Would you guys comment on/help me flesh out/tell me if it's utter shit/etc my setting?
Posted about it like a week ago, received some good advice and got asked a bunch of questions that forced me to explore cool stuff about the world. It can be summarized as:
>Tribes of mutated post humans live in some sort of Underdark. They have to deal with an aggressive enviroment and constant scarcity, as well as friction between tribes. There is magic but is either based on faith or extremely dangerous and corrupting.
So it's basically a post apocalyptic, all underground, weird fantasy setting. I've got a basic history of the world outlined, some details on how magic works, how is everyday life down below, and what kind of characters the players are going to be able to play. I will be posting all of this, and to keep everyone's attention I'll also gift you with my collection of underground images.
History of the world goes more or less like this:
>Aliens/things from another place attack humanity
>Most humans die during the conflict,(no dwarves, elves and shit) but some flee below the earth
>The surface can't host any life at all (acid atmosphere or some shit like that) as a result of the war
>With all their bridges burning, the last of what is left of humanity tries to survive in the caves and tunnels below the surface, but life is insanely harsh
>as resources are so scarce, they realize that life in large numbers can't be sustained, so they separate into smaller and smaller groups, and separate from each other as much as they can
>eventually some groups delve deeper and find that there is another sort of "underworld" below the one they were living in, a somewhat alien but more hospitable place, with strange ecosystems and huge, curiously, artificially shaped, big ass tunnels and caves systems
>here is where they settle down, the surface, the war with the outsiders, and the resulting apocalypse and exile just a distant memory in the songs of the elder
>at this moment humans start to show weird mutations, the first are subtle, but with each century humanity starts to walk on weird evolutionary paths, some regressing to an almost beast-like level of intelligence
>with mutations came friction, and each group started to isolate from the rest ("'dem scaly live beyond the chasm, and before the river are those damned mindtouchers, watch out for them, they will fuck up with your brain!"), trying to carve a living out of this harsh enviroment
At some far time in the future (maybe some millenia into it), the last of the mutated post humans would try to go back to the surface in search of their origins, but left it there.
The point of the setting is that this post humans have almost forgotten about the surface, and that they are too busy to even start thinking about stuff like where did they came from or shit like that. They are too busy hunting cave worms for their meat, tending to their 'shrooms plantations, and patrolling the corridors and caves outside their settlements in search of warbands of mutants from hostile settlements or dangerous creatures indigenous to the underworld. The mutated descendants of humanity don't live, they survive. Everything is expensive to them, except life, life's cheap, at least outside of the relative safety of the settlements.
Settlements are small and humble, for the most part, but at least they keep you safe while you sleep. Some settlements are xenophobic and or isolated, and slay anyone/anything that gets too near to them. Others are more welcoming of other mutants "races". Post-humans don't wage wars, all conflicts are a matter of skirmishes, raids, and small conflicts, no one wants to risk too much. Sure, there is the odd full scale attack here and there, but its not the rule.
Besides some mutants having weird mental capabilities, there is algo "magic". Magic is obtained by making a deal with an entity from beyond, from another plane or universe, and the deal is usually gross, like accepting a parasite living inside your neck in exchange for your powers: you give them entrance and a chance to live in our plane for some time, and they give you their (for them common) reality changing skills. Magic is dangerous though, and can sometimes backfire on the user and its sorrounding, corrupting them and turning them into hideous monsters more resembling their parasitic magic patrons, or dangerously warping reality around them, destroying stuff and people.
There is also another sort of magic, the setting’s equivalent of “divine” magic. For most settlements, faith in something (whatever, basically) is a big thing. Some are into ancestor worship, others into some sort of animism, others believe in some deity or entity from beyond, others worship their leaders, etc. Thing is no one knows for sure if there is anyone/anything out there looking out for the settlement, they just have a lot of faith in whatever they believe in and weird things start happen to some of them. This “Chosen Ones” get the ability to perform miracles and get insight from their subject of worship, but without the risk of corruption that haunts other magic users. Thing is that they cannot do whatever they want with their powers, and if they stray away from the tenets of their faith, they won’t loose all of their powers, but they won’t be protected against corruption anymore.
