Last night I completed the Fellglow Keep crawl in Skyrim. My Breton thief Chaney is currently parked outside the front door in my save because I forgot to rescue what’s-his-face the magic-user who defected from the Mage College.

Fellglow Keep was a much larger crawl than I expected — almost disconcertingly so — I recalled picking it up as a Mage College quest but I didn’t realize until three-quarters through it that it was a primary Mage College quest.

I schooled The Caller in the arts of Destruction magic — largely because the room automatically triggers a talking scene with no opportunity to sneak-attack her to death. I burned through a ton of potions but eventually prevailed.

I really need to pick up the invisibility spell. Or some potions.

I don’t sneak everywhere I go in the world — it’s too slow for me, and while I enjoy hiking cross-country for the scenery, the romance is lost if it takes too long.

I was going somewhere with this. Oh right, strongholds again. I brought up Fellglow Keep because I wanted to talk not only about strongholds, but about building towns, adventure sites, and wilderness treks into a region.

Currently, I’m using Settlers of Catan as a design aid in creating regions for my players to explore — and I’ve developed concepts to not only give roleplaying reasons for following the setup rules of Catan, but also eke out extra information for building up a region around a game of Catan for roleplaying.

(Technically I skip the numbered-chits part of setup because it takes too long.)

I’ve written about location properties before — Home, Center, Corner, Rank, and File, inspired by board positions in Chess — and a bit about applying them to locations for roleplaying purposes. A location flagged as a “Home” could be used for resting, recruiting, and trading for example.

March 9, 2012
Link: Home, Center, Corner, Rank, and File

They’ll be used for another purpose though — their comparative value in larger-scale conflicts. Files make up the roads between strategic points (comparable to “lanes” in DotA) whereas Ranks are effectively where all the good adventuring sites are — haunted woods, abandoned mines, troll haunts, and so forth.

Understanding how each location fits in the bigger picture will be important in creating the adventuring ecosystem of a region — but it’s a massive undertaking and the system I’m working on is still highly experimental at the moment.

“Farm neutral creeps” indeed.