Friday, January 20, 2017

Gods of the Fall - Going Deeper

The Deeps. Five strata of underworlds buried beneath the Afterworld. A wealth of possibilities that are only hinted at. Beyond everything else in Gods of the Fall the Deeps captured my imagination immediately. Here was a reasonable, logical in-game excuse to use all those mega-dungeon maps that proliferate around RPGs. More than that however was the fact that the Deeps are tied very strongly to the Fall and to the themes of lost divinity and days gone by.

Briefly the five Deeps are:
  1. The lost civilization of serpent-men
  2. A massive fungal ecology
  3. A realm of chthonian monsters beholden to a long dead god of monsters
  4. The twisting labyrinth of an utterly alien race
  5. The deep abyss and the source (potentially) of the Fall
At least, those are what the book details, but who says that you have to use the same five Deeps as the rest of us. Here's the thing: the contents of the deeps (the Fifth Deep notwithstanding) are not that critical to the setting. Maybe you want to swap out weird mushrooms and spores for a massive underground see populated by blind albino mer-folk. Or maybe you want to drop the weird alien slug men for a crumbling clock-work machine that fills the entirety of the Fourth Deep.

So, like I said, what is in the first four Deeps is largely unimportant in the grand scheme of things. The existence of the Deeps themselves is what is of paramount importance. They hints at the true of the world that has been forgotten, namely that the Fall is not the first time Gods have perished and brought ruin to the world. Likewise the rise of new gods is something that has occurred before.

Or maybe as the saying in Battlestar Galactica goes, "All of this has happened before, and will happen again."

So then, if the what's in the Deeps isn't important (again, the 5th Deep notwithstanding) why not make a change or two. Heck, even the 5th Deep could be changed from its nigh featureless darkness around the Anhilation Seed to something more interesting: a maze, a dungeon, a vast ruin scape, or anything else you may like.

Perhaps the 5th Deep takes on the appearance of a vast digital wireframe realm that de-rezzes and experiences data corruption and glitches as you approach the Anhilation Seed. A change like this could hint at a connection to The Strange, or perhaps just that the world your PCs know is not "real" and that the Fall is the result of system resets caused by some kind of hardware or software damage. If you wanted to go this route you could even pepper the early game with cyphers that would hint at this either by effect or by appearance. Perhaps a healing cypher causes the character to "refresh" by disappearing for an instant and then reappearing with fewer wounds.

The other Deeps act as opportunities to the GM to explore tangential genres of fantasy. As I mentioned before a sprawling dungeon, a massive clock-work, a sunken undersea kingdom, even a realm of faerie, all could work as potential re-skins for the Deeps and allow the GM to explore the themes he wants or to leverage other RPG products.

Personally I like the idea of turning one of the Deeps into a vast clockwork machine. Given the way the Seraphs in Gods of the Fall appear to be semi-divine clock-works or golems I think this might add an interesting extra layer to the game and it's setting. Will I do it in my current game? Maybe, but then I don't know what the PCs will choose to do now that they have learned their destiny.

What ways would you consider re-skinning the Deeps?