The Celestial Empire is targeted at historic or semi-historic games, or at least at campaigns consistent with Chinese literature, myth and legend.

Yet the recent piece of news published on the technology weblog Gizmodo about a 300 million year-old forest that has been discovered under a coal mine in Inner Mongolia has spurred me to write this short post about a "Hollow Earth"-themed campaign game. The "Hollow Earth" hypothesis, which posits that the Earth is hollow and that it contains a prehistoric or otherwise ancient world in its interior, does not appear in Chinese literature, myth or legend at all; on the contrary, it is a staple of Western occult. However, given the interest of many Western occultists for all things Tibetan, it could well fit in a TCE campaign, albeit an over-the-top one.

The idea is for the GM to have the players stumble upon the entrance within a cave for the subterranean kingdom of Agartha, which is ruled by an ancient lineage of über mysterious lamas and/or inhabited by Asura (see p123 of TCE).
Agartha would have lush prehistoric forests, strangely-coloured lakes, and obviously prehistoric animals (dinosaurs and Pleistocene mammals), which would provide some tough opposition to the player characters!

The subterranean kingdom of Agartha might or might not be connected with the underground City of Ghosts (Fēngdū), which could spell further trouble for the player characters...


  1. Hey, that's an interesting idea! Never would've thought to combine a "hollow world" with an oriental setting!

  2. Ever since I read the Pellucidar books as a kid I've loved anything dealing with the hollow world. I'm not sure why... except maybe the aspect of being underground and 'hidden'... a secret garden... full of dinosaurs (have to have dinosaurs).
    Mixing it up with Chinese mythology makes it even better.
    Most of my favorite hollow earth stories these days have a big dose of mysticism to them... such as 'Etidorpha', 'Marebito' and Jeff Long's 'The Descent' (seriously flawed but interesting nonetheless).

  3. Yes... For some reason hollow world stories have always been fascinating.

    To follow up on my post— the race of Tǔxíng dwarves (p120 of TCE) are able to tavel underground. Maybe their home world is also within the boundaries of Agartha.

  4. Subterranean World is found in central Asian turkish tales (e.g. in the Kirgyz tale of Er-Töshük). It will be mentionned of course in our Steppe supplement to -hopefully- come, with stats for subterranean dwellers, who are mostly related to telluric forces and powers. These are multi shaped ogres, cyclopes, giants, kind of magical goblins... We can easily imagine that these believes where shared by other Altaic nomads, including those who invaded China.

    1. Cool. I didn't know about those... Seems we could fill up a fully-fledged Agartha supplement!