This post is part of a series detailing my participation in #dungeon23. Feel free to follow the link above to check out the series in order, or see the first post in the series if you don’t know what this project is.
Days 10-20 were a bit of a challenge, mainly because our admins at work cheerfully made this week a hellish mess for anyone teaching a winter class. That is to say, this is rough, and yes, there were days when I jotted down a few days’ worth of entries to “catch up”; there were days where I got a cool idea but was simply too busy to write it down. Life happens, as they say.
Even under those circumstances, it was useful to pause and look one by one at locales on the mini-hexmap I’d created on Day 10 and think about how I could detail each spot with a few salient details, add a few more, and create opportunities for development—a possible combat, sure, but also details that could provide clues to what the hell had happened to the moon overall, and breadcrumbs trails leading characters toward other locales of interest within or outside of the area covered.
It’s a grisly fragment in some ways: an artificial lake set up to keep the residents of the area hydrated has gone terribly wrong, flooding part of the fragment and leading to spillover onto the lunar surface on the opposite side of this fragment. (As the entire fragment has been enveloped with air, fungal blooms are now spreading on the outside.) There’s a sinkhole, a shattered “temple” structure with a sage and some broken AI, lots of bots trying fruitlessly to repair damage they were never build to handle, some nanobot swarms doing their best to keep the thing going and find a way to knit the moon back together, and signs of a lot of displaced residents having suffered from the flooding and/or fled the fragment on foot, to the edge.
I think it was Connie Willis who commented once that anytime you answer one question in a story, you need to create two or three more unanswered ones in order to keep the story going. I know that’s an elementary insight, one most of us understand on some level—we’ve all experienced mystery in narratives, after all—but having it stated explicitly gives you a specific approach to consciously try.
Another thing I’m trying is to develop a kind of consistency of mood for each chunk of this project. One shortcut to that is to listen to a piece of music at the start of the week, and repeatedly when the effect fades in my memory.
This week’s piece was Charles Ives’ haunting work:
Moments of chaos and peril spattered onto a canvas that is eerie and inspires terror—in the old sense of the word, meaning that feeling of smallness and insignificance you get when you look at stuff like mountains and enormous waterfalls and gargantuan sinkholes—is very much what I’m going for here. Not that players necessarily would experience that, but it’s the mood I was trying to infuse into this leg of the project.
Next, it’ll be a very different piece of music, and a very different fragment. I’m curious how it’ll all hold together. I think I’ll be doing one of the other lunar fragments that this one connects directly to. Quite possibly one of the bigger chunks (on a larger hexmap earlier in the book). That said, I may also experiment with building a few hexflowers for procedurally generating large fragments, since the “small hex” pages in the notebook I’m using have pages that are perfect for that kind of setup.
We’ll see, I guess. I start the next leg tonight.
For fans of chickenscrawl, here’s the page I filled over days 10-20: