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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To The Game Store: A River Runs Through It



A River Runs Through It

Apologia: I generally write these posts on Monday night, or on Tuesday morning before I head off to work. Last week, I didn't do that. Last week, what I did instead was find myself falling over within ten minutes of getting home, paying off the sleep debt racked up from SmogCon and two nights of staying up doing all the planning/marking/teacherstuff that I would have done the week before had I not been betrayed by my damned persistent mental illness and spent four days of that week in the grip of a soul-draining mood swing. And then I had more teacherstuff to do the day after. I'd like to say "it won't happen again" but what I mean is "I'll try my best."

Inspirations: Our gracious hostess held this up before my mortal eyes this morning (time being relative, she'll say it was Monday night, but like the Doctor, Palette lies) and said 'I bet you could do something with this'. You're damn right I could, it's not like I don't collect photos of industrial dereliction (there's a lot of that around Wolverhampton, where I lived for five years, and Manchester, where I lived for two, and London's Docklands, where I currently work...) for RPG resourcing purposes. So I guess this week is a 'Von raids his stash of random photographs and strings together an encounter out of them' week.

System: 

So. Let's start with 'abandoned ship, off the beaten track but adjacent to a fairly major waterway'. Far enough out of the way that not everybody sees it, not so far out of the way that it can't be stumbled upon by hapless fools player characters. In our source material, it's entirely abandoned and left to rot on private property for entirely innocent, albeit environmentally dubious, reasons.

That's boring. So, let's spice it up a bit. What's on the ship? I've a folder here... 'Scenes, Objects, People', which is mostly people, let's be honest...

Image by Mordere, who has - alas - deactivated her DeviantArt page.
Ignoring the urban setting here, what we have is smallish, empty crates - a valuable cargo, and sufficiently dangerous to be transported alone, possibly frightening enough to be abandoned alone - and a lady who appears to be in something of a state, all framed in shafts of light through narrow apertures. I wonder what happens if you touch her?


Mummies are actually quite scary once you get past Imhotep, the Tomb Kings of Khemri, and all that stumbling-around-in-bandages malarkey. Don't say "it's a mummy", just chuck this out and say "that's what you've just stuck your finger in". I did have a marginally better photo from my last trip to BMAG, but have with spectacular competence carried it around, unused, for two years, on a phone which I wiped and sold last month. Damn. Point is, something has not only mummified her alive but has gone to the trouble of glamouring her so she looks like she's still alive.

Perhaps the truth is only seen when she moves through the light, and if she's a subtle beast, she stays out of it, like how Camille avoids being around two people at once. Is she actually a monster, or is she a tragic victim?

Anyway, 'fighting a mummy on a boat', that's not really enough for me. We have those crates to consider too; what's in them? Dust, I imagine, their contents ransacked long ago... but their orientation describes something, something which might be found scratched into the floorboards where the carcass lay.


It's a map, of sorts, the crates corresponding to certain of the larger shapes, the shapes perhaps apparent in the dust within the crates. Not only a map, but a key; and what a key needs is a lock.

'Industrial Ruins'. I wonder what's in here?


I'm not sure why this is in here, but there it is. Overlooking the ruined ship, possibly concealed by the ship from the surrounding waterways, there is a cave. Like the ship, it is overgrown; unlike the ship, it gives off a profound air of being inhabited.


What emerges from the cave, scythe poised to swing, is an ethereal figure attended by ravens; my limited knowledge of D&D presents her as a 'Shadow Druid', if that's a thing? The point is, she's a protector of nature gone all wrong; her purview extends over the cave and the ship and she's the one that set the glamour on the last poor fool who tried to unlock what she's protecting.

Align the crates in exactly the right way and the cave opens fully, becoming a steep slide down into the top left corner of the above map. Perhaps there was something in the crates that was meant to provide guidance or help through the labyrinth, but the dead girl's cohorts have been and gone and taken it already...

Perhaps I'll continue this one next week. What do we think, hostess and colleagues? 'Von Does Dungeon Design' for a few posts?

1 comment:

  1. Erin, are you going to NRA Annual? If so, let's see if we can find a range in Indy and I'll give you some handgun instruction. Let me know if you are attending and we'll set up the details.

    Rob

    ReplyDelete

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