Friday, January 8, 2010

My First Official Spolier Post

As I was saying over on Guy-Wires, my gaming group convinced me into combining Torgon the Eviscerator (Space Tyrant and future Drama Critic) with my Greek Heroic Age campaign. Further, they convinced me to let them play henchme-for-hire to Torgon (part of an intermittently-utilized campaign framework we came up with a couple of years ago).

Back before I made the henchmen connection, I had another idea. "Mazes & Minotaurs" is the game that inspired my Greek campaign idea, although I wanted to run an Earth-based version of ts world of Mythika. (The conceit of M&M is that it's what the first RPG would have been like if it had been based on movies like "Jason and the Argonauts" and those Italian "Hercules" movies instead of Medieval miniatures games.) I wanted to take the same ideas and run it in a wacky version of Ancient Greece (I've got a lot of games based on Ancient Greece, so I have maps, locations, NPCs, etc.). Amongst the many creatures in the M&M bestiary is a race called Derros.

There's also a race called Derros in Dungeons and Dragons, but it's not really a case of one game plagiarizing the other. In the 1940s, the science fiction magazine Amazing Stories started running a series known as "The Shaver Mysteries" (after the author, Richard Sharpe Shaver, who claimed that these stories were true). The stories claimed that humans were being tortured physically and mentally tortured by a race of stunted, subterranean dwarfs named (wait for it) Deros. Though they lived primarily in cavern cities, they sometimes travelled in rockets and saucers (remnants of ancient Lemurian technology) and visited the outer Earth. Also, it is said, they made contact with evil inhabitants of outer space.

For those few of you who haven't heard of the Hollow Earth thery, it's a real theory. Even though there's a lot of scientific evidence against it, many people believed (and still believe) that the world is hollow. Theories differ, but the most common one is that there is an immense cavern, with a miniature sun hanging in the center. The inside of the sphere was populated with all kinds of people, creatures, and plants which had ceased to perish (or never really existed) in the outer world. You can find dinosaurs, man-eating plants, Atlanteans, Romans, etc.... all preserved remarkably as they were.  There were a number of hidden entrances to the inner world, including one each at the poles.

The modern version of this idea goes back several centuries, and has had some surprising associations. Edmund Halley (of Halley's Comet fame) believed in it. One of Andrew Jackson's cronies wanted to mount an expedition to it, until the tobacco-spitting hero of the Battle of New Orleans put the kibosh on the notion. Admiral Richard Byrd, who discovered the North Pole, was supposed to have ventured into the North Polar opening... and was the guest of the inhabitants! But the most intriguing (from a storytelling point of view) is that the Thule Society (a pre-WWII German occultist organization) believed very much in the Hollow Earth. According to many pulp stories, they convinced Hitler to sponsor their expedition to the northern entrance, in search of ancient Atlantean super-science and sorcery. Just Google "Hollow Earth" for as much as you care to learn about the subject.

So now I have my setting, in broad strokes.  Just what am I going to do with it?

Until next time...


Risus Monkey said...

I love it! I assume you'll be putting your pseudo-Greek culture *inside* the Hollow Earth? That just opens up all sorts of possibilities for genre-mixing while maintaining a Heroic Greek base.

Guy Hoyle said...

That's definitely the idea. Being a history teacher, I can also draw upon a lot of other cultures, as well.