1. Arcade Style Gaming

The central idea of the setting is to present an arcade-style layout to running an ongoing hack-and-slash dungeon adventure that doesn't delve into politics, romance, personal intrigue, or long developing character arcs. Basic progression through a game is initiated at a 'start point'. advance down the Numinous road with a few color encounters, then into a dungeon to raid to the bottom and then return. Eventually, the party will defeat the dungeon, break it, loot it, and then the quasi-sentient magical Numinous Road will take them on a travail to the next navigation point, and then on to the next dungeon. Players can return to previous points on the road, but those areas have already been cleared, and would be for rest and restoration, or investment in a community. This investment would let the players build up shops, sources of material goods and supplies, and create a better market for their returned loot.

2. Laying out the Map

The Numinous Road goes where it wills, and for those wanting fluff, it could be as simple as exploration, and advancing the road is no different than flipping tiles in Catan. The dungeon is beyond :flips hex tile: a heavily forested region. For a more esoteric or eldritch explanation, nothing exists until the characters reach it, and as they advance, reality advances just ahead of them, being formed from the raw stuff of chaos. Finding the dungeons is also easy because they appear in predictable places, which should be natural and obvious, because the challenge isn't finding the dungeons, it's surviving them.

3. The Dungeons

The Dungeons are nodes in a living system and are the wellsprings of life, monsters, magic, and everything else. The act of raiding a dungeon is how those resources are collected, liberated, or controlled.

Each dungeon has a core, and an avatar. The avatar is the sentient, organic manifestation of the dungeon, and can be killed, and the core can be stolen or broken.

Dungeons can and do communicate with each other.

Heroes raiding dungeons is functionally similar to bees pollinating flowers.

Not all dungeons are stone-walled artificial structures underground. Dungeons can include natural caverns, deep twisting forests, mazes, labyrinths, demanding and dangerous terrain (such as a swamp or canyon system) or a major urban development.

4. Resources

Each dungeon produces its own set of resources, which initially appears as loot, but then becomes mineable ore, precious metals, precious gems, potential foodstuff, domesticatable animals, tameable animals, and monstrous allies. If a dungeon is destroyed completely, there is a larger release of goods, but then nothing else, a lump payment. Thus, a defeated dungeon is more valuable in the long run as it will convert to being functionally tamed and productive. Settlements can grow over a defeated dungeon, and the dungeon core will start supporting that settlement rather than the old dungeon structure. It won't take long for a castle or similar structure to appear, a new population to support it, and the old dungeon becoming a mine or similar venture.

5. Champions

Each dungeon has the ability to foster champions, formerly free-willed creatures and heroes who were defeated within the dungeon. These are the elite defenders of the dungeon avatar and core, and will fight to the death to defend it. While superficially these are exceptional versions of monsters and sentient race foes, it is also a way to reverse player character death. A hero slain in a dungeon can be brought back by the core itself, if their spirit accepts a pact with the core. Then, the slain PC is brought back as an amped-up dungeon-aligned version of their former self.

Champions can leave the dungeon zone of control and operate independently.

Champions can lead counter raids, and if a dungeon becomes rampant, lead armies against placated dungeons and settlements on the Road.

An allied Champion has access to high-level equipment from their dungeon, and if wounded or near death, can flash back to their home dungeon. They can only use this one direction, and returning requires either magical intervention, or the actual time required to reach the current destination by their own means. A Champion who is destroyed on the field and cannot escape has a small chance of being resurrected by the dungeon, but this chance is relative to the distance between the two. Champions slain in a dungeon can almost automatically be brought back, a champion on campaign with a hero a thousand leagues distant has almost no chance of magical return.

6. Isekai and Harem/Entourage

Both of these genres have an influence on the DungeonVerse. Isekai comes from the fact that the Numinous Road seeks out unique and interesting individuals from other places, bringing them to the DungeonVerse. If they succeed, great success for the Numinous Road. If they fail, no great loss, and if they were really interesting and unique but failed, then some dungeon core just got something really really cool to replicate, resurrect, and generally play with.

The Harem/Entourage angle is slightly different. In a more solo-player game, nothing says Dungeon Champions have to be monstrous, but rather entries from the Monster Girl Encyclopedia. Anime is well stocked with solo dungeon raiders who accumulate a party of champions from the respective dungeons and high-level encounters they survive. In a group game or one that has no interest in the Harem aspect, behold the Entourage. The inspiration for the Entourage comes from Dragonball. Previously defeated villains become depowered mascots that have logistic/support roles for the heroes, but no actual combat value.

7. Endgame

Any proper isekai protagonist has a proper goal, typically I want to go home. This is often at odds with the fundamentals of the situation, as most protagonists are Thumbs. Why would a hero who has gained wealth, magical power, a harem of exotic women, respect, and all the rest be in a fired-up hurry to get back to their ... economy apartment and subsistence-level lifestyle? We aren't teenagers here, so give the protagonist in the adventure a reason they keep doing what they are doing. What is at the end of the dangerous road? Can they be reunited with their old life, and why would they want to? A loved one, a spouse, children? There are two angles I would track with this, let them win, or let the system win.

Let them win: they succeed, find the portal home, or collect the rune keys, the wish stones, the seven magical cats, whatever. They return home, their quest complete. When they do, they stumble back into their Level 00 human body, none of their accomplishments, magic powers, feats, loot, etc comes with them. Congrats, you've been missing for the duration of their quest and now they are going to be detained, questioned, and have to face the challenge of trying to start their life over. Spouse? Remarried. Kids, they've grieved and accepted parental death. The property has gone through probate and it's gone. Money is gone. The Ironic ending.

Let the system win: they succeed, and the thing they were fighting for is waiting at the end. Literally. If they wanted to go home, their house is there, or their apartment ripped out of the building it was in. If it was a loved one, the loved one appears stumbling through the portal, having been abducted from their life. They keep everything they've gained, and it is revealed that the Numinous Road is one way, it only brings things in, it never returns them.

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