Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Weird landscapes

Sometimes I find myself in need of weirdness generators. At present I'm trying to set up a weird landscape generator.

So far I only have notes:

The undulating ground is earth but looks like waves on the sea. Ridges resemble breakers. Perhaps over a million years the waves will break.
The flat ground is like red marble, with veins that change colour as you observe them.
The red earth sprouts fleshy trees that produce red sap and inviting fruit. Anyone killed here will produce a new tree in 3 months.
The rocky ground is streaked grey and yellow. A dull green fog hangs over everything.
Towers of black glass dot the landscape. Monster encounters are more common near them.
Though the sun is shining, the sky is black and stars can be seen.

Undulating ground like waves in the earth
Plain of red marble with veins of changing colour
Forest of fleshy trees with inviting fruit
Rocky ridges of streaked grey and yellow
Towers of black glass dot the barren landscape

Clear, though the sun is shining the sky is black and stars can be seen
A dull green fog hangs over everything – visibility 50 yards
Mirage of colossal city in the distance

Black lightning strikes – storm lasts d6 hours, save v death ray every hour or take d6d6 damage

Sunday, 5 March 2017

Notes on my original megadungeon and other ancient goodies

Looking in an old box of papers in my loft, I've come across some old gaming stuff, which it seemed was transferred from one box to another nearly 20 years ago without ever really being sorted out. These papers, on closer examination, included:

... the notes for my original megadungeon. These would be about 30 years old or a bit more. I only got round to detailing a relatively small area of the first couple of levels, and no-one ever played it. Like Silvergate, it is a Dwarf city; but really that's where the similarity ends. My idea with... not even sure it had a name ... was to take things I had and bodge together the bits I wasn't otherwise going to use to make a crazy labyrinth. In pre-internet days decent maps were like gold-dust and primarily this was a way of recycling unused maps from White Dwarf. There were some scenarios I thought I wouldn't play without a lot of work, generally because they were for AD&D and I didn't have the Monster Manual. Because of this various monsters were somewhat obscure to me - I think, Sahuagin and Kenku particularly. Everything I knew about Sahuagin I gleaned from DDG; I knew nothing about Kenku at all. I seem to remember that I eventually decided I'd just replace them with Lizardmen and Halflings respectively. Some of this stuff might even end up being incorporated into Silvergate: there's a nice bit with a petrified giant I might include.

... the first 'wilderness' setting I designed, in approximately 1983. It featured a castle, and nearby a dungeon stuffed with Orcs and evil priests. Obviously, it was heavily influenced by Keep on the Borderlands, which came packaged with my copy of the Basic Set. One of the things that really dissatisfied me at the time with my version - and it's a criticism often levelled at the original - is that the scale is all wrong. I abandoned work on it when the idea of a large inimical-humanoid base in a dungeon two miles or so from the castle of the local lord just seemed... daft. There may, however, turn out to be some things that can be salvaged, though I don't remember very much. I haven't even looked at this stuff since I was a teenager.

... notes towards my first 'campaign setting', referred to in this post where I discuss my much-later Arthurian campaign:

...The Four Treasures - two of which had become the direct objects of mythic quests already - would each be linked to an element in the classical system of elements (Earth, Air, Fire and Water). Each element would also be linked to a race. This goes back to a very early stratum of my campaign-design, the first campaign notes I ever wrote in about 1981. Back then, I assigned the elements on the following basis: Dwarves - Fire; Elves - Air; Halflings - Earth; Humans - Water. This time, I assigned them as Dwarves - Earth; Elves - Air; Humans - Water; Orcs - Fire...

Well, those are the notes I found, though I now think that they're probably from 1982 instead. Some notes about meeting an old dying Halfling on the road, and him pressing a jewel into one party member's hand and telling them a scrap of poetry. And then dying of course. I imagined it would be an epic quest, naturally - except it never happened, I never ran it. I wouldn't even consider doing something similar now - far too railroady, not enough opportunities for player choice. But perhaps the set-up could still work as a lead-in a bit more dramatic than hearing a rumour at the tavern.

There's other stuff too; a fairly meticulous cave-system with different factions of Orcs is one thing I think I saw while I was looking through the pile of paper, which may also end up as part of the long-stalled Orc settlement in Silvergate. Another is a series of notes trying to build a campaign from In Search of the Unknown, where Zelligar comes back and blackmails the PCs into doing stuff for him. Basically, it's my unused DMing notes 1982-87 or thereabouts. I didn't however find my DDG-inspired pantheon I wrote around 1983 - that would be interesting I think. A more careful sort through what is actually there is definitely in order (just in case those notes are there).

Now I'm seriously thinking that I should just smash all this stuff together and call it a sandbox... it should all more-or-less work, though it lurches from the gonzoid to hackneyed and back again with gay abandon. There's a certain naive charm about it. I mean this isn't 'old school', it's not retro or revivalist - it's genuinely just old.