Monday, March 21, 2011

Two Offbeat Places to Die Horrible Lightless Deaths

The Underworld. Not the "mythic underworld," but the literal, place-where-dead-folks-go underworld. You might head down there to get information lost to all but the dead, make sure an ancestor's spirit has been properly appeased, or even retrieve someone who ended up there accidentally. (If the lord of the underworld is, like Pluto, also a god of wealth, you might have more traditional reasons as well.) Alternatively, character death might be the beginning of the campaign. You're trying to explore the place's geography and social structure, find old friends, relatives, and ancestors, and figure out where your place in it all is.

The Infinite Library. Mortals can't come up with spells on their own. All the spells that ever have been and ever will be known are buried somewhere in a dark catacomb that follows only the twisted logic of magic. "Researching a new spell" is a matter of piecing together from surface world research what you can of the laws of the place to make your best guess of where the effect you want might be found, and then diving into that deadly maze to retrieve it. (This is, I should note, more a twist on noisms Planescape Borges thought, brought on by Jeff's latest spellbook musings, than a truly new idea. Less scholarly arguments, more deadly monsters and traps guarding the occasional cache of scrolls, but still.)

10 comments:

  1. the infinite library would make for a great magic focused campaign. very cool idea! have you ever seen a animated movie called the secret of kells? Theres this really cool scene where the main character enters a dark temple to retrieve an artifact needed to scribe. He enters the temple and ends up in this other world sort of place and battles a snake creature.

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  2. The infinite library is a great concept, and could even lend itself to having a petty god in charge of the library (head librarian), and "demons", eager to "shelve" those who make too much noise while researching their newest spell.

    Plus it makes use of all those planes walking type spells.

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  3. The infinite library reminds me of Silence in the Library.

    Which is to say that I like it. :)

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  4. Heh... I'm much more enamoured of daring the underworld, either as a living or dead character.

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  5. I just remembered this episode of Avatar the last airbender which is similar in concept to the infinite library. In that episode there is this library hidden in the middle of a desert(buried except for the very top spire). The library is home to all knowledge in that world and is guarded by this owl/knowledge spirit and these fox spirits who actually scour the planet collecting rare and mundane tomes.

    http://avatar.wikia.com/wiki/The_Library

    here's a good link w/ pics of that episode. I'm really into this idea haha

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  6. Love the infinite library!

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  7. In theory, aren't you already dead if you dare the underworld? (Yes, there were Orpheus and Persephone, as well as others, most likely, but it seems to carry some pretty nasty penalties to enter it alive. Which I guess would be the horrible lightless death...)

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  8. I ran a campaign set in an infinite library a few years back...one of my most memorable games.

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  9. C'nor: Who says the adventure has to end with death?

    Besides, this.

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  10. Aberrant Hive Mind: Nope, haven't seen it. Definitely sounds like my kind of movie, though. I always enjoy a good snake creature.

    trollsmyth: Yeah, I'm surprised there's not more love for the underworld. Possibly because there are a number of particulars I have in mind that wouldn't come across in that thumbnail description.

    C'nor: Dead or an idiot, yes. More on that tomorrow.

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