Monday, April 9, 2012

The Dungeon: Getting Started

Before you throw your soon to be long suffering players (and not so long suffering characters) into The Dungeon, you're going to need to know a few things. The Dungeon is a journey, not a destination.  There is no set finish line, no ultimate goal, and no final boss fight.  There are things to accomplish and some very dangerous fights, but this is a dungeon - not a narrative.  The pieces are here for multiple story lines, and players and DMs can pick and choose, or even wind back and forth between them.  To help you decide, here's a brief overview of what you and your players will encounter in The Dungeon.

Does The Dungeon contradict itself?  Of course it does.
It contains multitudes. That's the nature unnatural
places spawned by hate filled alien entities.
The Dungeon contains ten major levels:
  1. The Goblin Caves
  2. Cult of Chaos
  3. Bugbear Den
  4. The Lizard King
  5. The Pillars of the Earth
  6. Da Brutes (Minotaurs and Ogre Slaves)
  7. The Dead Wizard's Laboratory
  8. The Arachnid Burrows
  9. Forge of the Fire Giant
  10. The Mad Lich's Prison
Four smaller sub-levels are scattered throughout The Dungeon as well:
  • The Dragon's Lair, upper left corner
  • Tomb of the Lost Dwarven King, lower left corner
  • Temple of Air, lower right corner
  • Wardens of the Mad Lich, upper right corner

There are five red circles scattered throughout the dungeon.  Each red circle represents a font of pure evil.  These are holes in the fabric of this reality through which the DungeonGod forces its influence.  For now, its power is limited to spawning children, hideous creatures born of malice to spread malice.  Man knows these children by many names - goblins, trolls, wyverns, and giants, just to name a few.  Each font takes the form of a low, wide pool, but each one is unique:
  • The letter A (in the Temple of Air) is an open, bottomless pit.  Winged creatures rise up from its unmeasured depths.  It may tap into the elemental plane of air, but only creatures of evil use it for passage.
  • The letter E (on Level 5) is a fountain of sand.  A central font spews the sand up and into the pool, which never fills.  All manner of creatures rise up from the sand that fills this pool.
  • The letter F (on Level 9) is a burning pit of charcoal that the fires never consume.  A fire giant and his apprentices have converted it into a forge.  Whatever climbs from this pool they catch and toss to their hellhounds or to the spiders that live nearby.
  • The letter W (in the Dragon's Lair) is a bottomless pool of water.  The dragon does not watch it carefully, and its proximity to running water may have allowed all manner of evil to enter the world and make homes for themselves far downstream even to the depths of the ocean.
  • The last pool is the pool of chaos (Level 2).  A foul black ichor burbles away inside this pool, and countless creatures have been vomited up by it.  They are all welcomed by the human cult that monitors the pit and hopes to turn the power of the pit to their own ends.
The deepest, darkest part of The Dungeon is actually a prison.  An ancient lich is trapped there, guarded by creatures unimpressed by his mastery of all fire related magicks. This undead evil force is stuck inside four small rooms with no laboratory, no books, and no means of researching a way past his guardians.  Powerless despite all his power, he dreams of the day that some brave but stupid souls will break the chains that bind him.  If some naive hero were to slay his guardians, then the lich would show his gratitude by making that hero's death swift and painless.

There are many legends and rumors about The Dungeon, some of which are even true!  As is so often the case, the best source of information about The Dungeon can be found within The Dungeon itself.  Treasure maps, history tomes, and memories of the intelligent denizens of The Dungeon are useful sources of information about The Dungeon.  Smart characters will use each of these to find clues to the presence of the dragons, the lich, and even unguarded treasure hoards.

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