Monday, July 15, 2019

Making a Kilodungeon

What is a Kilodungeon?

It's a megadungeon, but about a thousandth of the size!

Okay, okay... It's just a small megadungeon. I don't think I have the stamina or the patient group to run a true megadungeon, so I'm electing to create a mini one. I'm challenging myself to try and write at least 1-3 rooms per day to crank this thing out in like... 3 months, maybe?

Under Gallax Hall. It's got five levels. We're probably looking at 20-50 rooms on each level, tapers a bit as it goes down. Top Level designed for characters level 0-1, each level down ups the challenge by approximately 1 level.

I walk past this building every day, and it gives me ideas.
(Angel Hall, University of Michigan)

Ideas I Want To Implement:
  • Gallax Hall is a university building in Wizard City. Just above the megadungeon is the university and city itself. The first level of the dungeon begins in Gallax Hall's basement.
  • This first level of this megadungeon is a place where 'normal' people still must occasionally travel. It's horrendously dangerous, but that doesn't stop the university from having classes there. Classroom space is at a premium, after all.
  • Hence, the first level of the dungeon has a lot of 'normal' stuff - black markets, professor lairs (offices), roaming hirelings and escort services, merchants. The sorts you'll find just outside the dungeon.
  • If the first level is the semi-mythic underworld, then the second and subsequent levels are, like, SUPER-mythic underworld.
  • Timekeeping. Keep a mini paper clock or the like and move it about as you enter/traverse the dungeon. Enough clocks are present in the dungeon that referencing time shouldn't often be an issue. The school runs on Metric time (10 hours/day, 100 minutes/hour). Certain professors/janitors/ghosts/monsters are present at particular times. Every Turn is 10 metric minutes (about 7 minutes our time).
  • Build a bunch of shenanigans around said timekeeping: wandering encounters, secret entrances, puzzles, mini-heists.
  • Graduate students will murder you.
  • Other students will murder you.
  • The Custodial Staff will murder you, then skillfully dispose of the body.
  • The Professors will torture and possibly murder you, for SCIENCE. Not coincidentally, the Department of Torture is located in the basement of Gallax Hall.
  • And of course your typical university locals will try to murder you: roaming statues, serial killers, tomb-of-horrors-style juggernaut cleaning machines, tricentennial ghosts, haunted food trucks, rioting students, well-educated hobos, animated manifestos, the lack of affordable housing, and an imbalanced and malnourished diet.
I'm thinking of releasing this thing piece by piece on a weekly or semi-weekly basis, but to do that, I'd need to find some dungeon graphing software that works well with Blogger. If you have recommendations, please comment 'em below.

Monday, July 8, 2019

Speak With Earth

You see, it's a common misconception that the spell Speak With Animals allows you to converse in the animals' languages. How ridiculous it would be, that a single spell might bequeath a near-infinite number of entire fluent languages upon the caster, all for the lowest costs and with the least amount of magical training. No!

The way it works, is that all these creatures simply knew Common all along, they simply didn't want to talk to you. Speak With Animals is Enchantment - it compels them to speak.

So too, is it, with all things on this world. They could talk to you, if they wanted. But they don't. Nobody wants to talk to humans. Nobody wants to talk to you in particular. Humans are notoriously horrible. You're particularly horrible.

It's not that they can't talk to you,
it's just that they think your whole species are jerks.
They're probably right.
Source
The noise you hear? The chattering of squirrels or the chirping of birds? Simply code. Code so that you politely might not understand how much animals don't like you.

Things dislike speaking in varying degrees. "Non-intelligent" animals dislike it quite a bit. You eat them for food and destroy their habitats, so of course they don't like talking to you. Insects and worms even more so - communication risks immediate squashing. Dogs are too nervous. Cats are just jerks.


This rock doesn't like you.
Source
Rocks, though, are a bit different. It physically hurts them to speak. Imagine, for a second, rending yourself in half that you might speak to a fleeting instantaneous wave-particle of light or a single ocean wave. This is what it's like for a rock to speak in our tongue. It sucks.

