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Old 07-28-2017, 11:55 PM   #1
Prince Charon
 
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Default Isolated Setting: Tepuis (Tabletop Mountains)

OK, first, here's a link to a helpful article on Amusing Planet; the wiki article is also good. To summarize, a tepui is a tall, very steep-sided mountain with a flat top. On our Earth, there are a bunch of them in South America, mostly in Venezuela. Due to their isolation, there are species that are only found on a single tepui, or on two close tepuis that were once connected. From above, they sometimes look like islands in a sea of clouds.

Getting to or from the top of a tepui is often massively difficult, to the point that I wouldn't be surprised if some had never been visited by modern humans. Explorers visiting them might be attacked by giant, flightless birds with a dinosaurian appearance, or meet a lost civilization, cut off from the world for millennia, or the survivors of a plane crash (or they may be the survivors of a plane crash). Creatures with strange abilities may dwell here (catalyst creatures, Horror monsters, et cetra), or strange artifacts may be found. Also, in the absence of the paranormal, it makes for a great 'cozy mystery' setting, though a very different one from the traditional English cozy mystery.


Thoughts?
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Old 07-29-2017, 12:35 AM   #2
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Default Re: Isolated Setting: Tepuis (Tabletop Mountains)

I'd like to do the opposite. A tribe has lived on top of a Tepuis for "ever --" or at least, long enough to come to the conclusion that they have lost all knowledge of the outside world.

They know that dangerous spirits live in the outside world, and merely climbing down is itself a danger, and so they live simply there.

When the spring which is the source of most fresh water starts to run slower and slower, it is clear that something will have to be done in the strange underworld, and so a party is assembled....
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Old 07-29-2017, 02:05 AM   #3
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Default Re: Isolated Setting: Tepuis (Tabletop Mountains)

Quote:
Explorers visiting them might be attacked by giant, flightless birds with a dinosaurian appearance, or meet a lost civilization, cut off from the world for millennia
So this was basically the plot of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novel Lost World.

A civilization on a tepui made up of waged humanoids could be interesting in a fantasy setting. Would the tepui people get along well with the humans in the low lands? Would they ignore them or rule them as literal overlords?
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Old 07-29-2017, 11:59 AM   #4
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Default Re: Isolated Setting: Tepuis (Tabletop Mountains)

This is pretty familiar to a D&D setting I read about a while back (maybe a decade?).

It wasn't tepuis, but just mountain top civilizations that lived above poisonous (or maybe demon infested? Both?) clouds. Involved steampunk and zepplins/hot air balloons and sky pirates... so... I was pretty meh about it.

Can't remember the name anymore.
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Old 07-29-2017, 08:44 PM   #5
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Default Re: Isolated Setting: Tepuis (Tabletop Mountains)

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Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
This is pretty familiar to a D&D setting I read about a while back (maybe a decade?).

It wasn't tepuis, but just mountain top civilizations that lived above poisonous (or maybe demon infested? Both?) clouds. Involved steampunk and zepplins/hot air balloons and sky pirates... so... I was pretty meh about it.

Can't remember the name anymore.
Zeb Cook's website, and my google-fu is failing me.
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Old 07-30-2017, 11:59 AM   #6
evileeyore
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Default Re: Isolated Setting: Tepuis (Tabletop Mountains)

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Originally Posted by thorr-kan View Post
Zeb Cook's website, and my google-fu is failing me.
I'm pretty sure it was a more 'modern' game designer. Not knocking Zeb, he's a legend.
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Old 07-30-2017, 03:56 PM   #7
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Default Re: Isolated Setting: Tepuis (Tabletop Mountains)

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Originally Posted by a humble lich View Post
So this was basically the plot of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's novel Lost World.
He wrote that shortly after tepuis were discovered by European explorers. So the first post here recreates his reaction.
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Old 07-31-2017, 12:00 PM   #8
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Default Re: Isolated Setting: Tepuis (Tabletop Mountains)

A very extreme version of the concept is in Larry Niven's Known Space series, on Mount Lookitthat (the name of the planet, the name of the mountain, and the name of the colony, and for good reasons...). Mount Lookitthat (the planet) is otherwise about as friendly as Venus, but the Olympus-Mons scale Mount Lookitthat (the mountain) protrudes out of the hellish atmosphere and has a reasonably flat top (several different plateaus, technically). Naturally, Mount Lookitthat (the colony) is on top, where the air is sane.

IIRC the habitable area is something like a quarter the area of Rhode Island. The first generation of planetary survey probes had a notorious software limitation [1] and must have been procured from the lowest bidder :P

Spoilered for being somewhat irrelevant to the thread:
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Old 07-31-2017, 08:46 PM   #9
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Default Re: Isolated Setting: Tepuis (Tabletop Mountains)

Quote:
Originally Posted by evileeyore View Post
It wasn't tepuis, but just mountain top civilizations that lived above poisonous (or maybe demon infested? Both?) clouds. Involved steampunk and zepplins/hot air balloons and sky pirates... so... I was pretty meh about it.
Sounds very similar to "Victoria," a Traveller setting from JTAS #2 (pp. 14-25). That planet, in turn, "is loosely based on Durent in the novel Prisoners of the Sky, by C. C. MacApp...." (ibid., p. 20).

Something similar happens in southern Arizona, where the mountains have "island" forest biomes separated by stretches of desert.
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Old 08-01-2017, 01:11 AM   #10
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Default Re: Isolated Setting: Tepuis (Tabletop Mountains)

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Originally Posted by thrash View Post
That planet, in turn, "is loosely based on Durent in the novel Prisoners of the Sky, by C. C. MacApp...." (ibid., p. 20).
Doesn't seem to have been reprinted as a ebook but I have it and it is a good source of ideas for that kind of campaign.
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