Friday, January 6, 2023

#Dungeon 23 week 1

[Text pasted from the zine-formatted revision of journal notes.]

Design Notes

  • This dungeon is keyed for Old School Essentials, using ascending AC. 
  • It is a 12 level mega-dungeon, per the Dungeon23 exercise as proposed by Sean McCoy). 
  • There is no real theme other than a mythic underworld (see Philotomy's Musings) and a good dose of "weird." Content and form were developed in an emergent fashion and heavily influenced by random tables as well as any media I was consuming at the time of writing a section. Influences are noted in context. 
  • No level or balance requirements were considered. My gut says a party should start at level 3-5. But even a level 1 party could survive a few forays with extreme caution.

Level 0 The Sun Spire

0101 The Sun Gate

Beyond the Sea of Dust, stands a faceted, asymmetrical tower. In it's northern face is the Sun Gate, which has no door, but is nevertheless "locked" when not in direct sun (avg. 6 hours a day, but varies by season and weather). 

Inside, the howling wind and ever-present dust of the sea without abruptly ceases. The roughly trapezoidal but irregular vestibule behind the gate is empty, aside from two things. Directly inward from the gate is an alcove, in front of which a Magic Mouth opens on the floor. The mouth identifies itself as Cacalion the Forgotten and without waiting for a response utters a logic problem. If solved, a Secret door opens inside the alcove. 

Additionally, a wind elemental has somehow found it's way inside and is trapped in the vestibule. At first it is unseen/at rest. Roll a d6 to determine its state on a scale of 1: exhausted from trying to get out, to 6: infuriated at being trapped.

Tiny Wind Elemental: AC 15, HD 3**, Buffet +3: d6, Fly 120', Morale 10, XP 65, Special: additional d6 damage against flying creatures or if throwing someone into a wall at least 10' away (STR save to stand firm). Once the elemental attacks the first time, everyone in the area not wearing eye protection must Save vs. Poison or be temporarily blinded.  The elemental is undetectable if at rest.

0102 The Joust

A highly irregular chamber, c. 80' in diameter and 90' tall. All surfaces are mildly reflective, like mica, and echo light from a massive crystal set in the tip of the tower. Ledges jut out at 20, 40, and 60’ heights. A Trapdoor lies in the center of the floor, and a potion rests on the lowest ledge by door. When characters enter the room, two Dust Knights (3' tall humanoids completely covered in outlandish armor) appear on the highest ledges. They are holding lances, and riding Lizard Chickens

Potion of Shrinking: causes anyone taking a swig to shrink to half size for 15 minutes. If they do, a third lizard-chicken and lance appears on a high ledge. There are three doses in the bottle. Oddly, only a character’s height and weight are reduced, not other stats.

If characters watch for a while, the ridiculous knights will joust, flying from ledge to ledge and trying to knock each other off of their mounts. If a character drinks the potion, the knights will pause/wait for the character to climb (easy) up to the ledge where the third lizard-chicken is and join in the joust. Don’t forget falling damage! The lizard-chicken will refuse to serve as a mount to anyone much over 3’ tall. If characters try to open trap door without watching a complete match, they are attacked. 

A very thorough search will reveal a 3" clear pyramidal shape in the floor behind the central pillar of mica. This is the top of the magical deck prism found in area 0103.

Dust Knights: AC 18, HD 1, Lance +0 d6 Charge, Move 60' or as mount, Morale 9, XP 15. If defeated or gravely injured, dust spills forth from the armor. There is nothing else inside.

Lizard-chicken: AC 13, HD 4*, Beak +3 d6 or Breath 2d6 (30' cone, 4 turn recharge), Hop 20', Fly 90', Morale 7 (without rider), XP 125. Mulish disposition. Will only breath fire if spurred/kicked hard.

Flying combat: climbing (increasing elevation) costs double movement: e.g. 20' of movement to rise 10’. Decreasing height is free, but the character must move forward at least 10’. Lances do double damage if the attacker charges at least 30' from an equal height or "falls" on an opponent from any higher elevation.

[Influenced by the arcade game, Joust, and the Dragonlance board game (1988).]

Level -1 Conservatory of the Blue Priests

0103 Nugget Room

A ladder descends 15’ from the trap door to a 50 x 50' octagonal chamber with exits to the E, W, and SE. In the center of the room is a pedestal on which rests a gold Nugget d4+1" in diameter. It is lit by a focused beam of light from a magical deck prism in the ceiling. The prism focuses sunlight and slowly transforms it into gold. It will fashion a 1" gold nugget in about 3 months. Every inch of nugget after that takes twice as long, with a max size of 5" (6 months = 2", 1 year = 3", 2 years = 4", 4 years = 5"). If someone tries to chisel the prism out of the ceiling it discharges a blast of sun energy for 3d6 damage to the chiseler, and 1d6 to everyone else in the chamber, leaving behind temporary blindness (from the flash-pulse) and an ozone smell. It takes many days of sun to recharge this defense, however.

0104 Alitrah Iron-Skull

Alitrah Iron-Skull is a weary, wandering minotaur looking for a good place to die. She is thinking of walking out into the Sea of Dust and so is headed to the surface. She will be heard before seen as she is loudly composing her death poem (in Minotaur) as she walks. She has put on her best jewelry for her death (an opal ring 800 gp, sapphire necklace 1,200 gp, and heavy arm-band of chased gold 1,200 gp). She will not consent to be killed or part with her valuables without a fight, though she is not consciously seeking death in battle at the moment, as she doesn’t think this room is ideal for her repose.

Note, some of the drawing shown is from week 2.
I forgot to scan a pic of the dungeon as it existed in week 1.

0105 Pool

Mica walls give way to blue-glazed brick. This octagonal room has only one feature, a low-walled, half-circle pool fed from below by a spring with cool, fresh water. In the Sea of Dust, this is practically a miracle.

0106a/b Contemplation Cells

No light source. These two angular rooms feature abstract mosaic patterns of brilliant color. The floors are covered in white “grooved” sand (more coarse than the Sea of Dust stuff). Smooth-sided dark rocks of various sizes break up the eddies of the flowing raked patterns. A wooden rake leans against the wall in each room. The stone doors open easily, but one minute after entering they shut and magically lock. They will not open again of their own accord for 23 minutes, or until everyone inside the room has a blank mind - whichever comes first.

0107 Demon Gaol

This room is almost unbearably hot and bright. A river of lava runs through the floor, which seems to be made of obsidian - as are the walls and the ceiling. Three 10’ x 20’ cells on the other side of the lava contain hideous demons of terrifying and confusing visage: their forms are roughly a vulture-catfish, a fly-frog, and a three-headed cow-lizard. Glowing runes are visible all over room’s surfaces. The demons will promise anything to be released (cover/destroy runes). 

Demons are as Lesser Efreeti, but with no powers, including flight, as long as the runes are visible.

1 comment:

  1. This is great stuff, Ray! I particularly enjoyed the Dust Knights and lizard-chickens. The flight and jousting mechanics are well thought out. As it so happens, I am finishing up a solo rpg inspired by the ancient arcade game, called Flying Ostriches & Floating Castles (funded last August on Kickstarter as part of Zine Quest). Looking forward to seeing more of your mega dungeon!


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