⭗ REDIRECTIONS: XXXII ⭗

  

⭗ LONGWINTER IN UVG #5 

⭗ TECHRUINS OF THE LONG, LONG AGO 


“Those hills are hollow, aren’t they?” Charred-Hand looked up, meeting Kvelak’s eyes.

“Most hills are hollow, truth be told,” Kvelak grunted.

“The world is an onionskin, rolled flat over layers upon layers of all that came before,” the Blue Oracle added. “Every poleis that thought itself great has built monuments to their own brief moment of history which time has covered with mud and rime.”

“Some of those things are alive as well,” Lleva added. “There are hollow hills that still conjure out Zoa, like mythic cryptids boiling out of a creation cauldron.”

“I have been in such places,” Charred-Hand nodded. “A few times, and always against my will, but I have seen such depths before myself.”

“Tell us about them,” The Blue Oracle offered, her hands weaving his dreams into visions for all around them to partake of.

⭗ BACKGROUND 

Brezim is the setting of Luka Rejec’s Longwinter books. While not explicitly set in the same world as Ultraviolet Grasslands (also by Rejec,) both settings have enough similarities in terminology and in encounters that they can mesh together relatively easily. Still, there is room for more flavor to integrate the two together when moving your UVG caravan through Brezim and experiencing the wrath of Winterwhite. Some of my ideas for encounters which mesh with both worlds are below:

⭗ WHAT IS THIS? 

This is a tool kit. It is a way to create your own modular fantascience tech-dungeons for use with surreal, post-human and / or gonzo OSR RPGs. It is designed specifically for use with Ultraviolet Grasslands and Longwinter, but you can easily adapt this kit to fit exclusively with one setting or the other. Consider this a new, fan-made plug-in adaptor brewed up using the source code common between the two settings. 

You can use these entries to construct a pointcrawl, or to inform or inspire the rooms in your own carefully constructed dungeon. I have left out empty rooms, boring rooms, hallways and the like, but you can totally add those in for pacing as you see fit.

To build your perfect dungeon, simply pick from the rooms listed below, or go rogue-like and roll a 20-sided die to determine what a given room holds. A fourth category of “Even More Rooms” follows these lists as well for extra (potential) excitement!

⭗ OUTER LAYER ROOMS 

  1.  A room full of mirrors in silvery frames. Most of them are shattered, but those that remain unbroken show visions of reality that the eyes cannot normally see.

  2. This room might have been a hallway, but it is now choked with thick, gelatinous, purple roots that push through cracks in the walls.

  3. A cracked crystal sphere rests upon a cushion at the top of a meter-tall pyramid here. It is a device of the Old Architects, but someone has broken it. Why and what it does when it is repaired are up to you.

  4. There is a line of flaking blue paint that divides the room here. Those who stand on one side of the line can hear the thoughts of those on the other side of the line. This functions as a sort of telepathy. The feedback is nasty for polybodies that have bodies on opposite sides of the line.

  5. A great dark mural of a terrifying, multi-limbed form rises over an altar here. Mummified offerings rest on the altar, presumably left by ancient nuclearlithics.

  6. Dark, gliding shapes (L4, ERROR) flit through the strange, polyp-like machinery here, corrupting reality wherever they drift to.

  7. An infestation of rogue Chitin Cap fungus has taken root and colonized this entire chamber. It is tough, hardy, flame resistant and difficult to remove.

  8. A small chamber with a sealed airlock door at one end. There is a pile of mummified Old Architect bodies at the foot of it, like they were trying to claw their way out. They appear to have died horribly.

  9. A claustrophobic, pulsing, artery-like passage that winds through the darkness. The walls are warm to the touch, and slick.

  10.  2d6 Cultists (L2, fanatical) who worship the Old Architects have gathered here and turned this chamber into a temple. There are several relics and perhaps even a couple of cryo-frozen or mummified individuals in sleeper pods here with prodigious amounts of glow blossom offerings placed at their feet.

  11.  A swarm of Vomish Snow Scarabs (L6, ravenous) have broken through the wall and made a massive mud nest here.

  12.  Rows upon rows of silent, offline cryonics pods sit empty here. Where did everyone go? How long ago did they leave? Are they still around nearby or did they evacuate eons ago?

