Jagvir, The World
The World of Jagvir is dominated by two salient features: the ubiquitous dungeons and the Numinous Road.
The Dungeons are the generative force within Jagvir, and it is from them that the flora, fauna, magic, and sentient races have come to walk the face of Jagvir. Without the dungeons, the world would be a desolate an empty place, another dead realm floating in space. There are a number of different types of dungeons, and they have differing appearances, roles, and function. When the word dungeon is used, the first things that come to mind are the elemental fire, earth, and entropic dungeons. These are the abodes of dark races, the undead, demonic and infernal creatures. These are by no means the only dungeons, these are just the most obvious.
The elemental dungeons of wood/life appear as forests, dense and ancient. Air dungeons are almost impossible to reach because they are made of clouds and drift in the sky, or are made of skyfire and can only be seen in the extremes of the world, where the air is cold and Summer never comes. The denizens of air dungeons are the winds of the world, storms, and living things that fly on wings. The radiant dungeons have nothing in common with the connotations of the word as they tend to be massive buildings or natural cathedrals, where light and positive energy accumulate. Most would consider the description of a radiant dungeon to overlap with their description of heaven or the positive afterlife.
Dungeons can also defy this system of identification, as such a
location can have up to three different sub-types, even if these
sub-types seem like they would be oppositional to each other.
Known Types of Dungeons:
Stages in Dungeon Life
0. Deceased - the core of the dungeon has been destroyed, stolen, or otherwise slain. The physical structure remains, but everything is moving into a state of stagnancy and decay. Traps are no longer functional, sections are collapsing, doors are either crumbling or impassable, and the inhabitants are either gone, severely weakened, or have turned to a cannibalistic approach to staving off inevitable demise
1. Seed Dungeon - not much more than the size of a normal modern house, traps are minimal and generally only in the entrance sections, defenders are few in number and are specialized, rather than horde based. Such seed dungeons can be farmed and prevented from growing, becoming the bonsai version of a normal dungeon. This is normally a transitional phase.
2. Yearling Dungeon - the size of a mansion, with several layers of traps, several types of low level minions, and a few serious defenders. A yearling dungeon is starting to produce ambient magic, and the horde type minions it creates to defend itself start populating the environment around it.
3. Juvenile Dungeon - the size of a small installation or normal factory, the juvenile dungeon has multiple hordes, multiple champions and defenders, and is beginning to influence the flora and fauna around it. At this point, the dungeon has the potential to start influencing sentient beings, creating a flow of people between itself and the outside. The dungeon 'feeds' on the would be heroes who try to plumb it's depths, consuming their essence, and turning it to their use.
4. Young Adult Dungeon - now the size of a regular installation or a large factory, the young adult dungeon has an impressive number of traps, misdirections, and has gone from basic to showing maze like or labyrinthine construction. It is the host of a small army of defenders, flocks and flocks of minions, and has likely become known in some form or fashion. Through its ability to influence adventurers that succumb but dont perish in its depths, it has more defenses and works more to advertise the value of its bounty than to keep would be heroes out to protect itself.
5. Fully Mature Dungeon - the size of a megafactory or large base, the fully mature dungeon has grown to the point that its layout is full of traps, mazes, labyrinths, and nightmarish scenarios that exist to turn strong warriors into quivering wrecks or just corpses. The champions of the dungeon have evolved and become monstrous in nature. Instead of trolls and orcs, skeletons, and whatnot, the fully mature dungeon has manticores, medium sized dragons, and sphinx to challenge heroes. Such creatures range outside of the dungeon proper, and the influence of the dungeon cannot be ignored. It's nature has fundamentally changed the lifeforms outside of it, and making magical creatures move from rare to just passingly uncommon.
6. Venerable Dungeon - the venerable dungeon is large enough to defy mapping attempts, and it's layout changes at it's whim, creating patterns of rooms, corridors, and chambers that are starting to border on a fractal nature. Champions control sections of the dungeon, and the dungeon has it's own 'heroes' that strike forth from it like a base. The hordes of the dungeon move to the surface and become a nascent species, producing tribes of new demihuman species, new clans of humanity, elemental races, and the like. The ecology of the dungeon has overtaken/assimilated nature around it, and magical creatures are now common. Mundane species are showing magical traits, and the dungeon is now a threat to conventional agrarian civilization.
7. Ancient Dungeon - also known as a dungeon rampant, the core is no longer deeply buried and hidden, and instead now rises above the ground, the central structure becoming a fortress or tower. The defending hosts have become new races, and those new races have provided the ancient dungeon a standing army. No longer does it seek to tempt heroes to explore it to feed on them, it sends it hosts out like ants, stripping the land bare and bringing it back to feed the dungeon core they serve, often venerating it as a God. Magical creatures are the norm, monsters fly through the air, and genre civilization around it will be destroyed and consumed.
There is an attempt at ecological balance in Jagvir, the Numinous Road connects the dungeons, and the cities, but only the ones that are important at the moment, and once a dungeon becomes too powerful, the road will adjust, either moving away and isolating the dungeon so that it is forced into a hunger driven hibernation, or decides that the best course to take is to break parts of itself off to seed new dungeons. Alternately the Numinous Road can bring increasingly powerful foes to the dungeon, depleting it's power, taking it's loot, and slaying it's hosts, and forcing it into a recovery phase. If the number of dungeons becomes too high, the amount of magic becomes too high, and flora and fauna become hypermagical, and destabilizing. It is to the interest of the realm that this doesn't happen. In this scenario the final power check is that dungeons do not cooperate with each other, and if two in close proximity become too powerful, they will fight and attempt to consume each other. The conflict weakens the victor and destroys the loser.
