Topic: Veins of the Earth play reports

5 player characters are descending down a long, long chain, into darkness eternal around them. they begin to hallucinate. Some see stars flickering below them, others sea a giant bird made of darkness. After about 6 days on the chain the dwarf, Florey, puts her foot onto not another link in the chain, but something else. They turn on the lights.

there's a room-sized carriage attached to the chain below them. It seems heavily rusted. Loveable Truly, a PC, jumps in through the window. I say "The floor gives out underneath you! Well, a little, anyway."

Then there's discussion about how everyone will use ropes to keep afixed to the chain.

Inside the carriage, besides much rust, there's only a strange metal object, like an ironwork spine with ribs and bulbs on the ends of the ribs. In the bulbs, retrievable and rusted water, nada else. They move on.

Soon after, further down the chain, a moaning sound eventuates. Along with it: a strong, organic stench. Stench and sound grow louder as they descend, and eventually reach a mass attached to the chain.

The mass: 1,000s of carriages all linked up to each other and to the chain, forming a walkable surface dotted with tunnels. If you took a chain and had keychains and kept on linking the keychains to the chain and then to eachother... like 1,000 keychains like that, forming a veritable planet.

The "tunnels" were rusted out carriages they could climb through. Loveable Truly, 6 days starved, climbs to the end of the mass and down a tunnel, following the organic scent.

He sees: several more intact carriages he could break into, off the tunnel, and finally a large shipping container-thing embedded in the mass. He manuevers around it; the end of it is covered in fungus, which gives off the stench.

Loveable Truly feasts on the fungus! It's edible. He shares with the crew. Sinew and capillaries are revealed as they tear in. They package some fungus and withdraw.

Back on top, the crew abseils down the side of the mass. Underneath, horrifically enough: long thick strands of white faces in various expressions hang, trailing in the darkness. Like if I threw toilet paper on your house, 800 rolls, and then it rained, and then if gravity was reversed and it all hung down, and all the masses of toilet paper had faces. Some of the faces are screaming/moaning.

Seeing enough they decide to light it all on fire, which works, it's flammable. The faces burn and quickly cause a problem as the burning spreads into the planet of carriages. They quickly climb back up to the top and look around; some white crocodiles show up.

They run away from the crocodiles by hanging off the side of the carriages and climb around avoiding the hot parts; it works. The fire dies down, they climb down onto the chain below. Florey grabs a remaining still-living fungal face and tries to talk to it but it just bites her.

Further down the chain: visible below them: apparent flashlights, and a combat. The ground must be close! It's hard to make out what's going on with no lights, but there's a fight between what sounds like dogs and people, with bright flashlights involved.

They climb down further. A bunch more of the white-face fungus waits at the bottom, like a giant torn-up mass. There's no way to get off the chain without stepping on the fungus. They go back up.

They spend some time using a grappling hook to hook a nearby structure, some sort of ziggarat. There's a bunch of ziggarats between them and the flashlight/dog fight. They all climb to the ziggaraut. Florey kisses the stone ground.

The ground, stone as it is, appears to be entirely composed of carved, conflicing ziggarauts, as if 1,000 artisans carved stairs into the floor everywhere and made little towers and big towers outta stairs. There's a lot of different-sized doorways, too. Like a huge irregular waffle iron.

The flashlight dog fight has been resolved, they can hear, dogs tearing at something, little screaming voices retreat. The players move away from all that.

There's some question of when to turn on the lights. If they light their lanterns, they broadcast to everyone in this cavern their position; if they keep them off, they can't move quickly over the ziggaurat-studded floor. They keep the lights on in retreat, desperate.

They come across a sight: a giant, metal-not-wood, ship has crashed onto the ziggaraut ground, as if from a great height fallen. They investigate, they find a partially-working ballista and some suspiciously well preserved ballista bolts. Someone approaches, they hear! They hide within the ship.

Hiding, the PCs hear arguments outside the ship in a high-pitched tone. Then whoever it is leaves.

The PCs make a plan to snatch a "dog with a flashlight taped to its head" as a potential light source, considering. They get close enough to the dogs to see that there's probably 20 before giving up and fleeing again.