This is why Speak With Earth is such a heinous spell. Whereas Speak With Animals is merely unethical - compelling sentient and intelligent creatures to have awkward conversation with you - Speak With Earth is grotesquely cruel and heinous. This is typically why, when Speak With Earth is cast, more aggravated stones will be willing to throw down and crush that arrogant wizard to a pulp. Hence the necessity for....                                   


                            JOE SHMOH'S MINERAL SCALE OF HARSHNESS

OR

 HOW WILLING IS THIS ROCK TO THROW DOWN?!
Scale
Mineral / Rock
Willing to Throw Down If You...
1
Calcium
Attempt Rock Genocide (Most egregious)
2
Diamond, Sandstone
Actively try to destroy it*
3
Topaz, Marble
Speak With Earth + Make serious threats
4
Gold, Feldspar
Speak With Earth + Insult its mineral mom.
5
Zirconium
Cast Speak With Earth
6
Calcite, Cement
Break it
7
Osmium, Obsidian**
Piss on it
8
Talc
Step on it
9
Corundum (Ruby/Sapphire)
Converse with it by any means
10
Sulphur, Uranium
Exist in its presence (Least egregious)
*Note: this doesn’t necessarily mean crushing it. Some rocks (mostly non-gems) are more chill than others with being ground up. Things that “destroy” rocks: atomization, separating it from the earth, dissolving in acid, etc.

This is Talc. Don't step on it.
Calcium: You may as well be another rock, for all it can tell. Also: Do not attempt rock genocide. It will end very bad for you.
Diamond: Stoic and uncaring, provided you don’t try and shatter it
Sandstone: Composed of many many compacted minerals, it will only really get mad if you try and annihilate it.
Topaz: Most noble of gems! Elects to fight duels when threats are made.
Marble: It is a noble stone, far above common insults.
Gold: Most royal of minerals; hence, it takes no insults from peasants.
Feldspar: It really just likes its mom.
Zirconium: It sits right in the middle of all Scales. The centrist of minerals.
Calcite: It really doesn’t like being wet. Vulnerable to acid.
Cement: The walls and roads of the ancients are notorious for animating and breaking in half those who would tear them down.
Osmium: Doesn’t like being touched.
Obsidian: **Exception is if you’re picking it up to use it for war and carnage. It’s pragmatic like that.
Talc: Softest of minerals, hence with the most the prove. Very aggressive and quite pitiful.
Corundum (Ruby/Sapphire): The crystalized blood of the mammalian and mollusk gods hate each other and everything else with a divine fury.
Sulphur: This stuff is PISSED.
Uranium: Normally, it just tries to kill you by existing. Enough of it gathers in one place, however, and it’ll animate to radioactively stomp your ass.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Dungeon Swan

The Dungeon Swan lives in dungeons, and it feeds on HATRED. It is notoriously territorial, horrendously violent, and quite beautiful from afar. Get up in its grill and someone's going to lose a liver.

"SWAN!!"
Source
Etymology
The "Dungeon" in Dungeon Swan is a colloquial contemporary tag-on, originating from locals' observations of the Swans' lairs. "Swan", of course, being the harshest of Elven curses - one reserved for mortal calamity, infidelity, and royal gaffs. It is the verbal equivalent of wiping excrement off the floor with silk. Elven scholars widely believe that the creature obtained this name by the reaction the first Elves had to it - cursing in the foulest way they could while presumably running away at speed.

Description
Dungeon Swans are shapeshifters, so any description hence forth should be understood as an impermanent and temporary description of the creature. There do appear to be several favored forms, however:

HORRID PRETTY BIRD: A feathered fowl, reaching at maximum 5 meters in length, weighing around 50 kilograms, composed of either black or white feathers, and hiding a set of wickedly jagged teeth within their bills, of which they use to pierce and rend through the soft places of their prey.

PRIMORDIAL LIZARD: Either a snake with tiny arms or a stumpy lizard without legs. Up to 8 meters in length, with scant-toothed jaws so strong they can bite a cow in half. Scales of purest colors, decorated in hypnotic dancing patterns of black, red, and white.

