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How megadungeons interact with the campaign universe

December 6, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

I cannot improve on the title: ‘Brinicle’ ice finger of death filmed in Antarctic.

That, right there, is how I see megadungeons metastasizing through the underearth.* I don’t know if the trapped starfish are earth elementals or potential monsters or what, but I do know it’s the creepiest thing I’ve seen in a long time. Sorry I can’t embed it – crazy custom BBC player.

Alternatively, you know about the WIPP, right? And how they were going to build some crazy spiked pyramid thing but they decided that would make it too attractive so they went with off-puttingly dull (good choice, actually)? The video up top is what I imagine the WIPP doing after it’s been left alone for 2000 years or so, in order to suddenly turn Earth into Gamma World.

ETA –  d’Nereverri has another theory too delicious to keep quiet: dungeons are fungi, and the monsters are their spores. See, a monster settles down, digs itself a hole, and the dungeon just kind of grows out behind the hole producing more monsters along the way, until it reaches maturity and sends out hordes of monsters who, after rampaging for a while, settle down and dig new holes for new dungeons. Adventuring parties are basically harvesting some of the dungeon flesh to feed the surface human communities. (I suppose there are also some opportunistic creatures who live symbiotically in the dungeon, but I expect those are relatively rare.)

Chartporn chaser: this year’s Christmas card. Or possibly the schematic map for your next Saturday Night special.

* relevant discussion point –

me: What if the surface, where men live, is really an interface zone between two different planes – locally “over” and “under”? Monsters (and treasure) are produced by interaction between the planes, like nylon – and any interplanar boundary is liable to produce its own distinctive
phenomena – while the “interiors” of the planes would be largely inert. Until interacted with by, say, an adventuring party. If that’s the case then delves into the underworld should spawn their own threats and treasures, like fulgurites. And lords and kings – who are all, remember, retired high-level dungeoneers – send lowly apprentice adventurers off into caves not to empty them, but as catalysts – controlled reaction surfaces – to populate and extend and define them, ready for subsequent looting. (Whether multiple unrelated adventuring parties provoke different, overlaid or malleable underworlds by their separate actions and experiences is left as an exercise for the reader.)

So why, then, do bigger monsters-and-treasure cluster at lower levels of the underworlds? More reagent is available, for one – it’s not already being taken up with thousands of micro-events topside. But maybe there are also pockets of super-reagent to be found below the surface – intra-planar whorls of concentrated adventure-potential. Probably the laughing magician would know ways of dowsing for them, and would send his best victims agents to poke them vigorously check them out (I note in passing that his jokes are frequently described as mordant – ie both bitingly painful and capable of fixing fugitive colours to stable fabric).

cdk: perhaps the reaction happens at the interface, but the best products are predominantly of one plane or the other, and either sink or float. Or maybe it’s more like this and a catalyst from one plane intermingles with a flow from the other plane and sinks down where it reacts with the rich, previously inert [lower depths|upper reaches].

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  1. January 3, 2012 at 4:44 pm

    I like this, I’m going to try a conceptualization with just somewhat different terminology. Say our universe (or the representative of something similar in a fantasy game) and the weird, underworld are branes. These branes periodically bump up against each other and the resulting impingement creates a nidus for “crystal” formation. These “crystals” are dungeons. The “denser” elements (i.e. higher levels) naturally sink to the bottom.

  2. January 4, 2012 at 3:05 pm

    Jinn as an emergent property of the interaction between worlds/branes. I like it.

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