Sunday, May 26, 2013

Twenty Questions: Sosaria

The first couple of Ultima computer RPGs included a hodgepodge of sci-fi elements mixed into the fantasy stuff that later became the norm.   I thought that mashy-upedness would make the setting of the earlier games ideal for some Encounter Critical nonsense, particularly the Lands of the Feudal Lords in Sosaria during the time period between the death of the Mondain (big bad of Ultima I) and the rise of  the Ultima II villain, his apprentice/girlfriend (a pretty creeped up combo if you ask me), Minax the Enchantress.  My old twenty quick questions article was designed for D&D games, but I thought I'd see how well it fit in this case.

What is the deal with my cleric's religion?


You won't be playing a local cleric, since there's no such class in Encounter Critical.  The divine and the magical aren't split and religion isn't a major factor in most folks' day to day lives.  Only warlocks and other weirdos get involved in religion, by joining cults (more on that below).


Where can we go to buy standard equipment?


Any town and most villages will have traders happy to sell you all sorts of stuff.  What counts as 'standard' equipment in Encounter Critical is a matter of debate.


Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?


Any town ought to have a smith capable of the job, but waltzing about with a big scary pet monster might get you noticed by the burly and surly guards.


Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?


Everybody used to agree to on this answer, but Mondain has been dead for five years.  No doubt powerful wizards dwell in the City of Magic in the Frozen North, beyond the area depicted in the map above.


Who is the greatest warrior in the land?


The Black Knight, once a chivalrous hero that Mondain turned to the dark side, he now wanders the land committing acts of banditry and mayhem.





Who is the richest person in the land?


Probably one of the Feudal Lords, the Monarchs of Rondorlin and Barataria, but rumor has it that certain clans of mountain dwarves possess gold beyond the dreams of avarice.


Where can we go to get some magical healing?


Most towns and many villages have local healers who use either herblore or minor psychic abilities to heal minor injuries, for a modest fee of course.


Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath?


More serious injuries and conditions should probably be referred to a member of the Cult of Truth, a group of warlocks specializing in white magic.


Is there a magic guild my Magic User belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?


There are lots of cults, sects and secret societies, many possessing magical lore unknown to others.  Newly created warlocks may begin play with a bonus spell by rolling on a random cult list, which includes mainstream groups like the Cult of Truth and the Cult of Runes to more obscure groups to outlaw orders like the Disciples of Mondain.


Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?


Castle Rondorlin and Castle Barataria sound like good places to look.


Where can I hire mercenaries?


Experience sellswords are pretty common at all the towns, unless the monarchs are at war again.  And it isn't difficult to find young farmers who can be lured into henchwork with tales of adventure.


Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?


Civilized society recognizes the utility of magic and the practicality of arming oneself, but some of the more backward villages might have strange local ordinances.


Which way to the nearest tavern?


Taverns are the lifeblood of Sosaria.  A village is only a collection of adjacent peasant hovels without a public house to make it into a community.


What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?


Many villages and towns are plagued by local menaces, the defeat of which will no doubt make you the hero of the burg.  The Frozen North is home to the Great White Dragon, a major menace.


Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?


Now that Mondain is no longer threatening to take over the world Rondorlin and Barataria have resumed their age old rivalry for control of the realm.  They fight little skirmishy wars practically every year.  Raiders of the viking and/or goblin persuasion sometimes attack the northern coasts, while amazon warbands occasionally pillage the south.


How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?


No, but on the off years when the two kingdoms aren't at war at least one of them holds a tournament.


Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?


The Disciples of Mondain mentioned above, the Guild of Thieves, and perhaps others.


What is there to eat around here?


The steak is excellent.  Baratarian beef is known throughout Sosaria.


Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?


Mondain allied himself with the mysterious Starwalkers, who possessed arcane technologies beyond the kin of Sosaria's pseudo-medieval civilization.  Those guys left all sorts of cool crap laying around the joint.


Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?


Head north and seek out the castle of the Great White Dragon or plunge the depths of the dungeons in hopes of finding the treasure troves of balrogs and liches.