Saturday, 22 September 2012

A Forgotten Realms Megadungeon II - Beneath the Old Owl Well

Old Owl Well
Background Information

In the hills south of Conyberry is a strange location known as Old Owl Well. Within the grounds of a ruined keep, an ancient well continues to pipe water from nearly five miles below the surface, producing 20 gallons of water a day.

Originally a Netherese outpost, it was built at the direction of one of its archmages ostensibly to spy on the elves of Illefarn. In truth, beneath the site lay a large supply of arcane gems known as chardalyns secured with an ancient vault from the time of the sarrukh and the serpent kingdom of Isstosseffifil.

Captive deepspawn guarded the vault and disgorged a multitude of beasts – principally owlbears – but, at great miltary cost, the Netherese destroyed these guardian creatures and the deepspawn that produced them.

The chardalyns secured, the outpost was named Quesseer and it became a trademeet for Netherese expatriates, Illuskan seafarers, Ice Hunter tribes, Illefarni elves and the isolated shield dwarf clans of fallen Haunghdannar.

It was later abandoned when Illusk (the ancient name for Luskan) fell to a great orc horde but the elaborate well remained, as did the owlbears that contributed to its vernacular name.

The underground caverns from which the well’s water is drawn contain more vaults of the sarrukh but it is also likely that these too are guarded by deepspawn and other creatures.

(Source: Lost Empires of Faerûn, page 107)

The Netherese seeking to restore Xinlenal have sent a small detachment of explorers to this site. Their records mention the chardalyns of old and Clariburnus believes these might be useful for restoring the flying city’s mythallar. However, not wanting to attract attention from the small clans of wood elves in the area, the Netherese come in small groups and their principal outpost is below ground.

Tomb tappers have been modified to serve as living mining engines to seek out chardalyns. However, they often disappear; it seems the legacy of the serpentine Creator races still guards the secrets beneath Old Owl Well.

Ideas for the Megadungeon
In my head I am seeing this as a combination of Caverns of Thracia, The Shattered Circle and Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth.
I can see a civilisation of minotaurs who were once mightier than those more common today - although occasionally a greathorn minotaur will be born who commands sorcerous powers.
The Immortal King from Caverns of Thracia has a hidden sepulchre that is difficult to find. He is a minotaur who used ancient sarrukh magic to give himself various reptilian features including dragon-like wings before becoming a lich. (I also like the idea of including the Pool of Watery Wonders from Caverns of Thracia but I may use that in another megadungeon idea I am currently tinkering with.)
The six doors to enter a hidden sanctum as described in the Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth also exist here. In this case, the hidden sanctum holds a slumbering undead sarrukh per the illustration at the top of this post.

The web city of the chitine from The Shattered Circle definitely belongs here: I expect that they have simply settled here opportunistically and perhaps are at war with the minotaurs. The entire underground section of The Shattered Circle could probably be used wholesale as the first few levels of this megadungeon as it already has a reptilian theme.

Like Caverns of Thracia - and even the more recent Rappan Athuk - I want this dungeon to have multiple entrances to multiple levels. As I want to run my Neverwinter: The Year of the Ageless One campaign as a fairly Old School sandbox at times, the ability to enter a megadungeon, find and kill things and then take their stuff seems to be an important thing to include. And who wants to go back and re-explore somewhere they have been before?



This seems to me to be more like a traditional megadungeon. While rooting out the Netherese and stopping them from getting their hands on chardalyns could provide something of a plot, the simple fact is that this seems like an Old School megadungeon that is simply waiting to be explored. 
It would be an interesting exercise to combine the maps from the three adventures I have mentioned - Caverns of Thracia, Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth and The Shattered Circle - and simply fill in the dungeon a few rooms at a time whenever I have some time to fill.

Another option would be to instead run a conversion of 1E's Cult of the Reptile god with the Old Owl Well megadungeon filling the role of Explitica Defilus's lair from that adventure (this would be a separate section with its own connection to the surface plus a connection to the sarrukh's secret sanctum).

