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Oh gods the angles!

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#1 daemonprinceofchaos



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Posted 24 November 2014 - 05:45 PM

Im trying to write up a small scenario taking place on the corpse city of R'lyeh itself and am trying to construct a list of effects that the strange alien geometry might have on people, objects, time and/or space. I have some ideas already but im asking for a bit of help brainstorming.


Thanks in advance. 

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#2 windandfire


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Posted 24 November 2014 - 06:35 PM

I once checked out the Wikipedia article for non-ecludian geometry, which was fascinating. The main difference between it and ecludian (standard) geometry seems to be in how parallel lines are modeled. In N-E geometry, parallel lines either converge together or bend apart- kinda like what happens when you look through a door's peephole or a camera's fish-eye lense. This screams to me of it being impossible to accuratly judge distances, and walking around without a bearing to be mildly nausiating. It may be impssible to see beyond a certain distance, as a hallway may appear to be closed on all sides until you move forward.

To complicate the matter further, in The Call of Cthulhu the ruins unearthed by the sea are described as having "impossible angles" and causing some sailors to completely disappear within them. This tells me it's easy to become suddenly separated from the group if you wander too far, or suddenly don't know which of the two right hand paths lead back.

Here's some sample effects along those lines that I'd consider using.
1. Someone who fails a SAN check might see the hallway they're in as an enclosed box, triggering claustrophobia.
2. Gunfire and ranged weapons veer off to the right or left (or up or down), reducing chance to hit by half.
3. Complex tools such as radios, guns, and other metal things may physically warp slightly, as the metal bends to accommodate the strange geometry. This could loosen screws and bolts, expand or compress parts, and double the malfunction chance.
4. Someone walks through a path, but then the next person can't tell which path the first went through. Think of a room of mirrors. (Good if you need to split the party up).
5. The group emerges onto a flat platform, and can't see any walls or obstacles around them- just empty floor and a greenish-blue sky as far as they can see.

If you have some ideas of how you want to use the location, I could come up with more specific effects.

#3 The_Tatterdemalion_King


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Posted 24 November 2014 - 08:00 PM

Distortions of Space: One person unwittingly takes a wrong turn in 5-d space. If they take a "corner," it appears to the others he just vanishes, but to him, it looks like the others have gone. (Check out this game level.) If they take a "ramp" or a "slope," on the other hand, then the effects take longer to perceive: the victim has to walk farther than the rest to keep up, they shoot at something they see as nearby but the bullet loses velocity on the invisibly-long distance. Visually, perspective is all weird, like a convex or converse lens. They appear far away despite being close. They might even slide into adjacent dimensions, like Tillinghast's ultraviolet or whatever plane the Mind Parasites live on.


Distortions of Time: Individuals end up with vastly different senses of time passing. One person in the party has to make a CONx3 roll or collapse, exhausted, after what everyone else thought was a short walk down a hallway. People approaching from different angles might see each other as slowed-down processions, or half-real staccato flashes. Ghostly echoes of yourselves walk around corners. Reflective surfaces are a whole second delayed, or even seem to play faster or slower than you based on an unseen rhythm. Human tools corrode and rust as if ancient, while your flesh pulses with unwholesome vitality and oozes an oily sweat as if freshly decanted.


You could even make it a mechanical thing: every time a 'direction' is decided on—go left or right, climb over or turn around, stairs up or stairs down—the players must roll SAN. If they fail, they accrue 1d6 points of Lost (as in, Lost in Time and Space). If they critically fail, they gain 2d6 points. If they ever get 5 points of Lost at once, they experience a 'minor' effect. Once their Lost points equal their POW (or POW divided by 5 in 7th ed) they experience a Major effect.


Minor effects cost 1/1d6 SAN to experience (undeniably weird, but not immediately imperilling), while Major ones should be like 1d3/1d10 (they're weird, and they directly threaten your life.) 


'Minor' effects mean that they and their companions are out of sync, but still sort of present—a mismatch of time passage, a sense of being distant despite closeness, slight dimensional interphase—while 'Major' effects are getting separated unexpectedly, or suddenly being hit with damage from aging years at once, or losing all your stuff to a timewarp, or being afflicted with Deep One taint (see below). Minor effects may be good or bad depending on context—if you are out of phase with the Deep One attacking you, you get an armour bonus vs the attack, but the reverse also applies, or your increased rate of time flow means you can look ahead and warn your fellows about something, but you get hit with events like a rockfall before everyone else (so your Spot Hidden better be good)—but Major ones separate you from the party or have a chance of making you dead, incapacitated, or even a monster the PCs now have to deal with.

