The Cave of Worlds - Introduction


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I'd been unable to game for about ten years, ever since I'd moved away from Boston. A friend told me at Arisia the Arisia convention that he'd be starting a D&D game for adults at the local library. He's a librarian there; we've done panels together at the con for many years. I was really glad to get a chance to play.

The game was on alternate Saturdays, but the library is closed for the weekend . The campaign had to go break for four or five months. I offered to start something up in the interim

I approached the campaign fairly casually. For the fun of it, I decided that it would be multi-genre, using the classic RuneQuest III rules freely modified for various genres. None of the starting players (Zack, Jenny, and Michael) started out with any experience with RQ, and Jenny had almost no roleplaying experience at all.

The game began in a place called the Valley of Peace, a huge valley surrounded by unclimbable rock walls. It was an oasis, a private reserve of worshippers and power for the Greek gods; as such, it was also a utopia. Human, elves, and trolls (plus great trolls) lived together in perfect peace and happiness. Their culture was relatively low-tech and low-magic, although the priests could access poweful divine magic when necessary.

That idyllic world was marred when the players were asked to find a lost young teen boy who had run away. They tracked him to the edge of the world (the aforementioned cliffs) and followed him through a crack in the wall. The tunnel lead to a series of caves, the largest of which turned out to contain 107 portals to other universes; another cave contained what appears to be the coffin of an undead god or demon of great power, and a third cavern, the Pool Cavern, contains passageways to two more portals as well as a mysterious and magical pool.

The party travels from world to world via the portals in the Cave of Worlds. At first they could only pass through portals with difficulty. Now it's almost effortless, and others are able to pass through some portals as well; three new party members come from other worlds.

I won't try to summarize the campaign here, because it has been running for two years now and a lot has happened. But there's not much combat; the focus is on roleplaying and exploration. The portals allow me to use all sorts of settings and genres, including many based on some of my favorite books and movies. Since I'm extremely widely read, and most of my favorites date back at least thirty years ago, the party has only recognized a few worlds. Some of the worlds aren't based on books, movies, or TV shows, but are taken from old games that I've run or played in.

The genres available via the portals include many iterations of science fiction, modern-world, spy, superhero, wild west, horror, comedy, and fantasy; pretty much anything I can imagine. As of this writing (11/27/2012) the characters have explored 47 of the 109 worlds which are available through the caves - although "explored" isn't the right word for it, in many cases. In a number of cases they've performed only the most cursory scans, hardly enough to make any proper assessment.

When the characters travel through portals, different things happen. Through some portals, they emerge as themselves. Lately, some portals have changed them into forms appropriate to those worlds. So far, they've changed back into their own bodies every time they've returned to the cave.

The Valley

A quick explanation about the home world of the PCs, the Valley of Peace: the whole world is one large long valley, surrounded by sheer and unclimbable cliffs on all sides. It takes about eight days to walk from the southernmost point to the northernmost, and about two weeks to walk from east to west (or vice-versa). There are four villages in the valley, situated towards the points of the compass. None of them are less than two days walk from the walls around the world, however. There's something strange about those walls; magic usually doesn't work near them. For some reason, this makes people uncomfortable.

At the center of the valley is a town - the Town. It's where the great Temple of the Gods is located, and where all the major festivals and ceremonies are held. At such times, the whole population of the valley (or almost all) meets there.

A river runs through the valley from west to east. At the eastern end, it widens into a broad swamp; few people travel there.

Crops grow, babies are born, the people worship the gods, and the gods bless the people. And so it went for a thousand years or more. Until...


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Copyright 2012 by Peter Maranci. Revised: November 02, 2013. v.1.0