A long time ago I wrote a possible index for Veins Of The Earth. It’s here.
I have done quite a lot of work on it and a lot has changed. The rest of this is an assessment of the work I have done so far and estimation of what I still need to di, with an idea of what the finished book might look like.
All of this leads up to a question about what to do with all this. That is an argument about money. I invite you all to contribute your thoughts to this argument about money on the internet. Remember my rules.
So. First I needed an encounter table. I decided it needed living parts, so I started making monsters. Got a little side-tracked.
The bestiary, ‘Pariahs of Creation’ is looking like a 1st draft might be done in the next month or three. Then I need to go back to the table and the caves and re-order those. The whole thing together looks like a combination of these things.
3 life without light extremophile and fungal personalities, treasures, magic, politics. Cracked and ancient evolutionary paths. Ancient genetics from the dawn of life. Forgotten Phylum.
10 the shape of the space small scale immediate/tactical cave generator.
17 people you meet and why they want to kill you npc's (is there such a thing underground?
19 encounters 2 part encounter table, geographical and animate
What else needs to be done and what would the book as a whole look like?
I am thinking I will probably end up combining these three things
2 corpse of a river in the body of the sea. Karst diagram, most likely entrances. How Karst works, what it's like.
15 nobles of the deep Random table for generating rivers, water features, water generally.
24 larger cave system equivalent to street system.
They will become another large table I am currently thinking of as the ‘flows’ table. Its purpose would be to give you a larger scale view of the systems of caves around you, how they were arranged, how they came to be. It wold tell DM’s the pattern in which to arrange their systems, not exactly, but a general format. So that, when people moved from system to system, they could tell they had gone into a different area, just from the arrangement of the caves.
It would also be a table of rivers, and of mines and some other things. This is not as stupid as it sounds.
Cave systems are only created a number of ways.
- Rivers and water. (In the real world this is the major way. Water + limestone = caves)
- Mines and workings (In a fantasy world there could be layered millennia of these)
- Lava tubes, theoretical chemical bleeds from beneath the earth (Could be true, there are sulphur created caves in (I think) Mammoth cave system in America that may be there even without water coming from above.
- Weird magical shit (God Ichor caves, magical re-ordering, Godzilla-warrens e.t.c)
What combines these things is that in every case something flows and it creates spaces in the rock. The nature of the flow changes the patterning and arrangement of the caves. Water and Lava and god Ichor are obvious Strange chemicals from beneath also. Mines follow the patterns of minerals, so that sort-of works too. With deliberate workings it gets a bit more complicated, be we could (at a pinch) say that capital, or trade or political will flows like water or like a river so the nature of the intangible abstract affects the formation of cave systems in the same way.
What else would be in the book?
I wanted a series of small dungeons that would give people places to travel between and reasons to travel. Currently I think of this as the SpiderSilk Road. It would combine elements of the following things:
5 the vampire court/and others
6 the fungal underground railroad
7 the hive of glass
One dungeon is half-done. Sky-Stone-River-Place. It needs a lot of work to make it any good. Ultimately I want one dungeon for each intelligent race and maybe one or two more. Thinking of adding the Deep Carbon Observatory and Dark Biosphere Investigations. Though those may end up as introductory rival organisations that give you reasons to go deep underground. (Of course the Civillopede will appear as an NPC. A Monster and a mini-dungeon)
1 Grow Your Own Planet – I still like this idea, both as a way of bringing players into generating a larger scale game space and also as providing a ‘world map’ that lets you know where you are and where you could go. My current vision of this is like an earth-curve with upside-down trees.
4 his body blocked the route
8 classic climbs
9 Cave Crawl Rules
14 breakdown Including
21 dying in the dark what happens when the lights go out or (they search your body)
I imagine these all being combined into ultra-simple cave crawl rules. (At it’s most basic, half your players encumbrance budget, a big list of things to go wrong when they go over budget, build the sensory/detail aspects into the failures list for people who don’t want to actually have to learn everything about caving before they go pretend caving) The purpose of the rules should be to encourage people to to properly paranoid/obsessive about rope, light and encumbrance, to reward those who are, and punish (in interesting ways) those who are not.