  13.  At some point, perhaps in the last century or so, a brave and ill-fated expedition broke through the walls here and tried to pilfer the contents of the tech-ruin. Their shattered skeletons and scattered, tattered gear are an ominous warning to all who would tread where they first dared to go.

  14.  An expansive hangar bay sealed over long ago by an avalanche, landslide, mudslide or other such natural disaster sits empty. Clearing it so that it is open to the sky would be a very difficult proposition, perhaps requiring heavy equipment. Whether or not there are any Old Architect vehicles still parked in the hangar is up to the referee.

  15.  A locked closet stocked with basic maintenance supplies. Most of the tools and spare parts are gone, and most of the oils and fluids have solidified, but there’s a case in the back of freeze-resistant hydraulic fluid that makes a mean alternative to moonshine.

  16.  A series of dusty chairs are arranged against the wall here. Wires are plugged into numbered sockets all up and down opposing walls. Perhaps this was once a power redirection point? An exchange for quantum telecommunications? The manual control and shut-off system for some large, ominous, intelligent machine?

  17.  Voices speaking a dead language echo from a small room. An ancient, vat-grown radio sits on a table, abandoned, its tiny dial glowing in the darkness. The voices sound urgent, but they also repeat. Perhaps it is a distress signal from one of the Fast Stars, echoing the last words of a people lost long ago to calamity.

  18.  A room with a series of tall, round tables. At one end, there are clear tubes of colored powders. This may have been a cafeteria, a place where the old architects mixed nutritious powders into custom slurries that met all of their physical needs. The powders might also be deadly toxic.

  19.  The wide, slippery, conical mouth of a huge condenser shaft drops deep into the earth, opening a wet and dangerous way to a lower level of the techruin.

  20.  An ancient and silent elevator shaft is open to the stale air here. There is no visible cart and the whole thing is unpowered. The secrets of how it once functioned might be in a manual around here somewhere.


⭗ MIDDLE LAYER ROOMS 

  1. A random Outer Layer room.

  2. An abandoned gymnasium. Most of the machines are broken, or perhaps geared toward very specific exercises to keep unusual physical forms in top shape.

  3. An ancient data library, but the archives are infested with memory-eating mushrooms. Some of their secrets may still exist, but they will only be imparted through dreams after eating some of the fungus. Unfortunately, the fungus often makes those who eat it very ill and, at worse, it can colonize the brain and start eating memories there.

  4. Faceless statues stand gathered on the steps of an auditorium here. At first glance, they look like living people, but they are actually carved (grown?) from some oddly warm, green, stone material. One of them is actually alive, an Old Architect wearing a protective suit and mask of the same material, waiting and watching.

  5. A room with a black sphere floating in the center of it. The gravity gets lighter (or heavier) the closer one gets to the sphere.

  6. A gallery of strange artifacts secured in display cases made of self-healing hyperglass. Breaking through is very difficult and requires specialized tools. It also summons 1d6 Cobaltskin Annelid Security Golems (L6, laser-eyed) programmed to protect and secure the artifacts no matter the cost.

  7. A strange, low, glassy table. If powered (and not overloaded) it projects a holographic orrery that responds to spoken commands from a dead language (the language of the Old Architects.) It can show and provide basic (eons outdated) statistics on some of the Fast Stars.

  8. There is a strange, glowing energy field dividing this room in half. On the opposite side, there is a layer of dust, ash and rust flakes covering the floor. The field resists movement, missiles, etc. and requires extra force to push through. On the other side, the air is highly caustic and toxic. Maybe it’s meant to keep something horrible contained? Maybe the whole rest of the facility is flooded and only this field is keeping the caustic air at bay?

  9. A room with several cannibalized cryo-pods overhauled and bootstrapped by desperate archaeologists from Long Ago who became trapped here while investigating the Old Architects from Long, Long Ago. Their hamfisted modifications to the pods have allowed them to freeze themselves in hope of future rescue, but it has been so long that they’re rather frost-burned. They may be mummified, insane, skinless, mute, catatonic, degenerated and/or furious, but otherwise they’re just common folk who have been out of circulation for a very long time.

