Tag Archives: RPGBA

RPG Blog Carnival: Unusual Dungeons

RPGBlogCarnivalLogoSmallA ‘dungeon’ is a room or cell in which a prisoner is kept. Traditionally, it is where evil overlords keep the fair maiden until the knights in shining armor come to her rescue. In fantasy role-playing games, the term ‘dungeon’ quickly expanded to mean any underground complex which the players explore in a structureed format; often, examining it room by room rather than in a story driven fashion – even when a backstory drives this explanation.

This has led to the dungeon becoming perhaps the biggest trope of the hobby, and one of the things every GM strives to do is break the formula – provide interesting settings, variations, and breaks from the pattern, while often keeping the convenience of dungeon-based game-play. Additionally, a classic dungeon is not appropriate for all genres.

I’ve always been a fan of dungeon delving, of cave exploration; from the old Red Box introduction dungeon to Undermountain, from the asteroid mines of Ceres to the fallen ruins of the Venusian space elevators. This month, I’d like to invite you to join me in exploring unusual dungeons – be it by location, theme, design, or any other element that you think makes a dungeon interesting and stand out from the usual mold.

If you write an article on the subject, please post a comment with a link below to share your work with others! (I need to approve comments, but I will do so at least once a day.)

Happy dungeon exploration, everybody!

 

The Crowd

Evening rush hour is not fun on the subway. Hundreds of men and women, crowded like sardines in a can. Party goers mixed with tired office workers. Every station, some get out – and a genereal reshuffling follows. You sigh with relief, as for a moment you can breathe again. Human odors hang heavily in the air, and then the car refills. More people, going to gods-know-where.

The train approaches the end of the line. More people get off the train than enter. Soon, you will be home. You even manage to find a seat. You close your eyes for a moment. You sense a presence, and open them again – a man now sits opposite you. He has an empty expression and stares right through you. There are only five or six people in the car when you exit at your station.

You take the nearest exist, pass through a tunnel and approach the stairs. There’s a man there, unsure of himself. He sees you and his face becomes expressionless. He, too, sees right through you, but stands between the steps and the escalator. You feel menaced and you do not know why. Hairs on your neck stand up. You glance behind you, four of the other guys from thee train are slowly approaching. You panic; there’s a side tunnel that leads underneath the main street. You follow it, the men stay behind you. You take a right turn, and you realize it was a mistake. There’s the maintenance section, off to the left, and the deserted platform to your right. More strangers appear in other tunnels. You fall into a run, but soon every exit is blocked by the men, as they shuffle, expressionless, towards you.

You stumble and fall. Shield your head with your hands and whimper as they begin to tear into you.

The Crowd consists of a group of mysterious men and – more rarely – women who inhabit the subway networks of the world. They appear, outwardly, as completely normal people, though their behavior is off. They don’t talk, they don’t really pay attention to their surroundings. They lie in prey at selected stations, while some membeers of the Crowd will chase a selected victim after it exists the train. The victim is herded into a side tunnel, where he is then devoured alive by The Crowed.

They are also known to attack isolated passengers on a train if all other passengers in the car are of the Crowd.

When they do not stalk prey, they live deep in the maintenance shacks and tunnels, where they build regular nests. The Crowd has not yet come to the attention of the authorities, and none have been dissected, but investigators claim that they are not actually human.

Statistics

Strength: Human normal
Agility: Human normal
Intelligence: Low, probably purely instinct driven
Weapons: Hands, bites – unarmed human
Armor: None

 

Sewer Worms

I had heard the rumors for years, but it wasn’t before one of these… things ate our remotely-operated robots during an inspection that I believed them. One moment, the dark, gloomy sewer was in the camera’s views, the next a slithering shape rose from the murk – a circular, black mouth with glistening white and razor-sharp teeth, and the robot went offline.

Luckily we had the recording to show our bosses, and so the follow-up inspection team was well armed. Two guys even made it back. Now that part of the city sewer is off-limits until we can find a solution and I will certainly not laugh the next time a colleague tells me of the horrors he has seen.

Sever Worms are grow to be 2-3 meters long (6-10 feet) and have a diameter of about 70 cm (2 feet). Their skin is chitinous and segmented, glistening brown or black. The head is bulbous, with two small, beady inky black eyes on its sides and a wide, circular mouth with white, triangular and very sharp teeth.

The worms live in a city’s sewers and feed on rats and other vermin. They have good reflexes and can achieve bursts of surprising speed, which helps them catch the smaller rodents. They do not normally venture out of the sewers, though they can sometimes infest very dirty basements, sewage plants, or nearby swamps. Thus, they are not normally dangerous, unless someone is fool-hardy enough to invade their territory. They will attack humans and, while they can’t actually swallow a human entirely like a snake swallows its prey, they can easily bite off a leg or arm. Smaller children might easily be killed, however. In addition, the worms do carry nasty diseases, and exposure to a sewer environment will also infect large open wounds.

