Monday, 4 September 2017

Subsurface Exploration

It's been a big week here in my Octopi Grotto with goodies arriving daily

  • Thanks to Joeph Crawford who sent me two gurps books for my collection! Please contact me so I can arrange my half of deal
  • Thanks to Mr Crampsie for my gencon care pack with Veins of the Earth, Hotsprings and a Vaginas are magic t-shirt
  • 25% through my yamato fleet kits - no luck finding online or even brands for any of the 4 inch cheap ship kits boxes that Hobbyco had hundreds of and sold off while I was away - looking did find they redid Yomato anime a few years back with new kits plus found school girls battling warships (Like Panzer girls i guess) and a teen girls battling in space ships Arpeggio of Blue Steel which you can watch on youtube and is probably freshest SF space combat made yet and I like that your ship AI power needs to be allocated to calculate opening holes in your shields and other functions not power
Oldschool Dungeoneers Survival Guide Vs Veins in the EarthVery inspired by the Veins book. Will probably do d100 cave art sometime as I wrote thousands of words on prehistoric rock art at uni. D100 Underland mutations? Im guessing lots of signs might be made in rocks if caves inhabited or explored. Possibly d100 ancient remains in a cave. The original Dungeoneers Survival book was the only dnd book i kept from when I quit aboy 91. I still enjoy it and it contrasts and compliments Veins well. The old dnd caves geomorphs handy too as a play aid.

DnD decent series set the pace for underground exploration. Most of the travel as just wilderness without even much climbing or risk. It introduces monsters mostly used in Fiend Folio. Drow, deep gnomes,  I guess they assume every magic weapon is a light and nothing is too hard. Zeb Cooks Dwellers of the forbidden city established more new monsters to rule the depths the aboleth which are pretty awesome and a issue of dragon expanded this into many sub types. One Forgotten Realms book had fold out map of a dwarf city i liked. There was a BX DnD book GAZ13 Shadow Elves for what was under Glantri that was fun with great illustrations.

Dungeoneers Survival GuideTalks about underground campaigns. It discusses underground terrain, climbing, jumping, ropes, bridges, falling, fatigue, digging and moving in darkness. It had the first use of NWP in regular occidental adventures dnd after the oriental adventures book (that was pre advertised with Zeb's name but came out with Gary's). Combat rules for underground gets a chapter. Underground environments talks about air supply, cave in rules that made rock to mud best fighting spell ever, hyperthermia, mental fatigue, boating underground and mining. New equipment including my favorite the folding inflatable boat that was a load for someone and a tempting thing to imperil if party needed it to get home.

The DM section has some history, ideas for structure of your hollow lands, cultures, 3d mapping tips, a sample setting I used for ten years in my game, then a bunch of GM stuff that seemed not so in place about running games. It is a great book and overlaps with the content in Veins but both have differences too.

Drizzt Dourdens Guide to the Underdark expands on what came to be the official underdark in Forgotten Realms goes over the culture and races stuff in more detains. I was over the house art and writing and map style of TSR by this stage. There was a underdark campaign book too but I think I had developed my own by then which is roots of my underland setting.
Veins has begged a few question I would like to have seen more about.

More on non optical vision like snake heat vision, bat sonar, masses of feelers, electrical fields like platypus uses, vibration senses etc even a handy charc comparing all of them including thermographic and low light for encounters. Glowing wall fungus has been used by many but I guess evel a small amount might be usable. Especially many animals that just detect light and it is enough to make them flee or curious enough to investigate something with a lure. Deep sea creatures use light in lots of ways like communication, finding mates and other fun in the dark not just for seeing what's around you.

The resources of light in Veins are awesome but a bit more on standard human lamps, candles and torches would fit in well. Worth mentioning torches stink and give off lots of smoke if using tree resin or tar, enough to choke users in a confined space. Whale oil was only a common resource used from 17th to 19 C but some tribal people and sea dwelling people used since stone age. I imagine tallow or rock oil might be more usable by underground dwellers.

