I used the Forge to generate some locations in order to test if it could be used in sandbox campaign. While a good Gamemaster can easily create all kind of fantastical and interesting locations with these names, I admit that either I’m unlucky or that this is indeed very hard.
Here are the first two locations, I still struggling with the other two and will post them soon (…I hope).
The Reef of Jade
These fabled shores are reputed to lie among one of the known world’s most dangerous and mythical archipelagos.
Where? The Reef of Jade’s location is a mystery even if the characters find a map, because its precise position among the isles can only be discovered by “sailing with full sails in the direction of the sunset, under the green flash and above the jade song”. These exotic requirements led many to believe that the Reef of Jade is some kind of demiplane. The “jade song” part of the riddle can be either a unique thing (like a specific composition sung by a bard) or a metaphor (maybe the character must fetch a famous singer from your local China-equivalent oriental realm).
Why search for such place? Besides eternal fame among sailors and pirates, the Reef of Jade is feed by magical streams. Whoever drinks from those waters gains long life (double all age categories) and becomes an ally with the Powers of the Sea. He’ll never drown if his ship is sunken or if he’s toss overboard and the waves will always take him alive to some (probably dangerous) shore. It’s believed that if you stare deep into these discoverers’ eye you’ll see a small green flame, revealing him to have drunk from the mythical waters of Reef of Jade.
The Bad Part. The Reef of Jade is difficult to navigate or to find port. It is populated by raging jade apes tribes, haunted by the terrible living songs of the sunken princesses of Teshalla and guarded by the furious amazons (harpies) of the Vulture Queen (an harpy sorceress/barbarian) and her Consort, the Blood Seer (a oracle cyclops).
Jade Apes [Use dire apes’ stats, but add the senses, immunities and special abilities of medium earth elementals. Finally, their skin turns back ray attacks and they’re immune to acid. Do not forget that jade apes can easily hide among the Reef of Jade.]
Living Songs of the sunken princesses of Teshalla [I would use these as hazards that drain Charisma; characters reduced to 0 would be cursed with bizarre geas like “collect all blue star-sapphire flowers of the Reef of Jade and present them as gift in the sunken temple of Nerub, the Half-Mermaid Queen”].
The Bear Breath Pyre
Located deep in the northern woods, this mystical blue fire burns constantly in center of a holy glade filled with bear skulls and bones.
Where? Maybe only the local centaur tribes/werebears/fey spirits know the exact location of the Bear Breath Pyre. Personally, I would like to use this magic glade as a holy hunting ground for the local barbarian tribes – both as a rite of passage and as an oracular site. Youths from the local tribes must get inside the glade and retrieve a small amount of “ghost fire” from the Pyre. This fire is a supernatural source of power – it deals 1d10 damage/round of contact on creatures of flesh and blood but doesn’t burn any other know substance (especially plants). The only way to prove that you went in the Bear Breath Pyre is the use a torch made of bear bone, taken from the glade itself (“ghost fire” can only be taken beyond the Pyre if carried on a bear bone torch).
Why search for such place? The Bear Breath Pyre is – reputedly – the resting place of the Bear-Father, an ancient animal king that fell in that spot. Its oracular powers are famous. A penitent must get inside the glade, take a torch of “ghost fire” and use it to brand the head of one of the local bears while asking – in the appropriate manner – a question. If done right, the struck bear will be possessed by the animal king spirit and answer the inquiry. Each character can only do this once; if attempted a second time he’ll be cursed (maybe changed in a werebear or a normal bear). Character can also use the Bear Breath Pyre to fetch shards of burning bear bones, maybe the ghost fire can be used to kill a dangerous outsider or other particular menace. You can also establish that the weapon that killed the mythical Bear-Father is inside the Pyre, still attached to the animal king’s giant bones, in the middle of the glade.
The Pad Bart. The Bear Breath Pyre is guarded by barbarians – centaurs, humanoids and such. The surrounding woods can be the home of fey and other mischievous spirits. Finally, the glade itself is always patrolled by bears and dire bears, besides the occasional werebear druid. To make things worse, bears can make a breath weapon attack of ghost fire if inside the glade. If that still is not bad enough, nothing forbids you from determining that the Pyre automatically awakens all bears in a 1 mile radius (if the animals leave the area they return to normal).