Jeff Rient’s 20 Questions for campaign settings are somewhat famous and I think most people have probably heard of them at some point. While I was working on a full continent sized setting I didn’t find them particularly helpful, but for building a sandbox and introducing it to the players they are a really useful tool. I went over them again with my Forest of High Adventure sandbox and it’s a good way to flesh out some elements that you didn’t think of before but that might be of interest to the players.
- What is the deal with my cleric’s religion?
All priests (mechanically identical to witches) are shamans. Shamans who are in charge of or are serving at a particular shrine or holy place see themselves as servants of the local guardian spirit that is watching over the surrounding lands. Clan shamans and travelling shamans see themselves as intermediaries between spirits and mortals, serving as messengers and interpreters to reveal the will of the spirits to the people within their domain and delivering requests and performing sacrifices to the local gods.
- Where can we go to buy standard equipment?
If one is of need of weapons, armor, and supplies, it’s usually the best idea to petition the local chief or one of the other great families for assistance. Many of them are inclined to share their resources with those brave enough to dare the ruins in the wilds, but this help always comes with a price. Some are willing to trade for silver and gold, but more often they expect a share of what the brave heroes might find, or even worse, a return favor in the future.
- Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?
To get unusually sized lamellar armor or other unique gear made, the craftsmen in the harbor of Tula are a good first station to try. If one finds no luck there, there is also the skeyn mine in the rocky hills far to the north, whose smiths are the best in the land by far.
- Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?
The elder druid of the Tall Trees is regarded by many as the most powerful master of magic in the lands along the two rivers. The shaman of the Blue Bear tribe is also a highly feared witch of terrible power, but if tales are to be believed neither of them would stand much hope to oposse the sorceress of the Demon Castle.
- Who is the greatest warrior in the land?
Of all the warriors in the lands along the two rivers, none are as feared in battle as the chief of the Blue Bear clan. However, aside from his own warriors, very few people would consider him a great man in any other respect.
- Who is the richest person in the land?
The Master of Tula claims a fee from any ships that come to trade in his harbor and that alone would make him a very wealthy man. But his family are also the biggest merchants in the land and control much of the local trade.
- Where can we go to get some magical healing?
Each larger village has a shrine dedicated to the local gods of the land and the shamans who are their keepers often gain powers of healing in return for their services to the spirits. However, they might not always be inclined to share these with outsiders.
- Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, death, undeath?
The corruption of sorcery and demons is very hard to remove but should it become necessary, the Druids of the Tall Trees would be the best hope to find help. There are also magical springs said to have healing powers hidden deep within the forests but these tend to be much harder to find. Dealing with undeath is easy. Any blade will do.
- Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?
The Druids of the Tall Trees, but they are not a trusting lot and don’t often take outsiders into their ranks.
- Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?
The main port at Tula is by far the largest settlement within several hundred miles and home to a number of sages and alchemists. The high druid of the Tall Trees knows more about sorcery and how to fight it than anyone else but he is always weary about sharing this knowledge with those who might misuse it. Finally there is a great worm Elrem in the Caverns of the Great Worm, an ancient demigod of great power who has been alive far longer than anyone else in the land and knows much about its forgotten past.
- Where can I hire mercenaries?
The harbor taverns of Tula are always a good place to find armed men looking for silver. Warriors of the Blue Bear clan are also always eager to get into a fight but while they are always fighting bravely they tend to not be very reliable when it comes to following orders.
- Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?
Nobody is looking favorably on sorcery or the worship of demons, but the Druids of the Tall Trees have sworn oaths to destroy these blights to the face of the Earth wherever they encounter them.
- Which way to the nearest tavern?
There are a few taverns in the two ports on the southern coasts, but in the villages of the forest drink and gossip are to be found in the great halls of the ruling chiefs.
- What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?
There is at least one dragon lairing in the Endless Caverns in the mountains to the west. Rumor has it that it died some years ago but so far nobody has made any claims of having found its treasures.
- Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?
The warriors of the Blue Bear clan are always looking for trouble and constantly skirmishing with their kin of the Tree Ghost clan, who went separate ways two generations ago. Savage Kaska from the Witchfens are making regular small scouting raids into the forests to the south and have become increasingly bold in getting closer to the villages of the northwest.
- How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?
There are no treasures to be gained, but duels between great warriors are always a great source of fame and respect for the victors.
- Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?
They are secret. Keep looking.
- What is there to eat around here?
Aside from a wide range of berries and tough greens, food consists primarily of potatoes and wheat. Goat and rabbit are the main meat in the larger settlements but there are also large numbers of deer to hunt in the forests.
- Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?
A group of explorers have claimed to have found an enchanted sword and armor from the Nameless Dungeon the previous year. They went back to get more a few months ago but have not been seen since. Somewhere in the eastern forests is the fabled Grandfather Tree that both the Blue Bear and the Tree Ghost clans are looking for. It is said that the shamans of the ancestors who lived beneath its branches kept many magical relics in hidden chambers of their shrine.
- Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?
There is at least one dragon in the Endless Caverns who according to rumors died a few years ago but nobody seems to have found any trace of its treasures. There is also the sorceress of the Demon Keep who is believed to have amassed unimaginable riches and heaps of magical relics and artifacts.