06 August 2022

Gygax 75: The Dungeon (Week 3)

For the challenge, the dungeon is supposed to be the place where real adventure begins. The prompts reflect a quite specific vision for setting things up but are helpful to get things started, then it runs itself.

For our dungeon, we delve into a Temple of the Boring Beetles - our dwarf analogue on this world. The whole dungeon is carved into the trunk of one of the giant trees. The entrance is carved elaborately, an optical illusion that distracts from the chute within. Going with archetypes for dwarves, this is both a functional place the beetles used and a death-trap for strangers. Their optical-illusion carvings will be a feature.

The guide instructs us to make some rolls to find the number of themes we are dealing with. There was a little discussion and iteration but the themes we finally settled on were:
Theme 1 - the abandoned outer halls (intruders, things that settled in a ruin)
Theme 2 - the last stand of the boring beetle cult (cultists)
Theme 3 - the corrupted sanctum (spiders, undead)

The treasure hoard at the bottom of this is mostly fine crafted wooden objet d'art and the library. The spider-vampire now in residence hoards knowledge, gathered some themselves and then invaded and took over the lower levels to secure the temples library.

Dicing up some numbers of rooms, connections between levels, and alternating with the in-house testing team to place room rapidly blocked out the levels and their rooms. Some thing sprang into focus as we kicked around the themes.
- The place had once been a functional temple complex, the first level was abandoned and has dangerous but non-intelligent creatures that have made their home in this convenient lair.
- The deepest level is where a corrupter has taken over, a spider-vampire with its thralls. They gained their foothold after the original cult fell into dissarray after their primary shrine became corrupt. It remains, a hoard in a room carved with patterns that induces homicidal greed.
- Between these two are the last remnants of the cult, clinging on and trying to reclaim the lowest levels to cleanse its many corruptions.

This all got sketched out like this, zooms and room key to come later.

Monster Roster populated itself and a theme emerged of 'apparently beetle-folk that are not'
2. Giant predatory caterpillar
3. Myconids
4. Fungal animated beetle-folk
5. Ooze
6. Beetleman thralls of the spider-vampire
7. Spider swarms
8. Animated carvings
9. Cult fanatics
10. Skeletons of tombraiders
11. Revenant beetlefolk slain by the vampire
12. Spider vampire

1. Pattern of greed - carvings that induce greed, paranoia, madness
2. Patterns of concealment - hiding secret passages

Wondrous items - considering what a beetleman would create
1. Ring of sharpness - unarmed attacks strike as dagger
2. Staff of animate object - 1/day
3. Headband of tremorsense

All in all this was also a good set of prompts, blocking out rooms and level connections help create a form with constraints that then informed the rest of the elements.


  1. Way to make boring beetles interesting! *ba dumm tssss*


    Cool dungeon theme! I like the carved illusions, hypnotic patterns... It would be interesting to have a single Boring Beetle survive somewhere, in stasis, or in a cocoon, last in its line...

    1. Boring beetles - boring by name, maybe not boring by nature if they are chewing on your arm...

      Agree that having one in a deep stasis cocoon could be neat - actually could be a great idea for 'we need someone to turn all this stuff off and only one of the builders can' type of thing.

      *scribbles notes*