Wednesday, 11 August 2021

Behind Gently Smiling Jaws Will Happen (Very Basic Overview)

I have a sizeable backlog of releases that will all come out in a great orgasmic flow within the next year or two. After them will come Behind Gently Smiling Jaws

This project has been through many iterations and has occupied my mind for countless hours of daydreaming. I have now thrashed it into shape in my own mental workshop like a panel beater, and I think I have something that is now flat and malleable and ready to be shaped.

The basic concept is:

  • The Naacals inhabited the continent of Mu, which spanned the globe from the Yucatan, across the Pacific and Indochina to Egypt. They are a mixture of ancient Maya and Egyptian influences.
  • There was a cataclysm. Most Naacals perished as Mu sank. But some found a way to save themselves by inserting themselves into the memory palace of an ancient, immortal crocodile, where they built their own dwelling-place, the Unremembered City.
  • They weren't the only ones: over the eons, seven other outsiders also managed this feat (some before the Naacals, some after) and created their own realms inside the crocodile's dreams.
  • The Apocalypse came when everything in the crocodile's memory palace, Unremembered City included, spilled out into the real world. Suddenly, everything the crocodile had remembered and dreamed about for 200 million years or more - dinosaurs, sea monsters, Atlantis, underwater aliens, primitive hominids, etc. - were running amok and civilization collapsed across the globe.
  • Worse, the seven realms which the seven intruders had created within the crocodile's dreams also came out - but broken and fragmented into many 'shards', which manifested themselves at random around the world. 
  • There are now few humans left, and those that remain have had their sanity blasted. The rest of the world is roamed by what came out of the crocodile's mind, or exists as impossibly incongruous 'shards' of dream terrain. 
  • The Naacals are now recolonising the shattered Earth. 

Simple, right?

Anyway, in a sense all of that is irrelevant. Basically, the campaign setting is like Gamma World, except the apocalypse wasn't a nuclear explosion but a CROCODILE MEMORY BOMB. The PCs are Naacals; they adventure in our world, but one rendered forever strange by the intrusion of many things which should not be - the dimly remembered artefacts of the world's own ancient past, mixed with the influences of seven very charismatic but psychically disturbed interlopers. 

Hence, creating a campaign map will involve mapping out an area of the world which you personally know well (in my example case here, the Wirral peninsula and its surroundings):

And then procedurally inserting shards of weird dream terrain into it, together with their memory-contents (dinosaurs, sea creatures, early hominids, etc.):

And then: adventure!


  1. ngl super bummed about it no longer being crocodile brain planescape, but ill admit that this is pretty sweet premise on its own, super psyched to see it released. Still hoping for new troy and weird samurai north japan as well

    1. Yes, I couldn't quite get the Planescape iteration of it to work in my head as a gameable thing. Maybe as a graphic novel or something.

    2. Also, New Troy is finished in the form of 'The Great North' and awaiting art and will likely be a KS next year.

      Weird samurai in northern Japan is also brewing.

  2. So excited to hear this! I almost mentioned it when you teased Patrick about his flaming dwarf city the other day.

    Also very interested in your real-world mapping approach, having written this a couple of days ago: - I had wondered how you would manage the whole crocodile memory-palace approach work. While this solution isn't as psychedelic as I'd half-imagined the solution to be (only half because I too couldn't picture much of a solution) it will at least work.

    Now I just need Patrick to make a similar announcement about Goose-gold and Goblins and everything will be good with the world.

  3. Oh, and Yoon Suin 2. Gagging to get my hands on Yoon Suin in print form.

  4. Like Mufn, I'm a bit sad at the change. The thought of having to find the right village, collect the right ingredients, all to quest into the mind of an ancient croc really pulled at me.

    That being said, I still have the pages and can DIY more with this as inspirations. Even better, I'll have your new iteration to do with as I wish too.


    My compliments on your creativity, I'm looking forward to the end results. Good luck.

    1. I found it very hard to make that iteration of the thing really gameable, much as I like the idea. I thought about it and thought about it, but couldn't quite get it to work in a way I was happy with. Not within the strictures of D&D anyway.

  5. When it does release, how hard do you think it would be to use it to reverse-engineer my own version of the memory palace-crawl?

  6. Curious: will you be writing up an option to play modern humans (the few half-insane survivors) in this setting?