“The Deepest Dungeon Of Them All” – For centuries dwarves and wizards carved the Underhalls below Mount Waterdeep, even before the founding of the city against the foothills.  Now only the constant incursions of adventurers keep the evil inhabitants of the Undermountain in check.  (Box and book cover art by Brom for The Ruins of Undermountain box set, TSR, 1991.)

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Check out a new Emerald Spire Superdungeon preview. This time Green Ronin’s Chris Pramas and I talk about our awesome levels today on the Paizo blog!

Read about old-school cultism, the definition of a superdungon, and spoilers about dragons in Paizo’s LARGEST dungeon ever!

Need even more spoilers: these are artist Warren Mahey’s interpretations of Vrainheis and Ghalodz, twin magma dragons from my level of the Emerald Spire. They share a very unhealthy relationship. Ghalodz is the one who replaced his missing eye with a topaz.

Megadungeon Idea: The Gates of Death

Basically, a few decades ago, the kingdom was thrown into an enormous succession war. The king was dead, there wasn’t a direct heir, and a bunch of distant relatives were all well-connected enough to contest whatever claims to succession any of them made.

Because a lot of the royal family had married abroad there were foreign troops being dragged into this too. A faction arose, primarily among the common people but also among the order of wizards, which wanted to put an end to the war by any means possible.

The first attempt, organized by the high wizards, was a magical solution: They would end the destruction of the war by going down to the Gates of Death and sealing them. Thus those conscripted for the war would no longer die. They did this, but that didn’t end things. Instead, fighting, especially over the Gates themselves, intensified. Various factions got the idea that if they could hold control over the closed Gates of Death, they could use the amassed dead souls waiting to pass beyond and turn them into an army of undead, assuring their victory and giving them a magically bound army to enforce their will forevermore.

The second attempt was a political solution. A negotiated compromise created… something, I’ll fill in later whether it’s a rotating or elective monarchy, or a republic, or rule by a council of nobles (with representatives from the wizard order and the church and the commons), or something. But basically the goal was to come up with something that would get all sides to stop fighting, rather than to come up with a solid, functioning, lasting government, so concessions were made by and to all sides. This has, so far, worked.

But, now there’s this enormous complex of abandoned magical laboratories and caverns and war camps sitting on top of the still-closed Gates of Death, in the middle of the kingdom. It’s haunted, and full of not just undead but also creatures made by incarnating the lost souls (and hosts of lost souls) in any convenient body, or making one (which basically means that practically anything in the monster manual can be explained being there). and of course there’s abandoned magical stuff all over, and whatever stuff is just supernaturally-occuring for sitting in the caves leading to the Gates of Death (so all kinds of weird gems).

Plus some of the dead are lucid and might have advice, even stuff they couldn’t have known while living, if you can help them. None of the dead can truly rest until the Gates are reopened, but there are things you can do to earn their trust.

For whatever reason, the people whose fault this whole “closed Gates of Death” business is can’t or won’t just go down there again and open them. Some of them might be trapped, some in the complex, some elsewhere. Some might have fled. All of them are probably going to be punished very severely when Death gets its hands on them. I kinda like the idea that one of them is stuck on each dungeon level, either alive but bound or as a ghost. Maybe they can guide you. Some might help you, trying to right their mistake. Others might mislead you, trying to stave off their passage through the gates. Maybe one of the stuck people wasn’t directly responsible but one of the people who was tricked them into taking their place.

All of the monsters in the dungeon are tormented souls denied rest. They might fight you, they probably will, but running them out of hit points won’t kill them, and under the right circumstances you can talk to them.

Alignment takes a backseat here. Even things that are given as “alignment: always chaotic evil” in the manual probably aren’t here. Most of the souls want to rest more than anything else. Many of them also want to take the opportunity that being stuck in the material plane for another few decades to tie up some unfinished business (remember, most of the dead were conscripted peasants killed in a war that meant nothing to them. we can handwave the fridge logic or say that this is just one of many Gates of Death or something but it’s the one for this region), so there might be things where the PCs get called upon by dungeon monsters to serve as couriers to the surface world, but most aren’t lucid enough for that. There might be ways to make a monster more lucid, or to bind them, but otherwise they probably respawn, if not every foray into the dungeon then occasionally, just because you can’t lay a ghost to rest by stabbing it.