  10.  A wide bay of vacuum-sealed hydroponics supplies is packed away here. With a little hard work and some know-how, a team could assemble a sizable underground food farm with hyperproductive crop plants in a few days here. This could be a real boon in a harsh winter, assuming the Old Architects had the same dietary requirements as your party does.

  11.  A room walled with shelves and with a tiled floor that gently slopes toward a series of drains. Runes embedded in the wall trigger different ancient body-cleansing settings when traced, releasing scented mists, clouds of nanites that devour dust and body oils, quick and sudden sprays of funny-smelling water and gusts of hot air. Pristine packages of Old Architect sleepwear and sheer jumpsuits embedded with vital-monitoring sensors are arranged here and there on the shelves.

  12.  A room filled with chairs that look like they were grown out of the floor. The far wall lights up when the room is entered, and a hazy portrait of an Old Architect fills the wall-screen, waiting silently, blinking and staring but saying nothing. Only when all detected sapient entities are seated will he start his monologue, but it is all in the dead language of the Old Architects. 

  13.  Degenerating Proto-Golems (L3, primal) descended from security golems that become sentient through data corruption and then re-engineered themselves to be able to reproduce, have made a nest here. They are quite territorial, speak only in grunts and gestures, and are both terrified and awed by fire and sunlight.

  14.  A silent workshop for the calibrating and installation of biomechanicum implanted prosthetic limbs. The room is cold and sterile, and still has a couple of choice pieces stored away from the Long, Long Ago.

  15.  The subterranean vein of a mighty river has torn through the walls here over the course of eons. The nymph / demon of that river (L6, landspirit) has made its nest (and stored its collection of shiny rocks) here.

  16.  A weary and bored Jukebox Golem (L2, jazzy) has been bolted to the floor here. It lights up and cranks itself to maximum volume as soon as it detects sentient life, likely terrifying anyone who witnesses it. It’s absolutely bored to tears and desperately wants to leave this place. Its overriding goal is to learn as many songs as it can, but it also desires to share its songs with others. Currently, it only has a library of Old Architect music, a song or two of which might also be spells. Could this be your new bard+golem?

  17. A dusty pneumatic tube network hubstation waits abandoned here, ready to be powered up. The tubes snake up and down between levels, but are barely big enough for a normal-sized human to crawl through. They weren’t really meant for people, especially if they’re charged with rushing air, but I suppose they can be used to get around in a pinch if you can climb through slippery glass switchbacks and vertical tubes in the dark. 

  18.  Banks of flickering consoles covered with dusty sheets of plastic wait in this chamber. Each is linked to a gelatinous, winged, eye-probe grown in vats far beneath the facility and sent out across the lands to gather data on the status of known facilities and assets from Long, Long Ago. Most of them turn up nothing but errors, unable to find missing assets long since used up or moved, but a few report back coordinates and functional data for other techruins, data archives and eerily-sleek, needle-shaped voidships secreted away by Ultras waiting for the end of the world to come.

  19.  A hibernating Vome-Yeti Shaman (L4, enlightening) shakes off the rime iced into its pale fur and rises to meet you. It has its own secret entrance to this facility that it uses to get down here, and it might be willing to show it to those it deems as true friends. It might also just try to hypnotize you with its drumming and hooting so it can stab you with a vomish appendage and corrupt you to become one with its hivemind.

  20. Gusts of ominously warm air yawn through several sets of massive, steel vault doors. A wide, standardstone ramp descends into the darkness, tiny red pin-lights scanning the shadows within, searching for movement.


⭗ CORE LAYER ROOMS 

  1. A random Outer Layer room.

  2. A random Middle Layer room.

  3. An ailing fusi-crystal reactor. Cracked and unstable, it is barely functioning enough to keep the lights on.

  4. A gallery of multi-dimensional artworks that bleed out of their frames and trigger powerful emotions in their viewers. 

  5. A room with the aura of a crypt. Tattered shrouds cover glass boxes set upon carved, elegant altars. In the boxes are iridescent pearls made of luminous lattices. These might be Canopic Jewels.

  6. Access room for an eerily quiet and sterile solid waste processing system. While the pumping system is idle, the “water” levels in the pipes are low enough to wade through.

