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Alien Orifice

July 17, 2012

I’ve not been blogging much recently, not for lack of things to talk about, but rather due to a severe dearth of spare time. Today I’ve been battling a cold with steaming mugs of Lemsip (or Phlegmsip as one of my players calls it) and honey, and thinking about the science fantasy megadungeon idea I had a few weeks ago. It was called Satan’s Shitter then, but it’s called Alien Orifice now. As ever, I like to make a cover mockup for the thing, to get the imaginative juices flowing. The picture (Deadlock from The A.B.C. Warriors, drawn by Simon Bisley) is a placeholder, but it conjures the right mood.

Eagle-eyed readers with a good memory will notice that not only has the name changed, but so has the system. Originally I was going to use Stars Without Number, but when I recently bought Albert “Omlet” Rakowski’s Towers of Krshal (which is marvellous and you should purchase it immediately if you haven’t already) I decided to get a print copy of his D&D science fantasy supplement Terminal Space too. (I’ve had it in PDF for ages, but … well, I don’t like digital books and I never use them.) I think the “British gonzo” early Hawkwind/Moorcock/2000AD style of setting I’m planning is well suited to the freeform craziness of Terminal Space, so here’s the engine I’ll be installing under the bonnet:

Quite apart from anything else, the portability factor is very pleasing. (Since you ask, no, I don’t own physical copies of the original D&D rulebooks. I only have PDF versions, which … well, I’ve already said. Plus, Swords & Wizardry has Peter Mullen!)

I won’t be using the spaceship rules much, if at all, because this is a megadungeon project and I’m envisioning most of the game taking place on – or beneath – the surface of a fringe world notable for its remoteness and for the ancient remains, in one particularly desolate region, of colossal stone structures. Right in the middle of these cyclopean ruins is a circular hole in the ground – a shaft leading straight down into the heart of a vast, mysterious underworld. Early days yet, but here’s the kind of thing I’m thinking of, presented (in true Omlet style, if not Omlet quality) as a d20 table of rumours.

 d20 Result

Rumour

1

The original builders of the surface city and the underworld below are referred to as the Architects.

2

The Architects left behind all kinds of strange relics and mysterious artefacts.

3

The underworld extends for at least 30 miles laterally and is over a mile deep.

4

Different areas of the underworld are connected by wide, tube-like tunnels several miles long.

5

Beware of the robot bike gang Metal Hurlant.

6

At least some of the giant stelae are hollow.

7

Keep well clear of devil rat dogs. They will stink you up!

8

There are valuable veins of crystal in the underworld. Competition for access to this mineral wealth is fierce.

9

The Long Drop is a shortcut to the lower levels, but very dangerous on account of cave fishers and other alien monstrosities.

10

Acid storms scour the planet’s surface with alarming frequency. Don’t let one catch you out in the open!

11

The order of robot monks out by the Red Stele have somehow learned to cast spells, though their wizardry is limited to low-level conjuring.

12

The underworld is haunted by the ghosts of the Architects.

13

Whole regions of the underworld are filled with poisonous yellow mist.

14

Mi-go have been seen among the ruins. What do they want?

15

If you look at the carvings on the Black Stele for too long, you will go insane.

16

Down in the underworld are huge forests of weird alien fungi that have many unusual properties. Beware the berserker spores!

17

Look for the little crystal spheres of the Architects. They’re useful gadgets.

18

There are hundreds of renegade robots in the underworld. They kill humans on sight.

19

The nethermost cavern in the underworld is an unfathomed abyss called Hades Deep. No one knows what lies beyond.

20

The Architects are still alive … and still here.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 17, 2012 8:57 pm

    So I’m skimming through the post (as one does) after ogling the cover mock up, came to the red letters “purchase it immediately” and thought “Let’s do just that”. Then I actually read the post, realized my error and sighed. Let’s just say I’m intrigued with your Alien Orifice! Wait, that didn’t sound right…
    PS: I already purchased Albert’s fine Krshal collection, so no slight intended.

    • July 17, 2012 9:19 pm

      Ah. Hmm. OK, well, I’d be happy to sell you a copy of the cover mockup – an art-free version of course, since I don’t own the artwork.

      Thanks for being intrigued. I’m working on a starter adventure in one-page dungeon format and hope to run it for my group when time allows. If it works out, I’ll post it on here and it won’t cost you a penny.

  2. July 25, 2012 4:01 am

    I wish I could play in this game.

    • July 29, 2012 3:29 pm

      Well, I’m not on Google+ and I don’t do online gaming, so that might be tricky unless you move to Scotland. Sorry! However, everything else is on the back burner while I work on Alien Orifice. You will be hearing more about it, I guarantee.

      • July 29, 2012 5:27 pm

        Well, let me know if you ever decide to try out online gaming. I’m becoming quite attached to it, though it’s not quite the same thing as sitting around a table and rolling dice.

        Actually, I might be in London for a few months at the end of the year. Which is at least closer, though probably still not convenient for either of us. 🙂

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