Today, I’ll finally be picking up my review of Into The Deep again; thanks to those who’ve waited during the delay. I left off at the start of the Fallen Tower, which is pretty much the Dungeon of the Deeps.
The Tower is a massive cylindrical structure, over a mile long and filled with literally thousands of rooms, roughly 70% of which are full of water and in some fashion accessible from the ocean. This access comes in the form of doorways, airlocks, and jagged tears in the hull of the Tower itself, opening onto a convoluted floor plan which seems to follow no logic human minds can comprehend.
The Tower certainly isn’t without its dangers; a fungus called grayscourge infests the watery portions of the tower, aggressively trying to infest anything organic that comes near, even through sealed suits. The very laws of physics misbehave, with space distorting to make internal doorways too small, vibrations becoming semisolid, time distorting and slowing inside some chambers, and a great deal more.
The Tower is also home to an entity known as the Violaceous Eye, a biomechanical entity that will talk to visitors; polite and deferential visitors might get the boon of asking it a question, while those who bother it are likely to find it irritably assaulting them with mental powers.
Why go to the Tower? It’s a treasure trove, of course. In addition to the usual cyphers, shins, and artifacts that operate in familiar ways, the Tower is said to hold truly incredible secrets – cures for incurable diseases, the secrets of travel among the stars, devices that can move across time or across dimensions, devices that can craft a city – or destroy one – and much more besides. Explorers simply have the survive the incredible dangers of the tower, not get eaten by fungus, and recognize the treasure they seek if they eventually stumble across it.
Onisteles is the next stop along the trip into the depths; a city-sized sea sponge, home to human-like Glanae and predatory ebons that protect the sponge in exchange for being able to prey on the oblivious Glanae.
The Glanae themselves are a highly social race with an intricate society, with highly codified forms of interaction; they can’t say no to a proper request of help without it being seen as incredibly gauche, but there is a correct method to ask for help, and it’s fine to decline improper requests. They’re ruled by a group called Glins, raised from birth to rule between their fifteenth and twentieth years of age; they mostly only rule over social infractions, with their teachers, the Maasqs, looking after more serious infractions by electrocuting those caught in the act. As such, the Glanae tend to be a rather law-abiding race.
Ebons are sleek and streamlined, something between aquatic bats and murderous giant crayfish in appearance. Were it not for the sponge-city specifically attracting them and sacrificing the occasional Glanae to feed them, they’d likely have wandered off in search of better food sources by now; the sponge keeps them close to fend of one of its own predators, a monstrous sea slug.
Players might visit the place because they’ve heard of the sponge city, the odd life of the Glanae which has no economy to speak of, or perhaps the occasional eruptions of strange materials from the exothermic and endothermic vents at the bottom of the valley. In addition to plumes of scalding and freezing water that keep the valley pleasant, the vents sometimes spew living creatures, cyphers, and exotic materials such as shapestone and azure steel into the waters.
There’s a hint of the lost history of the sponge city here and there; many of the inhabitants speak a little bit of Truth, some have body characteristics more typical of humans, and a few will tell stories of how there was once another sponge city, this one inhabited by humans from the surface who lived alongside the Glanae. Generally, however, they’re happy to let the forgotten past remain forgotten.
The best reason to visit the city, of course, is the numenera; crystals that contain immense reservoirs of oxygen, gill implants, weapons that fire destructive light pulses, and more await those willing to risk being fed on by the ebons.
That’s all for today! Next time we’ll venture to the deepest part of all – the mysterious Inner Sea, an ocean sealed beneath the crust of the Earth itself.