What I had in mind to explain what actually happens with faith and “divine” magic is that all mutants are slightly psionic, right? But they just don’t know it, and even if they found out about it, they wouldn’t be able to do anything with their psionic capabilities. The “Chosen Ones” of each settlement/cult are actually unusually psi-receptive individuals that can “tap” into the collective reserves of psionic energy that the community as a whole gathers through faith and channel them into magic, without having to deal with extra-dimensional outsiders.
Going to let the walls of text sink in for a while. Enjoy some more pretty pictures.
think that there is potential in making characters settlement-minded. I mean, having some sort of mechanic to track the relationship of the character with the people that live in their community. I even thought that inside their own community mutants wouldn’t even need any kind of currency, people just give you what they think you deserve (kind of like a commune). That way reputation would work as money. If they succeed at keeping the settlement safe against the wild threats of the underworld and against other mutant tribes they would get any equipment they want, resources, even followers. With time, they could get positions of power in the settlement, and the chance of running the place, maybe even choosing new places to settle down, looking for resources, or waging war against a troublesome tribe or warband.
If they keep fucking up with their community, they might get kicked away and become outcasts, hermits, bandits, etc. This would mean that they would be able to do what they please, but life would be really difficult, and they would be considered a threat to security by all surrounding settlements. They would have to live off the land, or survive by raiding, or serving as an independent adventuring party of sorts, or maybe even forming their own warband of pariahs and carving out a place of their own, be it by violence or settling in a new, far away place.
I don't think you saw my comment before the thread 404'd last time, but another anon and I loved the setting, and even liked the walls of text. I really like a well fleshed out setting, and I don't think you should take their advice to flesh it out less
Really? That sucks. Well, the images really help me get in the mood for describing this setting, and if no one is interested in the setting itself, I can at least give away some cool pics to all interested anons.
Oh I did see it! I had to go to the dentist the other day, and when I came back home the thread was dead but I checked the archives and saw your comments, really made my day, thank you!
I don't intendt to flesh the setting less, but I think there is some worth at beggining the thread with some summed up version of the whole thing, a tl;dr. Hell, the intention of this whole thread is to keep fleshing it out, with your help/questions.
This days I've been thinking about mapping the underworld, like, how to do it exactly. I know I'm using hexes, but I still can't figure out how to represent the "sprawling wilderness" of the underworld in a practical way.
Some questions that got asked in the last thread:
>Mutations/pacts that give magic are interesting, but how would you implement them?
I didn't really thought about implementing them, really. I think that the idea was simply to justify why some mutants were magic users and most weren't. Rationalizing after the fact, if you will. You know, like most settings just have "magic is really really hard and most people don't have what it takes to learn" to justify the scarcity of mages and wizards, but in this setting it's just a little more grimdark, and plays well into the the "do whatever you have to do to stay alive" theme that I want the game to have.
>This will vary heavily by system, but if you have one in mind, what mechanical effects would this corruption have?
I was thinking something like, every time you cast a spell there is a chance of it backfiring on the user or its sorroundings, or causing him direct physical harm, maybe killing him. But, instead of taking damage, the player can willingly invite corruption upon his character, becoming more and more alien, lovecraftian, each time he does. Besides looking awful and probably affecting his relationship with the other inhabitants of the settlement, I thought about forcing some kind of saving throw (in the case I choose to go with the OD&D retroclone) or custom Move (in the case of the * World engine) whenever an oportuninty to spread corruption unto others or do some pretty evil stuff arises. That way the character slips from the player hands, until it crosses some sort of threshold and its lost forever, becoming a creature of utterly alien thinking, a monstrosity, a beast.
>You wouldn't donwload a pic without commenting on OP's setting
A couple more questions from last thread
>What does each settlement do with their food or lives to make sure everyone can eat?