Hallucination is an actual monster now, the Rapture. I think I will make that a more potent presence in the game. Not an actual monster like the Pariahs but an intangible living thing, waiting and watching, always present, ready for you to get tired and make a mistake, insinuating itself into you silently and invisibly. It’s more fun (I think) for players to have a kind of active relationship with insanity rather than it just being a blank force like gravity.
There should be benefits to being close-to-crazy as well. You adapt to the Underdark mentally (and perhaps Physically). If you come out you are like an Underworld veteran, wearing smked lenses in the sun, agoraphobic, hypersensitive, pale and dark-adapted.
12 black market
16 extremophile/fungal treasures and tools
18 maps and guidesv
20 I search the body
Stuff and things. These will need work. Could be one table maybe.
13 the impossiblity of darkness - This one is important. I still envision a Light Economy as being a very important factor in driving/limiting exploration and travel. Light is a quasi-currency in fact. Always running out, always needing to get more. This should also key into making the players obsessed with light and the kind of light they have. It should highlight an important factor which is the living, liquid relationship between light and darkness. Players in this book should not simply be moving into a dark space, they are divers in a tiny fortress of light. Dark follows them, worms its way into every available crack, retreats unwillingly before them. Each kind of darkness is different and each kind of light is different. It seems impractical to write about but I am not sure that anyone has written about it in that way before, anywhere. So that would be nice to do.
11 whispers in the dark – not sure about this one, I like it but maybe at the end.
Should I sell this stuff?
How should I release it?
(of course these questions interrelate.)
- People are more likely to pay attention to something if they pay a nominal amount of money for it, I want people to actually read it not keep it as a pdf on a forgotten drive..
- Can have a big fancy copy with hardback covers and art in it. (I designed it not to need art but I would like to have it.
- I would technically be a published writer.
If I did want to sell it for money should I do it myself, lots of work at stuff I am not good at (ie layouts) and no idea how to market anything. Or offer it to a publisher?
- I did tell my friend months ago that I might give it away free,
- If you want people to use it then just put it in people’s hands, let them decide if they want it.
- People all over the blogs have given away stuff that is often better than this.
- If it wasn’t for the blog and the people reading it and commenting then this would never have happened or been done.
- HONOUR. Would Worf sell it? Would Picard? Sometimes you play the game, sometimes the lesson is not to play.
- Won’t make any money, will die poor anyway, may as well do the right thing.
- Scared of Kent.
How should I release it? Bits-and-pieces, or all-at-once?
- Oh god it took so long to do, so, so long. The rest may never be finished. Can I wait another year? Two? I feel like I’m going crazy working on this dark weird thing no-one cares about. I need my madness validated. Have to get something out there.
- I want something out there with my name on it so I can point to it and say ‘look, this is something I can do’
- The full thing may be massive. Even the bestiary is going to be about 70 pages? Will anyone want the giga-thing?
-Paraiah’s could stand quite well on it’s own.
- It will have a much bigger impact as a whole thing.
- Just because the bestiary got massive you have no idea if the rest will. In fact you will be actively trying to keep it under control and shorten it. So you could end up releasing a thing, then a petty little extra thing to go on top.
- You have absolutely no emotional self-control. You eat every biscuit in the pack. You drink everything in the fridge. The only reason you’re not fat is because you stopped buying food. You should listen to other people on this one.
- It feels more aesthetically and culturally potent to have a big, whole thing that is distinctively itself and nothing else. It creates a powerful nexus of attention that draws people into the imagined world in a deeper way, therefore becoming a better piece of art. (This is the vast-tome, welcome-to-my-alterworld school of RPG design)