((Joke: What is black, white, and red all over? Answer: SWAN! FUCK!"))

From Black Swan - 2010
DEADLY JAR: An ornate ceramic jar approximately six feet high with a single S-shaped spout, a handle, and a potted lid. The most dangerous of vase-shaped teapots. Painted in a bright porcelain red, with white and black decor circumventing the body depicting Dungeon Swan eviscerating their victims, or other grisly scenes. The contents of the jar are surmised to consist of pure, distilled hatred, which continuously bubbles and boils, hence the spout to relieve pressure.

AX MURDERER: A war-painted, kabuki-dressed human or elf wielding a bone-shafted obsidian ax. If the Dungeon Swan has recently claimed a victim, then it will also be completely covered in dripping, pulsating entrails. Thought to be capable of speech, but has yet to be witnessed.

Environment
The Dungeon Swan, prefers, of course, the Dungeon - an ecosystem so riddled with continued violence, suffering, and hatred that it can feed, while simultaneously being private enough for it to raise its young. Other popular nesting options include, but are not limited to: torture chambers, gulags, forced labor camps, drow citadels, royal palaces, and office buildings.

It finds aquatic habitats preferable. If the dungeon has some sort of pool or underground lake, the Dungeon Swan, or a pair of mated Dungeon Swans has made nesting within.

Behavior
Dungeon Swans consume Hatred. Hatred grows like grass. In hate-filled places, Hatred is grass: it grows from the dungeon floor, out of the walls, in sandy banks and on hard masoned stone. It creeps up through cracks in the cement until it forms a thick hateful brush - a jungle-mesh of acidic strangling weed. Touching Hatred Grass unprotected will send a person into a full-flown rage, or choke them with asthmatic reeds until they die as purple as Hatred Grass itself. Hatred Grass cannot be burnt, and cutting it releases rage-inducing particles into the air. The only safe way to be rid of it is to eat it. Hence, the delicate and beautiful hate-tango of the Dungeon Swan.

This is what they eat: Pure Hate.*
Source
Solitary: A lone Dungeon Swan will eat up to 15 kilograms of Hatred Grass in a single day. Alone, it will tend to be migratory and adventurous, being so bold as to settle in lesser places of hatred, like the basements of bitter old people or in windmills.

Mated Pair: More dangerous than alone, particularly if they are raising young. A mated pair of Dungeon Swan will typically have settled down in a stably-hated location, and will so for several years. At this point they have staked out their territory, and will ruthlessly attack any and all creatures, big or small, within their lair. Typical Mated Pair behavior involves displays of aggressiveness towards intruders, lurking and plotting, and very angry highly-coordinated dances.

Triumvirate: On rare occasion, the Dungeon Swan will form a triplet. This is the most dangerous of all, as it involves the methodical escalation of mating rituals, resulting in aggressive displays up to 5 miles from the lair. Dungeon Swan in a triumvirate will mercilessly attack anything within sight, causing the surrounding countryside to wither into a blight. Killing one Dungeon Swan in the triumvirate will remedy this situation, although that is not so easy a prospect...

Caution
Aside from the Dungeon Swan being a horrible bastion of spitefulness and violent hate, the very worst thing may be its chief innate defense:

Those that deliver a killing blow to a Dungeon Swan will permanently be consumed by hatred, resulting in immediate indiscriminate berserking behavior and total violent madness.

Symptoms of killing a Dungeon Swan include: spontaneous bruising, internal hemorrhaging, bleeding from any and all orifices, loosening or outright falling-out of teeth, seizures, foaming/bleeding of the mouth, weakness, involuntary screaming, hallucinations about Dungeon Swan, and attacking every other living thing within sight and sound for the rest of ones days.


Source
Symptoms for killing an adolescent Dungeon Swan are less severe, usually resulting in only mutilation and terminal weakness, laced with fits of rage.

Symptoms for killing newborn or young Dungeon Swan are entirely temporary. If it has yet to grow its exterior feathers or scales, then it can safely** killed. Fits of rage typically last for only a minute at most, then symptoms cease.

