Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Measureless Maze - Level One (Revised)

The only changes here are to the lower left corner of the map, the "Great Stair" section.  The number of ways into the section (at least from this level) has been chopped down, and a large stairway has been added.

There are four major sections to this level.  Starting at top left and going clockwise, they are "Thieves Chambers", "The Dust & The Damp", "The Tubs", and "The Great Stair".  I haven't gotten much past that for details, but I do have some general concepts.

"Thieves Chambers", obviously, is under the control of a minor band of thieves.  Guild is probably too high of an aspiration for them.  They access their section via the ladder, and make sure to leave the door to the well-room (1-12) closed and locked.  They've had some bad experiences, so as a general rule stay to rooms 1-8 through 1-15.  They know about the secret door to room 1-1, but none of the rest, and leave the door to room 1-7 locked.

"The Dust and the Damp" lacks any kind of organized control.  Rats and one or two mindless sort of monsters are the likely threats here.  A giant raccoon has established a lair in 1-33, coming and going via the stream (which flows into the dungeon at this point). 

"The Tubs" are also undetermined.  Water-based monsters are likely.  At least one of the pools (the smallest one) possesses a magical "heating element" that warms the water, a la Roman baths (a hypocaust would be neat, but a bugger to map unless I switch to a 1-square = 1 foot scale, and it would then be a bugger for the adventurers.  Unless they used reduce person...)  Rooms 1-47 & 1-48 will have something going on.  Passage 1-49 is accessed by climbing the wall from the waterfall to the passage opening; a short distance, but not something the PCs are going to do easily.  This will be generally true of aerie levels.

"The Great Stair" is probably a goblin-held section.  Their warren spans several levels.  The great stair itself drops to level 3.
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Monday, March 19, 2012

Measureless Maze - Level One

Level One
 Primary entry level of the Measureless Maze, via the stairs at top center.  Secondary entrances are via the ladder at top left, and the stream at top right.  Exits are top left (down a level), bottom left (down a level), bottom left (up a level), top/mid right (the room with the small pool; probably up a level, though it'd be a hard climb up a waterfall), bottom right (up a level), and bottom (access via the Shaft to several other levels).

Now that I look at this, actually, I'm going to close off a few corridors and add another set of stairs.  I'll leave this version up, though.
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Saturday, March 10, 2012

Megadungeon Musings, part 1

The subject of megadungeons is a perennial one, and events of the past few days have got me thinking about them again.  I've designed dungeons; I've designed large dungeons; but I've never designed a full-on megadungeon.  It's an intriguing exercise.

The two basic rules I'll follow are: 1) a minimum of 12 levels, not including sub-levels, demi-levels, quasi-levels, or any other sort of "not-a-full-on-level" that you want to name, and 2) no overarching theme or villain.  The most powerful monsters will be near the "bottom", but they won't control the entire dungeon.  Different factions will control different areas, with different goals.

I will map by hand, but I will also experiment with other formats, primarily sketch-up, to generate simple 3D visuals.

Preliminary features & details include the following:
  • a gigantic vertical crevice or shaft, which provides the central focus of the dungeon.  The shaft has been closed over at certain points, so one cannot simply rappel from the first level to the 12th, but the shaft does span a number of levels, and not all of the closures are well maintained.  The shaft is large enough to allow fliers room to maneuver, and has links to the outside at its very highest reach.
  • A pride of manticores controls the first 3 levels of the shaft.  The third level has a solid stone floor covering the shaft, and it is not apparent from above that the shaft continues below.
  • The first level intersects the shaft roughly halfway between the "floor" and the highest visible point of the shaft.  Above the first level are the "Aerie Levels", a number of sub-levels that are mostly inaccessible except from the shaft.  Some also feature outdoor connections (onto a cliff-face or the like).
  • At least the upper levels of the dungeon are within a mountain or other elevated terrain feature, rather than wholly below ground.  This allows some of the Aerie levels to include watchtowers or the like.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Dungeons of the Shadowend