I had the idea (as I mentioned upthread) that as settlements are not really big, everyone kinda knows each other, at least vaguely, and things work like in a commune of sorts, where you get what you need, as long as you also provide something to the community. This means that currency or bartering is only used when trading with other settlements, and when a character wants, for example, two days worth of rations to go on an explore mission he must "buy it" with his reputation, spending his past actions, his contributions to the settlement, to get those rations. This probably means that most resources are strictly rationed, and those who are of little use to the community are forced to leave and live as hermits somewhere in the underworld wilderness (probably to die eaten by a spore-hound or some weird shit like that).
>How will you bring the PCs together?
Well, I thought that most PCs would be really community-minded, banding together to help their settlement thrive or at least survive the hardships of the underworld (like the mice in Mouse Guard). If they fail, they might find themselves kicked out and forced to live as pariahs, and the game would be really different then, I suppose. As I mentioned early, it would be more about the minutiae of surviving: getting food and water for all, having a secure shelter, maybe recruiting more outcasts to form a warband, or to travel far away and claim a piece of the underworld that no one wants. That particular thing could be interesting: scouting for a good place, clearing the area of threats, gathering the resources to build up a settlement, deal with bandits, cults, rogue magic users, or natural disasters, that sort of stuff.
I appreciate, I was just warning you all, make some tea and get comfy, there still underdark for a while.
Yes there is, I just stopped because I was bored of being the only one in here. I will re assume my duties now.
Also, feel free to comment on the setting. I mean, i-if you'd like, or not, whatever.
Question OP. Do you actually have any plans for what designed this underworld or is it just hand-waved?
On the subject of mutations- Are there beings that have been so far mutated that they are now in no way recognizable as having once been human? What about mutated plants and animals, are those around? And if so, how strange are they? Are there any living things that have intelligence near-equal to humanoids? (Sentient fungal grove that resides in a kilometres long cave?)
What kind of things are around, what variety is there?
-Plants: We talking only mushrooms grow, or are there areas with some lighting (somehow) with other vegetation?
-Animals: Are there only eye-less cave newts and fish, or do you have a notable ecosystem with predators of various kinds. If so, anything that preys on humanoids?
I'll try to come up with some other stuff. Seems fairly interesting. Also I apologize if I repeated any questions others have asked.
One of your pictures made me think of this as well. Is this setting just limited to one dimension, or do some parts of this strange cave system lead to other places not like our own earth?
Just quick thoughts:
Groups will either need to be big enough to maintain a viable gene-pool or interact often enough to keep humanity going. Either peacefully or violently.
In the caves... What are clothes made out of? What are houses built from? How long did people live there?
If settlements/social groups are small, how can shroom/worm-farming sustain them? Are things giant? What prevents others from just raiding the shit out of these people?
How real do you want things to be? How much are you willing to "ITS MAGIC I DON*T HAVE TO EXPLAIN SHIT"?
Oh good, questions.
>Do you actually have any plans for what designed this underworld or is it just hand-waved?
You mean like, if someone actually built/carved it? I don't really know, but I was thinking that this weird, almost magical underdark, is the result of thousands of years of Outsider/Lovecraftian/Warp energy seepage from a big ass artifact buried deep below, in the bowels of the earth. Something far older than mankind, even predating the aliens (I was also thinking that they wanted to wipe us in the first place because they feared that we were already corrupted/tainted and thus a menace to the galaxy if we ever managed to develop inter-stellar travel), put it there when the earth was a boiling mess of molten rock.
>On the subject of mutations- Are there beings that have been so far mutated that they are now in no way recognizable as having once been human?
Totally! Most mutants don't even know the word "human" anymore. I mean, they are all mostly humanoid, and most remember (or deduce) that there was a common ancestor to all the different factions and tribes. Some mutants have just like, a couple of mutations, maybe scaled skin and antennae, while others are seriously mutated, resembling more monsters than anything. Still, being really ugly or mutated doesn't make them automatically feral, though some mutate in that direction.
Now, magic users turned into eldritch abominations by fucking up their spells, on the other hand... those really turn into some serious, killing-is-all-I-know beasts.
>What about mutated plants and animals, are those around? And if so, how strange are they?
Hm. Well, the underworld is filled with weird lifeforms apparently "native" to the place, but some might bare some resemblance to the inhabitants of the surface of the past millenia.