Clay oil lamps were used in old days but apparently phosphorescent fish skin was used in europe which sounds amazing.

I found this titbit too...
Tallow candles were subsequently used both for the works and for searching out gas. A small candle (30 to 40 to the lb.) was carried in a wet lump of clay - the flame reduced in size by placing clay at its lower extremity near the exposed portion of the wick according to Caleb Pamely's “Colliery Managers’ Handbook”. The candle was raised from the floor very gradually in an upright position with one hand of the observer held palm outwards towards the light to shield it entirely from view except the very tip of the flame. As it was raised an appearance of 'top' or 'cap' of blue flame above the candle flame indicated the presence of gas in the air. As soon as this appeared the candle would be gently lowered, the searcher would withdraw with as little disturbance as possible, and the gaseous mixture dispersed as safely as possible. Where the quantity of gas was small it might be waved away with a coat or piece of brattice cloth. Before com­mencing to do this, the man would retire to a distance, away from the outgoing currents, his candle left out of the passing firedamp.

Another method of eliminating a small quantity of gas was to set fire to it. A special operator or ‘fireman’ with tremendous nerve did this at night. Protective attire might consist of wool, or leather, well damped, with the man’s face and head protected by a mask or hood. Using a long stick with a lighted candle attached to the end, he would crawl the last few yards toward the explosive gas, his head and body close to the floor. Immediately afterwards he would stand upright (or as much as the space would allow) to avoid the carbonic acid gas left by the explosion. The name 'fireman' has been retained to the present day for the man who searches for gas. In some countries he was called the 'penitent', on account of the resemblance of his dress to certain religious orders in the Roman Catholic Church. In many instances, in spite of all precautions, the fireman did not survive the explosion.

Apparently mirrors were used in cases too to illuminate some mines.

The first apparatus for producing light was Spedding's ‘Steel Mill’, patented in 1760. It consisted of a spur wheel and steel disc placed in a small steel frame, at the end of which the operator held a piece of flint. The continuous succession of sparks emitted by the rotation of the disc against the flint gave warning of danger by indicating the presence of firedamp. The faith in the ‘Mill’ was immediately shattered by a serious explosion at the Wallsend Colliery in 1785. The first safety oil burning lamp was 1815.

I found this interesting item - By 1850 a consumer had a choice of:
Camphene or “burning fluid” — 50 cents/gallon (combinations of alcohol, turpentine and camphor oil – bright, sweet smelling) - died as a fuel by 2 dollar per gallon alcohol tax
* whale oil — $1.30 to $2.50/gallon
* lard oil — 90 cents (low quality, smelly)
* coal oil — 50 cents (sooty, smelly, low quality) (the original “kerosene”)
* kerosene from petroleum — 60 cents (introduced in early 1860s)

This was part of a argument about whale decline not being a factor in industry adopting petroleum products as told in some schoolbooks and documentaries as fact. Whale oil soap not great for humans but ok in margarine.

Carbide lamp invented 1900 are awesome and in cthulhu we used powder as an explosive lots and other murder applications I wont mention here. Early miners used candles or oil wick lamps but they smell and produce fumes and can ignite flammable gas. Tiny lamps would have hooks or fit on helmets or spikes to be hammered or hung in cracks or wooden beams. They only lit area in front of the miner.

 I imagine underground dwellers would attack the lamp guy every time the same way players go for wizards in FRPGs or psionicists in superhero rpgs. I imagine smell of lamp or adventurers might be noticeable from a long way off. Vietcong said they could smell soap and aftershave from a long way off in jungle. One vet I know said he would make himself filthy before going into jungle.

Weight of fuel for fires and cooking per hour could be useful too and is another resource problem. Id love to give a starving overloaded party a pile of gold. Especially trying to fend off hypothermia.

