Jump to content

Just how chaotic is Snakepipe Hollow ?


Agentorange

Recommended Posts

Like many a grizzled runequest player i cut my teeth on the Snakepipe Hollow module - the one with Bigclub the Giant fighting the giant snake on the front cover. The introduction said " it periodically spawns or attracts monstrous things" and that chaotic things that survived the I fought We Won battle found "cover in the deep earth."

But just how chaotic is it really ? there's only so many places for chaotic creatures to hide out. A limited number of cave systems are marked on the maps ( though there may be many we don't know about. ) And given that heroes regularly venture there you'd have to ask how does the chaos keep replenishing itself ? Where does it sneak in from...

Is snakepipe hollows reputation overated, is it's chaotic bark worse than it's bite ?

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Snakepipe Hollow is a place that has gone sour. A Chaotic army was entombed there before time began, trapped in mortal clay (or loam, or sand, or sandy loam, or sandy loamy clay) on multiple levels. I suspect they're pretty angry, in a whole lot of pain, and because this event took place in a cosmogonic context, Snakepipe Hollow pulls Chaos in from outside the universe because its myth/history, of Chaos creatures coming into Glorantha and ending up within Snakepipe Hollow, recurs again and again. 

Actually fixing Snakepipe Hollow would require something quite a bit different from repeated search-and-destroy missions.

  • Like 1

Though a Lunar through and through, she is also a human being.

Eight Arms and the Mask

Link to comment
Share on other sites

24 minutes ago, M Helsdon said:

The Void.

To say more would be to give Spoilers.

Suspect the cave systems are much larger than existing maps suggest, and there are areas that.... change because the walls of the world are thinner there.

I could run with that. the quote from the module about it spawning chaos would fit in nicely with that, indeed pretty much states it outright.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, Agentorange said:

But just how chaotic is it really ? there's only so many places for chaotic creatures to hide out. A limited number of cave systems are marked on the maps ( though there may be many we don't know about. ) And given that heroes regularly venture there you'd have to ask how does the chaos keep replenishing itself ? Where does it sneak in from...

Is snakepipe hollows reputation overated, is it's chaotic bark worse than it's bite ?

Here's my take on it:

1) From an outward view (or perhaps a view from the lands above), Snakepipe Hollow looks like a large enclosed valley.  Generally there isn't anything that appears overtly chaotic.

2) We know that the central valley was formed when Maran Gor shattered the land to crush a lot of the Chaos infesting the place.  That suggests that the central valley had been land riddled with Chaos tunnels - and when it collapsed a great part of Chaos was crushed beneath.  The landscape around the edges (where the caves are) contains both ancient Earth temples (as in the scenario) and warrens of Chaos.

3) Engizi the River (who flows through the valley) was an implacable foe of Chaos.  So were the trolls who live to the northeast.  And Maran Gor who broke the land.  There seem to be some generally checks upon some aspects of Chaos then.  All this helps make the place appear somewhat "normal".

4) If you get down into the valley, you start to encounter Chaos (as well as giants, trolls, and others).  In the valley, I play this as sporadic occurrences - broo flies feeding upon the remains of what the giants have eaten, vegetation that is not quite right, maybe ogres/broos/scorpionmen camping out, or encounters with stray terrors such as dragonsnails, a walktapus, or the clawed hand.

5) But if you get into the caves, or perhaps fall into stray sinkholes, now you get deeper into Chaos.  We've just seen one cave example.  These are vast mazes (even more extensive than suggested in the scenario) and breeding pits.  And periodically these erupt and a flood of Chaos oozes, slithers, climbs, or emerges from the place to rampage in some direction.  Such might range in size from the equivalent of a large raiding party to a literal horde/army.

6) The deeper you go into the caves, the closer you come to the Void.  And the Void can not only swallow you, but push raw Chaos into the whole earth underneath.  And this is what constantly, but randomly, replenishes the Chaos nest. 

This is somewhat different from my take on Dorastor (where the Chaos can be quite visible) or the Footprint in Heortland (where the whole landscape teems with Chaotic forms, moving vegetation, and endless broods of scorpionmen from Queen Gagix' den).