Magic in Jagvir
Magic in the realm is technically tied to the Dungeons and the energy that they create. An active dungeon permeates the environment around it, allowing for more fantastic creatures, magical creatures, and purely magical entities to exist. In an area depleted of dungeons, or where they've entered dormant or fallen states, the ambient amount of magic will decrease, and the flora and fauna will be much more mundane. Magic users are able to access this source of power, and use it to power their spells and spellcraft. Their ability to work magic doesn't depend on proximity to dungeons, but the difficulty of doing it can rise and fall depending on their local environment.
A magic user actively in a dungeon will have their spell power rise, especially if their magic specialty overlaps with the dungeon type. Those whose magic type conflicts with the dungeon can see their difficulty rapidly increasing. Some counter this by not overly specializing, others approach the problem by changing out of adventurer roles and falling into defender/occupier for a dungeon that matches their type. A good way to start a conflict in Jagvir is to suggest that fundamentally the clerics and templar defending a designated fortified holy city are the same as the infernals and blackguards who hold the gates of the underground black cities.
The Numinous Road
The Numinous Road connects everything in Jagvir.
The trick to the Numinous Road is that it the road is a magical effect. It is not always a road or even a path, but an overwhelming sense of direction. The most common use of the road is that would be questing heroes can visit temples, shrines, and dungeons until they have completed enough that the Road takes notice of them, and then guides them to their true destination. There is scholarly speculation that the Road has been guiding them for much longer than they were aware of, but that is fodder for sages and navel gazers.
There is another function of the Numinous Road within the scope of Jagvir, it is an abductor. The ability of the dungeons to create is to an extent, limited. In time they can generate sentient beings, but their ability to wipe out civilizations is greater. Thus, there comes the conflict, and the need for energy to be added to the system. The Numinous Road, being almost deity like in power, but in an almost animalistic manner, finds what it needs to support Jagvir.
The Numinous Road finds people from other places and brings them to Jagvir. Most of the time this is only a modest change for the victims of the road, being brought from similar environs to Jagvir. When things become off kilter, the Road can reach for more distant targets, bringing in different people, from places increasingly divergent from Jagvir's pseudo-medieval agrarian economy and technology level. This can often have far ranging consequences, often restoring a system out of balance, or breaking one that has become balanced to the point of stagnation.
Usage and Inspiration
Two factors have collided to inspire the DungeonVerse and the Numinous Road: a pure hack and slash desire for old school Dungeons and Dragons, and free audiobooks from Audible.
The thrust of the old school hack and slash was just a friend mentioning that they wanted to just do basic dungeon delving, fighting monsters, overcoming traps, and finding loot, then repeating. Everything was getting overly involved with storytelling elements, delivering Aesops, and bringing topical things into gaming, which defeated the escapist purpose of gaming to begin with. The DungeonVerse exists with a very simple reason, the pursuit of balance in a meta-magical setting. The adventurers and the dungeons have a mutual relationship that is a sort of hostile symbiosis. Without the other, neither could truly exist.
The second source is a large catalog of middling to low level isekai style stories about hapless people being pulled into generic realms where they have to find their place, use their formerly mundane but now unique skills to save the day, and advance to the next book in the series. Many of these are degen harem books, but the core mechanics are interesting and worth hanging around for, which is a common trait of the LitRPG genre. Its weird, but it is a thing and people are making a living writing them, now.
Thus, the ideal character comes from a radically different setting or genre, and in doing so they bring a unique skill with them. Many LitRPG protagonists come from office and technical backgrounds so they're accountants or systems analysts, and their unique skill is bookkeeping or handling numbers. A modern soldier would still have all their training and could quickly become a general, or a mechanic or engineer could become an artificer with surprising ease, and then it's just the creativity of the player.
Inspirations for the Numinous Road abducting people:
The Bermuda Triangle
The Roanoke colony
The plot of Lost
Anytime a single person gets lost in the woods or national park
Any missing persons report
The Mary Celeste
Biomes of Jagvir
Hakas, the desert region, extends well to the south of the main landmass of Jagvir, the sea of sand. Crossing it is a major challenge, but there are lands and seas beyond it
The Mazgant, the twilight land, due to solar and rotational anomalies, the Mazgant is a region of near perpetual twilight or night, days are brutally short, a hour in the summer, and none during the winter. There is no agriculture in the region, no appreciable plant life, other than the sort that has figured out how to photosynthesize moonlight, and it is incredibly desolate. A place ripe for entropic, air, earth, and fire dungeons.
The Dosog, Falor, and Krulas Mountains - a trio of volcanic mountain ranges that form the Eastern border of Jagvir. The Dosogs run far north into the endless ice and cold, the Krulas burn and smoke into the fringe of the Hakas, and the Falor rise the highest and craggiest, in the center.
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? Responses (1)
That is a crazy good idea to enable the old school hack and slash that you were looking for. Could probably build a video game system around the idea! I think of Hero Quest and the old board game type hack/slash games. Conquer a dungeon, level up, let the Numinous Road guide you to the next challenge when you are ready. Pretty interesting and an easy answer to just wanting to do some simple dungeon bashing!