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Old-school RPG adventure The Gardens of Ynn takes a roguelike, Annihilation approach to Alice in Wonderland

“If I had a world of my own, everything would be nonsense.”

Promotional artwork for depth-crawl adventure book The Gardens of Ynn
Image credit: SoulMuppet Publishing

With spring afoot and all of us eager to shake off the winter doldrums, the gorgeous floral design on tabletop RPG adventure The Gardens of Ynn initially sounds mighty inviting. But this depth-crawl creation is a descent into unreality that tests players’ wills as much as their stomach for the weird, the nonsensical and the dangerously detached from our three-dimensional understanding of the world.

Created by tabletop designer Emmy Allen in 2018, the currently running Kickstarter campaign will remaster the adventure book by adding new illustrations from artist RiotBones alongside some slight editing and higher quality presentation courtesy of Soulmuppet Publishing - they're the folks behind the excellent Cowboy Bebop-inspired Orbital Blues RPG.

Regardless of how players found their way into the Gardens, they will find this extradimensional space different during each visit, routes and paths reorienting around fresh landscapes similar to a roguelike video game that traded tight dungeon corridors for Annihilation-esque nature. Everything begins with the slightest hint of off-ness, a gut feeling or itch at the back of your eyeball. But the further a group travels this perpendicular world, the more reality comes unspooled like thread caught in the wind.

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When a group descends, they or the facilitator - The Gardens of Ynn is designed to be system agnostic within the OSR umbrella - roll a d20 to determine the location, details and events/encounters before adding their current Depth value. This number starts at zero, virtually the same as our real world, and can increase infinitely as players risk the peril of Going Deeper in search of the secrets purportedly hidden in the Garden’s heart. This is a classic depth-crawl design with flavour and vibes thrust to the forefront–the team explicitly mentioned wanting to avoid a familiar pitfall of trading character for the capacity to slot into any RPG system.

Also included in the hardcover adventure tome is a collection of 50 monster stat blocks that convey the exponentially increasing entropy of the Gardens, tables for treasure, mutations and setting details, and information on adding dream-viruses to your iteration of Ynn, whatever those are. Players can also encounter and eventually portray Ynnian Changelings, a culture of humans who have adapted to the Gardens’ particular environs.

Promotional artwork for depth-crawl adventure book The Gardens of Ynn
Image credit: SoulMuppet Publishing

Players will have a full day after drawing the door to Ynn on a brick wall, asphalt slab or some other barely disturbed surface before their exit fades from existence and traps them on the other side. Balancing the risk of delving deeper against the thrill of discovery and possible riches will be a constant struggle.

Joining Allen and SoulMuppet on the team is illustrator RiotBones, layout designer Mina McJanda and editor Pammu Punzalan. The Kickstarter campaign for The Gardens of Ynn will run through May 3rd and is crowdfunding the creation of a digital PDF and hardcover physical core book that should start shipping to backers in October of this year.

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