 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

To quote a previous post of mine:

Quote

When the RQ3 Troll and Troll Gods boxes came out I ran a game when where every one was a Rune level from clans in the Redstone Caverns. We had a Zong hunter, a Kyger Litor Shaman Priestess, a Zorak Zoran Warrior, a Gorakki Shaman Priestess and a Artaki Subere priestess. I think everyone had at least one assistant of some form.   This all started from wanting to play Snakepipe Hollow, it was the only reasonable way to be powerful enough to take it one. Everyone was familiar with Trollpak so it was pretty easy and a good time was had by all. The alienness of troll was easy to do in a homogeneous group. One of the main themes was of who was in charge. Clearly the Kiger Litor priestess, but she didn't really want to be bothered with the responsibility, so it was all about gaining favour. Even for Rune level troll SPH was a challenge. I certain recommend trying it.

2 hours ago, Agentorange said:

Is snakepipe hollows reputation overated, is it's chaotic bark worse than it's bite ?

No, it's really hard work. Its source is ever replenishing.

A few other pointers - look at the SNP adventure in 13G and also look in the Guide. Eringulf Vanak Spear is perhaps the most famous heroquester to there. It's also the source of one of the monster armies that fight Argrath.

-----

Search the Glorantha Resource Site: https://wellofdaliath.chaosium.com. Search the Glorantha mailing list archives: https://glorantha.steff.in/digests/

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 minutes ago, jajagappa said:

This is somewhat different from my take on Dorastor (where the Chaos can be quite visible) 

Agree. Dorastor is a "Chaotic ecosystem", so to speak. It functions in ways you can rationally comprehend - you get a Chaos Flood when you have a Broo spawning explosion, and you get Chaos raids whenever some Chaotic warlord has assembled the forces for it (and/or is Ralzakark in disguise).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 minutes ago, David Scott said:

To quote a previous post of mine:

No, it's really hard work. Its source is ever replenishing.

A few other pointers - look at the SNP adventure in 13G and also look in the Guide. Eringulf Vanak Spear is perhaps the most famous heroquester to there. It's also the source of one of the monster armies that fight Argrath.

at $169 a go, not all of us own The Guide and i don't have 13G 😊 sorry, what can i say....

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Snakepipe: Heroes go in, but the don't come out! At least not without a third eye or a tentacle or something...

My take on Chaos strongholds is this:
Firstly, they are anathema to Order. Chaos locales mutate and change in ways that are unnatural to a normal ecosystem. There is a certain 'cause and effect' aspect [Chaos floods happening when Chaos races over-breed for the environment, etc.] but there is a wide range of possible very icky strangeness. Don't pull any punches when describing the vile and disgusting nature of such a place. However, still try and stay within you players' boundaries... Nobody needs to hear a graphic description of the rituals of the Cult of Thed, Goddess of Rape, for example. You can horrify your players without getting all 'hentei' with it.

Secondly, adventurers should NEVER consider a Chaos hole to be a source of 'easy loot'. A festering wound in the world like Dorastor or Snakepipe should terrify adventurers to the extent that they prepare for a raid into it with every bit of the deliberation they would attempting a Heroquest. The RQ3 books 'Sun County', 'River of Cradles' and 'Shadows on the Borderlands' have a couple of very good Initiate level Chaos lairs that could be challenging even for early Rune levels, and 'Shadows' has two VERY nasty holes that could bugger up an experienced Rune level group if they don't think before they go into them.

Lastly, Chaos is predatory, not passive. While it doesn't have an intellect or intelligence, its instinct is spread, corrupt and consume. Chaos doesn't capture for ransom, doesn't observe truces, doesn't play 'fair'. If a Chaos being, even one as 'civilized' as Ralzakark, observes any kind of customary or civilized behavior, it is because they sense a greater opportunity to corrupt and mutate a larger target. And VERY few Chaos leaders have the kind of forethought that allows for that kind of planning.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I played as a player in Snakepipe Hollow with beginning players and beginning characters after playing more advanced games of Runequest. For beginning characters the deeper you go the deadlier it gets. No group I ever went in there with made it all the way to the end. But none of the characters were more than middlin characters, most with one or two skills of 70% and a few above that. But it taught those who went in expecting be a rip-roaring hero character they could lose their characters quick. And if you lost the character you had to roll another one and that quite often meant sitting out of the game while others played.

I hear that RGQ it takes even longer to roll-up a new character.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, remember that part in the Lightbringer Summons "The Hand has pawed me"?

