1. Entrance and Guardian

Apparent - the entrance to the Gygaxian Gyre is an open pit beneath the lowest level of Terrasquestone, and more resembles a marine quay than the entrance to a cavern. The throat of the Gyre is forty feet wide and nearly a hundred and sixty feet deep. It twists and turns, so that in some places, the Gyre is only a few feet wide, and in other places on the descent it's large enough for a group of people to set up a camp. The guardian is gravity, sharp rocks, and the danger of caving.

At the base of the Gyre, there is a low cavern as large as the underside of Terrasquestone, save the ceiling is only five to six feet high. Movement is challenging, and the dangers of basic caving remain.

Actual - As Terrasquestone is part of the dungeon, the actual entrance is the boundary of the city, and its outer walls. The outer wall has six gates of varying sizes, three of which are small and easily closed, and the other three are the main access points to the city.

The middle wall has many more gates, and a standing guard of soldiers.

The inner wall encloses the keep of Terrasquestone, a monumental fortress of staggering dimensions.

Then, the dungeon diver has to get inside the fortress.

Once inside Terrasquestone, the delver has to make their way down to the lowest levels of the keep, and through a single large door that leads out to the stone quay projected over the Gyre, which is again, soldiered and patroled. There is regular commerce in and out of the dungeon, so there are also healers, merchants and tax collectors present here.

2. Puzzle or Roleplay Challenge

Apparent - The Gygaxian Gyre is a wild dungeon. The core formed from an exposed clathrate and the caverns that grew around it became its dungeon. Thus, the Gyre is a massive cavern system. Moving through it is dangerous and treacherous. Multiple checks for movement should be required, navigating narrow passages, twisting caverns, the dangers of a climbing cave (the cave is growing upwards, so chunks of the ceiling can fall at any time), falling into moon pools, falling off narrow ledges, falling down scree piles, missing a step and plunging into a crevasse that might be bottomless, all in the dark.

Without getting lost.

Or running out of food and water.

Actual - This one is pretty spot on, surviving in the cavern wilds is challenge enough. If the players are just looking for ore and resource extraction, this is where they would start hunting and digging, and wouldn't go deeper. Monsters might be encountered, but they are weak, scattered, and more to scare the weak heroes away rather than kill them.

3. Trick or Setback

The Outer Mysteries of the Gygaxian Gyre represent the edge of the dungeon wight domain. Groups of wights can be encountered, and the cavern takes on a more inhabited feeling than the feral wild caves above. There are footpaths worn in the stone, and things like natural pitfalls and such might have markers for those who spot them. This doesn't mean that there aren't traps, traps should become much more common at this point, and represent not just shenanigans on the part of the dungeon, but organized efforts of the wights to protect their territory.

There are monsters, sentient foes, and traps. Heroes have to be brave, but also have to know how to be smart and cautious. A headlong rush into the cavern following the obvious path will take them somewhere they DO NOT WANT TO BE. The Wight Warrens are well populated, and they have their own virtuous dungeon heroes who will appear to defend themselves from the intruders.

The trick is that the Wight Warren is in the middle of the most obvious and most suicidal path to take down to the bottom of the dungeon. There are passages known as Calumnies that bridge between the Outer Mysteries of the Gyre down to the Inner Mysteries. These are known by the names Rathkrogan, Darvaaz, Batagaaz, Yamalok, and the Sunless Way. Rathkrogan is a yawning abyss that twists down three hundred feet like a plunging rollercoaster. Darvaaz is a gently sloping passage and would be an easy walk save for the fact that it is a perpetually burning fumarole field. Batagaaz is a two hundred foot deep sinkhole shaped like an hourglass, and only allows passage one direction. Yamalok is a spiraling chamber to turns inward and down to loop under itself several times, and is remarkable because the ceiling of the cavern is filled with lights that glitter like stars. It happens to be a breeding and roosting area for a large variety of cave life, including many of the cheesiest cheatiest DnD monsters, like cloakers, mantlers, living floors, living ceilings, and dungeon mimics and vast number. The Sunless Way is a temple in the center of the Wight Warren and has black gates worthy of an Italian artist, and a spiralling stairway that leads down to the first level of the Inner Mysteries.

This way is the safest to travel, but requires the heroes to penetrate all the way to the middle of the Wight Warren and into the central temple where the Baadishah Priestess rules the Wightish nation. The gate is in the center of the temple and is where the wights go to commune with the dungeon core, usually by opening the doors and that's about all. Only the most dire of need or summons by the core will draw an acolyte or cleric down those stairs.

4. Big Battle or Conflict

The Inner Mysteries are the oldest part of the dungeon and its cave system. The entire area is THICK with magical energy, and anyone using any sort of magically enhanced sight will be blinded by the amount of essence present. There are real monsters here, the sort that should not be found in a dungeon because they make no sense to be living in a chamber so far underground. Here be the Dungeon Dragons, manticores, beholders, and other terrors. The dungeon's champions and avatars also dwell here, in near constant communion with the core, basking in its power and thoughts.

The great and terrible treasures of the dungeon can be found here as well. Nodules of precious metals, of vast size. Crystals of unfathomable perfection. Magic items waiting to be claimed. The pools that restore the dead, fountains of waters of youth, all that.

The Dungeon Champion/s await. There should be a verbal exchange, where the Champion demands the PCs explain why they have come and what they want. Should they have a noble purpose, the Champion might just bow and let them have it, like braving the depths to get the Draught of Resurrection to cure someone who is sorely needed or was unjustly slain, a selfless act that in the long run will benefit the core itself. Challenges to defeat evil, gain renown, and become wealthy beyond imagination will be met with joyous battle and likely slaughter. The core itself is largely lawful neutral, and respects lawful characters, and the issuance of lawful challenges thrill it to no end.

5. Reward or Twist

The power of the Dungeon Core is vast, and for the most part, it can grant a hero a Wish as per the spell.

If the hero is hunting a specific item, especially one that has been lost or is legendary, and the hero is worthy, the core can create its likeness. This applies to things like Excaliber, the Holy Grail, the Horn of the Hunt, and that sort of thing. After a while, the item will be lost again, typically the dungeon taking its prize back upon the completion of its deal/task.

If help is requested, the dungeon can offer it, but reluctantly. Twice in its history Terrasquestone has been gravely threatened, and twice heroes have penetrated down to the core to request its aid in defending the city. This is rather important because while the core is intimately aware of anything that happens within its borders, beyond those, it is completely blind. When called, the core can unleash its monsters, champions, and powers against a foe within its range of effect. This generally includes anyone close enough to besiege the city proper.

Login or Register to Award Scrasamax XP if you enjoyed the submission!
? Hall of Honour (1 voters / 1 votes)
Hall of Honour
Cheka Man
? Scrasamax's Awards and Badges
Society Guild Journeyman Dungeon Guild Journeyman Item Guild Master Lifeforms Guild Master Locations Guild Master NPC Guild Master Organizations Guild Journeyman Article Guild Journeyman Systems Guild Journeyman Plot Guild Journeyman Hall of Heros 10 Golden Creator 10 Article of the Year 2010 NPC of the Year 2011 Most Upvoted Comment 2012 Article of the Year NPC of the Year 2012 Item of the Year 2012 Article of the Year 2012 Most Submissions 2012 Most Submissions 2013 Article of the Year 2013 Submission of the Year 2010