Jungle Image Dump #10

November 29, 2012

Huh. It’s been awhile since I’ve done a shameless post of nothing but images.  Put these in your pipe and smoke ’em…

This is MYSTERY CAVE

September 7, 2012

Nothing to do with PHANTASY CAVE.

There’s a great cave in SE Minnesota called Mystery Cave. Several years ago we went on the “scenic tour” along lighted pathways in the cave. Last weekend we did the “flashlight tour” in a different section of the cave.

I was expecting powerful flashlights but only dim LED lights were provided. For the better though, because the feeling of darkness would have been lessened if everyone in the tour group carried D cell lanterns. As it was, the camera on my phone couldn’t take a picture unless many people shined their lights in the same area.

Sometimes my camera picked up the red spotting light that other cameras were emitting. Gave the appearance of a magical effect like you’d see on a cheap 1980s fantasy movie.

Would you drink from this pool?…

Big bats…not really…

A crater on the ceiling…

I took the following pic just as somebody’s flash camera went off. These formations (several feet in height) are usually completely submerged in water, but the dry summer has reduced the water depth to just two inches…

Watch your head…

Don’t touch that…

I told you not to touch it…

A nice roll on the Random Gem Table…

The adventurers halt under a giant of the primeval forest and nearby a family goes hunting…

…and The Reclining Goddess finds her resting place…

…while Phantom Soldiers fight for every inch…

…and Stragglers report for duty…

In preparation for a little campaign set in the Blasted Jungle that I hope to run soon, I’ve been jotting down some additional notes about a few locations in that post-apocalyptic setting.  The seeds of a sandbox.  To make more sense of these notes, please read a previous post about the Blasted Jungle.

Who is Rad Joe? Perhaps true transmissions from the old empire?  A lone wizard deep in the jungle, sending signals from the Magnetic Mountain?  Maybe a supernatural power from another world?  Or just a lone tech smith who figured out how to correctly operate a beam box?  None of the above?

Rock Bottom is a fortified village and a local base of the Resistance.  The Old Gym is a large building in the center of the village.  The gym is loaded with ancient junk and the contraptions built by the village’s tech smiths.   There is a sign on the door that says “Suzi, Elf for Hire”.  This refers to the little green bus hidden under a large oil-stained tarpaulin, retrofitted with what the techs call “war bus” armaments.  They are eager to find someone with the guts to drive it through Phantom Soldier territory.  Leaders here are a lot like Peter Frampton and Rusty Warren.

“Too Small” is the code name that the Resistance has given to a secret cave containing a freshwater spring.  The cave is located in one of the few stands of old growth green jungle remaining in the Blasted Jungle and is one of the few sources of fresh, clean water in the region.  A small community lives here, including several pure strain humans, hoarding a fantastic collection of chocolate, soap, and hosiery.  A cult of warrior women called the Virgin Jungle Force guard and patrol the area.  The Phantom Solders want to find and capture the spring and it’s occupants, of course.  Leaders here are a lot like Kenny Rogers and Setsuko Hara.

The Castle is a ruined hill-top stronghold with a commanding view of the surrounding blasted jungle.  It’s the main headquarters of the Phantom Soldiers.  General Li is here and he is a lot like Lee Van Cleef.  There is an evil priestess here that is a lot like Sabrina Siani.  They are trying to build a rocket ship out of bamboo and tin foil.

Mudhole is a Phantom Soldier hideout located in a remote region of the jungle.  An elaborate bamboo prison confines captives and subjects them to bizarre tortures.  Leaders here are a lot like Klaus Kinski and Pam Grier, and they have lasers.


Yesterday’s post about jungle natives in some movies got me thinking, so today’s post is just me trying to organize my thoughts regarding the topic and gathering some links together.  Shooting the clouds to make rain…

Heard the stories of shooting arrows
Tearin’ open the clouds
But indians shoot the best, and
The indians they don’t like us, much

As I’ve mentioned previously, I don’t put much effort into predefining large amounts of info about natives in my jungle settings, despite their likelihood of playing an important role in jungle campaigns.  My preference is to riff off of vague descriptions, combining fantastical embellishments with my own conceptions (and likely some misconceptions) of real world primitives.

(For better or worse, sometimes I go gonzo.  For example, What makes these jungle natives special?)