Is that the left or the right hand?  They both live in Snakepipe Hollow.

I think Snakepipe Hollow is a nicer place than Dorastor, but mainly because it just isn't as big.  I also think the scenario as written is a bit low key in terms of threat.  I think SPH is a very big place with many more caves, and it would be a hell of a lot worse if it weren't for its reputation as a place where adventurers can make it rich.  

Edited by Darius West
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

16 hours ago, Akhôrahil said:

I wonder whether a big Earthquake spell would make the Chaos situation better or worse?

One of the few mitigating factors of Snakepipe Hollow is the cliffs help contain the monsters. If you knocked some of the cliffs down with a hero scale earthquake, not only would you mortally offend Maran Gor, who went to all the trouble to create the cliffs in the first place, you might find the chaos monsters now find it easier to climb the resulting piles of rubble and escape. There's a real chance the infection would spread.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Darius West said:

So, remember that part in the Lightbringer Summons "The Hand has pawed me"?

Is that the left or the right hand?  They both live in Snakepipe Hollow.

There is another, bigger, more diabolic hand out there in Prax, the one part of the Devil that is easily recognizable as such. It usually hangs out in the Devil's Marsh, ready to ambush prospective Waha Khans or Storm Bull trainees. Or entire regiments thereof.

1 hour ago, Darius West said:

I think Snakepipe Hollow is a nicer place than Dorastor, but mainly because it just isn't as big.  I also think the scenario as written is a bit low key in terms of threat.  I think SPH is a very big place with many more caves, and it would be a hell of a lot worse if it weren't for its reputation as a place where adventurers can make it rich, the situation would be a lot worse.

The mapped portion of Dorastor is mostly only somewhat chaotic, unless you wander into the giang Dokat gorp or find yourself hunted by hungry creatures.

SPH on the surface may look deceptively normal, until Chaos creatures jump you, or pass on by oblivious of your presence.

The nasty gradient goes up as explorers go down. Barleyhead knows why.

Unmapped Dorastor is at least half again as big as mapped Dorastor, according to Sandy Petersen's seminar at Kraken convention (2017, IIRC). There is a huge valley between Karolin Castle on one side of the Rockwoods and the Last Tower on the other side, and that place is ever-shifting and unpredictable. Travelers have encountered an ocean there, a ruined cityscape with chaos horrors ambushing them, a savannah of chaotic plants and beasts and other creatures, an idyllic but utterly wrong agriculturual land, and more. Or they may have just used the pass road shown on the maps. The return journey may be the same, or completely different.

Does it get more chaotic than that in Glorantha's Surface World?

The lower part of Snake Pipe Hollow might not qualify as Surface World, but may be more corrupting than unmapped Dorastor. Foulblood Forest or the deep seepage under the Block, or the opposition in the Eternal Battle, or the battle grounds of the Nights of Horror. The inside of the Crater may be such a place, except that it is a non-place.

The Chaos Spot where the Crimson Bat died in 1602 is a lot smaller, and probably more concentrated in Chaos, but there is a lot more Chaos loose in the depression.

There is enough Chaos to be mobilized in the Hollow that the Lunars can create/provoke an outbreak comparable to that of the Queendom of Jab.

Telling how it is excessive verbis

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 12/21/2021 at 7:32 PM, Agentorange said:

But just how chaotic is it really ? there's only so many places for chaotic creatures to hide out. A limited number of cave systems are marked on the maps ( though there may be many we don't know about. ) And given that heroes regularly venture there you'd have to ask how does the chaos keep replenishing itself ? Where does it sneak in from...

As far as I am concerned, each Chaos Source is as chaotic as each other.

However, some have more than one Chaos Source close together.

So, Snakepipe hollow has one Chaos source, where the Giant Red Worm appeared. The Footprint has one Chaos source, where Hrarsht was buried by Lodril's spear, or maybe two if you count where Larnste was bitten. Dorastor has many Chaos sources, which explains why it is so dangerous. The Tunnelled Hills have many Chaos Sources, making it more chaotic in general, or as chaotic over a wider area.

Simon Phipp - Caldmore Chameleon - Wallowing in my elitism since 1982. Many Systems, One Family. Just a fanboy. 

www.soltakss.com/index.html

Jonstown Compendium author. Find my contributions here

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...