The Ultraviolet Grasslands

Session Zero

Putting the band together

The group met to talk a bit about this new campaign and to hash out some ideas.

Mike has been very excited to try out the weird science-fantasy setting The Ultraviolet Grasslands (UVG) ever since he first heard a review of the Free Intro version on the podcast Fear of a Black Dragon. Mike was completely intrigued by the "80’s Heavy Metal magazine / Thundarr the Barbarian / Moebius-inspired feel and visuals of the setting. Also: After running multiple Pathfinder campaigns in a highly-detailed canonical campaign setting, Mike was very interested in trying out a setting sketched out using principles of anti-canon. (He also back the Kickstarter, and has access to a pre-release of the final version of the setting.)

Rules
While UVG is written for a d20/OGL/OSR ruleset, our group is generally more comfortable with more narrative-focused mechanics, and would like to use a Powered by the Apocalypse system. We will be running this in a heavily modified version of Dungeon World. The DW hack we’ll be basing our game on is Jesse Strandberg’s excellent modification he calls Homebrew World. That version was modified for use primarily for online play minicampaigns of 4-6 sessions, and some of that hack won’t work particularly well for ongoing campaign play.

Mike is also working to build back in some of the customized UVG mechanics into a hack-of-a-hack he’s calling Ultraviolet World. Those rules are still in development, and will be linked from this site’s Wiki.

Characters
Mike provided copies of the Homebrew World playbooks. However, the playbooks didn’t really mesh with the concepts JP and Pete were thinking about. I also asked them why their characters wanted to go to the Black City at the Edge of the World.

Storn quickly picked the Barbarian, and came to the table with a very cool backstory. Enter Tarkov the Wolf! Tarkov is from the Forest of Glass, and had been raised by a pack of Dimensional Wolves. The Wolves were constantly at war with Reaper Vomes: Violent Organo-Mechanical Entities that harvested the Trees of Glass and slew anything that tried to stop them. Storn said that Tarkov’s mate was a woman named Jaala: a Priestess of the Moon who was originally from the more-civilized Redlands. He said that the Reaper Vomes captured her and sold her to slavers that were headed to the Black City.

Pete wanted to play a con artist who schemed his way through life. To start, we settled on a third-party DW playbook called The Con Artist by Justin Schmid. We used the DW playbook to start, and Mike said he would craft a UVW playbook based on the DW book. Pete said that his character would be named Ivo Fontane, and that he was compelled, by an uncharacteristic promise, to venture to the Black City on a deeply personal quest.

JP was interested in playing a character from future Earth who somehow was transported to the world of the Ultraviolet Grasslands… imagining finding something like a Monolith from 2001: A Space Odyssey on the Martian moon Phobos and falling through. For starters, we used “The Earthling” playbook from the supplement Adventures on Dungeon Planet. That playbook was very much a “John Carter of Mars” pastiche, and Mike said that he’d do his best to create a UVW playbook inspired by it but allowing for a 21st-century astronaut to be the protagonist. JP created Major Jake Slayton of the United States Space Force (USSF). JP said that Maj. Slayton had heard rumor that the Black City had another monolith that could possibly return him home.

With baseline characters together, Mike rolled some random starting objects for the PCs, allowing the players to use it, or to come up with something equally evocative and weird on their own.

Storn chose a crystal pendant that stored a brief 3-D recording of Tarkov’s lost love.

Pete chose a set of baby teeth in a black velvet bag. This was pressed into his hand by a withered old crone who implored him to, “Take her home” to the Black City.

Mike happened to roll a “set of indestructible plastic silverware” from the table. JP thought that was great, and said that they were clearly from Earth: A sign that he wasn’t the only Earthling who’d passed through here!

The Adventure Begins
With about an hour of play left, we started our journey. As backstory, we said that the three met on the road to Violet City, and has a series of misadventures where they all helped each other out. Realizing there was safety in numbers, and that they liked each other, they decided to travel together. Ivo heard from a friend that a Violet City Cat-Lord was looking to hire caravan attendees for a journey to the West. And that his contact would be Cat-Lord Schnookums, who would be expecting to meet them at an upscale Violet City restaurant called the Gastro-Gnome.

To Be Continued… Next Week!

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