Image by Jacob Marks (Midjourney)

Recently, I interviewed Leo Hunt, creator of Vaults of Vaarn, a science-fantasy post-apocalyptic ttrpg. I sent the questions (via email) to him hoping he would be able to carve some time out of his busy schedule in the next few weeks. I received a response only a few days later.

I want to thank Leo for entertaining my questions and giving such robust answers. Although this interview focuses on Vaults of Vaarn, he has also released another ttrpg by the name of Bloodheist and runs a notorious zine cartel called Antipode Zines. Without further ado, I present my interview with the zinefather himself: Leo Hunt.

Bucolia: Tell me about the first thought you had of Vaarn. Was it more of an inspirational vision? Or was it something quite specific, like a scenario, a scene, or a monster?

Leo: The original setting impetus was a specific drawing by Moebius, which shows a man reacting with alarm to the sight of a floating rock formation which has three sleeping faces carved into it. The rocks and surrounding desert are blue. The inner workings of my imagination are something of a mystery to me, even after all these years, but I began to think repeatedly about what/where the blue desert in this image might be, the significance of the faces in the rock formation, etcetera. Vaarn begins there.

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Group Play 3.1 The Horrors of Hypergeometry

Image by Jacob Marks (Midjourney)

This Expedition:

The group escapes a tavern shootout and travels to a hypergeometrically-entangled vault in search of an elder Faa named Yudhi. It is said that this elder can ride the great sandworm.

Our Companions:

Rendmoor, a burnt-coral mycomorph with aphrodisiac flesh. Re-animated from the corpse of a plague victim. Wields cryokinetic powers. Driven by the desire to live and feed.

Faustyn, a golden janitor-synth. Vampiric and cannibalistic. The demise of his kin is the source of his mystical powers. Believes that all memories are a lie. Desires to liberate the local inhabitants from water-oppression and put them back in control of their reservoirs.

Nirid, a veracious true-kin. Protector of the purity of his kind. Armed with a blasphemous fungal spear and the gift of healing hands. Possesses a weird orb and a fascination of necrotech.

The Tale:

Last session, we ended in the oasis-settlement of Medeba Basin. The lights had just gone out in the tavern. Before that, the companions had just sat down with Joseph Gordon Diehard, a contact of Rendmoor’s, and discussed the possibility of hiring a Faa wormrider to travel to the Fount and eat the rubble piled high over the entrance. There was talk of using the water cistern discovered within the Fount to relieve the region’s water-poverty, instead of handing it over to the Hinnom Cartel. Faustyn repeats his desire to free all from the stranglehold that the Hinnom Cartel and the Hegemony hold over the local inhabitants.

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ALONE IN VAARN . Summer Update

Just a quick update for the month of August. I haven’t posted very frequently over the summer. Part of that is simply due to the nature of summer itself, but there are also other things on the juggle.

I started gm’ing an in-person campaign, so I have been busy prepping for that. It’s been loads of fun and a great way to play through some of my own ideas, tables, and homebrew adventures. There are currently two group play reports and I plan on releasing a third soon.

On another note, I committed to do two submissions for the Vaarn Summer Jam. The first is a supplement with new monsters and ancestries (for this submission, I am working with the talented Eric M Smith). The second is a small, spore-infested crypt-crawl.

Another thing I am working on is compiling questions for an interview with Leo Hunt, creator of Vaults of Vaarn. I am very stoked that he said yes, so now I’m curating a list of questions and trying to narrow them down.

I also have three blog posts about homebrew rules ruminating as well as tons of monsters to unleash on the blue deserts.

All of these things make me glad, but it means the regular blog posts have taken a hit. I will be excited to release all these in the near future to their respective channels. Keep an eye open, or two, or three if you’re a cacogen.

Note: the feature image is something I made for our first submission to the Vaarn Summer Jam. If you like ley lines, you’ll be interested.

Group Play 2.1 Path to Medeba

Image by Wolfgang Hasselmann

This Expedition:

To create the region-at-large for this campaign, I used Leo Hunt’s Vaarn Region Generator for Vaults of Vaarn (see picture at end of post). Table is found in Vaarn #3. Jacob Marks made a stunning and beautiful adaptation called the Vaarn Atlas.

Our Companions:

Rendmoor, a burnt-coral mycomorph with aphrodisiac flesh. Re-animated from the corpse of a plague victim. Wields cryokinetic powers.

Faustyn, a golden janitor-synth. Vampiric and cannibalistic. The demise of his kin is the source of his mystical powers. Believes the memories are all a lie.

Nirid, a veracious true-kin. Protector of the purity of his kind. Armed with a blasphemous fungal spear and the gift of healing hands.

The Tale:

As a side note, everyone leveled up and is now level 2. There were distinct movements of erasers towards constitution scores.

