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The Bowl of Bliss

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Pieh:
I was taking a break from creating role-playing material, but I think I'm ready to jump back in. I got this idea. The Bowl of Bliss, a Concave World, the opposite, dark-horror side of the "Normal" realm. This could be discovered through deep spelunking or supernatural means. I started writing about it... I remember reading about a setting called Hollow World, which I believe was an expansion of Mystara(sp?). This is similar, in the sense that it is unexplored and undocumented by the inhabitants of the "Normal" World. I want to mix elements of Horror into it, I can see inspiration from Lovecraft's dream scenarios mixed in and would like to emphasize this. Any comments, criticism, or help with expansion is welcome. Here is what I have so far:


--- Quote ---The opposite side of the world? Not something we ponder much around here. They say there are some islands to the east, but that's as far as we know. Just lots of water out there, I imagine.

Imagine a lens. There are two sides to a lens. The Convex, a bulging surface of outward presence. And The Concave, the dark brother-side. A world threatening to close in on you from all around. Imagine this was your world. It might be. Do you want to live blind to The Concave? Can you? Will you brave the Bowl of Bliss? Yes, they say that ignorance is Bliss, but who are they? ...

There are many beings living just out of sight. I know, I'm one of them. I've been to The Concave, and know some of its secrets. Na- No- Do not yell. You could not if you wanted to, but please don't try, There are things I've done, and things I will do, for you. I've bartered with The Ghouls of Undermarsh, danced with The Witches of The Starlite Coven, sold my soul to obtain ultimate power, and fought through the Fogs of Rigor to get it back. Still interested? I hope so, because The Greatest of Eyes has been waching you. Now, sleep well. Tomorrow will be an exhausting day.

You can recall having a strange dream. It is vague. A man was in your bedroom. Something about lenses. Your bed is warm and extremely comfortable, which is odd because it's the middle of the cold season. You open your eyes, the world is bleary as you clear the caked-on crust of sleep. You feel panic, alarm, this isn't my house, you realize. It smells like burned flesh and something else. You're in a tomb or crypt of some sort. It is dark, but you can see. Flickering light, like many candles, surrounds you.

"Welcome, Scorch-born." Says a voice from beyond the ring of dancing flames, "Are you hungry? Or just confused? Let me fetch you some breakfast. Do not worry about disturbing the candles. Their purpose is fulfilled and there is nothing more for them to burn. I shall return"
 
--- End quote ---

I wanted it to be an introduction to the setting, but it came out more like a story that I don't know how to finish. What do you think?

MysticMoon:
I am a big fan of worlds that delve into unseen realms. I've always liked the image of the tree with its root system shown as a dark mirror of the above-ground portion. I'm a big fan of Lovecraft (which, fortunately, seems to be a common thing on this site; I'm always surprised at how few people that I come in contact with, who are fans of fantasy, have no clue whatsoever who Cthulhu is and have only vaguely heard of Lovecraft.)

I would start by asking just how much the two sides mirror each other. Is the convex world only full of happiness and bright sunshine, rainbows and unicorns? Or is it more like the mundane world? Is the concave world bathed in darkness and full of things which shy away from the light? Is it home to evil, bloodthirsty, light-hating creatures or do its denizens merely view the world differently. Does understanding the mysteries of the concave world grant wizards more power on the convex world because they are familiar with the unseen powers of the cosmos or does being exposed to its mysteries drive them mad?

Murometz:
The Hollow World and ‘deep spelunking’ and HPL references make me immediately picture wondrous and grotesque places deep, deep underground. Of course I now have to visualize one way to reach the Bowl of Bliss.

Tossing, unable to sleep, you seemingly materialize in some gargantuan cavern. You walk past grandiose cathedrals of dripping stone, vast forests of giant gypsum flowers, ‘undermarshes’ bubbling with slime, oozing up from the very heart of all worlds. The muddy swamps populated by faceless, gray-skinned sub-human ghouls, chattering and jabbering backwards in the common tongue, soul-barter on their minds.

Past the House of the Metal Worm, the Concave beckons you forward. You take care in by-passing the Sleeping Leezwok, and avoid the Dancing Witches atop their misshapen mounts. You row gently along the Sea of Awful Things, mild madness setting in, eventually reaching the bleak shore beyond, and finally turning to face the horrors seeping through the Fogs of Rigor before you!

Enter the Concave!

Sorry, this probably doesn’t help you  :) , but it is what came to mind immediately after reading your idea. It certainly sounds fascinating and worth pursuing!

Pieh:
I like it, Muro! and thanks to both of you for commenting. Let me attempt to address a few of Mystic's questions before I forget about them.


