#dungeon23, Days 1-9: The Lunar Surface Access Complex

This entry is part 1 of 8 in the series #dungeon23

So, I’ve joined in on the #dungeon23 thing. (Or, #facility23? Er, whatever. Check out the original post if you don’t know what this is.) I will be posting here intermittently about it—probably after each “chunk” is finished, rather than on a fixed schedule like once a week. I’m not sure whether I’ll bounce each post to social media or just just toot/tweet them occasionally: I guess we’ll see. 

My first chunk this year took 9 days, so that’s what I’m updating about. (I know it’s the 10th of the year, but this is everything up to and including yesterday. I haven’t done today’s bit yet.)

What I’m doing is a kind of lunar setting, with a heavy dose of both: you’ve got your moon, but it’s actually a Big Dumb Object. It’s a hollow moon stuffed with strangeness, and sandwiched into the crust is machinery, bots, life support tech, gravity generators, and who knows what else. Problem is, it’s about to come apart at the seams. The idea is that—either before or after the player characters arrive—the moon shatters, leaving giant chunks in orbit, but somehow the life support tech manages to sustain life on (most of) the fragments. 

This sounds like it’s something designed for, say, Mothership or Stars Without Number, except when I first envisioned it, I conceived of it as a science-fantasy setting. Specifically, I had the idea of people arriving at the moon—shattered or not—in hot-air balloons and ramshackle bird-lifted contraptions like the one in Francis Godwin’s The Man in the Moone or the Discovrse of a Voyage thither by Domingo Gonsales (1638):

Frontispiece for the 2nd edition of Francis Godwin's book The Man in the Moone (1657).


In any case, my #dungeon23 project so far looks like the image you saw up in the header for this post. You can click the image below to see the full-sized image, I guess, if that appeals to you.

A photo of an open notebook with scrawlings and a hand-drawn isometric map.
(Click to see the full size.)

That is my first isometric map ever, and it’s a bit weird because I sketched in the route of the ventilation shafts through this portion of the complex. This bit of the project could work whether or not the moon has already shattered, unlike a lot of the setting material I’ll be creating later on. Some of it will be “dungeons” or “facilities”; some of it will be hexmaps of the bigger chunks of the shattered moon, with some specific locales on them; others will be zoomed-in terrain maps for the interior, or the intracrustal facilities that keep life sustainable on the moon-chunks.   

So far, generating some material has been fun and interesting. I was surprised how much things changed when I set aside any aim of productivity, and let myself just focus on one room at a time, one room per day. One thing about that is that even “empty” rooms can be, well, “not empty.” There can be things to interact with, stuff that was left here, indicators for what’s going on in the bigger picture, red buttons left ready to be pushed by the unwise… an empty room is fine, not every unoccupied room has to be empty. One room at a time, it’s pretty easy to breathe life into a place, even with just a few telling details.  

As for practicalities: doing the project in one Jacob Hurst’s Ennie Award-winning Worldbuilder’s Notebooks that I picked up through the Kickstarter a while back. I have to say the notebook is perfect for this purpose, even if I feel a little spoiled by it. One thing I probably need, just to keep things neat enough that I can make sense of them, is a little ruler I can tuck into the notebook and carry around inside it, but I’ve been making do without for now. 

Cover for Faith Pizor and T. Allan Comp's collection The Man in the Moone and Other Lunar Fantasies. Oh, and since I mentioned Godwin’s The Man in the Moone, I’ll also note that I’ve finally added the book that contains that text to the pile to read sometime in the next few weeks, just for fun and maybe a little inspiration. I have my own plans for what’s in the moon—though I expect that to shift and develop as I go—but the Renaissance era narratives in this book will probably serve well as inspiration for at least some of the potential groups of NPC also visiting the moon that player characters might run across. I’ve been contemplating this project for more than a couple of years now, and I’ve had the book around approximately that long, just waiting to get explored and put to use. I’ll review it, as I review all the fiction I read, or, well, all the fiction I finish. 



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