Possibly a party record sheet of light sources, fuel and food might be handy. As gunpowder age ships had fanatic rules on lights or smoking below decks involving beating or death for rule breakers, I imaging sight using underground dwellers might might have strict rules on the torchbearer also. Would one light in a party really be enough in a fight or accident?

Though into subsurface technology like cooking, metalwork and more could probably be explored more.

Monster Ecologies
Veins is awesome here as proposing an entire natural ecosystem of monsters and races not like your DnD underdark. Not all are horrible and I like the olm people lots. Veins environments are generally more hostile and big things like giants would probably not survive too well.

Veins is not like dnd or Jules Verne or my own underworld. I think for LOTFP it is suitably horrible. For other settings it would make a deep dark. In my setting and Verne civilizations were swallowed by the earth leaving ancient ruins and dinosaur survivors. Silurians in DrWho had suspended animation pods and kept dinosaurs as guards and cattle. Serpent men in Cthulhu do stuff like this. Albino dinosaurs are big fun. You may as well include robots and androids which should have been in MM2.

I guess part of point of Veins is not to use standard monsters and to be alien and more horrifying but a few here and there cant be too bad.

Worth mentioning here is sth america has miles of burrows made by glyptodons and other pleistocene mammals that soils preserved and did not in other places. Burrows are a great source of tunnels even purple worm holes could create miles of dungeons. Some animals might be long gone, some families might maintain for centuries. Why perhaps those Glyptodons kept digging and even now are albino and graze on fungus miles below.

Gamma World has some great beastmen like rabbit and badger men that burrow and hate people mostly. If you've seen what rabbit  men do in medieval books you should know they shouldn't be fucked with.

Lots of monsters can be played for horror if used once and here are plenty of obscure ones in books after MM1. Something weird stalking you in the dark, waiting for you to rest o or put down your lamp. Be like Scrap Princess art or HPL and describe monsters in the dark in only vaguest terms, different times you see a new feature so players go crazy working out what it is. Many creatures listed below are under used so make good one offs. If they look goofy reskin them as more nightmarish. make them emaciated, albino, bloated, shambling, gibbering, crawling, shuffling, sniffing things you don't know what it is till you kill it and maybe not even then. Common highways are more likely to have intelligent beings and large creatures. Isolated caves might have a monster you use only once.

Fungus, lizards, spiders, bugs and beetles and snakes have lots of reuse potential. I guess creating your own encounter tables would be handy. Probably the Decent Series of modules have too many sentient humanoids and need things to prey on or be hunters. Adventurers would be detected a long way off by cave dwellers.

Classic DnD humanoids are not really alien enough and now are all too familiar. It takes something like Veins to bring back the horror and strangeness.

BX Cyclopedia underground monsters
Giant Ants (better than AdnD) White Ape, Bat, Cave Bear, Giant Beetles, Beholder, Black Pudding, Blast Spore (grown as defences also gas spores in adnd), Bugbear (work well as loner assassins), Caecilia, Carrion Crawler, Sabretooth Tiger, Giant Centipede, Giant Crab (albino spikey ones with 30 foot long arms), Cyclops, Cavemen, Cave Cricket, Albino Dinosaurs, Displacer beast (they are kinda creepy and tentacles good for snatching hiding victims in crawlspaces), Doppleganger, Dragonturtle, elementals, Giant Ferret, Giant Fish, Gargantua (mostly asleep awaiting the apocalypse), Gargoyle, Gelatinous Cube, Ghost (lots of dead miserable bastards) , Giants (in biggest old caves mostly trapped or hiding from gods). Gnomes, Grey OOoze, Green Slime, Gremlin (fun but Ilike the adnd Jermaine too but less ratty), Hag, Harpy (possibly albino bat winged cave harpies), Helion, Hellhound, Hydra, Invisible Stalker, Kobold (everyone love knockers), Kryst, Lava Ooze, Leech Giant, Lizard Giant, Lizard Men (possibly degenerate albinos or live in a dino cavern), Lycanthrope (wereweasel, werebat, werelamprey, wererat, devil swine are one of the forgotten great monsters), Malfera, Manscorpion, Medusa, Mek (trapped in some big cave or in prehuman ruins), Mermen (i like deep  sea albino chaos mermen), Metamorph, Minotaur, Mujina, Mummy (often prehuman races), Nekrozon (Catobleplas), Nightshade, Ochre Jelly, Nuckalavee, Rats, Pterosaur, Purple Worm, Revener (sense draining might be fun), Rhagodessa, Rust Monster, Robber Fly, Salamander (more like mythology in BX), Stirge, Shark(albino deep sea ones), Shrew Giant, Shrieker (must have), Slug giant, Snake, Spectral Hound, Shadow, Spider Giant, Sporacle, Thoul (monster born of typo also a cool forgotten monster), Toad, Troglodyte (even though not like anything in myth like them), Troll, Undine, Vampire, Weasel Giant, Yellow Mould

