Next Project: Stygian Library/Knave Hack

Initial ideas for my next game

17-09-2021 - 3 minutes, 14 seconds -
osr homebrew knave setting the stygian library the gardens of ynn rogueland cairn

I absolutely adore Emmy Allen's The Stygian Library and The Gardens of Ynn. I think it's safe to say that the former is my favorite tabletop RPG book of this year. Make sure to buy the physical copy if you get the chance. You won't regret it!

I'm sure I'm not alone in thinking that it would be amazing to explore other themes using this concept. Emmy Allen was generous enough to publish her book using the Creative Commons CC0 License, so I figured I would try making something by myself.

In The Stygian Library, generic old school RPG rules are used. It looks like the good old D&D B/X rules (or Old School Essentials). While I think those rules are fine, I'm not in love with the class/race system and I vastly prefer the lighter retro-clones such as Knave and their offshoots Cairn and Rogueland. So I figured I'll be using that for this project. I find that I'm not too interested in the rules aspect of the hobby, but it's still nice to have something to give people a reference.

Now. What do I want the theme for this project to be? I brainstormed a quick list of possible themes as below:

  • Shipwreck cove (pirate theme, tons of ships stacked on each other, mysteries and treasure)
  • Viriconium (endless everchanging city, different districts, different themes, atmosphere everywhere! old tech, magic and old tech gets more frequent as you delve deeper)
  • Museum (dozens of different sections, 6 different rooms for each section, dinosaurs, art, treasures, occult)
  • Space station (different alien species, different atmospheres, docks for space ships)
  • Castle/haunted mansion (different wings, different themes, weird NPCs)
  • University (different weird faculties, professors, students, experiments)
  • Jungle temple (different plants, animals, weird creatures, cenotes, sunlight, mushrooms, insects, treasure!)
  • Tower of Babel (each floor is different, it also shifts around with huge gears, sometimes you're on F1, sometimes on F167)
  • Hell (99 levels of hell)
  • Market (extraplanar, hundreds of stalls, sells weird stuff, can also mix in some other areas, like a jail or arena, smack in the middle, think of Hot Springs Island, Aladdin, anything can be found when looking hard enough, just like in Stygian Library, deeper levels are more dangerous but have more interesting items for sale, can put mundane items further up the table and exotic items further down, what's the secret? who runs the place? why? THIS IS A PRETTY GOOD IDEA)
  • Home of the gods (mythology, weird creatures, presence of the gods, the deeper/higher you go, the higher chance to meet the gods)

As you can see by my comments above, I like the idea of a market. There are so many reasons why someone might end up in a near endless market. Here is a quick blurb on what it's all about:

The market is an extraplanar market that one accidentally can stumble upon when entering any bustling or labyrinthine market on any plane of existence. While walking across the dizzying arrays of stalls, suddenly strange creatures that have no resemblance to creatures on your homeworld populate the area.

The deeper you go, the stranger it gets.

The deeper you go, the more exotic the items.

The deeper you go, the more dangerous.

The deeper you go, the more reality distorts.

And when you reach the end:

Well, who knows what might be there?

There are so many reasons why one might want to travel to this market. Just like in The Stygian Library, where people can find any kind of information, you would be able to find any kind of item. Just venture deep enough and you will find it sooner or later.

I think this is a pretty decent idea to spin further on. I will be writing up a quick outline during the weekend and hopefully this can be the start of something good.

I'm hoping to record the progress here on the blog.