Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Byways Of Infinity & Beyond - The Deep Dream Realms

“It’s a dream, Alex. You can do anything you want in here. Haven’t you figured that out yet?”
-Tommy Ray Glatman, Dreamscape

“You create the world of the dream.”
-Cobb, Inception

There are places you don't go. Some doors that shouldn't be opened only hinted at in the Necronomicon.  Places are locked within the collective memories, dreams of mankind, & the echos of the lost dreams of forgotten races.
Down these rabbit holes are lost realms of planar threads linking the our minds to the dreams that hold these realities together.
 Past, present, future, & the almost weres & the could have beens are all here held together by astral bailing wax & tied with the threads of insanity that are rarely seen outside of a drug induced haze of clarity.  
Here the astral storms rage through corridors of dream & the rickety paths of nightmare. 

The psionicists know these worlds well & avoid them when possible.
These are the Mazepaths & the stone works of the unconscious. Atlantis is a step to the right & the Human Empire is 23 corridors down & to the right. 

Those who use these byways can soon find themselves in far worse trouble then they ever imagined. The total sum of human dreams, the debris from a billion & one planar locations, & the doorways of Arcadia all surround the lost souls who end up upon these pathways.

Primitive tribes of cavemen descendants of  the lost & mutated are also found here. Those who wander for far too long become wrapped up in these places. Some become tempted by lost treasures, artifacts left behind by dead gods, or fall in love with a fey or some other lost race remembered here by our hearts. 
These places touch every plane with strands of sticky web linked planar energies only to have the astral storms & dreammare storms tear them apart.
There are things in those storms. The bastard children of Shub-Niggurath are swept away from unholy worlds like Carcosa & beyond. Fey with teeth like whirling red death & far worse.

This is one such device from a downed alien craft from an alternative Earth. +3 to any attempts to contact plane spells as long there is a power source. 
There are many ways to access these roads behind reality. Many alien societies  have left devices, artifacts, & other far worse ways of opening a way into these byways.

Random Alien Byways of Infinity Encounter Tables 1d10 

  1. 1d20 very confused Viet Cong soldiers who will shoot first & ask questions later. 3rd level fighters armed with machine guns. 
  2. 1d6 grey alien warriors armed with blasters 1d4 damage 40 yard range 6 shots each. 3 hit points each. Saucer nearby 
  3. 1d4 Roman warriors armed with short swords,shields, & colt revolvers. 2nd level fighters 
  4. 1d3 least demons 3 hit points each. Looking for prey. 1d4 random artifacts 
  5. A very scared & confused cowboy. 2nd level warrior, gun, Bowie knife, & ammo 
  6. Mutant Bikers from a post apocalyptic world 1d6 riding fusion bikes. 40% chance of mutations. Blasters & Firearms 
  7. A wizard from Thundarr's world with 1d6 slaves taken from various eras. Attended by 1d6 robotic warriors, 4 hit points each, armed with eye blasters 1d3 damage. 3rd level wizard 
  8. 1d4 high school kids armed with machine guns, 2nd level warriors, a few relics. Looking for their teacher. 
  9. A T rex double normal hit points & very hungry! 
  10. A Space Warp leading deeper into the Byways. 10% of avoiding it. 

The Random Chart Of Getting Hopelessly Lost 1d10 

  1. The strange twisting bio stone & planar tunnels lead to one of the many hells of the human souls & worse 
  2. The characters are whisked away to a faery land beyond imagination. 30% of technology & magic working 
  3. Unholy fire storm take 1d3 points of damage a you are hurled down a spout of weird fire from unknown origins 
  4. The party is time warped 1d100 years into a random past or future 
  5. The part is shunted into an alternative reality. There is a 30% chance they may not speak the language. 
  6. The party is taken to another planet far beyond the ken of men where a prophecy speaks of the coming of strangers 
  7. The party is taken to Carcosa 
  8. The party is spat out into the astral where hungry parasites await them
  9. The party is taken to the Realm of Fables where they are taken up into the events of a famous fable
  10. The Cartoon dimension awaits them! Murderous toons, dangerous demigod children, & worse! 

