Tunnels in the Jungle

March 10, 2011

The Tunnels of Cu Chi by Mangold and Penycate (1985).  An excellent book about the tunnels in Vietnam; the Vietcong men and women who built, lived, and fought in them; and the American soldiers specially trained to enter and destroy them.

The Fire in the Jungle setting also contains a sprawling network of tunnels under the jungle, but it was not built by men.

Giant Ants ruled the jungle for many millennia.  Their power has waned, but their massive, interconnected network of tunnels remains, spreading to nearly every corner of the jungle and holding many treasures and secrets.  Giant Ants still live there but they are scattered and many other creatures now call the tunnels home.

Plaster-filled ant colony

The Fire in the Jungle supplement contains an Ant Tunnel Exploration System to help judges run adventures in such complex and nearly impossible to map tunnels.  Unfortunately, there wasn’t room in the supplement for my Ant Tunnel Geomorph System, a method of generating a complex section of ant tunnel with the roll of 2d6.  Here it is:

Ant Tunnel Geomorph System
The scope and complexity of the ant tunnels makes them practically impossible to map or represent in two dimensions.  Instead, the judge can approximate the massive and convoluted geometry of the ant tunnels by combining geomorphs ad infinitum. The following is a system for creating 60’x60’x60′ cubic geomorphs designed especially for the ant tunnels, with top and and bottom exit points instead of just side exits.

Before rolling 2d6, identify one of the dice as the primary die and the other as the secondary die.  Roll the dice.  The top value on the primary die indicates the number of exit passages from this geomorph (in addition to the entrance passage):

Number of exit passages
1 = 1 exit passage
2 = 2 exit passages
3 = 3 exit passages
4 = 4 exit passages
5 = 5 exit passages
6 = Zero exit passages

Each of the other visible values on the rolled dice indicate which sides of the geomorph cube have an exit passage.  Start with the top- facing value on the secondary die. Then continue with the side-facing values of the secondary die, and finally the side-facing values of the primary die.  It is possible for a side of the geomorph to have multiple exits.

Location of exit passage:
1 = North
2 = South
3 = East
4 = West
5 = Up
6 = Down

For example, the dice rolled in the picture above would generate a geomorph with four exits:  South, West, and two exits Down.

Sometimes a die lands so that only one side-facing value is visible.  Rotate it slightly in either direction to reveal another facing side.  The value revealed is a secret door.

The Ant Tunnels are alive.  They seem to morph and change their structure at whim or perhaps to confuse delvers.  For this reason, and because of the difficulty in mapping the ant tunnels, the judge may decide not to keep a record of tunnels that have been explored, choosing to generate new tunnel geomorphs if the delvers backtrack or loop around to an already explored area.

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2 Responses to “Tunnels in the Jungle”

  1. […] I wrote about the ant tunnels beneath The Jungle, including a method for randomly generating ant tunnel geomorphs.  The complex structure of the […]

  2. […] along the line I started to envision the ant tunnels as a vast network of tunnels touching all corners of the jungle and reaching down to unknown depths.  So the Ant Tunnel System tries to do two things at once: […]

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