>Are there any living things that have intelligence near-equal to humanoids?
I was thinking that besides mutants "gone lovecraftian mad", and some strain of really dim-witted mutants, most denizens of the underworld would be pretty much animal-like in intelligence. Don't really know why, but I think I want the setting to have a clear line between the wilderness and its ever hunger creatures, and the settlements and their (ever hungry as well) inhabitants.
>What kind of things are around, what variety is there?
Mushrooms of all kinds, of course. Big, small, gargantuan, poisonous, edible, everything. How come they are everywhere if there isn't enough decomposing stuff to sustain them still eludes me though... I was thinking of making up some sort of plancton-like life form, that kind of floats in the air, in big numbers, and recycles CO2 and other toxic gases into oxygen, and creates bio-luminiscence in the process, which might "feed" some plant life that is not fungi. Picture it, big, slowly moving clouds, that float around caves and illuminate them. Maybe mutants could use them to measure time, like, the "clouds" turn on and off every 12 hours or so.
As I imagine it, animals abound in the underworld. Roaming herds of cave worms, vicious spore-hounds that run in packs hunting lone travellers, stealthy floating creatures that can send deathly electric arcs to the unwary. I want to make the wilderness, the vast spaces between the relative safety of settlements, really, really dangerous, to make every raid into the untamed wilds an adventure in itself, to make well travelled and guarded passages a precious thing. I want the players to feel unsafe outside the walls of their homesteads, like potential preys.
>is this setting just limited to one dimension, or do some parts of this strange cave system lead to other places not like our own earth?
Have been avoiding this until now. I know other universes/planes/existences can be reached by magic users, and creatures can be brought forth from there in order to gain powers, but I don't think that leaving the underworld is an option. The idea of going so underground that you eventually walk into another plane is tempting though.
>Groups will either need to be big enough to maintain a viable gene-pool or interact often enough to keep humanity going. Either peacefully or violently.
Fuck, hadn't thought of that. What if they don't? What if a group of mutants just isolate themselves and live their lives away from other settlements?
>In the caves... What are clothes made out of? What are houses built from? How long did people live there?
I was thinking that most clothes would be made with leather from hunting. Maybe cave spider silk, a la DF? What do you suggest?
Settlements are mostly made of stone. Some more elaborate, others are just glorified caves. Most starting out settlements would consist of leather and bone huts. I was just reading a 3e supplement about the Underdark that has this mushroom which has the properties of timber. Maybe in some settlements it can be used to make wooden or wood-like buildings?
OP i enjoy the setting, pretty original. I would it be cool to steal this idea and try to sell it to my GM?
As of suggestions for fleshing the world out.
Light should be a valued resource. You should have areas that are just pitch black and have those be mythical hidden areas filled with whatever. Outside exploration should be possible in this, not smart but possible.
Prehaps tribes would cross breed for relations? Or why not just go back to what the wolves, hyena's and lions do. Have females seek out drifters as mates instead of breeding with the natural pack. And after the drifter's seed is planted she imminently kicks him out.
Thank you mate! Please, be my guest. Be sure to let /tg/ know if it was a success or a complete fuck up. If this gets somewhere I might even run a couple of sessions in roll20, who knows!
That's actually pretty fucking cool. Weird as shit, but cool.
Probably the last pic until tomorrow, if the thread is still alive
Somehow this thread has caught my interest more so than anything else in recent memory. I am interested in seeing more. Will attempt to contribute after work.
Thank you both, I'll try to keep the thread alive. Let's start with a morning bump, shall we?
Today's Topic: How the fuck do I map the underworld and make hex-crawling a fun activity
>>This will vary heavily by system, but if you have one in mind, what mechanical effects would this corruption have?
>I was thinking something like, every time you cast a spell there is a chance of it backfiring on the user or its sorroundings, or causing him direct physical harm, maybe killing him. But, instead of taking damage, the player can willingly invite corruption upon his character, becoming more and more alien, lovecraftian, each time he does.
I would do it slightly differently.
Make that roll a chance to empower the spell instead of a failure. At the cost of corruption, of course. Oh and he would have to choose yes or no if the chance presents itself.