Notes on Using The Byways 

So what's up with the Byways? Well back in the late 80s I grew increasingly frustrated with my college players & wanted a way of connecting some of the campaigns I was running without having to constantly changing games, systems, etc.
This game came out

 This was a game that very few people in my area of  Torrington Ct got.They were at this time getting into Dragonlance, Forgotten Realms, etc. I belonged to a very quint & old fashioned group of role players who used the original D&D rules along with some strange ass  campaign rules called Arduin.

Lords of Creation was the World of Tiers from Philp Jose Farmer as a role playing game & it wasn't afraid of its roots. the game took you from ordinary human to Lord of Creation with some awesome adventures.
The Byways are a sort of attempt to join some of my campaigns into a multiverse spanning game.
 The Cop, The Ninja, The Wizard & The Priest
The closet that a television show ever came to the awesomeness of Lords of Creation was.

The series concerns a family and their associates who charter a boat out into the Caribbean for a scientific expedition. After an encounter in the area of the Bermuda Triangle with an unnatural green cloud the group find themselves shipwrecked on a mysterious uncharted island from which they are unable to escape.
They encounter Varian (Jared Martin), initially disguised as an Arawak Indian, who is later revealed to be from the year 2230; a 23rd-century pacifist, musician and healer. Varian explains to the travelers that, like many before them including himself, they have been caught in a space/time continuum where people from the past, present, future and from other worlds are trapped, co-existing on the island in a series of timezones. The only way home can be found in a place called "Evoland" which lies "far to the rising sun" (it was indicated in interviews of the time that Evoland was also the name of the island itself). The only way to travel between timezones is via invisible gateways which instantaneously transport individuals or groups from one zone to another. In one episode "Beyond The Mountain" the group also encounters a second cloud which has much the same effect, but which also splits the group up.
After the initial pilot story, a steady group of travelers forms around Varian as de facto leader, and the series then follows this group as they travel across the many timezones of the island to find Evoland. On their way, they encounter people from different planets and times who are also trapped on the island and who have adapted to their plight in different ways. The pilot initially suggested the historical past would be explored; however, the producers of the show rapidly adopted a consistently futuristic tone during the series following pressure from the network. They also dropped three characters after the pilot as they wanted a more exotic group of travellers, hence the arrival of Liana and Willoway. Liana disappears from the last 2 episodes when Katie Saylor fell ill.
Although airing in a time when the nation's interest in the Bermuda TriangleUFOs and fantasy was at a height, the show failed to last beyond the ten episodes, having been scheduled as a mid season replacement (following the failure of another fantasy series, The Gemini Man) against The Waltons and Welcome Back, Kotter, both big rated family shows. There were several cast changes, with many main characters from the pilot being written out by the first episode of the series proper. By its tenth episode, its ratings had dropped and it was cancelled. The script for an unproduced eleventh episode entitled "Romulus" circulates on the Internet. The show continues however to have a small cult following, but has never been released commercially on any home video format. Within a few months of its abrupt ending several of the production team would be producing the thematically similar Logan's Run for the Fall 1977 season.

Varian (Jared Martin)
"A man from the 23rd century possessing awesome powers". Varian generally uses a kind of crystalline 'tuning fork' device named the Sonic Energizer through which he focuses his thoughts into what is described as a sonic manipulation of matter. The device, one of the most intriguing aspects of the series,[opinion] is said to be completely useless in anyone else's hands, and seems capable of a huge variety of tasks from opening doors to disrupting electrical systems to large scale acts of destruction, as well as its apparently intended function as a diagnostic and healing device. Following the departure of Professor Paul Jordan at the end of the pilot film, Varian takes over as de facto leader to the travellers and adopts a parental role over Paul's teenage son, Scott (most notable in episodes such as "An Act of Love" and "Turnabout").
Scott Jordan (Ike Eisenmann)
"The 13-year-old son of a famous scientist". Scott has an excellent knowledge of Earth history and events, but is still young and has a lot to learn.
Dr. Fred Walters (Carl Franklin)
"A young doctor just out of medical school"
Lianna (Katie Saylor)
"Daughter of an Atlantean father and an extraterrestrial mother" - Liana possessed greater than human physical strength (due to her being born on a higher gravity planet than Earth) and telepathic/psionic skills presumably due to her mixed heritage. Saylor left the show after the episode "Turnabout" due to illness. In the next episode "Riddles" the reason for her not being present with the group was given that she opted to stay a few days at Coriel to help the inhabitants work out their new government and would catch up with the group later.
Dr. Jonathan Willaway (Roddy McDowall)
"Rebel scientist from the 1960s", who has a mastery of computers, robotics and scientific knowledge which is quite useful to the group. He is something of a black sheep, reminiscent of Dr Smith in Lost in Space. However over the course of the episodes, Willaway becomes more integrated into the group.
Sil-El (The Felix Team)
Lianna's companion and pet (a cat she can communicate with telepathically), which sometimes scouts for Lianna (being an extra set of eyes and ears).