Another fun aspect of this is that if we use the default D&D5 cosmology then this will probably be a dungeon that involves a lot of hopping between the coexistent planes. The Gates themselves are probably in the Shadowfell, an there’s probably something going on in the Feywild too. I could easily see plane-hopping (probably through fixed portals) being an important part of solving puzzles. Maybe getting to the deepest levels at all requires passing through chokepoints in the Shadowfell, and I could also see the three-version setup creating sublevels and stuff.

frankafrank  asked:

I'm starting a campaign soon based on dungeon crawls and hack-n-slash fun times and I'm looking for inspiration, do you have any cool dungeon stories you'd like to share?

One of the deadliest feeling dungeon adventures I ever played actually wasn’t a Pathfinder or D&D game, it was Dungeons Crawl Classics game. The big reason for this is that in DCC, your characters don’t start out as 1st-level adventurers, they start out as 0-level commonfolk. And you get three or four of them. You need that many because the dungeons are still built to be lethal and the characters are in NO WAY equipped to handle them.

The resulting adventure involved hapless villager after hapless village being slaughtered as they suicidially invaded the sanctum of the Frog God. It was a total bloodbath, but also a great time! As we all lost characters we taped them to our conference room’s whiteboard next to a huge cartoon Frog God idol. It was a total blast.

It was also a great lesson for running and designing dungeons. It’s one thing to make a dungeon brutal in your notes, its another thing to force it home to your PCs. You can make them feel it with tons of perils and save vs consequences traps, but that gets old and tedious fast. But you can also show them. Give the PCs torchbearers, henchmen, tagalogs, and rivals and proceed to make gory examples of them before anyone gets too attached. Make sure your dungeon has clear evidence of past explorers and their failures. You can even use monsters. There’s no reason every monster needs to have perfectly memorized the position of every trap in a dungeon. Have a goblin spot your PCs from the opposite end of a hall and charge them, only to have it set off and messily perish to just one of three or four traps lining the hall. You can make your PCs dread your dungeon by giving them brutal reasons to dread it… all without ever laying a finger on them.

I tried this recently in my level of the upcoming Emerald Spire Superdungeon. (Spoiler!) My level, the Magma Vault, features a band of elite Hellknight soldiers who got that far through the dungeon and there were wiped out. The first half of the level is littered with their weapons, journals, and corpses. It doesn’t prove to be much more than dungeon dressing, but it does make the PCs wonder, if these bad-asses got wiped out, what hope do we have?

Good luck with your dungeon design, and putting the fear of god into your PCs!


Entrances and exits to geomorph tile based dungeons can be a rare thing. I’m including a few experimental “Access” tiles in my first hand drawn geomorphs pack. Hopefully they might just fix a few of the issues thrown up by exit-less one-level megadungeons -which can be built in minutes using square geomorph style tiles. I’ll be bringing out the downloadble low priced PDF first (RPGNow/DTRPG) and then releasing a more richly textured version as a pre-printed deck through theGameCrafter. At least that’s the plan. 60+ unique designs, each with a mirror copy (and/or multiples or corridors etc) - the exact number of cards is still in flux. PDF price should be around the $5 mark at launch. I’m bursting to finish this and share it with you all.:)

The surface level of the Hobby Shop Dungeon, aka Castle Caeladon, Nester’s Folly, the Dungeon at the edge of the Wild, redrawn by Benoist Poiré from Ernie Gygax’s original campaign materials.  Ernie Gygax and Poiré are working to publish this historic megadungeon and its setting for the first time through their company GP Adventures.  (Image via the Hobby Shop Dungeon Facebook page.)  See also Hobby Shop Dungeon G+, GP Adventures Twitter.

  • blizzard:medivh's in the legends of the past... idk if he is coming back
  • blizzard:
  • blizzard:[releases Medivh in HotS]
  • blizzard:[releases Karazhan Adventure in Hearthstone]
  • blizzard:[releases trailer for a rebooted Karazhan megadungeon]
  • blizzard:
  • blizzard:B)

The Hobby Shop Dungeon, created in 1978 by Ernest G. Gygax Jr. (Tenser). Now renovated and about to be published by GP Adventures LLC for new generations of gamers, far and wide. Pictured: The Hobby Shop Dungeon, Surface Level, Players’ Map, as presented on a banner for Gary Con V, signed by both designers, Benoist Poire and Ernest G Gygax Jr.

Decided to randomly throw together (almost) all the tiles.  So maybe lava next to water doesn’t make a lot of sense, but this is the Elemental Plane of Dungeons, deal with it.

