May 2, 2011

Gondwane: First Impressions

The heat of the jungle is oppressive. You are in a jungle the likes of which you have never seen before, for there are no trees here but giant ferns and cycads, and some of the humming insects are as big as birds. Somewhere behind you, you can hear the scrunch of something big stalking through the undergrowth. Something is hunting you. Then through a break in the ferns, you catch a glimpse of teeth the size of steak knives, and a mad yellow eye …

A herd of enormous sauropods strides across a hot and dusty plain, their towering necks held high and swaying from side to side, their booming calls seeming to shake the sky. Smaller creatures scatter from their path like the bow waves from a great ship’s prow. Only when the sauropods get closer do you notice the colorful pennons fluttering atop large howdahs on their backs, and in each howdah, the glint of sunlight on bronze spearheads …

A hurled stone axe flashes past your ear. The air is filled with inhuman hoots and yowls as the Golgar hunting party moves in for the kill. Though they are squat and misshapen by the standards of modern man, though their low brows and heavy jaws give them the appearance of dumb beasts, you can still recognize their kinship to you. But as they bare their big yellow teeth at you, you come to the sick realization that these Golgars are man-eaters …

You are taken to a sprawling temple-city, thick with the smells of smoke and incense and burning flesh, ringing with the music of brass gongs and the chanting of the crowds. At the very center of the city, guarded by cyclopean statues of armored warriors and snarling dragons, is a low, wide ziggurat where the sacrifices are being held. And at the top of the ziggurat, chained with massive bronze links to a basalt throne, is a creature that could never have been born on this Earth …

These vignettes form my introduction to Gods of Gondwane for new players.  Knowing that I have to work with short attention spans, I’ve tried to find a way to compress what Gods of Gondwane is like in terms of physical environment, visuals, and the pulp-ish adventure tropes around which stories in Gondwane are built.  These four paragraphs are the result.

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