Alright, so we've got races, we've got cultures, we've got factions, we've got professions. That means we've got numerous ways to describe a person, and we've got maps depicting numerous places in which people might be found.
Let's pick a settlement map that's already been developed and start assigning some people to it. We'll work on the idea that the protagonists have family in a specific village, and the chronicle will be about trading with nearby small settlements to get needed goods and possessions, and occasionally visiting the larger town which is a few days travel away. This way we've got a few groups of interconnected characters in the story, some connected by their town location, some connected by blood, others by faction, and some by events in the past that will be revealed through the course of play (old enemies, old allies, mentors/students). Within each settlement, there will be a few key places, and a relationship connecting various people...between settlements there will be looser relationship maps. Everybody will be connected to at least two other people, and I'd like to make sure that most people are connected to at least three or four.
We'll start with the largest of the settlements that was mapped earlier.
Let's look at a total of six settlements, each with 4 to 6 notable community members. That gives us about 30 regular characters to interact with. In addition to these, there will be a nearby warren of Shellbrood, and a few "forgotten zones" that have been closed off for a long time (years, decades, longer), but which may be opened up through the course of the story). I'm assuming that this section of the hive will be on the bottom layer of the middle shell. I love the idea of a "bottomless pit", and this area facilitates that sort of thing happening (if we were in the middle layer of the middle shell, we could have a dramatic moment where the characters emerge into the "daylight" of the open area above...but that might be a scene for another story told in this setting).
Let's draw a quick sketch of the layout between the settlements and places of note. Where are the known paths that join these communities?
At the points where there are branches, we might add little points to indicate the presence of hermit families and significant marker points showing where the divergences occur.
And then we number the established pathways based on the number of hexes they pass through. This basically ends up as a measure of how quickly we can pass from one settlement to the next.
Numbers given a white halo are relatively clear, they represent the frequently travelled route from our central settlement to the waystation (give a navigator two extra successes when they guide a group along the trade barge channel). Numbers are given a yellow halo when they indicate a relatively well trodden path through the hive (give a navigator an extra success when they are guiding a group along one of these paths). Numbers are given a red halo when they indicate an infrequently used path that is known by the locals (navigators gain no extra successes for travelling this way, but they do know that the path reaches between these points, rather than simply being a dead end). If a navigator tries to cut across the hexes without marked passageways, they may run into dead ends or other obstacles.
Now we'll define the types of factions we might see. If I write this up, the. Bring it to the players, and one of those players decides to align their character with another faction, that's no problem... We simply state that the character's chosen faction is new to the area, is working secretly in the area, or has lost power in the area after some kind of conflict. If the player still chooses that their character openly aligns to that faction, they've got an instant story hook.
Different coloured dots for different types of threats, small dots indicate a minor threat that could be avoided if a group is lucky (or minds their own business), larger dots indicate a more common and more dangerous threat. Yellow dots indicate the presence of the Shellbrood, Red dots indicate bandits and possibly mutants roaming the hive, Green dots indicate a rampant fungal bloom, Blue dots indicate secured parts of the hive that have not been successfully explored for quite some time (the larger the dot the longer since successful exploration has occurred).
Next, we detemine the various genetic heritages that are prevalent through the area, and where that blood might seem "most pure". Remember that Nullans are everywhere, Khar-Tui and Riven blood is also found in small quantities almost everywhere, the other races are less prevalent, but that doesn't mean such genetic traits can't be found in various individuals as throwbacks or even as secretive descendants of original survivors who've managed to keep their bloodline relatively pure.
Red dots for Riven blood, Blue dots for Khar-Tui, Green for Panaho, Yellow for Endoss. (Threats are faded to 50% in this map, showing the connection between Riven warriors fighting the Bandits and the Shellbrood, while Panaho tend the fungal bloom.)
Before we start naming things, I've forgotten an important detail...a detail which, as a linguistics student, I'm kicking myself over. I haven't decided the languages that will form the basis for naming conventions in this setting.
The Khar-Tui have already been established as having a vaguely Japanese Culture, so we'll go with modified Japanese words for their naming conventions. The Riven are vaguely Norse, so I'll go with modified Icelandic terminology here. The Panaho are vaguely Ancient Greek in their style of dress, so that's where I'll aim with their words. The Xelani will speak a form of pseudo-Latin. For the rest, I haven't really decided, but maybe the Kithspeak of the Kithlings is vaguely Korean, the Ichthyani language might be vaguely Hawaiian, and the outsiders speak a wild array of languages. For the common Nullan spoken by virtually everyone, I'll go with the general lingua franca of English (if only because I know it best).
I know I'm engaging in cultural appropriation by generally taking these languages from their original contexts, but as a shorthand to get people thinking the right way by attaching the word forms to existing stereotypes in global culture, I can quickly move past the basic descriptions and get into the nuances of these cultures.
For the moment, let's start naming the parts of our area's main settlement.
We can name the other towns and areas in the next post.