What are Dungeons?

Here’s what I’m thinking of dungeons in my current campaign world. It might be good to put it into words.

  • Dungeons are like tumours growing in a body exposed to toxins and radiation.
  • Dungeons are like the protective patina that forms on copper when it’s exposed to weather.
  • Dungeons are like the swelling around an infected wound.

In this case, the radiation, weather, and infection are all the Other, the strange cthuluuverse that wants to devour the world.

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Serpents

Another part in making animals weird.

Serpents are simple creatures. They eat, and then they sleep. Only, they really don’t want to sleep, so they eat constantly. Differently from their lizard cousins, they can literally eat until they burst. They cope best in areas of relative scarcity, where they can’t eat too much, but have enough to grow quickly. Like every creature of the so-called creatures of cold blood (snakes, frogs, lizards, turtles), they can grow indefinitely and won’t ever die of old age. Their reckless gluttony is mainly what gets them killed.

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Fire Oil

Lamp oil is made from the oil of a certain plant, a small orange-tinted ball that grows in the shadow of large trees.

At first seemingly innocuous, the so-called Firebrand Flower shows its true colors during hot summers. At first, the pores on the round, cactoid body of the plant opens, allowing the oil to evaporate. This clear liquid clings heavily to all the plant life around, at first dehydrating them, and then self-igniting in the heat of the sun.

When a colony of the plants are together, a great forest fire generally ensues. And afterwards, the second form of the Firebrand grows in the ashes, the flower itself. It has large jagged orange leaves, which mildly relieves hunger if chewed.

The use in harvesting the bulbs before they can combust is twofold. The prevention of fires is important to both the lord of the lands, and its residents, for wealth and life respectively. And the oil is useful, if dangerous. It’s easily ignited, and burns brightly and hotly. It’s often used by adventurers for use both as a light source and as a weapon.

 

(Trying to justifying the D&D-ism of lamp oil somehow being napalm)

Wolves

Wolves are intelligent. In fact, they might be more intelligent than some humans. They use this intelligence to hunt, get a good mate, and then contemplate the nature of life and death.

A wolf’s power and abilities are based on how many full moons they have seen. This means you can stop a wolf from getting stronger and stranger by locking them away during the full moon. In that case, the only thing growing in the wolf will be spite and resentment. They will become like a bitter old man in the body of a child.

Of course, they still grow up when they lack the moon, but it will take them thrice as long to become adult, and all the other tricks will be beyond their reach.

Things wolves are rumored to do

  • Speak like a human, though with a rough, growly voice.
  • Imitate humans of any age or gender.
  • Twist their thumbs to clumsily to grasp like a human.
  • Leap upon the wind to travel long distances in a night.
  • Change their form to that of a human.

This is the origin of werewolves. If a transformed wolf conceives a child with a human, that offspring will be a half-wolf. The werewolf’s default form is that their mother had at the time of birth. It’s unclear what happens if two wolves makes a baby (pup?) when they are both tranfsormed… 

  • Enter the Shadow of Dreams, and walk the other world.
    • This world is also available to some humans and many spirits and demons.
  • Hunt ghosts and demons as prey.

Not all these are true of every wolf, but the older and stronger they are, the more are correct.

Wolf PC’s

Roll stats as normal. Languages known applies only to languages understood, until the wolf can speak. They are as intelligent as a human, but otherwise just like a normal wolf.

Saves and attacks as a fighter. Hit dice is 1d6 (or whatever is average). Wolves can’t generally use weapons, and only wear specialized armor (2x cost, max chain). However, they can bite for 1d6 and then grapple.

Wolf abilities are gained from howling at enough full moons, but no wolf knows more tricks than they have class levels.

Wolves in the world

They are disgusted by dogs. Dogs were bred from the malformed (physically and mentally) wolves that had been left to die, and formed into something different. Think of an insane half-ape-half-man that was taught to speak and work and then enslaved to work for another species. That’s what a dog is to a wolf.

Wolves live everywhere (even in the Dreams). They are an adaptible bunch.

Otherwise, read wikipedia or something.

Abyssal Emmisaries

You have been defeated. Lying in the dirt, bleeding out, your feelings of hate for your enemies coalesce into a black puddle. Out of the darkness, a being arises. Clad in shadows flowing like silk, a great being with two curling horns and four burning eyes. It stretches out a clawed hand big enough to cover a man’s torso. A deep rumbling begins, felt within your bones rather than heard. DO YOU WISH TO MAKE A CONTRACT?

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Wizards, Staffs, and Towers

Everyone knows that wizards uses staffs. It makes them more powerful, or so the story goes. The wide variety of staffs used probably seem to be pure fashion or just meaningless appearance to some, but those steeped in the forces of magic know well that the specific form a staff takes serves a greater function. Despite the jesting of bards, staves are not just the wizards overcompensating for something,

Everyone knows that wizards build towers. It makes them more powerful, or so the story goes. The strange design and location of these towers probably seem like madness to most, but those learned in the arcane arts know well that both of these factors are highly important. The towers are not just places for the anti-social magicians wishing to hide themelves (or the occasional kidnapped princess) away from people.

Few people think about the similarities of the wizard’s staff to their tower. Indeed, it is often the case that they seem to be of the same material, and share common features. It’s not because of the wizard’s need to match his things (that’s a Fashion Wizard, don’t confuse them), but because of the Law of Sympathy. It’s easier to link things together with magic if they are similar. And this linking together is the key to the mystery.

sarruman-kek
From the LotR movies, with minor edits.

It’s quite simple really. Towers are gather up magical energy from the lands, through their design and placement over power veins in the earth. They then transmit the energy to the staff (or staves) that are linked to it. And then, the wizard(s) can throw that power around, however they want to. This is why stealing a wizard’s staff is a good strategy to defeat him (and also to make him really pissed). Though if you want a more permanent (though not the most permanent) solution to the wizard, you should really take care of the tower itself.

On another note: while it’s true that there are wizards living in their towers, this is of secondary importance, and more of something of a convenience. Why build another house when you’ve already got this pretty tower, filled to the brim with magical radiation? It makes it quick to recalibrate the staff to the tower if the connection is broken, which is sometimes useful after a hard week spent adventuring. Though, as noted, these towers have a tendency to be located in rather strange places…