  • Bone Castle: Few specifics are known about this necromantic edifice in the Bone Forest.  A few particularly foolhardy individuals claim to have entered the castle and met its skeletal lord, but to no particular end.  The relationship between Bone Castle and the Castle of the Stag is unclear, although everyone seems to feel one exists.
  • Broken Tower: An ancient ruin of the Dwarfmoors which marks the entrance to an underground labyrinth said to lead (though only after a great distance), to the dwarven greathall of Hearthhome.  Not a few adventuring parties have thought to quietly plunder the dwarves treasure (for surely they have much), and lost their lives beneath the Broken Tower searching for the elusive passage.
  • Castle of the Stag: Built by the elven lord Dualin in the Bone Forest (aka the Corpse-Wood), the Castle of the Stag fell into ruin after his death.
  • Deephalls:  Underlying the Hundred Kingdoms, Larenyss, and much of the Shadowend Forest, the Deephalls are less dungeon than enviroment.  The three regions of the Deephalls were once one, separated when the sidhe cracked the earth.  The hallmark of the Deephalls are the arrow-straight tunnels, eighty feet wide and forty feet high, that run for hundreds of miles beneath the earth.
  • Dungeon of Stones: A fallen gnomish winterhall, the Dungeon of Stones was overthrown by fell creatures ruled by an elemental earth power. No sign of that ruler is visible, but it's creations and bound minions still guard treasures from across the planes.  Located in the Turont Hills immediately north of the Eldewood, where the north branch of the Eldeflow emerges from underneath the earth.
  • Endless Dungeon: Once a wizard's retreat, the corridors and caverns of the Endless Dungeon shift, open, and close apparently at random, revealing pristine chambers or arcane workshops filled with enchanted items and magical lore.  The entrance is less easily found from inside, it's said.  The Endless Dungeon is marked by an empty tower, which sits at the southern tip of the High Hills, east of the ruins of Osar.
  • Greenbind Castle: This ancient overgrown keep in the Moonwood is rumored to still conceal at least one vault full of weapons enchanted against lycanthropes.
  • Hall of Roses: The remains of a bardic college; what is left is filled with riddles, tricks, and traps designed by the elves to test an aspirant's knowledge of faerilven lore and legend.  The fallen Hall of Roses sits north of the Hags Mere, under the shadow of Alorm Peak in the High Hills.
  • Hill of the Three Kings:  Actually three large barrow mounds, the Hill of the Three Kings are feared and avoided by all wise folk of the Shadowend.  The resting places of three brothers, the barrows each open once a year, one a night for three nights, and the hellish undead within ride forth for one night of terror and murder.  Many heros have tried to end the rampages of the three kings, but none have succeeded for more than a year.
  • Kaerzin Mus: Castle Mouse overlooks the River Yls near Barvanigar and is kept in good repair by the orcs and brigands of the area.  Tunnels and caverns in the bluff below Kaerzin Mus reportedly include passages below the river and possibly into Barvanigar itself, a serious threat to the security of the town.
  • Kaerzin Torn: Between the Gonenfall Forest and the Shrouded Peaks, Hill Castle was one of the anchors of Dorandin defense.  The fortress eventually fell to a monstrous horde of orcs, ogres, and giants, but none of Kaerzin Torn’s notable treasures or weapons have ever been recovered or even seen in the centuries since then. Much of the fortress was destroyed, but the central keep and curtain walls still stand.
  • Knighting Well: Of unknown origin; the Knights of the Oak (an order now largely extinct) utilized the outermost areas as a testing ground of a candidate's worthiness; legend says a great temptress makes her home here; undoubtedly she has accumulated much magical treasure over the centuries.  The Knighting Well lies in the flat forestland halfway between the Greenflow and the Eldewood.
  • Legionaire’s Tomb:  The fabled resting place of the first Amerite legion in the Hundred Kingdoms, the Legionaire’s Tomb is a much sought-after legend.
  • Measureless Maze:  This vast dungeon complex beneath the Shalanwode was excavated centuries ago by the archmage Kulan Unculear.
  • Temple of the Rats: A stronghold of the Rat Cult, the Temple has been razed and rebuilt more times than can be counted.  Rumor suggests the Cult is struggling to gain a foothold once more, and that they've stockpiled gold, gems, and jewels to fund their efforts.  Closest to Shalanholt and civilization, the Temple of Rats lies on the swampy shores of Hags Mere, where the ratmen may seek fell allies.
  • Undercity of Shalanholt:  Of unknown orign, the Undercity of Shalanholt was excavated from the bedrock beneath Shalanholt.  Streets, buildings, alleys, and fountains are all found in this abandoned settlement, all shaped to human size and fashion.  The archmage Kulan Unc├╣lear is sometimes found here.
  • Vanishing Dungeon: The stronghold of an evil cult dedicated to four dark deities, the Vanishing Dungeon manifests periodically on the Material Plane, disgorging evil when it does.
  • Volgabaern Warren: Once the gnome winterhall Cynwualf, now a goblin stronghold in the White Hills.
  • Well of Swords: The former stronghold of a powerful runesmith, who may have survived into undeath -- survivors report a great number of mechanical and magical traps, all in good repair.  They also recovered a great number of fine magical & masterwork weapons.  The Well of Swords lies due west of Shalanholt, just beyond the western tip of Hags Mere.

Unnamed or Undescribed Dungeons:

  • Chelaim Tower
  • Haunting Halls of the Herald-Lords
  • Keep of Wyrms
  • Silent Halls
  • Sinking Tower of Dremdolain
  • Tower Ain
  • Tower of Cthros March
  • Whispering Well
  • the great funerary maze of the archmage Isadollin, famous for her staff of power won from a great red wyrm.
  • a series of crypts used by the Autumn Kings, who ruled a small but rich kingdom for several centuries.
  • the final foul resting place of a high priest of Nevias, who terrorized the populace as a vampire after his first death, and whose malignant spirit was finally imprisoned by Biedon Houl, Clerist Arcanist of Ados, at the cost of his own life.
  • an ancient dwarven hold beneath Kiend Peak, in the High Hills, now the home of a powerful tribe of fire giants.