Saturday, January 30, 2021

Desolate Days: Rudimentary Exploration.

 (A follow-up to my previous post about Desolate Days, in which I make the "game" slightly more than nothing by way of every properly lazy designer's fallback: random tables!)

THE WORLD was shaken to its core by the final victory, subsequent impotent ennui, and eventual explosive suicide of the Dark Lord. Many lands are ephemeral and transitory, rising up out of the sea of dust and discordant music of creation to meet living eyes, only to sink back down into oblivion after their passing. Stable islands stand out in the dust, but they are few and far between.

Because of this, the world cannot be mapped with grids or tiles. You can only know specific points, and their approximate locations relative to one another. Fortunately for goblins, they haven’t invented maps yet, and they lack the specialized language to talk in exact units of measure.

EXPLORATION is the main thrust of the game. Goblin expeditions venture out from recently discovered openings onto the surface to see what the wide, ruined world has in store for them.

The expedition begins on the Home point. This is where cracks in the earth lead down to the goblin vaults. Home is almost always a safe place to rest or resupply, compared to the wilderness. With luck, Home is the beginning and end point of every expedition.

From here, you can Visit Home, Quit and end the expedition, or move Outward to a new Point.

When moving Outward, the referee rolls d6. That is the number of times the referee rolls on the Encounters table. The Encounters can be rolled all at once and ordered how the referee chooses, or they can be rolled one at a time as the goblins overcome them. Every 3 Encounters is a full day of travel. After you navigate all Encounters, roll once on the Points table for a destination.

After arriving at a new Point, you may Explore the Point, move Outward to another Point, or move Homeward to travel back to older Points. All moves may involve Encounters.

Home can have up to 6 Points directly connected to it, like spokes on a wheel, but each of those “spokes” can lead infinitely Outward… or at least as close to infinite as goblins can count.

The sample Encounters below are more like evocative phrases meant to get an idea going. They are open-ended, and should always have multiple different paths to overcoming them. Goblins are encouraged to think of something and roll with it.

Each Point should have a full day or more worth of content if they are delved into. They should also be able to be bypassed if the goblins can't handle it, or if they just really would rather not.

1Uneventful travel, spiced up by “games”.
2The weather turns. It rains dust and discord.
3Dizzying, flashing lights descend on you.
4Swarms of stinging, biting bugs harass you.
5A sick, frightened animal blocks your path.
6Something scurries off with your food.
7That cloud is too low, and moving too fast.
8Something glitters enticingly in the darkness.
9The ground opens up. Something grabs you.
10Voices whisper contradictory orders to you.
11Melancholy and homesickness grip you.
12You swear you’ve been through here already.
13The plants here don’t like intruders.
14A distant figure seems to be following you.
15You meet a friendly goblin expedition!
16You meet an unfriendly goblin expedition.
17An old rock with carved scribbles. Magic!
18Fellow misbegotten monsters from the deep.
19Accidentally wake up shades of Tall Things.
20The Shadow hangs heavily over you all.

1A completely empty dirt field- eerily empty.
2Watering hole with strange and exotic beasts.
3Labyrinthine grasses that sway without wind.
4Old, gnarled, and angry forest.
5Ford across a furious, rocky river.
6Many small, round caves in a cliff face.
7Ancient, iron-studded battlefield.
8Tall, jagged tor of unusual rock for the area.
9Wide, wine-dark lake with a lone island.
10Immense fissure leading deep into the earth.
11Black sand desert pockmarked with ruins.
12Murky, roiling hot springs.
13Solitary, crumbling tower of basalt.
14Frozen tundra with bizarre ice formations.
15Magnetized, floating isles of rock in the air.
16City once belonging to the Tall Things.
17Temple to some dead, forgotten faith.
18Ruins bearing the marks of the old Lord.
19Foreign goblin Home- abandoned.
20Foreign goblin Home- populated!

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