In the past few months me and the Glasgow OG have started playing again. I’ve been wanting to restart the Khosura campaign for a while, and I wanted to experiment a bit with dungeoneering.
Your busy roads
Roiling with merchants
The first idea was to find Ubar, a dead city lost in the desert, to find out both what happened to it and to recover whatever was salvageable.
Your garden towers
Laughing with birdsong
I devised the cataclysm that befell the city (the land is dead), a curse making life there completely unbearable (the rocky desert becoming even more treacherous to navigate), and a forward base of adventuring compatible with both. A wizard built a magic garden that survived the cataclysm, which became home to those unlucky to get lost in the desert and lucky to find it.
Your welcoming courtyards
Tiled with our songs
Then I built a small, simple mausoleum for the group to explore, at the beginning at random, repeatedly improved as I found out the correct way to go.
Your ample schools
Bursting with students
We are used to “lost cities” dungeons that are still populated, but Ubar was to be completely bereft of life. After the cataclysm, as the land died, the survivors left. “Dungeons” were only the province of the non-alive: undead, constructs, bound spirits.
Your hearty kitchens
Forges of nostalgia and friendships
Wizards tend to pick up a bunch of garbage nobody should touch. They do not destroy it because they see the potential offensive value. So they build vaults to keep nasty stuff in. Adventurers love breaking in those vaults. The game became to break in the fantasy equivalent of breaking in an SCP foundation facility.
I cry homecoming
But there’s no home to come to
This year has been full of feels. In addition to catching Covid, I recently naturalized British, and both missed and was worried by what was going on in Italy, my first homeland. My parents live in Milan, which for a long while was where most Covid deaths happened. I worried the fuck out of this, for months and months. Together with being so far away and unable to do much heavily pushed my head down. I wanted to visit them but, beside being illegal, the last thing I want is to go back home and risk infecting friends and family.
As winter came and I missed my traditional descent into southern Europe for the first time I was to spend the holidays here. As much as I really feel Glasgwegian and at home in Scotland, homecoming to Milan for Saturnalia/Christmas/Hogmanay is the hinge of my year. Nostalgia struck.
Nost-algia literally means homecoming pain (nostos+algos), and in a way I hope most of you can deeply understand, the adjective form of nostos νόστιμος (nostimos) means “delicious” in Greek. It’s a hell of a feeling, especially if felt for things that are still there, reachable, yet unreachable.
The game changed in one simple way: players are Ubarites who, after generations of diaspora in the neighbouring lands, feel that maybe there is a way back.
Maybe in those vaults there is something that can break the curse, something that can heal the land, something to rebuild home with.
Oh, one last thing. Ubarites are all animal people. Cat people, bat people, horse people, cow people, frog people, whatever animal, about 4 feet tall. Mixed couples are the norm, and kids can look like either parent or like someone from previous generations.
I’m not sure if it will ever be done as a book, but I’m enjoying playing it, and I’ll be sharing maps and adventures here as we go through it.