--- Quote ---Is the convex world only full of happiness and bright sunshine, rainbows and unicorns? Or is it more like the mundane world?
--- End quote ---

- The Convex, as I imagined it briefly, would be a normal medieval fantasy world. There would be a light undertone of magical things beyond mere mortal comprehension. No flashy magic, like fireballs or magic missiles, but more subtle "powers" like divination and unexplained good, or ill, fortune. I'm open to other suggestions as well, but the typical game in this setting would likely start with waking up on the "Other side."


--- Quote ---Is the concave world bathed in darkness and full of things which shy away from the light? Is it home to evil, bloodthirsty, light-hating creatures or do its denizens merely view the world differently.
--- End quote ---

- Not so much "light-hating" as "not used to light." I pictured The Concave as lit by a starry night, and a hint at light beyond the edges of the bowl where there exists dusk-like lumination. Abd many of the beings living there may be considered "Evil" by normal standards. Cannibalism, theft, and doing what you *need* to do to survive would play a big role. Leadership of the very strong, or very cunning, is likely.


--- Quote ---Does understanding the mysteries of the concave world grant wizards more power on the convex world because they are familiar with the unseen powers of the cosmos or does being exposed to its mysteries drive them mad?
--- End quote ---

- I think both of these suggested outcomes are likely. Where The Concave is a bowl holding in all the foul and corrupt world energies, where things like negative emotions fester, The Convex deflects them and projects them away from the people of that side of the world.

Some more ideas to go with the setting:

The Fogs of Rigor - A thick black mist covers the cracking ground, oozing up from depths unseen. It doesn't even come up past your ankle, but it chills your foot in such a way that it makes you feel unclean. You wish you could wash it, but there doesn't seem to be any water around. And especially no *clean* water. Upon lifting your foot to examine its condition, the feeling of it was quite disturbing, a shocking thought occurs to you. It feel like a part of you has died... A physical part. Your foot. The yellow-toothed old man cackles from atop a small clump of moss, watching you and enjoying your surprise. "The Fogs of Rigor claim another victim, it seems." He unleashes a crooked grin for a moment, but it is quickly stifled by set-in-stone seriousness. "You'll want to climb up here and start rubbing it a bit, or else it'll never come back. Might even spread. No one's been fool enough to touch the Fogs of Rigor for very long."

Scorch-Born - One way of getting here, The Concave, is through conflagration of your Soul. When The Whispered Blaze touches you in the night, for reasons known only to the Cult of Blackened Churches, you are born again... Down here. The Scorch-Born are a rare event that usually coincides with The Yellow Streak, when the Sun briefly touches our skies. They usually wake screaming, as they peel their own charred flesh out of a pod of breathing magma. The Scorch-Born are easily spotted, due to their fried black and bleeding skin that crunches sickeningly where they bent. They are otherwise just like you, newcomers, fresh meat, though well-done.

Pieh:

--- Quote ---The Fallen
You fell. It was a long fall. You're trying to remember where you fell from, but it seems like there was no starting point to your fall. All you can remember is the fall. Why isn't this more bothersome, you wonder? It is dark and slightly damp. You're pretty sure you broke your legs upon impact, but something isn't right. No pain. Is that normal? You reach down to move the stone fragments among your surely destroyed lower limbs... You find a serpentine tail. That is odd. Since when do I have a tail like a snake? With some effort, you find it just barely able to support you. After undulating what-used-to-be your chest muscles, now elongated, you find yourself able to move forward, only rarely having to catch your arm on the wall for stability. You look up. No light up there, must have been a long fall. The thought brings a chill to your spine that continues into your tail. You make your way towards a light, looks like there's an opening into twilight ahead. After emerging from an earthen mound, of which there appear to be numerous, you can get a better look at your new-found tail. It's not what you expected. It is bent like a knuckle up behind you, complete with what could only be a large fingernail. That's peculiar. There's a finger growing out of my torso. Surely that wasn't always like that. Or was it? You're not sure, you must have hit your head pretty hard because you obviously have some form of amnesia. The world is cold and alien, black and blue rock structures extend many yards into the air all over this craggy mountain. As you make your way down the cliff, you meet up with a well-worn path. Well, looks like I'm not the first one to come by, you think, and start to manipulate your "Finger" muscles into carrying you down the slope.

The Fallen are a strange sort of being, seemingly native to The Concave, they literally "fall" into being. They never know from where they have fallen, or who they may have been before (if they even were before), and such things don't typically concern them. They appear mostly human, except for their rippling multiple-segmented abdomens, which is distinctly an oversized finger. They are always curious and seem to live to try new things, meet new people, and go to new places. They have a morbid obsession with fingernails, keeping the fingertips of their enemies as trinkets and being innately horrified by anyone purposely clipping their fingernails.

--- End quote ---

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