Monday, January 16, 2023

The Return of Dungeon 23

 My computer has been replaced, so I'll be able to type up my scribbled notes about the rooms in my Dungeon 23 sometime in the next few days. Until then, here's the current state of the ground floor of my map: 

EDIT: And then, as soon as my computer was replaced, I fractured a rib, and as dumb/lame/pathetic as that sounds, found it too painful to sit in a chair and type. For several weeks. So that was the end of Dungeon 23 for me. What a bummer.

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Days without computers

 My computer died.while it's in the shop, I'm continuing to work on the Dungeon23 challenge, but won't be posting much as it's really a pain in the keyboard trying to post to blogger from my phone.


Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Dungeon23, Bridge 1.4

Room 1.4: This is a 70 foot long stone bridge connecting the north barbican gatehouse to the Northwest Gate of the Castle. The stone handrail is mostly intact, the surface is heavily scratched and mostly free of moss. 

Two sculptural elements adorn the bridge, one of which is considerably more broken than the handrails. Both stone sculptures appear to be creatures with humanoid torsos and serpentine lower bodies. The more complete of the two is along the railing, it's tail weaving between the railposts, and it reaches towards the castle. The other is inconveniently placed in the middle of the bridge, and its upper half is broken off the snake body, and rests in several pieces. The shattered one is in poor condition generally, but the one weaving through the railing is not only in great shape but also an incredibly detailed carving with lifelike (though inhuman) features and little signs of weathering. 

In reality, these are of course the petrified features of Yuan Ti who died upon the bridge earlier this year. Players will likely grok to this quickly, and the GM should make no effort to conceal it from them if they inquire along those lines. They'll probably draw the wrong conclusion anyway, assuming it to be foreshadowing of a Medusa much later in the module, rather than a basilisk showing up in the next couple of rooms. 

Speaking of which: While most of the time this bridge is empty (other than stone cold snakemen statues), there are two fairly regular exceptions when the creatures from Room 1.XX show up. On cold days, the basilisk comes to sun itself on the bridge for an hour or two in the middle of the day to warm up. At sunset, it's owner takes it out for a 15-minute walk and a frequent snack, often plucking a tasty bat out of the air when the swarms release from 1.1A. At either time, both creatures from 1.XX arrive together.

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

Dungeon 23, Room 1.3

Room 1.3: This is inside the base of the Northern Barbican Gatehouse. When the barbican was originally built, this base was a solid rock foundation, in-filled with stone debris and aggregate. It was still intact when the castle was defeated by sorcery and treachery, but in the years since, it has been consumed by the acidic roots of several semi-intelligent plant monsters. Their digestion has weakened the tower, causing the floors above to partially collapse, and leaving a hollow that has of late become a nest for a large colony of bats.

The locations marked A and B in this room are holes leading further below, opening onto the sublevel areas 2.XX. The holes appear to be ringed with snarls of thorny roots. These are two Stone Creepers (2x CR 1 medium plants from the Tome of Beasts 2).

In addition to the two Stone Creepers, a total of 7 Swarms of Bats nest here. (7x CR 1/4, Monster Manual)  During daylight hours, assume 1 swarm adjacent to each of Creepers A and B, and the remaining 5 Swarms in the larger cave marked 1.3C.  At sunset, the bats alight and fly out of the tower. They return 1 Swarm at a time over the hours before dawn. 

Lastly, the dark cave here is also appealing to snakes, of which there are many in the vicinity of the castle. At any given time there are 1d4-2 Poisonous Snakes (CR 1/8, Monster Manual) here, either hunting bats, or curled up in the roots of a Stone Creeper.


A Potential Disaster: Nothing that lives in this hole will seek to cause trouble for the PCs, but incautious PCs who plunge into the depths, make shocking loud noises, or unleash open flames will create a chaotic and perilous situation. 

Stone Creepers are not generally aggressive to other organic life, but they will get panicked if the PCs try to uproot them, or if Medium size or larger PCs try to push through or past them to get to the area on floor 2, below, and will use their acid-exuding thorns to defend themselves in such circumstances. If the PCs bring open flame down in to this area, the Stone Creeper's panicked reaction will be even worse. 

The wall marked 1.3D has been weakened over the years, and the creature will rip its way through to escape. This will cause the entire west tower of the north barbican gatehouse to collapse. Damage to any PCs in or within 10 feet of the tower (and any Sword Wraiths in 1.2, above) is as described for the Stone Creeper's Weaken Stone ability. If the Bat Swarms and/or Poisonous Snakes survive they will become agitated and violent. 

In the wake of the collapse, a large pit will be left open directly into area 2.XX. This collapse will obviously raise a great commotion, and the sudden unexplained transformation of the tower will put all the denizens of the ruins on edge. If this happens, raise all Alert Levels by 1.


