The Deluxe Edition hardcover is out in the world, and judging by my social media feed the packages have been arriving in a lot of homes already! Huge thanks to everyone who bought a copy. Games Omnivorous are sold out of the first printing, and we at Antipode Zines have also sold our last copy. There is a shipment en route to Exalted Funeral in the US, and a few other specialist retailers have placed orders as well. So there are still stores that carry the hardback, but it is in high demand, and at the current rate will be sold out everywhere soon. We are talking about a second printing, but I don’t know exactly when that will happen.
Where is the Vaarn project heading in the future? I have solid plans for another three issues of the zine, forming a loose geographic trilogy. The broad outlines of Vaarn haven’t deviated from the post I made about the continent’s geography, a few years ago now, although the specifics have shifted. Here’s where we’ll be visiting in the near future:
Issue #4 is currently in production, and I’m releasing preview drafts to my Patrons monthly. This issue centers on the Great Wall of Vaarn, a colossal superstructure. The Wall is by far the largest relic of the long-ago that can still be seen in Vaarn, and it separates the Interior from the coastline and the ocean beyond. The Wall is basically a huge vertical maze of passageways and chasms, ducts and pipes and cables, all groaning and weeping gallons of coolant and furtively rearranging themselves according to the whim of some misfiring repair protocol.
The Wall intakes seawater and purifies it into a potable coolant the residents call ‘ikor’, which then leaks out of the machinery in raging torrents and supports an entire hanging ecosystem inside and around the mechanisms. Think inverted jungles of vines and trees that suspend themselves from titanic slabs of ferrosteel, gantries coated in flowering shrubs, alligator-sized geckos stalking prey through filtration systems, gangs of predatory apes and colossal beetles, all manner of weird climbing and flying creatures. Basically the Great Wall is half claustrophobic industrial nightmare and half verdant, vertigo-inducing jungle wilderness. It’s also home to two warring city-states: Sargattea, which controls ground traffic between the desert and the ocean, and Ostriel, a cold, mysterious city ruled over by abhuman Harpies.
I’m really excited about this issue; I think it opens up the world of Vaarn into an environment that’s totally different to the blue desert, while still retaining the same surreal, post-human science-fantasy atmosphere. There are new player ancestries, new factions, new monsters, and of course lots and lots of random dice tables, to use when generating regions of the Wall.
Issue #5 will cover Ikor Quag, an area that’s been referred to a few times. The Quag lies south of the Great Wall, and is basically formed from the crater where an orbital weapon strike severed the Wall from whatever it was feeding to the south. So the Wall is now broken beyond repair at a certain point, and leaks ikor, along with lots of other toxins, down into the crater, forming a deeply inhospitable landscape known as Ikor Quag. This region is basically Vaarn’s poison swamp, a flooded, highly toxic region that has been treated as landfill for millennia. However, life always finds a way, and there are people, cultures, and creatures that do flourish here. I’m interested by extremophiles, organisms that have evolved to survive situations that life shouldn’t be able to tolerate, so Ikor Quag will explore that a little bit. We will meet marsh centaurs, sentient plants, plastic-coated crocodilians, and many other strange beasts.
The Sea of Songs
Issue #6 will cover the Sea of Songs, and Vaarn’s coasts. Expect seafaring rules, island generation, nautical factions, boat generators, sunken ruins, and lots and lots of horrible sea monsters. Introducing the ocean might seem strange in a desert setting but it’s been part of my imagined Vaarn since the start: I have very strong mental images of enormous chrome spires, half-submerged in the waves and encrusted with barnacles.
When all three of these issues are complete, they will form a loose ‘trilogy’, centered on the Wall and its surroundings. Ideas for issues beyond #6 are vague, but they would likely coalesce into a final trilogy, about Vaarn’s mountains and the irradiated deathlands north of them, which Vaarnish folk refer to as Golgotha.
Hopefully this sheds a bit of light on my plans going forward. The setting is still very alive for me, and I consider the release of the Deluxe Edition to be the end of ‘act one’, rather than an ending.
I’m also pleased to say that the Vaarn Summer Jam is going strong, with six entries already. We have 28 days left on the clock, so please feel free to jump in and get creating! Feel free to join our Discord community to talk about the jam, the hardback book, or anything else science-fantasy related.