Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Madlands Campaign: Inspiration from Witchville...

Good Morning, All:

Every campaign needs at least one big villain, if not more, and the Madlands Campaign is no different. Sometimes big defining enemies can add as much flavor to a campaign as a distinctive locale. Inspiration for interesting villains can come from a number of sources. In this case, I found the creative spark in an idea stolen from Witchville, which aired last weekend on the SyFy Channel. Yes, it was a movie with bad acting, moderately cool special effects, a few fun fight scenes, more bad acting and a relatively "vanilla" plot, but I usually watch these bad fantasy flicks for two reasons: ideas and cleavage. This movie wasn't particularly high on the cleavage quotient, but there are plenty of gaming ideas to be picked up here.

The core of my inspiration comes from a quote in the movie describing an isolated town as being ruled by the Crimson Queen and her demon ladies. From this came the concept of an isolated township ruled by a diabolist known as Lady Serova and a ruling family with a demon-tainted bloodline. The men of the family lineage are transformed magically into the warrior-servitor half-demons that serve Lady Serova, while the women become practicing sorceresses (warrior-mages).

Running with the idea, I'll take the male transformation one step further. While the nobles that display demon-taint are transformed into servitors, the rest of the men in the village are treated as slaves. Stealing an idea from the Amazons of Greek mythology, the village itself is a haven for a very female-dominated culture. With that in mind, I check out the Amazons entry on Wikipedia, and decide to name the village after one of the Amazons listed therein: the Amazon Thermodosa led me to name the village Thermodosia, which in turn transforms into Merdosia. Okay, that's a name I can run with.

With Merdosia ruled by the court of Lady Serova and her sorceress elite, protected by demonic servitors and served by enslaved mortal men, I now have an interesting villainess for the campaign. Her sorceresses often travel beyond the isolated environs of Merdosia on raids for more male slaves. So, a common encounter in the area might be a raiding party of sorceresses. If the party discovers some demonic treasure trove, one of Lady Serova's sorceresses and a few servitors could be dispatched to recover the treasure. Known for her love of magic, the Lady Serova may also be sought out for lost magical lore, such as spells or rituals. Perhaps the Lady Serova has captured a young noble among the men she's enslaved, and his father is willing to start a war against the villainess.

And of course, the ideas don't stop with just Lady Serova and company. As mentioned above, there's likely a demonic treasure trove, so here's inspiration to locate a demon-themed dungeon in the Madlands Campaign. One of the main characters in the Witchville movie was a witch hunter, which could inspire an organization that fills a similar role in the campaign setting. Of course, Lady Serova wouldn't be the only reason they'd gathered, so that implies that there are other threats of a similar ilk, even if Lady Serova is the most powerful and well known.

There's a lot of ideas here, and still more to come as I continue to explore the concept. This is the reason why I watch those cheesy B-grade fantasy flicks on SyFy. You can never tell where your next set of cool ideas might come from. So, what do you think? Where would you take the concept?


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