Heading into the unknown, stressed, the players find the ziggaruat floor transitions to a smooth cavern floor. Following that they stumble upon a golden slope; there is a giant, gold, inverted pyramid sunk into the cavern floor.

It's not actually gold, it's pyrite, and chipped in some places. They explore it; there's an elevator shaft at the pyramid's tip. Blocking the shaft is a wedged elevator. Florey cracks open the elevator's roof; a million black bugs and horrible smells come out the crack.

Florey is covered in bugs! -1 to everything. She scrambles out of the pyramid and they leave.

Next, confusingly enough, they find a large pyrite-gold non-inverted pyramid arising out of the cavern floor. It's about as large as an egyptian pyramid. It's got 2 huge unopenable iron doors. They try lighting some Cervit* packed in between the doors using flaming crossbow bolts. Inadvertantly they discover that their special crossbow bolts** give off a faerie fire on whatever they strike. The Cervit, however, does not explode when the flaming bolt hits it.

*Cervit is an unidentified white ceramic substance they found previously. They don't know what it does; it's not explosive.

**They also had previously found some special crossbow bolts they hadn't tested.

There's two more encounters this session: 1st, the players go to meet a sound of footsteps and see a bunch of apparently nonhostile little gray men gesturing at them; these the pcs scare off with barks and a flashlight-like lantern. 2nd, the pcs hear a booming sound like a t-rex approaching, this they flee.

They make camp in a little building they found near they pyramid. There's some large power tools and little dwarf-sized mechs with a screw-head top and some oozes trapped in jars with screw-head tops here. Loveable Truly manages to convince Florey not to screw in one of the little jars into one of the mechs.

They block the door, make camp, and Florey eats all the bugs off her equipment, they're delicious.

Re: Veins of the Earth play reports

This is great!
I was planning to run a veins of the Earth Campaign on roll20. But my current DCO has not made the players want to climb down the chain to see what's down there. I may steal some of your ideas.

Re: Veins of the Earth play reports

Please do!

Re: Veins of the Earth play reports

session starts, they wake up in their little hovel. first things first, let's screw the ooze-jar into the ooze-mech and see what happens. It goes crazy and tries to kill them. But it's slow and they're able to slay it with crossbow bolts and pikes. (after some shenanigans)

next up: explore. they come across a stalagmite forest. impassable without climbing, it seems. Lorey the Dwarf tries the climb. She studies the route for an hour, granting her a 5/6 chance to succeed, and then rolls a 6. She falls from a random point*, I roll 30ft, she falls and takes 1d6x1d6 damage, expires. Exeunt Lorey.

Loveable Truly takes the gang and circles around the forest. they can sense a green light emanating from within the forest. they find a route after searching that requires no serious climbs. within the "forest" they see the source of the light: the Europium Blade, apparently fallen from the Observatory above. The blade is stuck in a stone hill as if excalibur.

Loveable Truly frees the Blade! But, alas, the Blade is impossible to climb with: it forever emits a formidable green flame. try strapping that to your pack. L.T. instead merely chips off a piece of the Europium and drops it in his lantern: boom, an infinite source of light.

Infinite Lantern created, the party spots large dandelion-spore-things drifting towards them. Taking aim with crossbows and swinging the damaged Blade they cut down both spores.

--they set off in a random direction within the forest, clambering along. They come to the forest's edge: a lake is just beyond. "Are there any fish?" yeah, there's 50-60 large pirahanna-style fish jumping at you. luckily the scissorfish are slow on land. everyone escapes.

I use the "exploring" table; the party finds a tunnel. it leads sharp and deep down into a kind of causeway made by a river. along the causeway they find light. a voice shouts "haaaa!" in greeting and a hand waves, some 60-70ft away.

there's some deliberation... L.T. wants to kill whoever it is. Alexandra's new character convinces everyone to not go into combat. After some shouted threats, they meet the regrettably named Jeffb Levins, who sells swords, and happens to speak their language.

Jeffb gives them some of the lowdon. This is the Veins, we trade in Lumes. 1 Lume= 1 hour of light = 1 silver piece. There's a City 5 days travel away. Food costs 300 lumes.  The party buys a cool ballistic sword, and a map of the area. Jeffb teaches Alexandra's new character some basic words in most languages.

