Monday, April 17, 2023

Diving Back into the Eternal Ocean

I have added another 30 monsters to Dragonette this weekend all the ones listed at the end of this article.) I am feeling far more satisfied with the project.

Last night after my Sunday gaming group, I decided to sit down and work on The Depths of the Eternal Ocean for the first time in awhile. In retrospect, I am amazed at how much I bit off when I started to design this game.

The planet Rusalka has millions of years of history,  hundreds of adventure sites, interdimensional influences,  multiple alien intelligences, and a lot of mysteries... most of which are only hinted at in the Eternal Ocean setting book. Most of the heavy lifting for the game is going to be done in the third Campaign book, The Depths of the Eternal Ocean

Oddly, this is the least important book from the perspective of most GMs. The first book, Wreck, is a self-contained TTRPG for exploring Ocean Planets. It's the only one you'd need to play the game I'm envisioning.

Eternal Ocean sets up a detailed set of worlds that the PCs might hail from, with enough culture to make the setting interesting. Then it sets up Planet Rusalka, a setting for adventure ideal to use with Wreck. It has factions, political tension, mysteries, and natural hazards - all presented purely in fiction, without mechanics. It is, in essence, a book of creative prompts. With this book, players can make their own PCs, and the GM can make their own Planet Rusalka based on the ideas presented in the  book.

  • What really happened to the first expedition?
  • Why does the planet spin and its ice caps so fast?
  • Why won't our scanners work?
  • What kind of life is down there now?
  • Where did that life come from 
  • What really happened when the planet turned black?
  • Is there really an outbreak?

The GM who answers these questions and then decides how to tease the answers out for the players will have a campaign ready to play.

The first half of The Depths of the Eternal Ocean are my own answers to that set of questions... and they are pretty dense and full of clues and hooks to seed around my version of Rusalka.  Some are based on my players with my son, who turned his campaign into a story about conserving dying alien life, and in the process discovering a number of secrets buried by the sea life of Rusalka. 

The second half of the book is what will likely be my greatest contribution to the TTRPG hobby: A book on Science Fiction campaigning, and how to turn Rusalka into a horror game, a survival game, a sci-fi dungeon crawler, or even a wargame based of the same raw material. 

It will also provide my own take on a planetary Gazetteer. 

I am hoping that The Depths of the Eternal Ocean will help fuse Free Kriegspiel Revolution and Old-School Renaissance philosophies into an new method of thinking about campaigns.

None of which you need as a GM: my Rusalka will never be the same as yours. The book will be more of a time saver and inspiration  than something to Cleave to. You can make your own Rusalka without ever needing to look at mine, or use Wreck to explore your own Ocean planet.

To be honest, the task I put before me is huge. I have taken a lot of inspiration from Luka Rejec's Ultraviolet Grasslands and the Black City and from Jacob Hurst's  Hot Springs Island  in the scale I have approached the project. 

I only wish I had Rejec's artistic talent to bring my Rusalka alive on the page. I have debated trying my hand at drawing what I am imagining, but I also don't want to make my readers wait too much longer for a release. 

In fact, it had nearly been a year since I last worked on The Depths', as Life has been busy. And the book I want to create is daunting.  But once I got down to typing, the ideas started to flow freely again, faster and clearer than they had a year ago.

Sometimes you need a break from a big project to give you clarity.

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