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Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Underground Gardens

I've been watching a lot of videos at the Huell Howser Archives lately, partly because I have no TV, and partly because his videos are a fantastic general resource. Need to know what different kinds of terrain might look like? Try searching for “volcano”, “mountain”, “forest” or other key words. Want to pattern the homebase for a party of adventurers after an old-timey gold rush town? There’s plenty of examples of individual buildings and small towns. Just trolling for ideas? You might find some, like the town in the marsh where all the houses were arranged along a single road (which happened to be a railroad) on something that was just barely an island. There are several hundred videos online, and more to come.

But in particular, I was looking at videos of mines and caves and things like that, for insights on how to describe underground settings and how the structures might be arranged. And I saw one video called Under California that focused on two places. The second was a tunnel through a mountain that one old miner carved all by himself, which might provide some minor insights, but the first location was some place in Fresno I’d never heard of: the underground gardens.

Some landscaper hated the heat in Fresno, so he started building his home underground, and then thought “Why not turn it into a hotel and restaurant?” he never actually turned it into a commercial venture, that I’m aware, but he completed 70 or so rooms connected with twisty passages, lit by skylights, some of which were placed to provide light for trees. All covering several acres of land.

It might be a bit too close to the surface for most dungeon master tastes, but you certainly get to see some stonework that would be doable in a typical dungeon. And again, all built by one guy with minimal tools over 40 years, so it should give people more confidence in their sprawling dungeons.
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  1. Interesting. Huell Howser was quite a character and did quite a few interesting shows, like "California's Gold" and others, over the years. Great idea to mine his shows for ideas and inspiration!

  2. That is damned remarkable. Thanks for sharing.