Anyone else been reading Girl Genius lately? I've been thinking that Castle Heterodyne would make for a pretty good megadungeon. In particular, the idea of the place itself as sentient and semi-mobile appeals to me, since it gives me a great excuse to change things up and add in new areas as needed. The details of the castle's personality are pretty good, too -- mechanical malevolence is as good a reason as any to have tons of death traps littered about the place, and the fractured nature of its mind means that even if you make friends with one part of the place, the rest is still out to kill you.
Anyway, the upshot is that I'm smashing this idea into my "physical manifestation of the netherworld" idea to get the general outline of the dungeon I've started. Essentially my idea is that the place was built as a fortress by a family of Mad Scientists (or possibly, y'know, wizards) but that over the years, said family's vile and debauched behavior built up a malign aura about the place. Over time, the already-bizarre complex became intertwined with the Netherworld . . . and perhaps other, much darker places.
What this means in actual practice, I'm not quite sure yet. I know that at least a few sublevels will be tombs, possibly with surface works attached. (And by "are going to be" I mean, "unless I get a better idea/distracted." At the very least, I'll have "The Tomb of Zagyg," full of death traps and weird random effects.) The initial first level -- what I'm working on right now -- is The Labyrinth, originally intended as a defense system for the fortress. (And amusement for its owners.) And at some point I'm going to have a section that is very much The Netherworld, all skulls and ghosts and stuff. But beyond that, I don't have any specific plans. I figure I'll kick down that door when I come to it.
"The details of the castle's personality are pretty good, too -- mechanical malevolence is as good a reason as any to have tons of death traps littered about the place, and the fractured nature of its mind means that even if you make friends with one part of the place, the rest is still out to kill you."ReplyDelete
Have you read Harlan Ellison's I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream? That could provide some good inspiration for this sort of thing.
Another source of inspiration is Too Many Curses, a fun book about a kobold housekeeper in just such a semi-sentient magical castle...ReplyDelete
I don't read Girl Genius, but the idea of an intelligent, plane-shifting castle as a megadungeon is just about as perfect a rationale for one as I can think of.ReplyDelete
Everybody should read Girl Genius. No exceptions.ReplyDelete
That sounds awesome. You've mentioned working on a megadungeon for a while now, I'm glad you're finally doing it. The sentient dungeon idea is great, you're going to have a lot fun with this.ReplyDelete
This is sheer genius! I am a huge fan of Girl Genius and I completely agree that Castle Heterodyne makes a perfect model for a Mega Dungeon!ReplyDelete
Good luck and don't hesitate to catch me by email or online if you want to bounce ideas!
Max: No . . . that's on my "must read" list. But for some reason college keeps giving me stuff to read.ReplyDelete
jamused: That book looks like fun. Is it as creepy as the review blurb sounds?
sirlarkins: Listen to jamused! Read Girl Genius!
Jack Crow: It's nice to finally be working on something I've been thinking about for years. So far, so good.
ChattyDM: Good luck with yours! I'm curious to see how that project turns out.
Bits are creepy, but overall I'd say the tone is more Discworld than Dracula.ReplyDelete
Another recommendation for megadungeons is Lewis Trondheim's Dungeon graphic novels. It's a series, translated from the French, about the rise, heights, and fall of a huge mega-dungeon, deliberately stocked and run more or less as a home for monsters and a trap for adventurers (but you have to let some escape with treasure, or they get discouraged and stop coming). It's divided into periods (early years, zenith, twilight, plus side stories). I'd start with volume 1 of Zenith: Duck Heart, since that introduces Herbert, who is more or less the main character throughout the rest.
Girl Genius is genius! Tackling castle Heterodyne will be quite a challenge. I'd love to see how you handle the dis-assembled intelligence of the place, and the seemingly modular nature of the castle. Great project, and I wish you the best of luck!ReplyDelete
jamused: Huh. Cool. Might be worth seeing if I can get in French, too, see if I can still read it.ReplyDelete
Dead Orcs: At the moment I'm not sure what I'm going to do about that. The first level has a very limited level of intelligence: it can write things on walls, controls some of the doors, and sets traps, but it doesn't connect up with the lower levels. The lower levels, I think, will have a lot more personality, and possibly more mobility, but I'll probably divide them up geographically; each level, or sub-level, has its own distinct personality and memory. But it's a work in progress, and still subject to change.