Monday, 24 April 2017

Notes Toward an Aztec/Mythos Horror Hex Crawl

 So I was flipping through Carcosa and thinking about ways to put my own spin on the traditional hex crawl, then I had a conversation with HDA about how to do horror in old-school D&D, then I took one of those kind-of-sort-of naps where you're oscillating between consciousness and unconsciousness, during which I had a nightmare, which I then thought about while listening to this album. The following disordered notes are the result of that sequence of events.

  • Player-characters hail from one of several crumbling city-states on a peninsula which thrusts into an ocean of blood, said to be fed by the slowly-emptying veins of a dying god. 
  • The main idea, setting-wise, is to indiscriminately combine the Cthulhu Mythos and Mesoamerican  mythology in an original fantasy locale/
  • Rules-wise, I'll just keep using Labyrinth Lord, for hassle-free cribbing from Realms of Crawling Chaos.
  • Gameplay-wise, it's your standard sandbox hex crawl, the idea being that the PCs are fortune-seekers from one of the peninsula cities, leaving behind the squalor of their homeland in the hopes of finding riches and secret power in the unexplored reaches of the bloody ocean. The players will command a ship and a crew of henchmen. There will be ship-to-ship combat and piracy, as well as weird islands to explore, replete with strange civilizations and dungeons, at least one of which will be based on this guy's paintings.
  • This will be an attempt to run D&D as, at least in part, a horror game. Some of what this might mean in practice: fighters and thieves only (to keep magic and non-humans as something alien and terrifying), relatively sparing use of truly monstrous monsters, strong emphasis on atmosphere over combat (which seems doable in old-school D&D, where most of your experience comes from treasure and not monsters), probably some sort of sanity system, etc. Basically everything listed here.
  • Speaking of magic, I think I'll eschew the traditional Vancian route, and make all magic more like the ritual magic that Realms of Crawling Chaos gives rules for (meaning, I'll just use those rules, unless I come up with something I like better). I might also borrow a page from Call of Cthulhu, and let anyone learn a ritual/spell if they have the right book and can pass a few INT rolls, but also have this be a quick ticket to permanent insanity. Non-PC magic-users will, in traditional Lovecraft fashion, either be insane and corrupted humans/humanoids, or alien monstrosities. 
I'm tentatively calling this project "Mictlan," after the Aztec underworld. Expect more posts on whatever the fuck is going on here in addition to more stuff on the Crater of Termination.

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