Hence, it is recommended that one should only attempt the extermination of Dungeon Swan while it is very young, while leaving adult Dungeon Swan the hell alone. Though, it may be worth it for a community to sacrifice someone to deliver the killing blow, then immediate murder them if it means being rid of the Swan for good.

*Fun fact: Hatred Grass can be processed and chewed upon like tobacco to produce Rage in the chewer. This typically lasts for a minute. If it's somehow swallowed, it lasts for days.
**Of course there's no safe way to kill a Dungeon Swan. In a life or death encounter this beast, someone's getting injured and someone's getting killed.

Monday, June 17, 2019

Who Waits Outside The Dungeon?

I swear, I've seen a table like this, but for the life of me I can't remember where. If you feel like doing me a solid, shoot a link down in the comments to similar lists.


WHO'S WAITING JUST OUTSIDE THE DUNGEON DOOR?

d30
Who?
Why?
How?
What?!
1
Dirty Beggar
Best chance for generous coin
Approaching for awkward conversation
Mumbles everything.
2
Naive Student
To complete their thesis.
Waiting patiently in full view of the exit.
They were planning on going in alone, vastly unprepared. Not nearly as scared as they should be. Knows a few cantrips.
3
Food Merchant
Because everyone deserves iced cream [sic] after a dungeon!
Food cart parked outside. The wonderful smell wafts into the dungeon.
Festival prices. Chance that food smell will lure any predators out of dungeon.
4
Cartographer
Buying / Selling maps
Scribbling, surveying, humming to himself while sitting on a rock/log.
If there are any other entrances/exits to the dungeon, even if they’re hidden, they know about them. Honest prices for information.
5
Meat Merchant
“Buying fresh meats…”
“Fresh” meat cart, piled with a body or two. Flies buzzing about it. Did one of those bodies just move?
“Exotic sums for exotic meats.” Has types of currency that should be well beyond his means (occultum, spellgold, wish-coins), hidden who knows where.
6
Jeweler
The rawest gems have the most potential.
One big empty sack for rocks and one big sack a quarter-full of identifying equipment.
Can Identify on the side, fees are way too cheap, because:
1. They’re bad at it.
2. It’s cheap, but you must buy a gem, too.
3. They sell the knowledge of who has what magic item to local thugs.
4. They’re just a generous dope.
7
Dung Farmer
Because even dungeon poop has value.
Smelling like a freshly fertilized field, covered in gods-know-what. Leaning on a shovel.
You wouldn’t believe how much money this guy is willing to shell out for exotic shit. You wouldn’t believe how much he sells it for, either.
8
Pickers
Gotta go to the source for the best deals!
Pair of folksy-looking fellahs uncomfortably chipper and friendly.
Prepare for haggling. They’ll try bundling (junk with valuable stuff), and leaving their contact information if nothing’s sold.
9
Sheriff
Chances are that something illegal happened in dungeon.
On a horse, armed, accompanied by only a single deputy, the idealistic fool.
Will interrogate people emerging from the dungeon. Asking about illegal activity within. Will try to confiscate any illegal goods.
10
Dungeon Dog!
HE NED FREND
Just comes running happily right on up.
Free dog companion - will sacrifice itself to take the next hit that someone in the party would take.
11
Dungeon Duckling
Just got born. Abandoned by mother.
Imprints on first person emerging from dungeon
Will eventually grow into the loyal and dangerous Dungeon Swan - a mighty and fearsome companion.
12
Mushroom Man
Wants to decompose all the bodies
Embedded inconspicuously on entrance wall. Will run in after party leaves.
If you ignore this chap, expect a bunch of mushroom men the next time you enter the dungeon.
13
Spy
Dungeon business is noble’s business.
Concealment from a distance. They’re only observing.
If somehow caught, will lie about intentions. Any pressure and they’ll spill it all (who they work for, what they’re doing, and why.)
14
Greedy Doctor
One can provide notoriously high markup for the desperate.
Dressed in setting-appropriate scrubs, tools in bag aren’t the cleanest.
10% chance of bad medicine or infection. Every single item, from tools to bandages, comes a la carte.