  7. A room centered around an ancient eletromagnificent rejuvenator. To creatures who feed on radiation, it is a miracle treatment device. For everyone else, it is an (extremely powerful) microwave that you can climb inside (or use to roast an entire bear at once.)

  8. An enchanting gallery of leaded glass amphorae. Each contains a different mutagenic viral strain that the Old Architects were supremely proud of. Effects vary from the miraculous (cure-all, extra limbs, chameleon skin, etc.) to the horrendous and everything in between. 

  9. A great pool of thick, dark, gelatinous liquid waits in the middle of this room. Is this some kind of storage? Why are there stairs and a railing leading down into the liquid? Did something in the pool just move? 

  10. A great chamber with a massive, liquid-filled, glass-walled tank at one end. Inside is a giant, multi-armed being, something like a god, or maybe the avatar of one, or perhaps just an ancient soul who tried to ascend to godhood. Is it dead or is it just waiting to be awakened?

  11.  An eerie hallway filled with rows upon rows of sleeping Microwave Golems (L8, radioactive rays.) What are they waiting for? What will wake them?

  12.  Mirrorchrome Surgical Golems (L4, blinding) swarm anyone who steps into the room, eager to seize them and surgically implant them with neural interface links. Their goal is to obtain bodies with minds that they can reformat and possess with the consciousness of an Old Architect Hive Human downloaded into a corrupted mainframe which is on the brink of catastrophic failure. If the golems cannot upload part of their master’s code into the neural architecture of a given specific body, they will resort to simple brainshaving to make the body compliant and harmless so that it might help the Surgical Golems find bodies that the Hive Human can download into.

  13.  A machinist’s bay for repairing and maintaining suits of golem armor. There may (or may not) be such suits here in various stages of repair and functionality. There will definitely be tools for working on such suits, but everything in this bay is eons old.

  14.  A singular glass tube is wired into the walls here with a massive cradle of braided cables. A bright sphere of red-purple ball lightning pulses within. Closer inspection may reveal that this is a kind of power generator to recharge oldtech devices, and that the ball lighting inside the tube is actually a Ka-Elemental (L2d4, gutting) whose essential energies are feeding the generator. If it is freed, it acts about like how you’d expect angry ball lightning to act, complete with the usual side-effects for exposure (see UVG).

  15.  An archive of dusty titanium plates is sealed away here. The plates are thin and are engraved with the runes of an obscure Old Architect religious teaching from Long, Long Ago. It promotes itself as a great guidebook to the fundamental structure of reality, but it probably isn’t. It also has a series of prophesies, but if they actually happened, they would have happened so long ago that they would be more like histories now. Maybe one of them points to something useful, like the site of an ancient battle or another buried facility?

  16.  A room that is unusually colorful and festive-looking (despite the dust and peeling paint) contains a single hyperglass pod festooned with tubes and wires. Careful notes (written in an obscure Old Architect script) on a nearby, powered-down console explain the material and energy needs of the machine. When topped up and activated and in proper working order, the pod can modify the physical appearance of those who climb inside it. The changes the pod is capable of bestowing are cosmetic and simple (skin hues, eye colors, nose shape, waist size, height) but nothing more substantial than that.

  17.  Subtle tectonic shifts over the past several eons have opened this section to an expansive cavern system inhabited by a tribe of Tall Pallids (L3, radioactive). They have been scavenging technology from the ruin and are suspicious of anyone from the outside world. As soon as they detect outsiders in the ruin, they will shadow them, trying to distract them and scare them off with illusion magic and ventriloquism. The Tall Pallids only become dangerous if their homes, deep in the caves (especially their nursery) are threatened. If they witness enough acts of empathy and kindness from the party, they may be willing to talk and trade.

  18.  A gallery of crystalline source archives that contain the code for reconstituting extinct lifeforms. Most of them are broken or corrupted, but a few remain intact. 

  19.  A hibernating knot of Ossivore Cicadas (L6, screaming) wakens at the approach of living beings who have tasty, tasty bones hidden in their bodies. The cicadas have been snacking on cryo-frozen Old Architects for centuries, but went into hibernation when the pickings got slim.