In general, I try to stay away from the concept of “native villages”.  I’m no expert and I’m not saying there’s no such thing as native jungle villages, but I like the idea of scattered jungle populations.  It’s supported by some of the things I’ve read about primitives on Mindanao, such as the Tasaday and Ata:

“Each Ata family lived in a tree-house, separated by a considerable distance from any neighbor.  They never congregated in villages.”

That being said, I’m aiming to differentiate the natives found in different regions of my jungle setting, mostly on the basis of their relationship to visiting colonial powers and the fate that those powers have brought upon them…

In “The Jungle” (found in the Fire in the Jungle Supplement):  The natives in this region are slowly returning to their former dominant status after having been mostly wiped out by the Wizards Wars.  They are widespread, but scattered and unlikely to be encountered in large concentrations.    The greatest of them are doing what they can to rejuvenate their peoples’ lost glory.  Their great civilization of the past is hinted at in ruined structures and magic treasures, and in the tales they tell around the fire.  Perhaps a great “Lost City” hides somewhere, where the advanced native civilization still thrives in seclusion.

In “The Blasted Jungle”:  Natives here are mostly assimilated with the remnant colonial powers (The Resistance) or vice versa.  Interbreeding over the course of many generations has created a unique hybrid race and culture adapted to life in this most inhospitable jungle.  Scattered bands of true primitives remain in the remote wilds, but are extremely skittish and they no longer have much in common with the assimilated natives.

In “The Dark Jungle”: Native tribes here have strong and different cultures, but are lacking in the technological advancements necessary for the development of a powerful, unified civilization.  Furthermore, they are in the midst of their first sustained contact with a foreign culture, via the Jungle Men and the Jungle Rendezvous.

Weird Jungle Ruins

December 6, 2011

An assortment of bizarre jungle ruins…

Stereo in the Jungle…

Jeep and Skull cave in the jungle…

G.I. Joe in the jungle…

Rust Never Sleeps in the Jungle…

“CONAN WAS HERE”…

A couple bonus images of jungle soldiers.  Enlarge this next one.  I like how the men are all looking in different directions…

More Time covers related to the Vietnam War at My Vietnam Experience

One of my goals when I started this blog was to create several jungle settings loosely connected in their geography and history, but each with its own style and adventure possibilities and usable together or independently.  It started with just “The Jungle”.  Next came “The Dark Jungle”.  Now “The Blasted Jungle” is born.  Let’s explore…

To the north of the map in the Fire in the Jungle Supplement is a region called the Blasted Jungle.  (The southern edge of which is visible on the FitJ map, depicted as a string of Scarred Jungle hexes.)  The Blasted Jungle is similar to Scarred Jungle, but on a larger scale.  Whereas the latter consists of scattered areas of magic diseased jungle to the south, the Blasted Jungle was the epicenter of the greatest destructive magic unleashed during the Wizard Wars…The Blast.  This place is not a scar.  It’s an open wound.  Some areas were wiped clean of vegetation and are still bare, shattered rock.  Other areas look like Scarred Jungle…a tangle of misshapen and hostile vegetation in shades of yellow, gamboge, and puce.  How could there possibly be civilization there?

Maybe “civilization” isn’t the proper word to describe what is found in the Blasted Jungle.  There are two major factions of humans:

The Resistance
This faction consists of descendants of soldiers (those that weren’t cursed to become Stragglers) and natives who survived The Blast.   The Resistance has a small assortment of unreliable firearms, but are more commonly equipped with blades and bows.  They typically wears white scarves to hide their deformed faces, caused by magical radiation remnant from The Blast.  The Resistance holds non-deformed humans in high regard and the few that remain in their society are treated as royalty:  all but held hostage in secure bunkers, away from exposure to radiation and sunlight.

Long ago the Resistance held radio contact with their faraway motherland, but then the empire went silent.  For centuries, they heard nothing from the outside world until one day a voice came through the speakers.  They called the voice “Rad Joe” and began worshiping it as a god.  The Resistance often talks of “The Help” that Rad Joe and/or their motherland will send to support them in their weakening fight against their enemies.

Phantom Soldiers
The Resistance has always defended itself against scattered Stragglers and other mutant beasts ever since The Blast, but recently some have rebelled and joined forces with Stragglers to form an army called the Phantom Soldiers.  They reject the worship of Rad Joe and aim to take control of all “Beam Boxes” to learn how they function and who Rad Joe really is.  They see Rad Joe followers as mindless drones to a false god…slaves to The Beam.