After collapsing the entrance to the Fount, the companions flee towards the oasis of Medeba Basin, hoping to meet Rendmoor’s contact. They also hope to evade the reach of Zofir, who will be less than pleased that the Fount’s entry was caved in. Whatever water Zofir could have collected from Stone6’s demense is now buried under tons of rubble.

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ALONE IN VAARN 9.1 day nine

Image by Kunrong Yap

Our Travelers:

Leif, a gigantic, white-haired true-kin. Escaped servitor. Wields a dyad rifle. Owns a singing crystal that wails in cryptic song.

Snow Child, an ash-coloured mycomorph, constantly shedding spores. Saved from a tumblesnare.

Nullseed, “Null”, a floating drone-companion, known as a troton. Rescued from a lizard lion attack.

The Graveyard: Faulkner the New-Ibis and Symeon the Synth-Priest

To see how this all started, click here. For a list of all my solo plays, click here.

The Tale:

The day dawns; it will be windy and there is the chance of dust-storms. Snow and Leif plod on into the monlith-strewn wastes, keeping an eye out for the great crystal with the tourmaline window–the landmark for their meeting with Amir Pallak. On their way, they see a large black and golden ibis soaring along the currents of the sky. Snow Child takes it as ill portent, but Leif smiles at the large bird and remembers his friend.

The travelers break for lunch, eating sweet-nuts and soured-strings. In the distance, they see a large crystal in the dusty haze. Only a few hour’s distance away. They drink water and continue in the garnet heat of the day.

Without warning, they run into an odd assemblage of synths. Several small, misshapen droids surround a centaur-shaped robot in drab, long-flowing robes. The centaur-synth’s face is concealed but his one eye gleams with a curious light.

“By the Dial of Kronos!” shouts one of the small droids. He calls for Snow, Leif, and Null to halt and declare themselves before the presence of Noemys, He Who Was Repurposed.

The travelers all give their names and announce that they are travelling to the meeting-tent of Pallak. The centaur-synth removes his cowl and his one eye scans Leif’s face with speed.

“Symeon?” asks the true-kin.

“Verily. But I am he no longer.” The synth walks up to Leif. “I was wondering if you survived the Cynosura. Where is Faulkner?”

“Taken from us, by that strange box of his.” Leif takes off his pack and looks Noemys up and down, smiling. “But if you live, I have faith that I haven’t seen the last of that new-beast yet.”

“What do you have with the Amir?”

“Pallak seeks our help to rid his trade route of the bandits at Bent Tree.”

“We shall join you, then! If for no other reason than to proselytize you.” Noemys says drily.

Leif and Snow laugh, glad to share the trail with a friend. Noemys introduces the four acolyte-droids: Kron, Hyper, Mnem, and Them.

At the end of a hard-won trek through the corroded rubble of monoliths, they reach the base of the giant crystal, which is floating. Nearby is a massive dunecrawler as well as several skiffs, sandlighters, and pack-animals.

Leif, Snow, and Noemys visit a loungeful Pallak in his cushioned chambers. He smokes from a hookah-synth and lazily pulls at his beard. His eyes have the subdued brilliance usual to those who eat the sacchar, a psychic gift-giving substance collected from Vaarn’s colossal sandworms.

Amir Pallak (Janissary by Jean-Baptiste Dugard)

They talk for long hours into the evening, about days past and days arriving. The travelers grow impatient, but at last, Amir Pallak brings up the prospect of Bent Gully. He intends to attack at dawn tomorrw. They will ride the skiffs and sandlighters before first light. He has a fast-hitting strike force to pummel them with frantic, drive-by attacks. Meanwhile Pallak’s two bodyguards, Zeeb and Zolphan, will take the travelers to a predetermined entry point, sneak into the bandit leader’s tent, and capture her alive.

“I need her alive. Or all of six hells will break loose,” says Amir.

“Are we bringing her back here?” asks Snow Child.

“No, we are taking her to the landmine field to the southeast.” The Amir tugs his moustache. “And from there, we will strike a deal with the outlaws. If they want to play tricks,” he made a long, downward arc with his hand, “then we kick her over the gunwale. Otherwise, they will see their precious charlatan returned without a having lost a single eyelash.”

Leif leaned forward, “And my book?”

“Oh, I know about your book.” The Amir smiled. “You will get to read your book.” He smiled, in a way that the others enjoyed little.

What is on his mind? [The Warrior – Honour, Violence; Exiled] Possibly he has visions of violence. I think that he might be an exile from some important group–maybe the water-chieftains? Either way, I believe it should connect to the Cisterns, because it is apparent that he knows about this book and its contents.

End of the ninth day.

Afternote: I’m excited for day ten. This is where we will see some of the traveler’s new gifts in action, as well as the dyad rifle.