  20.  A half-built chamber with a bare dirt wall at one end. Frozen in front of it is a long-dead, multi-armed fabrication machine that presumably dug out and fabricated this whole facility in the Long, Long Ago. Most of the fabricator’s tools and body are in working order, or near enough to it, but the brain (a hyperglass canister filled with an artificial intelligence distributed across a circus of cyan fleas) has died. If a new consciousness were wired into the thing (and it was given some basic maintenance) then it could presumably fabricate additional rooms for this facility. 


⭗ EVEN MORE ROOMS 

These rooms are additional ideas I had that can be placed anywhere (or nowhere) within the Techruin. Use them in your game sessions as you please, but most of them have hooks to them that can derail (or reorient) your whole game. Referee discretion is advised.


1. A storage facility for blank, specialized tool bodies. There are 1d6 specialized bodies on ice here. They are very old and tailored to be good at one specific thing only (referee’s choice) and aren’t very good for much else. These are blanks, so they can be linked with polybodies or be imbued with consciousness, but they have no life of their own.


2. A narrow hallway is lined with strange, silvery, conical insulator cones. There is a small window that looks into the narrow hallway which is accessed elsewhere. Controls in the room make the insulators glow and emit electromagnificent radiation. The knob goes from 1 (discomfort) to 11 (instant liquefaction.)


3. The chamber lights up with brilliant blue pixelated shapes as soon as you enter. A hologram of a trio of three-meter tall Old Architects in fine, flowing robes fills the room. They seem to be pleading, imparting an urgent message or warning, but they are speaking in their long dead language. Translating will be difficult, if not impossible, for most, but it sounds very important.


4. A hyperglass enclosure seems to contain nothing but shadows. If the glass is breached, the shadows condense and coalesce into a Quasidimensional Engineer (L6, replicating) who was exposed to an ontological virus in the long, long ago. The engineer’s comrades sealed the poor fool into an enclosure for observation purposes. Eons alone have made the engineer quite unstable, both mentally and existentially.


5. An observation room overlooks a huge, vibrant underground city. There are consoles here with dials and runes and buttons labeled in the dead language of the Old Architects. A single red button pulses in the center of the consoles. If pushed, it activates the city and the residents suddenly appear, coalescing out of the dust on the ground. The city itself is bustling once activated, but it also seems quite mundane, following patterns that become obvious after extended observation. It is essentially a facsimile of an Old Architect city, complete with streets lit by lumin trees. If one walks among the people there, they seem to only give short, friendly responses that repeat after a few interactions. Some even try to give characters fetch quests that can be performed within the city. This is a city of 1,000 Falšers built to provide a “relaxing” urban environment experience for the Old Architects. The controls change settings in the city, controlling day/night cycles, weather, holidays, civilian mood, etc.


6. An ordinary hallway turns out to have a weak floor. Crossing it causes the floor to collapse and drops the characters into whatever waits below. Could it be the next level down into the tech ruin? Could it be a secret room hidden away by the Old Architects? Could it be a cavern or sinkhole that has formed under the facility? Hopefully it doesn’t just drop them into a strange hive of swarming horrors like Giant Vome Scorpions (L4, caustic venom), Meat-Golem Hornets (L2, carnivorous), Zombie Cats (L1, braiiiiiins), Cannibalizing Nanite Fractals (L6, reality rending), Doll-Sized Stuckforce Cacodemons (L7, invisible), or Gold-Scaled Crocodilian Sprinters (L9, ravenous).


7. A huge chamber with a grated floor houses a sleeping Faerietech gate. An accomplished technomancer may be able to repair the gate with a difficult test and some spare parts. The gate’s systems may also contain address information for up to three other functional gates scattered out among the Fast Stars.


8. A cavernous room with sound baffles on the walls creates an eerily silent space where even footsteps seem to be absorbed. In the center of the room, a massive soul mill reactor assembly has been carefully disassembled and packed away in crates, presumably stored for reassembly when it will be needed to power the facility at some pre-ordained point in the future.


