Tuesday, April 28, 2015

One Page Dungeon 2015 - WARSTONE GORGOTHRA

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So one of the disadvantages I handicap myself with first thing in the One Page Dungeon contests is my interest in the dungeon as Thing-First. The 8.5x11" print as something to look at and assaulted by. This would be one thing if I had the art chops of some of the winners and finalists but I don't. This means I end up working in a travel brochure/band sticker aesthetic, and weirdly marries me to decisions like sticking with Chiller instead of either spending time tracking down a free font I want to use or switching to a more standard font out of a mix of over-reliance on theme and avoidance of too-many-fonts disease. All that means is that it's not the easiest to read or use at the table. Which is the point of these things. Still, I hope someone likes it, and my entry from last year (which you can find on the right side of these words).

Let's walk through it.

If you have gods AND you have men, then your mythology usually takes one of two big shapes. One is where the gods fall and become men, or their mighty works trickle down and we've got men at the bottom after a lot of other middle steps. Gods up, men down. Another is where there is a mundane world of man and beast and mysterious things and the gods rise or are raised. I like that one. It makes heaven and the great powers of the world not a constant but tidal. There's a give and take between worshiper and worshiped.

Gorgothra rose and fell, several times really.

If you're going to WARSTONE GORGOTHRA then you're likely there because...
  • You're lured by the promise of power.
  • You're fucking hardcore and this hammer can't scare you.
  • You know the secret of the ring and want to rise as a god.
  • You've heard there's something super valuable here.
  • You're looking for a guy who lives in the towers that are shoddily built on the been of the greathammer.
  • Someone you seek has been taken there, or was last seen there.
  • Some asshole you're trying to kill is trying to get the hammer's power for themselves and you can't have that shit.
  • You want the wisdom of the Flesh Library or Canticle Gorgothra.
  • It's something to do.
Now a brief aside for RPG philosophy. I believe the game is about what happens at the table. Sure you can survive a dungeon and level up. That's one possibility. But if that doesn't happen then that's the game. The game isn't a specific thing or set of things-which-are-going-to-happen: it's What Happened.

You can't walk up and scale WARSTONE GORGOTHRA and even if you try to sail on the sea of bone and dust you're so fucked if your boat has problems then the safest and surest way, and the only metalest way, is to get in by strapping yourself to a tanned and fragile war-kite and jumping off a cliff.

WARSTONE GORGOTHRA should be metal to the point of self parody like Sin City does noir. There should always be a raging lightning storm around and giant pteronadons with paleodontologically inaccurate teeth in rows, screeching like the one from the opening to Johnny Quest. On distant mountains observers, wizards who covet the power of WARSTONE GORGOTHRA but would rather take that power from bolder men, too chickenshit to go themselves, will lob fireballs and swarms of bats at you. Dex checks, acrobatics checks, nature for updrafts, vehicle proficiency, however you see fit to handle the piloting of the glider craft, the point should be that not all of you make it and even if you die before getting into the mouth of the dungeon you should still have a better story to tell than SURVIVING the Caves of Chaos.

With the Library, the Labyrinth, and the Squatter City, I wanted opportunities to plug in additional One Page Dungeons or smallish dungeons. I mean you can get through these all pretty easily without busting out another map or anything, but should you so desire some finer granularity these are excellent places to do so. For that matter look around for a favorite mountain encounter or abandoned keep and put it on the peaks and cliffs overlooking Valley Gorgothra. For the city, I figure the more powerful of the sorcerers there are using the godblood siphoned from the souls trapped within to extend their power and lives, and have abandoned any other aspirations concerning WARSTONE GORGOTHRA. They are all of them ignorant of the secret of the ring.

They who remain within WARSTONE GORGOTHRA are those who became a god and then fell. When one becomes Gorgothra, to my mind, you are omnipotent in a powerless way: you do what Gorgothra does. Gorgothra destroys kingdoms using a hammer which not only scours castle and city from the earth but spawns legions of skeleton soldiers in the process. If I were running this, becoming Gorgothra means you smite three kingdoms. You smite the kingdom home to your party's primary antagonist. You smite the kingdom you are based in, allied to, or the kingdom whence you came, paying a personal cost for your hubris. And you smite some other random kingdom, and then you die, and for your sins an echo of yourself, whatever personal failing led you to believe doing this was anything like a good idea, remains forever within WARSTONE GORGOTHRA, perpetuating Gorgothra while punishing you eternally for perpetuating Gorgothra.

Of course you have to even get into that section, which involves the Murderslide, because dungeons should have a little bit of theme park in them. It's a water slide but with blood from the blood fountain above, consumed by the hungry doors below. After you open the doors the whole structure will slowly begin filling with blood if you forget to close them, you'll find evidence for this throughout.

The Molten Minotaur is the still burning core whence from the hammer's forging taking on a form and killing you, and is also one of my favorite things: when the monster corporeally is the treasure too.

I have no idea what Operius Imprex wants but, entrusted to contain the god-damned and keep safe holy treasures, I'm guessing he's a master of lock, secret, box, and safe. Which makes him a god of dungeons.

Ithon (I) should look like just....the worst thing, spikes everywhere with a pulsing living web of flesh strewn far finer than any man could do.

The angels should always be singing, which reminds me, I hope mine is the only dungeon providing soundtrack advice.

This is one of those "One survives if any" kind of affairs but you can soften it for your group. Rope ladder leading to the entrance. Hand rails and an escalator down. Baby ferrets.

If anyone has any questions let me know but honestly you've got this. What do you think the answer is? Then it's that. Is that lame? Then it's the opposite of that. You've got this.