15
Undertaker
Somebody needs to take care of the bodies.
He’ll work for cheap.
He won’t say any prayers for the dead, though. You’ll need a cleric for that.
16
Friendly Adventuring Party
Heading into dungeon after you.
With fresh bodies and spirits. They may even be helpful.
If you’re at all friendly back, they may provide assistance in the future, either in or before entering the dungeon, providing combat help or supplies (water, anti-toxin, etc.)
17
Rival Adventuring Party
“Again we see there is nothing you can possess which I cannot take away.”
Ambush at the dungeon exit: show of force, possibly followed by violence.
If the Party approached the dungeon by brute force, R.A.P. approached by diplomacy. Vice versa. They try to make it seem like the better option - it may well be worse.
18
Bandits
Adventurers, dangerous though they are, can carry up to a year’s loot.
Ambush at the entrance, hidden from view. Split the party down the middle by trap or force. Pick off the weaker half.
Whatever’s in the dungeon, they’re scared of it. They’re superstitious, and will scatter at any non-human threat.
19
Porter
Good money to be made carrying stuff back from the dungeon.
Packs, straps, and little else.
The heavier the load, the more he’ll charge.
20
Wizard
Some horrible wizard shit, to be sure.
You know a wizard when you see one...
He is doing right now:
1. Mustering horrid minions to assault the dungeon.
2. Fiddling with Superscience.
3. Arguing with some mercenaries.
4. Resting, readying spells. Vulnerable!
21
Hatter
You’d be surprised how many people emerging from dungeons want to buy hats.
They wear the entire stock balanced and stacked atop their head.
Maybe they’re just a little crazy? Hatter and all that. At least one of those hats is magical.
22
Noble
Now that the dungeon is safe, this one can safely enforce their claim.
Proudly atop a horse, house banner whipping in the wind, present with knights or other hired ilk.
As long as you don’t lay claim to this dungeon, its surrounding landscape, or the tax-levied portion of goods obtained within, you’re free to go.
23
Suitor / Maiden
Mystic told them that they’d find true love/the one they’d marry at the entrance to this dungeon.
Dressed for a wedding. Naturally drawn to the highest CHA member of the party.
They will propose marriage on the spot, provided things aren’t immediately dangerous.
24
Orphan + Troll
“Pay da toll or get da troll.” Extortion or trollfeed, plain and simple.
A vicious orphan-child in rags, and their stoic troll companion.
The orphan doesn’t know the value of things. Things a child would like get an instant pass. You get three attempts before the orphan runs out of patience and sics the troll on you.
25
Priest
To save souls, of course!
Dressed in priestly attire, approaching without fear.
Will consecrate the dead, and provide blessings to those found to be in service of Law.
26
Mercenary
To trade service for coin. Will provide escort, or muscle for return journeys.
Dressed to kill, alone, leaning against a tree or rock.
Decent price for one-time gig. Retainer fee kind of pricey. Knows what they’re doing. Level 1-2 Fighter. Decent Morale.
27
Pimp
Taking the goods right to the customer, before any competitors get a shot.
They’ve got a pimp wagon and everything. Holy shit.
The logistics of this feat are mind-boggling. How did this guy drag a pimp-wagon full of complaining hookers all the way to this dungeon? How did he protect them? How did he convince them? How?!
28
Waterboy
Dungeoning is hard work. Somebody’s gotta provide relief.
Got every comfort a returning party needs stacked on his shoulders: water, towels, lanterns, praise.
A standard fee gets you the whole package. He’ll even carry your bloodstained clothes! This is a deal. Why isn’t this service provided at every dungeon?!
29
Butler
When the Waterboy isn’t enough.
Dressed as a butler would be, poised to ease your every problem.
Basically, the Waterboy but more comprehensive and much more expensive. Can take care of virtually any problem one might have while exiting a dungeon. Very capable.
30
Goat
???
Like an ordinary goat, doing goat things.
Why is it here? What is its purpose? Is it tasty? Random mystery goat!