Friday, September 21, 2018

Worldbuilding: Vignettes from Carceral Place, and a rough table

some here are more isolated than others, their cells a good distance from the forums.

there is a banished scholar kept in an alcove inside a large domed chamber, the ground an alternating board of dark and light diamonds. the dome is large, and in the very center of it is a small dark circle. the scholar is found under this circle, looking up into it. 

very rarely this tiny circle, they say, shows pin pricks of light against the dark. they have looked at this for what must be years now. they have reasoned that this hole is an opening to the night sky, and the spots of brightness that fill it are celestial bodies.

they say the brightest one is the old world, the world all here have been taken from.

there is labor duty as well as watch duty. labor will involve dismantling bridges, sealing off passages, affixing blades and spikes to otherwise safe areas, arming booby-traps and preparing other hazards. If you are clever you will know of potential dangers, and might be able to sabotage them in advance. 

it is almost never quiet in this place, there are ceaseless echoes from hundreds of feet away in every direction. unexpected whispering galleries occur, faraway clangs of chain turn into bell tones, distant shouts become wordless tones.

the world around is built chaos too, an endless tangle of structure is dizzying. you have to learn to narrow their focus to avoid confusion.

imagine standing on a balcony that overlooks a series of arched bridges crossing at right angles, between that are narrow decorative archways, between them are also columns of various widths and heights. There are arcades you can see deep into, some duplicated with dead ends. There are blind arcades carefully carved to appear to have depth, and ledges carefully sloped to be useless and deadly.

This tangle continues both and and upward as far as your can eyes can peer in the dim light. Some areas are filled with large structures too, ziggurats and mausoleums, alcoves, basilica. Some immense columns are in fact structures, hidden stairwells and chimneys.

Chains and ladders hang just slightly out of reach, or reach just shy of where you would go. Things just far enough apart, or far enough away, to make drops and leaps into suicides without careful examination.

you may never be unwatched, as up and down in all directions there are ledges and hideaways where someone may be watching. This could be a benign fellow prisoner, or a scold noting your infractions.

those who refuse the food are changed. They become monsters worse than the pests, armored and many-limbed things that stalk the halls and wreak havoc.

This is the incentive to do as one is ordered while on watch or labor duty. The armors worn leave you unable to eat, which puts you at risk of having your humanity confiscated if you refuse to do your duty. Poor performance can lead to longer shifts, increasing this danger.

while wearing the armors of watch or labor you have no voice for other prisoners, but all the voices of those doing watch with you can be heard echoing inside the helmets, and you can be heard by them.

Very Rough Table

the basic premise of this place is that there's a potential way to go to almost every direction, but you'll need to "read" the structure to do it safely. You'll be doing everything in "dungeon turns" because of this, and can sort of map it as you go.

So, you are standing on an archway, and you want to go up. You spend one turn looking around to roll an Architecture check. If you succeed you roll on some tables. 

e.g. The Way Up
1. 1d4 x 5' away, across a chasm
2. on a column
3. down one level
4. 1d4 x 30' further down this way.
5. across a plaza
6. past a barred tunnel
1. a low chain to climb
2. a spiral stairwell
3. a wall with grippable stonework
4. a staircase
5.  a ladder
6. a cage on a pulley

1. to a ledge
2. to an alcove
3. to an arch
4. to a tunnel
5. to a plaza
6. to a column

So, there's a way up: a low chain to climb hanging only 5' away, it leads up to an alcove. You take turns jumping onto it and pulling yourselves up

Or there's a spiral stairwell on a column, it goes up to a plaza.

Or down one level is a staircase that goes up to another arch.

There will be difficulties too.

1. 1d6 x 2 Watch are there.
2. The stonework is crumbling
3. It is very dark.
4. There is a pest there.
5. It is tiny, with only room for one at the top.
6. It is a long distance.

So, you might see a wall with grippable stonework 120' down this archway, and it leads to a ledge. but, it's so tiny at that ledge that only one person can stand there at once.

Obviously you'll have several Prisoners checking at once, so you may end up with various routes. Choosing which route is best is what'll be interesting.

So, climbing up to that ledge will seems better than crossing that 10' chasm to reach a plaza with 6 Watch in it, even if that tunnel seems promising.

Some results lead to other tables (eg "how do we get across that chasm? how do we get down to that staircase?"). Not every result will be tenable either, but that won't be a journey-ending problem. You'll just have to keep moving, or go back a bit and try again.

You'll want to keep notes too, "go archways to the tunnel, climb down then follow the ledge. Past the fountain go into the alcove across the plaza. climb down to the courtyard full of moss and take the ladder up...". You'll need to repeat your journeys if you want to ever find a way out.

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