Despite not doing any post-editing on the map, it almost completely avoided any isolated, unreachable rooms.  …Except for the entrance near the upper right corner.  I guess if you come at it from the wrong direction, you get a really short delve.

Greyhawk Castle

(Before the rules for D&D were published ‘Old Greyhawk Castle’ was 13 levels deep. The first level was a simple maze of rooms and corridors, for none of the participants had ever played such a game before. The second level had two unusual items, a Nixie pool and a fountain of snakes. The third featured a torture chamber and many small cells and prison rooms. The fourth was a level of crypts and undead. The fifth was centered around a strange font of black fire and gargoyles. The sixth was a repeating maze with dozens of wild hogs (3 dice) in inconvenient spots, naturally backed up by appropriate numbers of Wereboars. The seventh was centered around a circular labyrinth and a street of masses of ogres. The eight through tenth levels were caves and caverns featuring Trolls, giant insects and a transporter nexus with an evil Wizard (with a number of tough associates) guarding it. The eleventh level was the home of the most powerful wizard in the castle. He had Balrogs as servants. The remainder of the level was populated by Martian White Apes, except the sub-passage system underneath the corridors which was full of poisonous creatures with no treasure. Level welve was filled with Dragons. The bottom level, number thirteen, contained an inescapable slide which took the players clear through to China, from where they had to return via ‘Outdoor Adventure’. It was quite possible to journey downward to the bottom level by an insidious series of slanting passages which began on the second level, but the likelihood of following such a route unknowingly didn’t become too great until the seventh or eight level. Of the dozen or so who played on a fairly regular basis, four made the lowest level and took the trip: Rob Kuntz, now a co-referee in the campaign went alone; and three of his fiends managed to trace part of his route and blunder along the rest, so they followed him quickly to the land of China. - Side levels included a barracks with Orcs, Hobgoblins anf Gnolls continually warring with each other, a museum, a huge arena, an underground lake, a Giant’s home, and a garden of fungi.)

Gary Gygax - “How To Set Up Your Dungeons & Dragons Campaign - And Be Stuck Refereeing It Seven Days Per Week Until The Wee Hours Of The Morning!” in Europa #6-8 (April 1975), from page 19

After yesterday’s post I had a few folks ask what Bastardhall was. Well I’m glad you asked…

Bastardhall is my yearly Paizocon game, which I’ve been running at the convention for 5 consecutive years now (and will run the 6th session of at this year’s convention). But it’s more than just my personal megadungeon.

From Pathfinder Adventure Path #48, Page 61, Blood of Bastardhall: Once every 100 years the a spectral bridge leading to Castle Arudora appears and a coach driven by a headless rider storms across, scouring the countryside and claiming victims with mysterious deliberateness. Yet this century, the bridge to the ruin known as Bastardhall has appeared early, not long after a mysterious figure calling himself Caydserris Arudora passed through Cesca headed for the castle. Who is the mysterious new master of Bastardhall? What has changed the balance of power within its haunted halls? And what lies imprisoned within its catacombs that even angels would kill to keep secure?

If you want more material on Bastardhall, page 54 of Rule of Fear includes more on the Arudora family, while page 58 includes an overview of Bastardhall itself, along with a side view map of the island. Page 42 and 43 of that book also present the town of Cesca, along with a plot called “Witch’s Hunt” that talks more about Miamara Vitters (a poster map of this town also appears in the Carrion Crown Poster map Folio). Page 6 of Inner Sea Magic also includes Caydserras Arudora among the list of the Inner Sea Region’s most potent spellcasters.

The most important details, though, are in the three black moleskin notebooks I’ve carried since I started running this adventure. The first and most tattered includes a vertical view of Bastardhall and its various dungeons, crypts, and caves; the map of Cesca; my notes for incorporating the Harrow into character creation; the first adventure; and my overarching notes for the campaign. The second includes the map of Maiserene and Bastardhall’s gatehouses, along with the second and third adventures. The third includes a top down view of all of Arudora island and the fourth adventure.

The sixth adventure hasn’t been written yet, but debuts at Paizocon 2014 and will involve the heroes further exploring Castle Arudora.

As for publishing the adventure, well, I’d have to finish creating it first, wouldn’t I? At this point, characters are around level 6, so I’m about a third of the way through. ;)

If you’re interested in learning more, there’s a whole thread about the castle on the Paizo forums right here.