As sheer serendipity would have it, an idly rolled up world to argue the merits of procedural generation yielded a seed that sent my imagination into overdrive.
One turned up on the edge of what appeared to be a modestly sized island continent surrounded by ocean, beach/desert in the vicinity and what appeared to be a jungle or tropical rainforest in the distance to explore.
Surely, this place is tailor made for a survivor-castaway scenario.
But how could I make it different from the ongoing Wanderlust Reloaded game I was playing in a relaxing learn-all-the-mods-slowly fashion?
A few ideas struck me.
I tend to be attracted to tech/modern mods and make a beeline to Tinker’s Construct and Minefactory Reloaded as a comfort zone, since those were the first few I learned in Agrarian Skies. However, setting up a factory goes rather completely against the theme and idea of a sailor or person castaway on a desert island. How would they even make a modern machine?
So, rule 1: Minimal to no tech/modern mods to be used in this particular game world.
It so happened that some initial scouting revealed the presence of some magical NPCs on the island. Perfect. The rationale then would be to use nature and magic-based mods to progress, with the explanation that the NPCs had ‘taught’ these to my castaway character.
I was also somewhat sick of the constant nightly attacks of zombies and skeletons. Wouldn’t it feel a lot more immersive and like I was really cast away on an island if the night stayed peaceful and quiet as well, rather than recapitulate the zombie apocalypse every single time the moon rose?
Setting it to peaceful mode seemed a little like cheating though.
But then really, as I thought further, maybe it would actually make progress -harder- in that I wouldn’t have an easily renewable source of string from spiders, gunpowder from creepers, rotten flesh from zombies and bones from skeletons. In fact, I wouldn’t even be able to make a mob grinder… and that started to worry me a bit.
So I concocted a little trapdoor for myself. The -island- would stay peaceful, but I’d switch it back to normal mode if I changed dimensions. Yep, Nether, Twilight Forest, a Mystcraft age, whatever.
It made a certain kind of immersive sense that I’d crash onto a deserted island, save for a few peaceful natives, learn magic in an attempt to get away, and then eventually cross over into other dimensions that would be more hazardous and filled with hostiles.
Rule 2: Play in peaceful mode on the island. Switch back to normal mode once one crosses dimensions.
I was also a little sick of the common Minecraft tactic to dig a big mineshaft or stairway to bedrock or y = 12, and then dig a whole bunch of straight line criss-crossing tunnels pulling out diamonds, redstone and other valuable bits of ore.
It’s efficient, yes, but didn’t seem terribly immersive to me.
So I came up with another crazy idea, one I’m not sure how far or long it’ll last, as I really don’t know the layout and if it’ll yield enough resources…
Rule 3: There will be minimal manual mining through stone.
The idea is that I’ll go into already exposed caves and ravines and mine the ore that’s actually visible and a block or two around those visible veins. I won’t start hand carving massive dwarf mines through perfectly solid rock with a handful of stone or iron pickaxes.
The little loophole there is ‘manual’ so that later, if I like, create a golem or something that will mine straight tunnels for me, or create some sort of super-efficient magical pickaxe, then it’ll seem a bit more consistent to the ‘realism’ of this particular world that I could then create vast caverns if I wanted to.
Rule 4: We will try to build aesthetically thematic structures consistent with a ‘magical castaway’ theme.
Cheating in decorative blocks to paint textures on say, carpenter’s blocks, is permissible, to both make life easier and make it more aesthetically-pleasing, but cheated in blocks will not be used in functional ways. The carpenter’s blocks themselves would have been made with uncheated wood resources.
Sadly, I haven’t had a lot of real life time to play this particular world, or any Minecraft, to be honest, since I’ve also been distracted by buying the remastered Grim Fandango lately, but here’s the beginning of the adventure:
Cast away on the shores of a strange island, I try to make my way inland to gather some wood. Shelter, and a signal fire is primarily on my mind. Oh, and food, and a fresh water source.
I nearly perish when unawares, I stumble into a patch of quicksand. Some frantic digging and scrabbling away at the edge of the pit saves me.
There are a number of these differently colored patches of sand around, hazards that I constantly have to keep in mind.
With some relief, early on, I find a small stream that can serve as a source of fresh water.