Once you experience a Major effect, your Lost points reset to 0. The Keeper may also provide things that reduce Lost points, like a landmark that resyncs everyone and resets Lost to 0 for the whole party (something like the monolith in "The Rise of R'lyeh" or the crypt of Cthulhu itself, which is the lynchpin of R'lyeh) or an impale on current SAN when rolling removing 1d6 Lost points.


Something else to consider:

Cthulhu and his ilk are described as "seeping" down from the stars. That might just be an extra-creepy verb to use, but what if it is meant literally? Merely being on or near R'lyeh—or any of the star-spawn—may infect you with their hideous plasticity, like a virus injected into you via extradimensional space. People who spend too long in R'lyeh start accruing Deep One taint, or some other mutation (lloigor tentacles, jellyfish-like growths, whatever sea life you hate the most). You can make this a CON roll to resist or just hit them with it when it seems dramatic.

Really, the thing to remember is that in Call of Cthulhu, R'lyeh should be the worst place on Earth. Your PCs should loathe it and fear it above all else.

Edited by The_Tatterdemalion_King, 24 November 2014 - 08:07 PM.

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#4 eternalchampion


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Posted 26 November 2014 - 12:09 PM

Interesting ideas, all of the above! Just to add a thing or two, I would think that such a place could have areas which act like gates. So a person walking through them can get lost forever or emerge in a new area of the “city”. Also other areas have exits that lead again to them only from another direction. The gravity and other physical forces can also be distorted from place to place and in places even completely reversed.

I would say that it would be impossible for a human being to get used to such abnormality, with the penalty being some SAN loss, but also severe anguish and nausea which would call for a few POW or CON rolls. Maybe you could allow a clever use of a pre-visited abnormality with an INT roll. A human could get somewhat accustomed to the place after a long period of stay (SAN loss notwithstanding). Another solution would be some sort of spiritual guidance. Also a person who have dreamed of R’lyeh might be able to locate a certain part of the place with an INT roll. Falling asleep in the city though might be extremely dangerous since you might get drawn in to the dreams of the Undying Sleeper.

#5 Gaffer


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Posted 26 November 2014 - 02:00 PM

It sounds like occupying an Escher print. I would think that even the mildest effects discussed would make a person queasy, anxious, disoriented.

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#6 GBSteve


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Posted 26 November 2014 - 03:18 PM

The tesseract map became a bit of a cliché in D&D but you can do something similar by linking room exits and entrances in strange ways, like in the Portal game.


Also, this makes for instructive reading: http://forum.rpg.net...&threadid=14851 (handle with care).

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#7 Wembley


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Posted 26 November 2014 - 07:33 PM

I was thinking Escher print too -- but there's an easier example. The most familiar non-Euclidean geometry is where your surface is a sphere (the Earth) rather than a flat plane. Diverging lines meet up again; triangles do not add up to 180 degrees;  go far enough and you're back where you started. The shortest route is not the one you think, and it's impossible to map properly on a flat surface. R'lyeh is like that but much, much worse.


Your sense of direction will not operate, and it's impossible to judge size or distance -- and convexity/concavity. Walk up stairs and you end up lower than you started.  Falling into a pit that looks like pavement is clearly a hazard, there will be others (like slipping and sliding 'up' a slope or being it by things falling horizontally.). Getting lost should be a near-certainty. Walk two steps and you're a mile away; try to come back and you're two miles away. Any attempt to follow logic will make it worse, only lunacy can save you..


Gunfire is dangerous as you never know where your bullet will end up...radios interfere with themselves and your brain short-circuits continuously.


Basically, it's a nightmare from which you will want to awaken.

#8 ElijahWhateley


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Posted 26 November 2014 - 11:52 PM

The most familiar non-Euclidean geometry is where your surface is a sphere (the Earth) rather than a flat plane. 


I've always been amused by the way that normal, real life actually happens in a non-Euclidean environment, albeit one too subtle for us to notice usually.

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