Real dungeons are the best dungeons
Zenobia is a straight-up archaeology blog, but occasionally it seems to be working the RPG aisle.
no sooner had Alexander Severus — and his mother, Julia Mamaea — been murdered by mutinous soldiers far away in upper Germany… than a freedman named Aurelius Felicissimus began to build an elaborate and ambitious tomb for himself (235-240 CE) in Rome.
The richly decorated tomb consists of three rooms, two of them underground, which were used for burials… the space was intended for use by a select group of religious ‘brothers’, seemingly some kind of alternative cult community. Scholars have never been able to decide on the identity of this group. Were they Gnostics, Pythagorian Gnostics, heretical Christians, or even a pagan syncretic burial club?
This describing a real 3rd century Roman tomb that contains religious symbolism from all over – a pagan buffet that includes Jesus and Orpheus and who knows what else interacting in mysterious pictures on the wall that defy interpretation. And then there’s the obligatory horse-fish devouring a small human figure while a naked man looks on, lying relaxed in a bower, a lamp at his side.
So I see inspirational material for dungeon mapping, weird murals and scenes full of symbols you have to interpret, but can’t unless you figure out what cult they apply to. Campaign seed!