9. A wide, substantial staircase made of standardstone rises into the darkness. Anyone who steps on it can walk up the stairs, but the staircase never seems to end. Walk far enough, and you will encounter other staircases, a veritable labyrinth of them, and all going in different directions, like an Escher painting. Finding your way back out might be difficult, as the whole thing is an aerobics simulation which has been left on by the former inhabitants. Simply speak the words “end program” to return back to the entrance of the room, but the words must be spoken in the language of the Old Architects. There may be other programs in the system memory, but most of them will probably be exercise programs.


10. A crumpled, accordion-shaped growth of dryland coral sags into a part of the facility that looks nothing like what you’ve seen so far. In truth, beyond the coral growth is a massive voidship, crashed, buried by the eons and now tangled up in a rogue growth of dryland coral. Despite all of this, the ship is still (potentially) functional. This voidship can be a new “dungeon” with new flavors of encounters that could also, with some work (and heavy machinery) give the players a means to travel to the Fast Stars and beyond.


11. The operational interface cradle for a dead autofac sits silently purring in this sweeping, subterranean observation area. Extensive flooding silenced the autofac in the Long Ago and much of the elements beneath the water have rotted away or calcified. Still, maybe there is some life in the old girl yet? A few parts, a little TLC, and maybe the whole thing will chug to life again. Hopefully it wasn’t designed to crank out bombs or diseases or human-flavored godsmeat or something. Also, pray the source code isn’t corrupt after all this time. Who knows what this thing could make when it finally cranks over for the first time in eons.


12. A large, blue-glowing Crystalline Lion Golem (L6, electromagnificent) guards this seemingly empty room. In the belly of the lion there is a case of Old Architect song-spell albums, all singles, but catchy (and useful) if you can master the exact pronunciations of the rough and nasal Old Architect phonemes. Other variations of the lion might exist elsewhere in the ruin, guarding similar treasures. Examples could be a Razor-Crystal Hyena Golem (L4, reality-rending), a Resonating Crystal Wolf Golem (L3, deafening), or even a Pyre-Crystal Electrodragon (L10, volcanic breath).


13. A desiccated squid-shaped object rests on a dais next to a bowl of shimmering liquid. Shelves of colorful, crystalline shards rest here and there on the shelves, but it appears that the room must have contained many more at some point in the distant past. If the squid-object is placed in the bowl for 24 hours, it rehydrates and starts to stir. It has what appears to be a large, toothless mouth, but in truth, it is a living device, a knowledge glove from Long, Long Ago. Wearing it like a glove and closing your fist around one of the crystals dissolves the crystal over several minutes and transmutes its data into accessible memories for the glove wearer. Most of the crystals that are left are basic linguistic primers to teach a mind the language of the Old Architects. A few other things (spell songs, useful survival skills, etc.) may be left on the shelves as well.


14. A gallery of hyperglass tanks contain strange patchwork animals held in hibernetic suspension. These are the experiments of an Old Architect scientist who woke up early (in the Long Ago) and went mad from being sealed in a small portion of the facility with nothing to do but invent reasons to experiment. Several centuries of research notes on hybridization and the creation of chimera beasts are scattered around the gallery, but is the scientist still around? Would they even be recognizable, or did they start to experiment even on themselves in order to outpace time itself? How do the patchwork animals react if they are released from the tanks and brought back to consciousness? Would they be powerful allies? Spiteful enemies? Perhaps they will be eager settlers keen on building a new village here in the depths?


15. A small control room with sheet-covered consoles overlooks a massive, maze-like testing facility. The testing facility is home to a very, very long running experiment that the Old Architects ultimately considered a failure. Fortunately, the last custodian of the experiment (in the Long, Long Ago) didn’t have the heart to terminate the experiment, and left it running for eons. The experiment could be anything from a colony of Brainshaved Baseline Humans (L1, placid), Combat Apes (L2, together strong), Sentient Flames (L3, conscientious), to a burgeoning nest of Prototype Spore-Elves (L4, infectious) ready to burst out and infect the nearby countryside. If you want to go really dark with it, perhaps the Old Architects were breeding Biomechanicum Insectoid Horrors (L6, sneaky and vicious) as part of a bioweapons program that never really got off the ground because their creations were just too dangerous and unpredictable to use as weapons. Hopefully these things haven’t broken out. Hopefully.


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