Monsters & NPCs

The Chitine
  • Chitine
  • Choldrith
  • Giant spiders
The Minotaurs
  • Minotaurs
  • Feral minotaurs
  • Greathorn minotaur sorcerers
The Netherese
  • Netherese soldiers
  • Veserab mounts
  • Uthgardt Grey Wolf werewolves (these are guides and guards)
The Scaled Ones
  • Guardian naga trying to stop the secrets of the sarrukh being discovered (as in, these are Lawful Good creatures trying to ensure that the evil of the sarrukh is not unleashed)
  • Sarrukh lich
  • Troglodytes
  • Water naga wanderers
  • Iron cobra guardians

Sunday, 16 September 2012

A Forgotten Realms Megadungeon

A few weeks ago, I posted some thoughts about creating a megadungeon for the Forgotten Realms. It seems I rather disliked my own post because I also deleted it although I don't remember doing so.

I want to revisit this idea largely in the context of my planned Neverwinter: The Year of the Ageless One campaign but also because I think it has potential for a megadungeon that can be used for a variety of playstyles and RPG games and editions.
The core of the idea is Nuur Throth, the Great Door. This is the information I have gathered from a couple of sources about Nuur Throth:

Beneath the Sword Mountains on the western edge of the Northdark lies the vault of Nuur Throth. This place is one of the most powerful earth nodes known to exist. At the heart of this cavern is a twisted, spear-like craggy outcropping of black, dense iron ore that constitutes a Class 6 earth node.

Nuur Throth is linked to six similar nodes that extend in a rough line from Icewind Dale down to the Kryptgarden Forest. They are all at a consistent depth of 12 miles and relatively accessible from several Middledark sites, notably the duergar Deepkingdom. These other nodes range in strength from Class 2 to Class 5. A spellcaster using the node door spell can transport to any of these linked earth nodes, even if he has never visited the destination before.

The cavern of Nuur Throth is a strange place. Curtains of wizard fire dance constantly in the upper reaches, and circular groves of sussur trees surround weird, pockmarked stones that cover deep, black wells. Something terrible was once imprisoned here, but no one knows for sure what it might have been - or whether it is even gone.
Rather than have a megadungeon in a single location, the idea of linked earth nodes allows for a megadungeon across multiple locations yet still intimately connected.

Also, the sheer power of an earth node - 3.5E's Underdark spelt out the powers in some detail; I would probably add a lot to that - also provides a hook for all types of creatures to gather at the site of each node. Wizards - whether Red Wizards of Thay or Zhent war mages - would seek to tap its power, merchants - both of the surface and Underdark kind - would love the nodes as a means of moving scarce commodities, Lolth-worshipping drow following the Queen of Spiders' command to aid her in controlling the Weave might simply be seeking to tap the nodes' arcane might etc.... Also, if the nodes act as seals on the prisons of a primordial - most likely Ogremoch - then elemental/primordial cultists might seek out the nodes with a view to corrupting same so that the seals can be broken and the primordial freed.

So far I can think of three sites I want to link to the node network of Nuur Throth:

- The Seven-Pillared Hall of H2 Thunderspire Labyrinth (this site will also be part of the Northdark's Labyrinth) will contain an earth node that is used for trade (perhaps the wizards controlling the 'Hall also control a passel of portal drakes that can use the node to open portals to other places).

- The ruined city of the Sinister Spire from the 3.5E adventure The Sinister Spire will be a House Xorlarrin outpost where they experimented with the spellplague until the experiments got out of control. Now the Netherese are here trying to tap into the power of the earth node believing that it might aid them in raising Xinlenal.

- The dwarven dungeon of Southkrypt is located on the final node in the network. It is the location of a dwarven cult of Ogremoch plus their norker servitors. The dwarves have the stone-based character theme from Into the Unknown: Dungeon Survival Handbook. As noted in an earlier post, I also want to incorporate a lot of Orcs of Stonefang Pass in my Southkrypt dungeon, albeit with norkers (and dwarves) instead of orcs.

I only need three more sites and I have my megadungeon. :)

Oh, and this is my temporary name for this megadungeon:

The Chaos Cultists of Nuur Throth