Sunday Morning Dungeons, Green Hell

When I was in my teens and running a weekly game, “Sunday Morning Dungeons” was the term I used for the couple of hours in the morning where I would happily throw together a dungeon for my game in the afternoon. Today I’ve got no game in the afternoon, only a series of adult responsibilities, but I’ve cracked open afresh notebook and started writing notes about my next OpenQuest game, Green Hell.

Green Hell cover by Jeshields

Green Hell cover by Jeshields

With Green Hell I’m firmly looking to get back to what makes OQ great for me. Fun. I’m not over thinking what I’m doing and if something looks like it would be fun to do I’m throwing it into the “Toy box” I’m creating. I’ve about 20 character illustrations by the great Jesheilds, many of which appear in the new refreshed OpenQuest rule book I’m about to release and the first port of call as always with any of my D100 games was to draw up a cast list of characters. There’s a surprising lack of humans, in fact only 2 out of the five factions that the characters fall into are human and one of those is hanging onto its humanity by a thread. Those five factions are quite diverse, a Dwarfen Expeditionary Force looking for lost relics, a Pirate Ship making its way along the rivers and coast raiding and trading as it goes, the warped woodland inhabitants of the the Wild Wood, the followers of a Water Nymph who lives in an bay, and finally the rather odd inhabitants of the Emerald Temple, which lies at the heart of the mystery that flows through the setting.

Next up was quickly outlining the Cults of the setting. Cults are one of the essential ingredients of any OpenQuest setting in that its where the player characters and their opponents get their magic and skills training. They act as an anchor in the world, supporting the characters, helping them with an off the peg world view and a set of readymade contacts. But is something that I feel I’ve been a bit muted about in previous OQ releases. Well not this time. Green Hell has about five Hero Cults, of people living or dead that you can draw magic (Battle Magic) from their legends and personal magnetism. This gives the factions some of their coherence. Take the Pirates faction, The Skull Jammers. All the ship’s crew follow the Hero Cult dedicated to the founding captain called the “Skull and Bones” (yes slightly cheesy I know but easy to remember when the players are being bombarded with names of NPCs, Locations and events in game). From him they gain Weapon Enhance since he was handy with his cutlass, Walk on Water after a legendary story where he walked on water to board an enemy ship, and Enhance Athletics so all the pirates can merrily go swinging round the rigging! There’s also a cult that despite appearances is a Sorcery cult and a Divine Cult which centres round rather lost and aimless deity, who instead of guiding and commanding piety from her worshippers just sits there staring into the distance while her followers mill about doing what they think she wants. I’ve decided as well that gone of the days of boring utility deities, such as the War God who only exists to provide Warrior PCs with magic. Firmly in the camp now that Deities are in mad, bad and dangerous to know category, with their followers being powerful and a bit unhinged from everyday life. This attitude probably comes from reading and playing Unknown Armies 2nd Edition.

Then I started contemplating rules for trekking across the Swamp, and all the nasty diseases and fierce some wildlife you can encounter, then I realised it was lunchtime so I put down my pen.

About Newt

Games Designer, Publisher, Web Developer, Dad.

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7 Responses to Sunday Morning Dungeons, Green Hell

  1. A world in which petty, local gods (or even Petty Gods) are the only gods?

    • Newt says:

      Yeah pretty much. It’s part of the Empire of Gatan setting, and all the major deities will be detailed in “From Darkness to the Light” which is the setting/adventure book. So in Green Hell the characters are all squires of the missing Imperial Champion Sir Rurik the Reckless and they start as members of the Hero Cult “The Imperial Aspirants” which gives them access to a few Battle Magic spells and some necessary skills. Its a gentle intro to cults. Then if they want to get busy with the cults system during play of Green Hell, there’s more local Hero Cults that they can join (including a few where the Hero is still alive, so the Worshiper Duties for those cults were along the lines of “Do what the Hero tells you!”) as few minor deities. Or they wait until they’ve completed the adventure and join one of the Imperial cults with their actions in Green Hell counting towards being sponsored to initiated status.

      But yeah overall one of the design aims of Green Hell is that is its own little bit of messed up reality where there big gods of the setting don’t have any sway.

  2. Sunwolfe says:

    I love free brainstorming sessions when ideas just pour out on to the paper. In my experience, this is usually made possible by mentally putting the internal editor to bed with orders to “…go to sleep!” and letting the weird, odd, and brilliant to flow all regulating sluice gates down. Great cult ideas. They can truly be the heart of character motivation.

  3. Hareton says:

    I have never played Runequest family games, but from your descriptions I’m excited to try.
    Does your modules require Deluxe edition of Open Quest, or can I play with only basic edition? Are they compatible with Runequest 2ed (the old one)?

    • Newt says:

      My modules are ‘broadly compatible” with other D100 games, in that same way that D&D Retroclones are compatible with Official D&D. It has the same characteristics, uses Hit Points to track damage and Magic Points to track some uses of Magic, and skills are percentile based. But there are differences, new spells, differences how magic and combat is resolved, character generation. My modules will work out of the box with other D100 systems, but you have to be prepared to covert/change things on the fly or convert things quickly before play (and not get too hung up on the details).

      OpenQuest Basics works out of the box with Life and Death, all the other modules use the full range of magic and options presented in the main rule book.

  4. Tom Zunder says:

    How’s it coming?

    • Newt says:

      A collection of notes in a notebook at the moment.
      But main nuts and bolts, cults, main themes, history etc are done.
      Onto the detail, a hex map, a gazetteer of the weird and wonderful, npcs, adventure seeds. Then some sort of playtest 🙂

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