Thursday, March 18, 2010

What is the Middenmurk?

This is a project to produce a Megadungeon/Campaign Dungeon Setting for Labyrinth Lord. I intend to publish, probably as a free pdf, but for money if things go well, before the end of the year. I'm shooting for about 64-pages. There will be a few points of difference about this setting that will make it distinctive.

- It will all be lavishly illustrated by me. I'm not the greatest illustrator in the world, but neither am I the worst, I spent long enough at art school to be able to pump out some semi-competent stuff. My personal qualifications for rendering what is in my minds eye could not be better. Illustrating my own stuff should eliminate poor translation of my personal vision. Creating a distinctive grungy look for the Middenmurk is something I am passionate about.

-It will be distinctly Northern. Interesting coming from an Australian but I have a deep fascination with the visceral and fatalistic atmosphere that permeates the northern renaissance, as well as earlier Germanic sagas and latterday manifestations of the gothic. I really love and appreciate the gonzo-Orientalist weirdness of Planet Algol and various other thriving neo-old school (p'raps neoclassical is a good term after all) settings but I want to focus on some of the material that excited me when i was young. Warmammer, Fighting Fantasy and British fantasy in general has a rich vein of grime that always intrigued me. The Middenmurk will be gothic, but more Visigothic than Nightclub gothic, Dung-Age gothic with the bad teeth and realistic mud.

-It will be Weird. It will not have a list of monsters and treasure. I'm not even sure how much of the dungeon I really want to draw, what I want is to utilise random generation to produce things the players would not have any preconceptions about. I envisage the Middenmurk as the source of all that is wrong with the world, hell-on-earth, The Cacotopic Stain and The Great Blight and Utumno on ergot and datura. Unnamed Boschian entities will abound in the Middenmurk. PCs will have no knowledge of these creatures, will not know their powers and vulnerabilities and will be forced to fight these things in the hostile darkness with the rug of familiarity pulled from under their feet.

Another aspect of this point is that DMs will be empowered by the toolkit for creating stuff. The dungeon rooms and traps and treasures and creatures will be made internally consistent and given meaning by their creator. I have this idea that the players will give them names, that they will evolve significance and meaning out of the primordial soup of random generation in the environment of collaborative imagination.

-As I've said before it'll be all about the chaos of 3d6-in-order. Characters likely won't be glorious and pretty, theyll be ruffians, vagabonds, fanatics and hermits, outcast dwarfs, Rabelaisian halflings and sinister elves.

I'll be tempering the darkness of the setting with a helping of the carnivalesque. Bruder Pfortner will be be ever-present.


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