Sewer worms are “just” strange animals, or monsters, and not in any way supernatural. They possess no sentience or intelligence, but their appearance combines with the claustrophobic environments and can easily panic a man.

Sewer worms are genderless and reproduce by laying a large number of eggs in hidden spots; the eggs hatch after several months. Sewer worms are not above eating their own young, and the hatchlings do attack and eat each other as well.

Statistics

Strength: High
Agility: Medium
Endurance: High
Intelligence: None – Animal
Weapons: Bite / Swallow, risk of infections
Armor: Some

 

Black Mold

 We realized quickly enough that something was wrong with the dream house we had just purchased. At first it was just floors that were wet without cause, and we thought there was an insulation problem, or a leaky roof. The mildewy smell that set in after a week didn’t help. We had no clue how terrible the truth was!

One night my wife woke me up with her screams. Seems she had wanted to go to the bathroom, only to step on a thick carpet of black mold. I swear by all that is holy that the mold writhed and shifted in the dim shine of the nightlight. It retreated under the bed, then appeared on the other side. It looked more like a colony of tiny creatures, mobile as an ant colony, but it was a layer of thick, black rot.

We made a run for it, got in the car and drove off to stay at our neighbors. We avoided thee specifics when we called for help the next day. The cleaner found our home empty but with that distinct mildewy smell. He said it might be covered by wallpapers, and that it might be quite a project to check and clean the building. Still scared, we agreed. I think none of us will ever forgeet what happened next. He never had a chance, and my wife and I barely escaped with our lives. The authorities took over, and I saw CDC vans and several men in dark suits at our house. We aren’t allowed back. Nor would we want to. My wife’s developed severe rashes on her feet and I am having a hard time breathing. We should have moved to California, after all.

Black mold infests houses in humid, warmer areas; usually after a flood brought moisture into the house. The mold is of a dark, blue-black color but otherwise looks like regular mold.

Once the infestation begins, it rapidly spreads, hiding behind wall panels and wallpaper, or under the floor. The mold doesn’t require any light, merely some heat, and any human house has plenty of that for the mold. The spread of the mold can be detected by some slight discolorations in places, especially when only a wallpaper covers the mold, but someone who does not know the tell-tale signs will assume it is merely a normal water discoloration.

After some time, however, the black mold will break out in the open; it will eat through the wooden panels of the wall, the floor, and the wallpaper. It can also be exposed by accident, for example when the house owners open up the wall or floor.

The mold has a rudimentary intelligence that grows as the colony increases in size. At first the mold may only be smart enough to avoid growing in places that would make detection obvious; later it may try to actively infect humans, for example by growing in places where it is likely to be exposed to people, or even by trying to over-grow a person in its sleep.

The mold is corrosive and highly poisonous. Touching the mold will lead to rashes. If the mold enters a person’s bloodstream, the person will suffer severe poisoning and will likely die.

Breathing in the mold’s spores is even more dangerous, as the lungs are a warm, wet place of the mold’s liking and it will infest the lungs of a human and grow there. If this happens, the mold will be able to spread all through the host’s body. When it reaches the brain, the host will go insane from intense headaches. Once the mold has thoroughly infested the host’s brain, it will be able to control the mad host on a rudimentary level. The host will not be smarted than the colony of the mold controlling it; but it will attempt to expose nearby humans to the mold culture. It may also attempt to kill those who threaten the mold. Eventually, the host is killed as the black mold slowly eats up its host from the inside.

The mold is resistant against most commonly used fungicides and because of its throughout spread in the smallest corners it is basically impossible to remove it from a house once infected. Burning the house could release spores, which are then carried to neighboring houses. The safest way to get rid of a black mold colony is to tear down the house, making sure the workers wear protective suits, and then burn the parts in sealed high temperature ovens. Black mold will also wither and die if its environment becomes too dry.

Statistics

Strength: N/A
Agility: N/A
Endurance: N/A
Intelligence: Varies (Low – Medium)
Weapons: Poison (death), lesser mind control
Armor: Immune to physical damage; vulnerable to fire

Things that Go Bump in the Night

RPGBlogCarnivalLogoSmallThe Blog Carnival – this month hosted by Of Dice And Dragons – is dealing with Things That Go Bump In The Night – or in other words, the strange horrors and creepy-crawlies that lurk just outside your field of view in the darkness. What I am trying to say is, it’s Halloween time! And, although I got a late start, I am going to try and catch up. I have some notes on strange creatures on file that I will post about in the next ten days.

Meanwhile, here are three suitable articles from my archives:

 Update, Nov 1st: My posts on this subject were:

You can find links to all other posts in the Carnival on Scot’s Wrap-up post.