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52 Pick Up: A New Minigame each week

EPISODE 6: Kongallah

Gareth-Michael Skarka
March 15, 2001
Six of Spades

This week, I think I'll dip my toes in the cool refreshing stream that is d20. Take off my comfortable shoes of genre-specific rules design and allow the liquid media of genericism to flow around my feet. (Yoikes.  That's enough of THAT particular metaphor, I think.)

To play this game, you will need (obviously), a copy of the D&D Players Handbook (a copy of the Dungeon Masters Guide wouldn't hurt either, although it's not strictly necessary), or just go here for a copy of system reference document:  http://www.opengamingfoundation.org/srd.html

The inspiration for Kongallah comes from three distinct sources, all of which were fixtures of my childhood in the 1970s.  First and foremost, the original version of the children's series Land of the Lost, produced by Sid and Marty Kroft.  Second, the Planet of the Apes films, comics and tv series; and lastly, Japanese Giant Monster Movies.   Chuck all of them into a big bowl, and some sprinkles of crunchy d20 goodness, mix well, and serve.

(Yeah, I know....I can hear some of you now:  "He said he was going to give us 52 games.  This isn't a game....it's a setting. What a rip-off."   To this, all I can say is:   a) get over it.  It's free.   and b) There are some games on the market right now, some of which are top sellers, which are really, at their core, more setting than game.  Nuff said.  )

Ladies and Gentlemen....I give you Kongallah.

The land known as Kongallah sits within the caldera of a massive, long-extinct volcano, which rings the domain with a jagged, nigh-impassable mountain range.  Hemmed in by those steep jagged peaks, the land itself rests like the contents of a great bowl, more than two hundred miles across.

 Kongallah is a lush, tropical jungle.  Temperatures average in the 80s, and the land is wreathed in a permanent mist, a product of the high humidity, which can range from a light swirl that adorns the tree-tops, to a dense, impenetrable fog.  Towering trees dominate the landscape, resplendent with hanging vines and thick mosses.

 The jungle of Kongallah teems with life in a myriad of forms.  The usual assortment of jungle fauna, from great cats, to elephants, to snakes and varied breeds of birds can all be found here, along with one species that totally dominates the land:  The Gargantua.

 The Gargantua are a species of giant monsters, inspired by the kaiju of Japanese movies (Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra, etc.)   In our world, we had the dinosaurs.  In Kongallah, we've got Gargantua-- giant lizards, giant insects, giant armadillos, giant two-headed cows (OK, maybe not that...), etc.  The Gargantua dominate the land through their sheer size and destructive power, as well as the fantastic abilities that each possess-- fire breath, laser vision, flight, etc. etc.  The largest and most powerful Gargantua of each variety stand out even among their kind-- they are the "Named" Gargantua, known individually... nearly legends unto themselves.

 Kongallah is also home to three sentient races (each available as player-character races):  Human, Uratru, and Ssidri.

 Humans are organized along tribal lines, and each tribe has its own unique territory.  They are the most numerous of the races, and could possibly dominate all of Kongallah, except for the fact that they seem incapable of united against a common goal.  Many of the tribes fight constantly over resources such as fresh water sources and hunting grounds.  Technologically, the Human tribes are the least advanced of the races of Kongallah.  They are, essentially, cavemen.  Stone axes, wooden clubs, bows, spears and flint knives are the extent of their weapons, and they dress in simple furs and hides.  The tribal shamen are the sole purveyors of magic for the humans.  They are created with no bonuses or penalties.  They are the baseline.  Allowable classes:  Barbarian, Druid, Fighter, Ranger, Rogue, Wizard.

 The Uratru are intelligent Great Apes.  Their center of power is a large city in the north of Kongallah.  The Uratru are the most technologically advanced of the races, possessing a level of metalworking and invention roughly equal to the early Roman Empire (iron and bronze working, allowing for metal armor and weapons, domesticated horses, etc.), although for added fun we can also give them black powder weapons (flintlocks and muskets), since the technology was possible during that period...just never discovered in our world.

