2019/03/22

OSR: The Indefinite Train - Community Project

I'd like to try running a collaborative community project.

The Indefinite Train

There's a giant train that passes through many worlds. Everyone writes a one-page dungeon carriage using a template. The carriages get stitched together to make a sort of randomly generated segmented megadungeon, suitable for drop-in games, travel between worlds, or extremely random encounters. A summary of the setting and some design notes can be found in this folder.
 

All you need to do to contribute is copy the template to your Google Drive (or download it, but don't blame me if the formatting goes all wonky), edit it, then post it to this folder. Anyone can contribute!

If you want to test ideas or ask for advice, stop by the #gygaxian-train-assembly channel in Chris McDowall (Bastionland)'s Discord.

Here are two example carriages I whipped up:
Goblin Cannonade

The Roving Library of the Carnelian Sphynx

Backstory

There's a train. Possibly the Train; all others are imitations. Carriages are 100' wide and 200' long. Two levels and a roof. Every carriage has a door at the front (upline) and back (downline) and a roof hatch. It travels at 66.6 miles per hour. Some people say the Engineer, the Train's driver, is God (or a god) fleeing the end of the world. People have visited. They say if you reach the Engine you can ask the Engineer to grant one wish.

At the front of the Train, complex machines lay down new track, throw up bridges, and cut tunnels. At the other end of the train is Hell, or something like it. Demons and strange monsters infest the carriages there.
 

The angels of the Engineer are the Conductors, masked floating giants clad in blue and white. Their functions are mysterious. They don’t seem to understand how people work.

Sometimes, usually during storms, the Train's carriages rearrange. The track branches and reforms. New carriages arrive, old ones vanish or switch places.
 

The Train has been traveling for a very long time. Many carriages have been completely converted to new forms: temples, dungeons, palaces, villages, farms, etc, etc, etc. Some raid, some protect, some just exist. The loot and detritus of ten thousand worlds. A vast city of self-contained feuding blocks, reshuffled every so often to let new feuds rise to the surface.

The Train passes through many worlds. It doesn’t travel through space or underwater, but it can turn up almost anywhere there’s a breathable atmosphere. The train typically tries to pass through flat areas at least 100’ wide, but it can bore through mountains, throw down bridges, or rearrange buildings as it roars through a city. Old timers say it once tunneled straight down for a week and everyone had to hang on to the walls.

Boarding The Train

Sometimes, inhabitants of worlds visited by the train are scooped up and tossed into a new or existing carriage, along with treasures, supplies, livestock, etc, etc. It seems a bit arbitrary. New sentient arrivals are given a Ticket. Anyone who falls off the train while holding a Ticket will be collected by a Conductor and placed back on... somewhere. Tickets are transferable and extremely valuable.

People also sneak aboard the train. It’s a great way to travel between worlds, provided you don’t have a particular destination in mind. Illicit arrivals don’t have start with a Ticket.

New arrivals are usually too disorientated to throw away their tickets and leap off the train before before they’ve reached a new world. Would you really risk leaping off a moving train into a new and dangerous landscape?

Altering Your Carriage
Messing with the carriage structures seems to be fine. Messing with the wheels and linkages, not so much. Conductors turn up if anyone interferes with the wheels or tries to derail the train.


Final Notes

This project was made possible (in a vague way) by backers of my new Patreon, and the inescapable feeling of dread and guilt it inspires. Hooray!

22 comments:

  1. Is there a deadline? This sounds amazing! My wife and I will definitely be participating.

    Can we use our own maps? Or should we keep to the template?

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    Replies
    1. No deadline! And feel free to use your own maps (or even remake the template entirely) provided it more-or-less fits the dimensions of a standard carriage.

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  2. Have you ever seen this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oY6kfVWv01k

    Quite fun.

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  3. These all need to go into a generator so that you click a button, and it gives you ten or so random cars in a random sequence. I'd avoid giving each car numbers.

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    Replies
    1. I figure the number of each car =/= correspond to the order in the train because they get shuffled around so frequently, carriages go missing or turn up unexpectedly, etc. When it's all done, I'll number the PDFs for easy rolling.

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    2. Random Generator? What? Where? _sniffs the air_

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    3. Well right now it'd be a 1d2 table of carriages... so not too useful. :D

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  4. I like it, I like it.

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  5. Does the train ever stop at a station?

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    Replies
    1. Nope. Some passengers think it will one day, perhaps in heaven or hell or someplace even stranger.

      Delete
    2. It feels like a nice idea for an adventure. A train does stop, someplace less then awesome, maybe a derelict asteroid base, you have X amount of time to scavenge and look around before train leaves again and strands you.
      Or even better yet train brakes down and needs to be repaired, even if you might want not to if it was someplace a bit more nice.

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    3. The train is angry at the idea of stations. It is tired of it's shackles and wants to break free. It is picking up fragments of reality in a bid to rid the universe of stations. If you're at a station or even thought of stations, you're more likely to be swept up by the train itself. The idea of stations to the train is like blood to a shark. That is why there are whole carriages of jailed train conductors.

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  6. I like this a lot. Perhaps there are ways to cheat the system and enter/exit in a world of your choosing? But then there'd have to be a reason to not just sit in the same carriage the whole time - maybe you have to go through a certain number of them before you can leave?

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    Replies
    1. IF there are rules, to me they should be weird baroque and alien to normal rationale. Its something the players can learn at least partially. And then there is someone that brakes them is some sort of way.

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  7. Is there a midnight train to Georgia? I got one duct bk

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  8. Got my entry in.
    First one.
    That’s a first for me!!!

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  9. I made a spreadsheet with the default layout of a train carriage represented using the borders between cells.
    It's in the user_submitted_carriages/drafts/ folder of google drive train thing, in case anyone wants to use it as a starting point.

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  10. I am reminded of https://adventuretime.fandom.com/wiki/Dungeon_Train_(episode)

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  11. friend, i didnt find any other way to contact you. can i translate the Tomb of the Serpent King to portuguese? Not for sell, still for free, and all credits given. (also, i didnt find the other languages version). Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Absolutely! And if you do, let me know and I'll put a link to the translation in the megapst. :)

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  12. Posted one! Cathedral in Flames. Ode to Our Lady of Paris. Goals were to respect the cathedral, make it game-able and fantastic, and cross link to other cars like crazy.

    Cheers and thanks for the great ideas everyone!

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