Why not dryads associated with giant mushrooms?

Goblinoids and humanoids and undead are all usable but more you use them more Gygaxian cave crawl will probably turn. LOTFP might benefit from goblins more like the rare Australian RPG RUS where goblins are summoned otherworld beings not things that live in the woods. Kobolds are a great part of mining mythology but not really the standard dnd ones that are not like old german or roman or any myths.

MM1 Monster Manual
Ive avoided stuff in DnD list too but salamanders and Ants in BX DnD are betterYetis are just white apes with ice powers

Anhkeg, axebeaks (i love em, cave varieties are awesome), brain mole (freaky and horrible), cave lobster, eel, frog, violet fungi, hyenas (prehistoric giant ones might fit in places, they are pretty fantastically horrible), Intellect Devourer (freaky and scary), lamia (posibly more snake or worm bodied ones), lamprey, larva, lurker above, mimic (might pretend to be food or cache of equipment not just a chest), Mind Flayer (whats not to like about telepathic brain eating suidmen), morkoth, brown or yellow mould, naga (though consider more nice ones, ppl still worship them) neo-otyugh and otyugh, nightmare, cave nixies (extra horrble and evil), octopus, iowlbear, piercer, pike, remorhaz, roper, rot grub, scorpion (aquatic ones too), skunk (skunks go into dark caves and hunt bats without sight), slithering tracker, squid, tick, titan (often sleeping or imprisoned or hiding), trapper, umber hulk, water weird, weasel, xorn

Ive considered using treant stats as giant mushroom men and making up sphinxes from underground critters like snake-bat-human hybrids

 Monster Manual Two
Aboleth, Afanc, Annis, Ant-Lion, Ascomoid, Aspis, Asidirond, Bat (mobat), Deathwatch Beetle (really fuck players up), Slicer Beetle, Behir, Boggle (golem like creepy idiot men), Bowler, Catfish, cave Cricket, Cave Fisher (I love these guys), cave moray, centipede (better ones), cloaker, crysmal, Crystal ooze, Cyclopskin, More Dinosaurs, Drider, Duergar (though I call them dark dwarves and reserve this name for viking undead), electric eel, giant firefly (fire friend), Formian, frohghemoth (cos you can never have enough - their tadpoles might be a menace too and grow in places they cant escape), galeb Duhr, Formorian, gibbering mouther (handy as small shoggoths), Grue Elementals (gross and horrible the lot), kraken, land lamprey, magman, margoyle, shadow mastiff, miner, russet mould, mongrelmen, mud-man, myconoid (one of best races in dnd), ophidian, para-elementals, Pech, Pedipalp, Rock Reptile, Sandling, Scorpions (extra sizes), skeleton animal (i like sinkholes full of animal bones), Slime Creature and Olive Slime, Snake (more), Solifugid, Spectator, Marine Spider, Spriggan, Squealer (wtf kind of thing could be scary in tight crawl), stegocentipede, Stench Kow, Stone Guardian, Stroper, Tarrasque (might be napping in a cave), Thessalhydra, land urchin, ustilagor, vargouille, verme (big fish), Vilstrak, webbird, tenebrous worm, tunnel worm, yochlol, yaun-ti, zygom      