Phantom Soldiers usually dress entirely in black and wear Blast Masks.  These masks have allowed the Phantom Soldiers to explore contaminated areas and discover more weapon caches than the Resistance.  Now they aim to leverage that advantage to eliminate the Resistance and dominate the Blasted Jungle.  They wield an array of light and heavy machine guns in various states of disrepair.  AOKs (Alpha Omega Kans) are another deadly tech in their possession.  To conserve gun ammo, squads will herd groups of the Resistance into confined areas where the grenades can be efficiently employed.  Skulls are then placed in the area as their calling card.


Leadership

The leader of the Phantom Soldiers is General Li, a gregarious man with shoulder pads, mirror lenses on his Blast Mask, and a machete attached to his left arm (instead of a hand).
The leader of the Resistance is unknown.  The One is thought to exist but nobody has seen him…or her.

How can the PCs fit into this conflict?
However they want.  Unless the DM has special reason to align PCs with either faction, I recommend starting a campaign in the Blasted Jungle with the usual D&D agenda of “The PCs are here to explore eldritch ruins and discover magnificent treasures.”  In this case, the ruins are sometimes abandoned military installations and the treasures will sometimes consist of tech left over from the Wizard Wars.  Of course, Phantom Soldiers and the Resistance greatly value these things too.  PCs can choose sides if they wish, or play the factions against each other for their personal gain.

Some options for kicking off a campaign in the Blasted Jungle:

  • The PCs courageously chose to cross into the Blasted Jungle from the region of “normal” jungle in the south.  Somehow they survived the journey through contaminated terrain and find themselves in this alien landscape.
  • The PCs start as members of either the Resistance or the Phantom Soldiers and decide if they want to continue supporting its cause, rising in rank towards leadership (if not already).  There is much jockeying for power within both factions.  Or they could decide to rebel, either switching allegiances or forming a new faction.
  • The PCs arrived in the Blasted Jungle by accident.   For example:
  • Landed their viking ship on the coast expecting it to be Greenland.
  • Crashed their starship smack dab in the middle.
  • Accidental inter-dimensional journey from 1980s Fargo, North Dakota.

Related topics and posts
Like a trashy Italian action movie, The Blasted Jungle is a mashup of awesome things that, when combined, multiply the awesomeness exponentially.  That’s the theory at least.

Tech in the Blasted Jungle

September 20, 2011

To prevent a future post from growing too long, these item descriptions are getting their own post:

AOKs (Alpha Omega Kans)
Hand-sized canister grenade that explodes with an effect similar to but less powerful than a Cloudkill spell.  Creates a cloud of purplish fog with a diameter of 30′.  The fog kills any living creature with 2 or fewer HD who fails a saving throw versus poison.  A new save must be made each round.  Otherwise, they suffer 1 hp of damage per round while in the cloud.  Creatures with 3 or more HD suffer 1 hp of damage per round while in the cloud.  The best protection is to wear a Blast Mask and not let the fog touch skin.  The cloud dissipates after 30 minutes.  Vegetation in cloud will shrivel, deform, and likely change color.

Blast Masks
Biochemical masks with blast resistant eye protection and helmet.  Protects wearer from most severe effects of exposure in areas contaminated with magical radiation and from the vapors produced by AOKs.  Also provides infravision to the wearer.

Beam Boxes
Long ago called “radios”, but now called Beam Boxes in reference to the mind control beams they are believed to send and receive.  Technical knowledge of their design and usage is lost and replaced by ritual manipulation by worshipers of the “Rad Joe” deity.  A typical Beam Box Shrine contains several of the devices stacked atop each other, alight in an electric glow and squealing with signal fluctuation, static, and crosstalk.

Gorilla Detector
I’ll let Dr. Bunsen Honeydew explain this one…

This last one has many hidden features.  Click to enlarge.

A quick search on Google Images turns up many images of jungle ruins.  Lots of images from Cambodia and Mexico there, but I was looking more for those with a fantastical or mysterious or adventurous or magical feel to them.  I’ve saved some of those here for posterity.  Click ’em to enlarge.




This last one is from some online game.  Would make for a nifty little dungeon crawl.  Notes found with map:

“Black Dots are Boulder Walkers.
Blue Dots are Suicide Bombers.
Red Dots are sleep mist spots.
Yellow Dots are herbs for a shattered crest quest.
Green Arrows are Boulder Walker paths.
Purple Arrows show the recommended path.
Blue lines are crushers. “