Sunday, January 1, 2023

Dungeon23, Day 2

(I'm jumping the gun a little, getting ahead on this because I don't anticipate having time tomorrow night. Don't want to fail the challenge on day 2.)

 Room 1.2: The upper floor of the gatehouse. The eastern section has a Scorpion (treat as a Ballista, per the DMG) that can be pivoted to aim out any of three firing ports. Additional slightly smaller arrow slits allow for crossbow shots along other avenues of approach. 

The western section has a collapsed floor leading into area 1.1A, and the Scorpion that should be on this end is missing. 

Between the two sides is a middle section overlooking the bridge. It has two raised portcullises in this upper space, and the floor section between them has numerous murder slits for raining bolts downward. Note that the gears and winches for the portcullises also collapsed when the floor in the western section gave way. The grates are held in place by locks and wedges. If they were to be released, they would slam downward into place, and given the broken and missing winch system, there's no easy way to lift them back up.  (Lifting the now-jammed gates by hand in the middle of a battle is a Difficulty 25 Athletics check. Doing so with a group of people outside of combat is automatic, but takes several minutes of focused labor.)

This room is guarded by two Sword Wraith Warriors

(2x CR 3, per Mordenkainen's Tome of Foes) 

In life, these warriors were tasked with guarding the bridge, but when the castle was defeated by treachery and sorcery instead of by force of arms, they were trapped within the barbican and starved to death. They now wait eternally for the attack they were sworn to repel. 

If any of the PCs (or their allies) come from a distinguished family line with a famous coat of arms or long history, it's possible that these warriors will recognize their heraldry and seek to block their passage on the bridge. The same holds true if a PC returns to the surface with the magic shield emblazoned with the three black crowns on a red field (see room X.XX, below). In such a case, the portcullises come crashing down forever and the Sword Wraiths will sally out for combat, or fire bows or scorpion as necessary. 

Note as well that the Sword Wraith's special Martial Fury ability has great synergy with fighting on the staircase from 1.1B: they get the extra attack, and the Advantage it would give the PCs is canceled by the Disadvantage of fighting up the stairs. That would be part of these Warrior's trained tactics from their mortal posting to this tower, so it's definitely a tactic they would attempt to utilize from beyond the grave. 

Treasure: Scorpion (if you can disassemble it), 20 large bolts for the same, 14 electrum pieces dating to the era the castle was built in, and the weapons and armor on the Sword Wraiths.

(The missing scorpion and winches from the western section can be found in room 1.3, below.)

Dungeon 23: Day 1.

I've decided to try the "Dungeon 23" Challenge. The goal is to make a 365-room, 12-level Mega-Dungeon, one room at a time, one room per day for a year.  I'm sketching out the map in my RocketBook, so that I can snap regular photos of it and post them here. Probably won't take pictures every day, as it's one thing to find a few minutes to draw a room and think about what might go in it, but it would be a whole additional hurdle to have to find time to post that here every day. 

Here's today's initial sliver of my map (...and part of my thumb, because of how I was holding the RocketBook).  It's actually sort of two rooms, and a bit of a bridge, but none of these have monsters or anything, so I'm just counting it as my one room for the day. The idea I'm working from is that my dungeon is a castle ruin. So this part is a gatehouse or barbican at the far end of a bridge or causeway leading in to the castle. There will probably be a few other above-ground features, so my first official Dungeon Level may actually be split between two floors. 

I plan to label the rooms in MM.DD format (Month/Day).
Room 1.1: Two towers sit on either side of bridge or causeway, their upper levels connected to house a gate. Both look intact (though very weathered) from the Northern approach towards the ruin, and the portculis is raised.

1.1A: The western section of the gate house is in rough shape. The door is missing, just a few old shards of wood dangling from a mangled hinge. Within, a large section of the floor is broken away, leaving a gaping hole nearly 15 feet wide. A central support column holds what's left of the floor in place. Darkness below. 

1.1B: The eastern section of the gate house is completely intact. The closed door to this tower is greyed and swollen wood.  PCs who try to force this open via foot or shoulder should roll a DC15 Athletics check. If they fail, they still get it open, but take 1d3 damage in the process. Characters with axes or mauls can smash it down automatically, but doing so will alert the undead sentries in area 1.2, above.
An inner wall and a central support column divide room 1.1B in half, and on the other side, a narrow staircase winds up the wall. The stairs are tight to the wall so that anyone (such as the PCs) fighting their way up them in melee will have a hard time swinging with their right arm, putting them at Disadvantage for any attacks made using their right arm (or both arms, if using a two-handed weapon).