FF Fiend Folio
Adherer (a decoy mummy but weird and creepy), Babbler (mini dinosaur or giant mutant lizard man?), Giant Bat, Doombat (very cool to soften a party), Blindheim (a dazling frog thing uses light to lure and blind), bloodworm, bonesnapper (another mini dinosaur), bullywug (albino ones are big fun), Bunyip (good water thing), caterwaul (can be creepy, like when they get on two legs and sprint), crab men, Dark Creeper and Dark Stalker (a good sneaky race of thief like killers - one of my player stole some babies), Deathknight (a ancient undead knight or king horror from some lost age), enzelian (peaceful rock eating glob might make tunnels), Dire Corby (underground bird men), dark Elf, Enveloper, Ettercap, Firedrake (mini dragon), Fire Newt and Strider (these are a great and under used dnd race, I played one for a few years), firesnake, firetoad, flail snail (must use these), flumph (i like to put them in barrels and surprise people so they only know what it is after they murder it), Gambado (can be played for horror), Garbug, gibberling (insane mobs of mad cave men great for caves), goldbug (why stop ther - delicious in the dungeon manga has pearl neclace centipedes and lots of faux treasure monsters you might find on dead adventurers or in treasure), Gorbel (are these from Darkstar?), Grell, Grimlock (another mob of cave people), hellcats (great to offer you ways out of pits or tight spots, just sign this contract), Hook Horror (a reskinned owlbear but ok), Jaculi (chamo snake things), Jermlaine (just a alt spelling of gremlin - i make them smallest of goblin kind and get in your packs and sabotage it and spoil food - but the creepy ratty ones in book are good too), Kelpie (a fine monster in own right but not the supernatural fairy horror I always wanted - both good in caves - remember your hypothermia rules), Khargra (filter feeding elementals who swim through earth), Kuo-Toa (best fish men in DnD whose story and history implied lots about DnD settings - underground ziggarutt builders with a awesome horrible goddess), Lamia Noble, Lava Children (kinda horrible smiling even as you kill them), Lizard King (especially good if a vampire one or a wizard), mantari, Maeazel, Meenlock, Mephit, Mite, Necrophidius, Nilbog (anti goblin), Norker (cave goblin), Osquip (naked multi legged rat things, Phantom Stalker, Quaggoth (cave manbear things), Quipper (pirana we always needed), Retriever(magic spider things made by demegorgon), Rothe (cave cattle), Sandman (could form from mineral salts or dehydrated sea bed cave), Skulk, Snyad, Svirfnemblin (deep gnomes at their best in module "when a star falls" making steam powered automatons, Thoqqua (rock worm), Giant Troll, Volt, WItherstench (naked skunk thing), Xvart (another horrible little goblin varient),        

Deities and Demigods
Cthilhu Mythos section handy but I dont have a copy...sniff poor me

For the Record my Underlands Stuff
I like the idea of gigantic caverns with whole cities and kingdoms and own ecosystems.

First version of Underland dungeon zone
Monster Murder Machines
Dungeon Machine Rooms

Underland Terrain
Your underdark is soft - description, history and encounters
Underland Ogres

Underland Orcs
The Deeps of underland first map
Hazards and encounters
Outer chasm encounters
Random citadels
Citadel encounters
Mushroom Types
Mushroom land encounters
Underlands of the East

Example Campaign Setting with underland

First island map
Under the Islands - the middle zone and plain map  
The Deeps of underland first map and settlement map of island 
Island Gazetteer and encounters
The Deeps of underland first map

Some of this stuff in my goblin mine PDF in my downloads section

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