Jeffb also explains what little he knows of the cavern above. "1000s of years ago, a bunch of people got together, they had something with the surface world, how did you get here? a chain? yeah, they had a chain."

The party heads back via map to a larger, vertical stairway-tunnel that leads back into the cavern from which they came. Their plan is to kidnap one of the Spotlight Dogs, a valuable source of light. However, they're getting tired.

They look for somewhere to sleep. In doing so, they come across what appears to be a giant metal statue with articulated joints and a hole where a head would be. Like the ooze mech but larger. They can even fit inside the neck, and can operate levers which move the limbs. but they can't see out, weird.

The party fucks around with the mech and accidentally kills Maria's unnamed character via roof collapse. Maria is sick with a norovirus so, shame. Everyone leaves the mech, and makes camp in a separate building. They eat Maria's unnamed character's body for a meal.


*I couldn't decipher the falling rules in the "veins of earth" book so I just used the standard lotfp "fall from a random point" rule

Re: Veins of the Earth play reports

first half: “A” comes up with a plan to capture a Spotlight Dog. The plan: get near the dogs, make a snare, put some fungus bait in the snare. They choose to flash lights and bark to attract hopefully just one dog.

6 dogs show up. 1 dog investigates the snare, and is sadly able to escape from the snare. The other 5 dogs investigate the barking people who are definitely not trying to hide, I checked to make sure. The predictable ensues: “A” and “R”’s character are slain by dogs. “J” is able to escape.

Over the next 20 real minutes of gameplay “J”’s character wanders the empty & endless terrain of ziggarauts and tunnels. After burning 8 hours of fuel, he finds what looks like a human-size mech inside one of the ziggaurats. Cliimbing in the mech and attempting to operate it, “J” realizes because he can’t see anything while inside the mech, he can’t walk around. “J” then abandons the mech and continues to wander.

After 4 more hours of light burned, so 12 out of his 20 available total, “J” falls asleep. When he wakes up: he can see a dim green glow some distance away, his eyes having adjusted. He heads that way: it’s the stalagmite forest from before. He climbs inside.

Within: the etherium blade, and 3 new party members. Coincidentally these people also climbed down the chain, from a similar failed expedition up above. They all set to recover the map which was lost with the Spotlight Dogs near-TPK.

This map is on “R”’s former body, which also has an etherium lamp, so the green glow of that light should be visible too, in the utter darkness of the cavern. Indeed, they are able to see that dim green light if they turn off the lanterns and wait.

They head toward the light. Visible also, not too far away, is the Spotlight Dogs, who are constantly broadcasting their presence to the entire cavern. About a mile away from the etherium lamp the PCs see the Dogs heading towards the PCs!

“A” springs into action with her new character. She has, indeed, brought an entire 10’ ladder down the entire 62 mile chain with her. They use this ladder to climb up a ziggaraut steep enough that hopefully no dogs can climb it. “M”, a halfling, hides nearby.

The dogs act like dogs and prance and bark a lot but they can’t reach anyone. Eventually “A” attempts to lasso one of the dogs and her repeated attempts drive them away.

After that, the party finds a tank. It’s a large pyramid-wheeled gizmo that if three people crank it’ll move smoothly over the ziggaruatued surface. “J” succeeds on his Tinker check and figures out how to use it. So they’re all riding a tank now.

The Spotlight Dogs come back; there’s a showdown. The Dogs attack, are crushed under the wheels of the tank, and flee; “M” manages to bring one down with a crossbow. They retrieve the corpse, it’s got a weird head, but the pelt is worth 1,000 sp, a victory for the day. They also go get the map, the etherium lamp, and pick over remains of “J”s dead allies.


a familiar thing happened to me: I didn’t read most of the rules for the Spotlight Dogs so I forgot totally that they have ⅚ in climb. this whole scenario would have been 2, maybe 3 TPKs if I had remembered that. This is fairly typical for lotfp

having that issue again where being forthcoming about deadly information contrasts with being skeptical about stupid plans. I forgot maybe to let everyone know that the dogs could just come run up at them if they weren’t going to hide or anything like that. Describing everything as “ziggarauted” doesn’t help.