That's going to hang some real serious temptation over the mage's head.
>Today's Topic: How the fuck do I map the underworld and make hex-crawling a fun activity
Vaguely. Random scribbles. It's not like the characters are going to have a detailed map anyway.
You can just randomly draw lines on a paper sheet, then shuffle them vertically a bit.
Humans cannot survive without sunlight, and may only adapt if it disappears gradually. It's just something to take into account if you want realism. Also, imo it would be cool if the once manage to get to surface and somehow survive (no more acidic air or perhaps they unknowingly developed an immunity to it while evolving) and started exploring what would be a whole new world.
The only direct impact sunlight has on human health is the production of vitamin D for metabolizing calcium. If we can handwave a fungus that produces enough naturally, there's no need for direct sunlight.
That's clever, and I like it! Why not take both ideas then? Give the magic user player the option that if he fucks up the spell casting roll (or whatever), instead of taking damage he can suffer corruption, and if the roll is good enough, he has the chance to make the spells effect bigger and flashier at the cost of more corruption. That way there is almost no real way of "playing safe" for the magic using characters.
I've been also toying with the idea of characters "healing" themselves of corruption by spending experience. Big amounts of it, so that the player has to choose between his character progressing (or at least do it at a non glacial speed). Maybe make it a roll of some kind, to make it more exciting and unpredictable, like, deciding before hand how much XP you want to spend, right? This XP will give you a bonus to your Corruption Cleansing or Fighting the Taint roll or whatever. If the roll is bad enough, you keep the corruption and loose the spent ammount of XP, if it is good, you also loose your XP but at least you're good for now, no corruption in you. How does that sound?
Hm, I didn't know that. So after a number of generations, humans (or its mutant descendants) could evolve away the need of sunlight to produce vitamin D? Or maybe yeah, handwave some fungus to bypass that.
See, this is the kind of stuff I need you guys for.
I'm not entirely sure, but if a population is too small, they might start producing sterile, diseased or otherwise invalid offspring that can't further propagate the species. At that point, the species simply die off. Unless the mutants use asexual reproduction, they would eventually disappear because of this. On the other hand, this is a world with magic and other supernatural entities, so you can probably just fluff this issue away.
Underground should have access to mud if you have water for buildings and pottery. Wandering social groups might be more prone to use tents and similar rather than huts. Especially if one main resource is leather.
So if you go with this model to keep up genetic diversity, the offspring are generally going to show some significant differences from the non wandering parent. What I think the solution is, then, is to have similar enough children kept in the tribe, and different children exiled at a certain age. This means you have a background for all the adventuring types around, as well as the wanderers that keep up genetic diversity
That's some good shit right there, Don't know if I'll leave it in, but maybe for some settlements that could be a fun twist.
Anyone has any experience hacking Apocalypse/Dungeon World? I'm planning on using it for this setting
Has OP ever played Spiderweb Software's Avernum CRPG series? It hits many very nice "scraping for survival in an underground realm" notes that you might find interesting or useful inspiration.
No I haven't, it got mentioned in the last thread. And "scraping for survival in an underground realm" is just what I'm aiming for (well, plus the warring settlements thing). I'll check it out, thanks!
its the only 2 underdark pics i got though
I feel that light should be great part of that kind of system. Light would allow for better life, defence better work, better farms (plant life). What's more fire would be very dangerous because of CO2 and CO poisoning so sites where you could use fire without worrying too much of that would be very precious. Maybe some ancient light generators (maybe mining equipment for time when human were still rulling planet) that noone can figure out how they work, how to move them or even how long they will work might be cool? Whole settlement living near huge machine that makes light in constant fear that it will fade. When light starts to dim they become irrational and might sacrifice others as a way to please their gods (it might even work, because of psionic potential of their faith).
I also like the idea of "bad light", "evil light". Maybe this artifact you mentioned can twist things so that they start to glow, but it is mutating and twisting everything it contacts for a long time?
That's ok, you now can have as much as 98, if you want.
As a gratitude for you selfless dumo I will try to post some underground. But have no folder, don't be mad if some won't fit.
