Dungeons as Mythic Underworld

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Brock Savage

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Hi @ Necrozius Necrozius I dig your living dungeon idea and using Kingdom Death as inspiration. Have you read Nightmares Underneath? It's one of my fave OSR settings and a big part of it are living nightmarish dungeons. It might provide some welcome inspiration or crunch to support your vision!
 

Necrozius

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Hi @ Necrozius Necrozius I dig your living dungeon idea and using Kingdom Death as inspiration. Have you read Nightmares Underneath? It's one of my fave OSR settings and a big part of it are living nightmarish dungeons. It might provide some welcome inspiration or crunch to support your vision!
Oh my god yes that IS a fantastic resource. I forgot that I owned a hard copy of it. Thanks for the reminder!
 

Voros

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I really loved Nightmares Underneath when I read it, should revisit it.

Any other dungeon examples come to mind that capture a mythic underworld feel?

I really like one of the scenarios for Beyond the Wall where the PCs descend into the hellish underworld to rescue the soul of one of their fallen companions.

A lot of the more famous dungeons have more of a zoo/funhouse feel, I'm thinking the mythic underworld feel is more thematically coherent with traces of the weird but also more horrific with a touch of psychological metaphor around death and rebirth.

More of stuff like that please.
 

Necrozius

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I also want to bring in some introspective horror to the Labyrinth as well. Maybe have the players define one or more “Passions” for their PCs. Something that can be triggered in some way. Like how a lot of horror movies will have the ghosts or demons play around with the victim’s obsessions, regrets and fears.

Nothing too complicated, of course, in the spirit of the simplicity of B/X. If using another system this would be easy (eg Mythras’ Passions).
 

Toadmaster

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I also want to bring in some introspective horror to the Labyrinth as well. Maybe have the players define one or more “Passions” for their PCs. Something that can be triggered in some way. Like how a lot of horror movies will have the ghosts or demons play around with the victim’s obsessions, regrets and fears.

Nothing too complicated, of course, in the spirit of the simplicity of B/X. If using another system this would be easy (eg Mythras’ Passions).

Ghastly Affair includes Special Abilities and Weaknesses for each class / creature. Essentially perks and limitations to put it more in the language of a point buy framework.


Some examples of PC special abilities are things like profession, social contacts, inheritance, tracking, concealment, fame etc. Most of these offer a small bonus (+1) in applicable situations, or some other benefit like knowing people, or having more starting money available than normal etc.

Weaknesses include things like nemesis, obsession, phobia, prejudice, infamy, hard luck etc, which again provide a minor penalty (-1) or a character flaw.

Something like this would be easy to borrow, just give the players a list of options and let them choose, for each positive they have to take a negative
 

Brock Savage

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Any other dungeon examples come to mind that capture a mythic underworld feel?
Philotomy wrote an amazing take on B4 The Lost City that reimagined the lame monster zoo on the lower levels into a nightmarish descent into the mythic dungeon towards the heart of chaos (Zargon's lair). I wish I saved it when I had the chance because now I can't find it.
 

AsenRG

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Philotomy wrote an amazing take on B4 The Lost City that reimagined the lame monster zoo on the lower levels into a nightmarish descent into the mythic dungeon towards the heart of chaos (Zargon's lair). I wish I saved it when I had the chance because now I can't find it.
Is that it:thumbsup:?
 
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Necrozius

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Is that it:thumbsup:?
The website appears to be down (the error message implies that the site needs to update its SQL database or something).

Pity, I’d like to see this dungeon (not in person, heh).
 

Brock Savage

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Is that it:thumbsup:?
It's 4am and I need to get an hour or two of sleep before work but this looks like a campaign log. What I read were room keys for the lower levels of B4.
 

Simlasa

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It's 4am and I need to get an hour or two of sleep before work but this looks like a campaign log. What I read were room keys for the lower levels of B4.
This thread on another forum has Philotomy posting some intended modifications to B4, which include some keyed areas. There's also a poster there who provides a link to Philotomy's old blog on the Wayback Machine... where I was able to get most of that session log, as well as other musings on the idea of a Mythic Underworld.
 

Skarg

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. . .

Conversely, I've NEVER understood why Elves always get nightvision in literally every RPG ever. They're traditionally creatures of light and goodness and stuff. They might emit light, or be able to dismiss darkness, but I never understood why'd they'd have nocturnal abilities.

And I like my Dwarves using mining hats with candles and carrying big iron lanterns. That just looks cool. With darkvision, they'd never really need those, right?
Not literally every RPG. Elves don't get night vision in TFT or GURPS. (Unless, of course, the GM decides otherwise for their setting.) And even then, Dark Vision in GURPS is not D&D dark vision - it just means the character sees better in non-pitch darkness.
 