But then again, none of the players in the first TPK seemed at all concerned with, like, only attracting one dog, or like, taking cover. I can’t tell if there’s a basic-level preservation instinct missing from some of the player’s play or if we’re just having communication issues. In either case being forthcoming about deadly information is probably a good way to handle it.

In retrospect writing through it rn I’m pretty sure the first mass-PC-death-event was a result of a startling lack of logistical thinking. But believe me when I say it’s all in good fun.

Re: Veins of the Earth play reports

Very weird stuff! Please feed us ore smile

With kind regards
My blog

Re: Veins of the Earth play reports

Great stuff! This is very helpful to read while I plan my VotE campaign.

What level did your players start out as? I was thinking of allowing them to create level 2 or 3 characters since it seems that the enemies listed in the Pariahs of the Earth section average a pretty high number of Hit Dice.

Re: Veins of the Earth play reports

>habote 1st level

Re: Veins of the Earth play reports

2/9/18 this was the "tank adventure" episode. the PC's navigated a series of large tubes using a spectacular tank machine. the tubes were carved by supermachines in ages past. some tubes were vertical, some horizontal. the spectacular tank machine, which looked like a series of gear-wheels and spokes, could move both horizontally and vertically.

after some tough bits of description to describe the tubes, which i said looked like "cereal boxes full of ramen noodles", they're off. travelling pretty slow they get to an intersection full of Bakelite, which looks like a frozen opaque red liquid. The Bakelite is full of little tunnels, too narrow for the tank, and the PCs can see tank equipment sunk beneath and sticking out of the Bakelite.

One PC, A, explores a Bakelite tunnel. She is ambushed by several very large ticks. Injured, she flees back to the Tank. The party menaces the pursuing Ticks with their Tank, and the Ticks flee.

Next up, the party starts digging out tank parts out of the Bakelite. This takes a while and causes noise, attracting a rival Goblin Tank. Fleeing it's approach, the party hides in the Bakelite Tunnels. Therein, they discover both a Cannon and a Drill. Using the Cannon, they mow down some Goblins and scare off the rest, recovering both their Tank and the Goblin's Tank. The Goblins have neatly stacked boxes full of silverware, their sole Treasure.

The party decides to use the newfound Drill to drill a passage through the Bakelite.  This takes a long time. Their drilling generates a new ambush by the Ticks; the party beats this off with ease. Eventually they drill through the other side, back into the tubes.

On the other side, after some more travel, they encounter a man in dark clothes, who speaks their language. He appears wounded and asks for help; he's travelling in the tubes alone. The party agrees to have him ride along until the party Cleric, Billy, can cast Cure Light Wounds on him, although the traveler expresses disapproval at the party's destination, the city below.

After a night's rest A casts Charm Person on the traveler, who fails their save and reveals that they are a thief on the run with a big load of cash. After some negotiation, the party agrees to accept 30sp for the cost of the spell, and the traveler parts ways.

After further travel: the party sees something crawling, at the edge of their vision, above them. They hunker and prepare the cannon but it passes. Soon after, they encounter a warparty climbing through the tubes. They're on the hunt for something called a Trogloraptor, and the thief as well.  The party says they saw both, and they part ways.  One of the warparty tells the PCs "not to jump in any bowls".

The party reaches the ends of the tunnels. They have to leave their beloved Tank and crawl down a long, overhanging ladder into the city below. At the bottom of the ladder is a bowl. It's being held by a large hand. There's some negotiation with the hand's booming voice. Eventually, first an arm, then an ear, then a whole dead body (the party was carrying their previous, dead party members strapped to their backs) is dropped into the bowl.

The giant lets them pass, elevatoring them to the floor.* The party is surrounded by curious faces. The stench of the city is ripe. A asks to see their leader.

That's Radeus, an unfortunate name because it's very similar to the main antagonist of my friend's campaign, and the crowd takes the PCs through the city to meet him. Some dark elf soldiers get involved.

Through a very dark city, many faces blinded by the brilliant flaming green sword the PCs are carrying, which we have to keep track of, eventually they end up in a fortress with actual plaster on the walls and purple-dark carpets. The party is advised to keep their eyes on the ground as they meet Radeus.

