adventure.
NEXT: Herding Cats