The Uratru are organized along strict caste lines, with each caste being largely dominated by a particular variety of Great Ape.  (shades of Planet of the Apes, ya know?)  The Gorillas (no surprise here) are warriors, The Chimpanzees are the workers (being the smallest of the Apes), the Orangutans are the religious caste (also responsible for the scientific developments, as science and religion are closely joined in Uratru culture), and the Mandrills govern all magic.  As was the case in early Rome, the ruler of the Uratru has almost always been taken from the Warrior Caste (Gorillas).

Uratru are created with the following racial adjustments:  All:  +1 Strength.  Chimps: +1 Dex , Gorillas: +1 Constitution, Orangutans: +1 Wisdom, Mandrill: +1 Intelligence.   Allowable classes:  Chimps: Fighter, Rogue.  Gorillas: Fighter, Monk, Paladin, Ranger.  Orangutan: Bard, Cleric, Druid, Monk.  Mandrill: Sorcerer, Wizard.

 The Ssidri are a race of intelligent lizards, who are the most magically adept race of Kongallah.  Their spells are without equal, and their magic has even given them some degree of control over the Gargantua that roam the great jungle.  The Ssidri live in a network of caves carved into the mountain range at the southern edge of the land, which offers them protection from rampaging Gargantua, marauding Human tribes, and the armies of the Uratru.  Ensconced within their caverns, the Ssidri perform mysterious experiments designed to further their mastery of magic.  These experiments often require living subjects, and many Humans and Uratru have found themselves the unwilling slaves of the Ssidri for this very purpose.

Ssidri are created with the following racial adjustments:  +1 Intelligence, +1 Charisma.  Allowable classes:  Cleric, Fighter, Ranger, Sorcerer, Wizard. In addition, spell-using Ssidri are especially adept--their spells get a +1 bonus to DC.

In general, it is probably easier to run campaigns with all characters representing a single race...after all, these three species don't get along that well.  There is room for exception, however (sort of like the Planet of the Apes tv series, where Galen the chimp traveled with the humans, or Land of the Lost, where the Marshall family had allies such as Chaka the Pakuni and Enik the good Sleestak.).

Stories can be tales of survival in a harsh jungle land; or discovery of bizarre magics or technology; or really anything that fits within the "Lost World" genre (as evidenced by the original Edgar Rice Burroughs TARZAN stories, for example).  Particularly insane gamemasters could even run games where the players portray the Named Gargantua instead of the tiny humans, ssidri or uratru...stomping through the jungle, crushing villages, and battling each other in extinct-volcano-caldera Cage Matches.  Whatever floats yer boat.

That's about it for this week.   I'd love to give ya more...but this week is filled with plans for attending the GAMA (the Game Manufacturers Association) Trade Show in Las Vegas next week, and so the "day job" beckons..  Plus, I have to turn in a couple of these things this week, so that while I'm in Vegas, you guys still get your weekly dose from me.....  and with that....

6 down, 46 to go.

See ya in 7.

Gareth-Michael Skarka

Gareth-Michael Skarka is the Operations Manager for Synister Creative Systems.  He has written and edited for games including Star Trek, Deadlands Hell on Earth, and GURPS.  He is the designer of several RPG systems, including UnderWorld and Hong Kong Action Theatre!. TQo0~^DҒt< ek&Ǿ$\۵ZFȃuwݝIŃU QYir2HR2.u3MFoعq]4#A`pP5(b& )b)ⰾp7(i<[-2gL#5[f g?*rVGf8*)s'+20ϟ̑F}KB<7wSL\gbvm9WiRބYŜvd y0'p2I_Fc2>#o A )VL[Qk?3`)<У[(*W.JH ?tXCt谙 X:@ \0w ~LqĤE-rFkYœj4q 5AQ6[AxG [>w|?( fХθY䝛$c=_qNĦoǸ>O_|&/_Mi7"宥CЧk0dӷLh;TmuCGU-!Ul{ h<\bQX.~"O2*yPcz!ŠGg

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Reshuffled: 52 Pick Up, edited by Chris Czerniak

52 Pick Up original run, by Gareth-Michael Skarka

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