Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Megadungeon Project for 2014

One of the things I've been missing on the blog is a regular reason to post content - I haven't been purchasing as much 3rd party stuff for review, and the Black City posts are mostly game reports.  Regarding the Black City, I am making consistent progress on turning notes into a written manuscript, and I also got a new computer tower over the holidays.  I'm putting some energy into updating mapping software and turning my pencil and graph maps into something electronic.  In the meantime, I'm looking at changing things up for next year to give the Lich House some more focus.

The Junkyard, the name I use for my parking lot of half-baked ideas, is littered with various mega dungeon concepts in sundry stages of development.  For 2014, why not dig one out of the Junkyard, and make it a weekly, public project for posting on the blog?  The structure would do me some good.  I remember fondly when The Society of Pole, Torch and Rope was a thing and Amityville Mike posted the first cut of Stonehell through updates every week or so.

To this end, I'm going to get some feedback from my players, and ask any dear readers to take a moment and drop a comment or vote on the new poll.  Here are the contenders for the 2014 blog project:

Harrow Home Manor
Regular readers have probably seen the name Harrow Home Manor - there's at least a dozen Harrow Home related posts out there.  Harrow Home is a gothic horror themed dungeon beneath the Yorkshire Moors.  Sorcerers and wizards escaping persecution have gathered in the halls beneath Harrow Home to pursue their arcane research far from prying eyes.  An ancient cyst of unknown properties rests in the depths of Harrow Home, daring investigation and madness.

Death Mountain
There is a tortuous entrance to the Greek underworld and the realms of the death god Hades through Death Mountain.  As god of death and wealth, Hades' dungeons of Death Mountain are filled with deadly traps and unimaginable wealth.  Whereas most of my themes involve low magic and a subdued degree of fantasy, a setting like Death Mountain presupposes active gods, powerful magical effects, and a degree of heroic fantasy.  All of the legendary monsters of Greek myth could have a place here.

Vaults of Xibalba
I spent a phase last year reading a ton about colonial history, the Caribbean, and the age of piracy, but my general discomfort with pure hex crawl and wilderness campaigns kept me from going any further.  The Vaults of Xibalba is an attempt to bridge the gap, by placing a large Mayan-style ruin on a mysterious island off the Yucatan coast.  A chasm rift across the ruins is the mythic road to Xibalba, the fairy otherworld and realms of the dead from Mesoamerican folklore.  We always see dungeon style adventures with Tolkienesque elves and halflings and wizards, how about pirates, buccaneers, voodoo priests and bokors?  The Lords of Xibalba are powerful extra dimensional prisoners in the ruins, and the dungeons beneath the ruins hold both ancient prisons and gateways to the realm of Xibalba.
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I'd be intrigued to develop any of these dungeons on the blog - so let's hear what grabs your fancy.  Harrow Home and Xibalba would be low magic, using LOTFP style rules and early modern technology - guns and rapiers.  Death Mountain supports a much different flavor of magic (lightning bolts and fireballs, woot) and would probably work best with Labyrinth Lord or ACKS as the default rules.  Harrow Home is heavily influenced by the horror tradition, Xibalba touches on my love for ancient astronaut theories and weird science, and Death Mountain would be an homage to Ray Harryhausen movies and has "the gods" (who could just end up as horror inducing extraterrestrials if I don’t carefully curate the themes).  They're all pretty interesting!