This month’s RPG Blog Carnival is being hosted by K.J. Davies blog and the topic is “Fantastic Locations”. There have already been a good number of solid contributions from all over the blogosphere too, so make sure to stop by his early round up and check them out. I wanted to contribute as well, but I was having trouble finding inspiration – until I ran across the entry on Agharta in Jess Nevin’s Encylopedia of Fantastic Victoriana (EFC). According to Nevin, Agharta was created by Alexandre Saint-Yves d’Alveydre in his 1885 Mission de l’Inde en Europe. Although others claim that Agharta was created earlier by Louis Jacolliot, a French Official living in India, and is a variation of the Norse Asgard. There’s a fantastic bit of information on Agharta in Lost Continents & the Hollow Earth too (Google Books Link). Nevertheless, in the EFC, Agharta is presented as an underground kingdom that exists under Tibet where travelers who manage to reach it either don’t realize they are inside the earth or forget they traveled there if they leave.
If you are not familiar with Agharta, it’s a version of the Hollow Earth Theory and there have been many variations on Agharta since d’Alveydre’s death in 1909. It was apparently a reoccurring story destination in the 1940′s Amazing Stories series as well. What amazes me, dumbfounds actually, is that there is still a belief today by some conspiracy theorists that Agharta is a real place. Nevertheless, it’s a great source of pulpy, “Journey to the Center of the Earth” steampunk fun. Check out the crazy conspiracy theory map below. How could I resist?
So, how could we begin to frame Agharta up as a fantastic location for an RPG? I’ll give it a shot and perhaps you could add in your own additions to the comments?
The Environment of Agharta
Between Nevin’s description and information I found elsewhere on the web, it seems as though Agharta could be much like our own world, with a few major exceptions.
First, since there’s a small radiant sun at the Earth’s core that shines brightly to illuminate Agharta at all times. It sits fixed in the heavens above, unmoving. There is no night. Shadows remain fixed for all time. There is only one season, which could be summer or spring. The trees of Agharta grow immensely tall and perfectly straight. The forests of Agharta are vast expanses of jungle with high canopies of tropical evergreens. The deserts of Agharta are lifeless and hard-baked under a sun that never sets.
Since there is no day or night in Agharta, or days at all for that matter, the passage of time is difficult for outsiders to measure. In fact, the native people of Aghata—humans with forked tongues according to Nevins—live for centuries and seem ageless to visitors from the surface.
Paradesa & The University of Knowledge
Within the Kingdom of Agharta is the capital city, Paradesa (also known as Shamballah). Within this vast city of millions is the University of Knowledge where “all the treasures of mankind” are kept safe from the prying hands of later generations. The Arc of the Convenant, the Breastplate of Beowulf, the Thunderbolts of Zeus, and the Sword of Atilla are but some of the relics kept safe at the University. The monarch in Paradesa, known as the Sovereign Pontiff, commands the absolute loyalty of an army of a ten thousands soldiers. His most elite guard, The Templars of Agharta, are used to protect the University and to periodically venture forth to the surface world to retrieve artifacts deemed too powerful for common men. They make the trip using airships equip to handle the arctic chills and strong winds found near the polar ice holes of Earth’s crust.
The Secret Masters
Unknown to the people of Agharta is a hidden race living within Paradesa who are not human. Aliens, perhaps, from Mars—or worse! These “Secret Masters”, as the Sovereign Pontiff calls them, telepathically control the world’s leaders and brightest scientists of the surface Earth. They are plotting for the annihilation of mankind everywhere and for the destruction of the entire Earth.
Perhaps the Sovereign Pontiff might find a few brave adventurers capable of rooting out these alien interlopers. The rewards could be… significant.