After chopping down some nearby trees and chipping away at a rock wall to make some primitive stone tools, I manage to put together a modest survival shelter.
It is a quiet but peaceful night on this desert island.
I cobble together a small furnace made out of rocks and begin making some charcoal out of the logs I’d chopped earlier.
Daybreak heralds the start of exploration of this island.
I urgently want to build a signal fire, in case any passing ships draw near, but I realize that I don’t have any flint-and-steel to rapidly start a fire with. So after desultorily piling some wood together, the gnawing of my stomach suggests I need to pay attention to something a little more urgent than a rescue fire.
Following the edge of the island leads me into a tropical rainforest proper.
I find a melon patch with some relief – food! – but worry about how long these wild melons would last me. I save some seeds and hastily sow them. Only the gods know how long it’ll take them to grow though.
Merry giggling catches my attention, and I discover that there are others on this island… if these strange nature spirits could be called so. A number of dryads are taking a bath in a cavern fed by seawater.
For the most part, they say nothing to me, but I notice them paying a great deal of attention to certain flowers, which seem to glow with an almost-mystical light. Surely, these flowers hold some manner of arcane secret. I begin collecting them as I travel.
As night falls near the dryads, my breath catches in my throat as I realize that these sea nymphs appear to have also been tending a magnificent reef garden filled with glowing coral, like so many ocean-flowers. The constellation-filled sky is a wondrous accompaniment.
But I cannot linger, and I turn away, heading further inland.
I come across an eerie stone circle, even spookier at night, but nothing seems to stir from it.
Nearby, I encounter my first sentient being, a human, I suppose, who dresses like a witch. She introduces herself as Shannon Spellman, but refuses to speak of anything of more substance to me, telling me that I am not yet skilled in the Art.
It seems that I may just have to learn, somehow, if I am to find a way off this island.
And then I find it. A settlement! There are beds of crops – potato and cotton and some manner of berry.
There are even grapevines strung up in trellises, an old disused smelter of some kind, and a herd of sheep wandering unfettered through it all.
To my surprise, there is only one human dwelling within this place. A man dressed in what appears to be priestly or mage-like robes. He declines to give his name, but seems open to sharing some of his crops and making small converse.
A hobgoblin is the only other creature keeping him company, wandering about crooning to itself in its hob-like manner, keeping its own counsel. I am not sure if it is merely a friend or the mage’s familiar, but I think it a question best unasked for now.
I will likely have to return to this strange pair later and see if I can befriend them further, but for now, parting as an acquaintance rather than an enemy seems wise.
I pass by caves and deep ravines, some with exposed veins of metals, which I mark for later exploration, and even a blasted wasteland which I give a wide berth to, for now.
The forest has given way to some kind of scrubland, filled with acacia trees, and red rocky soil.
And then, near dawn, a curious sight on the horizon. Is it… could it be… a castle?
As the sky brightens, I draw nearer. It seems only to be a lone tower of some kind?
It is fully daytime by the time I get up close, and its skull-like demeanor puts me off from venturing within. Perhaps another time, when I actually have armor and a weapon, and am not starving.
The scrubland dries up, becoming a desert once more, and I realize that I have almost circumnavigated the entire island.
I stumble over one noteworthy feature, a large pool of oil that has bubbled to the surface.
And am almost frozen in my tracks when I notice an alien sight, some kind of meteor that has cratered onto the boundary between shore and ocean, and whose sky stone is somehow…repelling? the seawater from itself.
I give that a wide berth for now too.
For now, it is back to my humble shelter, to figure out semi-reliable sources of food so as not to go hungry, and to prepare my signal fire.
And then, I suppose, I should attempt to learn the Art.
To be honest, I think this is a great seed.
I actually preliminary scouted the whole place out to get an idea of whether the rules I was planning would actually work, or no, and I think there are enough resources and interesting features on this pretty big island to manage it, more or less.
Yet, importantly, it does appear to be largely an island, rather than a continuous neverending landmass.
It’s probably a great place to have all kinds of Minecraft adventures, not just a strictly nature/magic one, so if you’re interested in playing in the same surroundings, this is Minecraft, with the Wanderlust Reloaded modpack and Biomes of Plenty world type, with the seed “Why I Explore” (without the quotes.)