Episode #TitleAir date
1"Vortex"February 3, 1977
A party of scientists disappears into the Bermuda Triangle and becomes trapped on an island where past, present and future co-exist. After meeting 23rd century healer Varian and encountering 16th century privateers, the survivors begin their quest to return to their own time. All the while, they are being observed by a mysterious man from a futuristic city in the desert.
2"Atlantium"February 10, 1977
With many of the original party returned to their own time, Varian, Scott and Fred find themselves caught up in the machinations of a megalomaniacal "brain in a box" called The Source, which has enslaved the inhabitants of the city of Atlantium (actually theWestin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles), built by the survivors of the original Atlantis and intends to use Scott's life force to regenerate itself. The trio are aided by dissident Atlantean, Liana, who reveals that she is half alien.
3"Beyond the Mountain"February 17, 1977
The travelers are separated by a red cloud which leaves Liana as the 'guest' of Jonathan Willaway, who is the master of a community of robots, and the others trapped in a dark swamp surrounded by green skinned humanoids. However, Willaway's intentions are less than honourable and he has no intention of letting Liana leave, while Fred's medical skills prove invaluable in discovering the truth.
4"Children of the Gods"February 24, 1977
The travelers arrive in a new timezone and meet a young boy who has escaped from a community run solely by children. They are led by bullying teenager, Alpha.
5"A Dream of Conquest"February 24, 1977
An alien dictator is planning to invade other timezones and conquer the island. Willoway pretends to agree with him so that he can learn Tarant's[who?] secrets, especially as the true leader of this alien community is being slowly poisoned by the would be dictator. Liana takes pity on an abused alien creature called a Nefring. Guest starring John Saxon.
6"An Act of Love"March 24, 1977
Varian, under the influence of a love drug, meets a woman named Gwenith from a religious community in a geologically unstable timezone. His judgment impaired, Varian decides to leave the travellers to stay and marry her. He soon discovers that the community fanatically worships a volcano god called Vatticus, who demands human sacrifices.
7"Funhouse"March 31, 1977
Arriving at a strange 20th century funfair, the travelers become part of a game played by an ancient Greek sorcerer named Apollonius, who also possesses Willaway.
8"Turnabout"April 7, 1977
The travelers encounter a city where the women are subservient to brutish male authority. The women mutiny and imprison the male travelers in a strange black void, and Liana appears to join their cause. Guest appearance by Joan Collins.
9"Riddles"April 21, 1977
Guided to an old house by a mounted messenger, the travelers – minus Liana – quest for an object that will assist their search for Evoland, and a strange couple conjures illusions drawn from their deepest fears.
10"The Innocent Prey"June 6, 1977
A prison craft from Earth's future crash lands in the timezone where the travelers are resting, releasing dangerous killers into a community which does not comprehend violence. With a killer on the loose, Varian and the others must deal with him and protect the pacifists. Cheryl Ladd guest starred only a few months before she joined the cast of Charlie's Angels.
I used the Funhouse episode in Lords of Creation to provide a nasty twist to some of my players. Too nasty because it wiped them from the face of the Byways.
Part II 

 Coming Up Carcosa Bound & Beyond! 

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