All those are pretty good ideas, nice! About light being important: yeah, what I want is to make resources scarse, and light shouldn't be the exception. I need to find a way to make a light source in the settlements a valuable commodity, that no one takes for granted but that can be more or less relied upon. That said, I'm thinking it should be something that needs constant care/maintenance, something that cannot be taken away and expected to last more than a few days (no flaslights, in other words).
Lost tech from a bygone age is good, but the majority of settlements wouldn't be able to get their hands on that, so what do they use? We could go the usual glowing-crystals or mushrooms, but that would a need some sort of explanation on how they work and that its not full "magic don't gotta explain shit" territory. Maybe some sort of mineral that reacts to heat or idk, running water, and gives away some faint light? If taken away from its source it stops working after a 24-48 hours. I like the idea that the inhabitants of the underworld make use of the different lifeforms to make life easier for them, too. Maybe there is this mushroom that generates light, but it only grows in the presence of this other lichen that feasts upon rotting carcasses? That way settlements would have a good reason to keep hunting various beasts that lurk in the "wilds"?
could count as underdark flora
yeah i saved most of them thanks a lot dude
That's some strange inspiration for light if you want.
It's a plan of a Krubera Cave, the deepest known cave system in world. It's located in Georgia and it hasn't even been explored whole. You might want to read reports of explorers, it's very interesting on it's own (they took couple of days to go into the deepest places).
Ignore that dude swimming there and you wouldn't even know its filled with water!
>1. Download pic
>2. Turn it upside down
>3. Apply some filters in GIMP
I kinda went to far didn't I? I'll cram into a PDF for the next thread.
I belive that one is Petra.
Ok, I think I'll get some rest for now. If it's still up tomorrow I might add something.
Would there be any plotlines or fluff for reclaiming lost technology, magic, etc from the pre-fall society? Even if the current mutants don't know the true origins maybe they have mytholigized such artifacts?
Also, source for that pic?
Almost exactly what you said. Right from the beggining I liked the idea of some settlements having "Relics" from the age before the descent, pieces of techonology that the mutants don't get how they work (if they even do, maybe they just look curious and its enough for them to consider them holy artifacts) but that they value enormously. Maybe some of this items aren't even human, but from the aliens/outsiders that exiled humankind to the depths. Ray guns and shit like that. Those would be worth a lot to any settlement.
In game they could mean that sometimes brave warbands are sent on quests to retrieve some item from a far away settlement that is supposedly deserted, for some reason (a magic user gone full corruption, a raid from another settlement or an attack by a fearsome monster from the wilds, maybe famine or sickness), or maybe tribes wage war on each other because of this items.
on a similar note, I wanted to incorporate a massive underground network of caves. Now I have an overland map which marks entry points into the underground realm, but there are some entrance points that are over a hundred miles away from each other...
Given how winding and complecated a cave network can get, (not to mention that it moves in 3 dimensions) how the hell do I map that? or would there be an easier way?
Same problem here. My next thread about this setting will probably deal with this subject. For the moment, I suggest you to abstract the hell out of it. Check out the old AD&D module, Descents into the Depths of the Earth, it has a map that covers the entire underdark realm in a neat way.
Welp, that was actually the last one. Hope you enjoyed the slowest dump in the history of 4chan, I will now let the thread die in peace.
>Check out the old AD&D module, Descents into the Depths of the Earth, it has a map that covers the entire underdark realm in a neat way.
not to be rude, but, I'm having trouble downloading the module, would you mind telling me roughly what they did that was so neat?
again sorry for being a bother about it.
It's great to hear that man, check out the Underdark book for 3e and the Gazetteer 13: The Shadow Elves. Both books are pretty solid with their content. And see you on the next thread!
Here friend, check it. Instead of mapping every single nook and cranny in the underworld, Gygax and company decided to abstract by drawing different kinds of lines that represented big, easy to traverse tunnells and caves systems, from those that were smaller and more difficult to navigate (primary, secondary, tertiary, and tertiary and secret passages). They also noted where important places like unusually big caves or drow temples or duergar cities were located in each hex. I plan to implement something along this lines for my game.