There's a soft and flickering blue glow in the room. No-one looks up. Radeus basically interviews A, and Radeus asserts that they only reason they're still alive is because Radeus is nice and benevolent. There's also some deal worked out where A is going to be a court jester if she fails to find a way to the surface. Radeus is doubtful he, Radeus, knows a way to the surface.

Then they leave the fortress, everyone sells some dead bodies incl some dead ticks and spotlight dog meat, and the spotlight dogs pelt, for 3,200 lumes total which sadly does not translate into a level for anyone. 


Tank adventure worked well. I think I went significantly easier on all the encounters, the ticks and goblins were all 1 HD and easy to scare off. It was disappointing to leave the tank and that they didn't get enough xp to GUAL; kinda heartbreaking, actually. I'm excited to plan out city encounters.

*There's a fun moment when A drops into the bowl, and the giant slams a lid on the bowl and pretends it's gonna eat her

Last edited by peterwebb (2018-02-09 23:01:21)

Re: Veins of the Earth play reports

May I ask what the cities populace is? Are all of them "dark elf"? And what ARE dark elves in your game like?

With kind regards
My blog

Re: Veins of the Earth play reports

gregorious : City's populace is unknown, I'm thinking 1,000-2,000 people but because it's like, all dark, it's pretty hard to tell and I don't mind not putting a number to it.

For some reason I assume that most of the people in the veins are sorta non-committally human. As regards the "dark elf" presence, I might go ahead and use the term "aelf-adal" next session, I have one main idea which is like: they're ironic, sorta just left of alt-right-troll-style ironic, and if you get to know them they're insanely ironic beyond all reasoning. But the way I usually run characters is sorta noncommittal, which is how Radeus and the others felt, so we'll esee.

Re: Veins of the Earth play reports

the veins kids make 2 new friends in the underground city, Pokka gives them the lowdown: in this city, if you crush a kid's skull, while they're asleep, and you crawl inside the skull, you can get into the child's dreams, where there might be food.

Everyone's not too hot on this. They instead do some shopping, A buys a chainsaw that runs on blood, M buys some meat preservation tools. We re-did XP after realizing the two former pc corpses were worth about 10,000xp each, so they're all level 2, they each have 5,000 lumes

A gets a following, including a language specialist. She actually gets around 26 people, incl some bandits, who are all willing to fall under A's leadership. This, because A has an ever-burning sword.

They set out. Well, the giant with the bowl gives them trouble. No-one can be convinced to jump in the bowl. Because they all know the deal.

They set out a different way. It's a long staircase down into an abandoned, buried city. We are using the "exploration" table, with A as leader. A rolls well, only fuckup is she don't know the way back. They're searching for a library.

I use the books table from Deep Carbon Observatory. It's really good. They get some troll teeth, a long metal scroll, a lich-skull, a radium book, all that. There's some information in one of the books on how to maybe potentially get the bowl giant addicted to drugs. Their plan is to get that giant superaddicted to hyperdrugs.

The 26 people they have with them have not been doing well. One of them died of starvation on the journey to the library. They were promised food, so they eat the starved person, but they're wondering where this is all going. 4 of their number get curious.

A says, come take a look at this book where it says to get food. They approach, A ques up the chainsaw. Battle commences, A gets initiative cause of the flame sword (now dropped on the ground), the 4 normies get their hits in but one of them goes down. Everyone stops fighting and decides to eat the dead normie. End of session.

ok, I used: the new large scale map I made (using "veins"), the d100 interstices table I made, the exploration table from "veins", and the books table from "Deep Carbon Observatory". all of these were good, all the tables did great. it's funny how large-scale travel in the veins is coming together.

second, you can see some of the "body economy" of veins coming together. A rebellion over food is easily defeated by a slain comrade's fresh flesh. 26 people on the edge of starvation are willing to strike out into the unknown under an ever-burning sword, but the only food they find is each other. There's a sort of herd mentality or something. A did well this session.

Re: Veins of the Earth play reports

forgot to mention: gave 'em all an effects table roll, so highlight is A also has claws, secondly M who was trying really hard to find a way to the surface got a "100" roll and no no longer wishes to go to the surface