Moonglum

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I get so irritated at the ubiquitous night vision of generic D&D systems and campaigns. I file it in the same category as all non humans knowing, like, 9 languages By default. It is just this goofy bolt-on ability that removes a challenge you’d rather was there. Generally speaking, I don’t allow that sort of thing in my campaigns. If you want to see in the dark, get a torch. If you want to talk to a gnome, be a gnome or be smart enough to know a couple of extra unusual languages.
 

Voros

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I get so irritated at the ubiquitous night vision of generic D&D systems and campaigns. I file it in the same category as all non humans knowing, like, 9 languages By default. It is just this goofy bolt-on ability that removes a challenge you’d rather was there. Generally speaking, I don’t allow that sort of thing in my campaigns. If you want to see in the dark, get a torch. If you want to talk to a gnome, be a gnome or be smart enough to know a couple of extra unusual languages.

I think it only makes sense for Dwarves to have night vision (infravision seems too sf and rationalized to me for fantasy) since they live underground.

The elf thing never much sense to me, can't recall if elves can see in the dark in Tolkien or not, as Gygaxes elves are obviously heavily 'borrowed' from Tolkien.
 

Moonglum

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I’m quite sure that Tolkein’s dwarves require torchlight to see underground - think of the fumbling in the dark as Bilbo and the dwarves fled goblin town in The Hobbit. It is only the orcs who we are explicitly told can ‘see like gimlets in the dark’. This, I would say, is a fair trade for their cursed weakness in sunlight (which somehow ends up having no in-game rules expression in D&D! Clearly the sources suggest they should have morale checks and to-hit penalties on them in direct natural light).
 

Moonglum

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The only one I have on my while traveling is Moldvoy’s Basic description, and it gives a -1 to-hit penalty but no modification to morale. I know AD&D has morale rules in the DMG, but I can’t think of a single person I’ve met who ever used them. Did OD&D have formal morale rules? I’ve read and used the game for years but can’t quite recall…
 

Moonglum

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The B/X morale rules are so obviously the good way to do it; I feel like all the other versions are like the stuff people come up with when they engage in white-room mental exercises without field-testing them at the table for a couple of years. I’ve heard so many people say they don’t like morale rules, and my reaction is always to think, ‘no, you don’t like crazy morale rules, which is what you were offered’.
 

AsenRG

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The B/X morale rules are so obviously the good way to do it; I feel like all the other versions are like the stuff people come up with when they engage in white-room mental exercises without field-testing them at the table for a couple of years. I’ve heard so many people say they don’t like morale rules, and my reaction is always to think, ‘no, you don’t like crazy morale rules, which is what you were offered’.
Don't tell me what I like:devil:!

...though I like morale rules, they just make sense:thumbsup:.
 

Necrozius

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I like the 2d6 method for Morale. Gives me a good idea of how brave or cowardly a monster is.

In a Labyrinth, where reality itself is a malevolent force, it makes sense in a weird dream logic sort of way that unexpected allies can be made from lucky Reaction rolls, or surprising sudden retreats from Morale checks.
 

xanther

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I like the 2d6 method for Morale. Gives me a good idea of how brave or cowardly a monster is....
Have to say that is always what have used, even in OD&D because that is what we were familiar with from Squad Leader. Even used leadership the same way.
 

Necrozius

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If you haven't already, you might want to check out Jason Sholtis' Operation Unfathomable. Should be a good source of inspiration, if nothing else.

I've heard of this. Apparently it is quite good!

In my specific take on the setting/genre though, the Labyrinth will be less of a "huge underground biosphere full of living cultures and factions" but more of a "hellish nightmare world that doesn't make any logical anthropological sense".

But otherwise, yeah I'd use something like Operation Unfathomable.
 

T. Foster

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The only one I have on my while traveling is Moldvoy’s Basic description, and it gives a -1 to-hit penalty but no modification to morale. I know AD&D has morale rules in the DMG, but I can’t think of a single person I’ve met who ever used them. Did OD&D have formal morale rules? I’ve read and used the game for years but can’t quite recall…
Interesting. It appears you're right and the Basic/Classic D&D line only gives orcs a penalty to hit in daylight, not a penalty to morale, despite the latter being explicitly mentioned in OD&D. Presumably it was edited out in the Holmes version where there is no morale rule, but then (likely unintentionally) not added back in the Moldvay & Mentzer versions even though morale was reintroduced.

The OD&D rules include various references to morale modifiers but, characteristically for that version, don't ever say how morale works. It was likely assumed that (as with most combat details - initiative, missile ranges and rates of fire, effects of terrain on movement, effects of charges and flank/rear attacks, etc.) people would refer back to Chainmail.

There are, naturally, two different morale systems there - one for "excess casualties" rolled when the unit hits a threshold percentages of losses (based on troop type), and another for "post-melee morale" rolled by both sides after every round of combat, involving a lot of math and modifiers and where the magnitude of differences in the side's rolls determines the effect (keep fighting, orderly withdrawal, retreat, rout, or surrender). The former is essentially the BX D&D morale system (with the crucial difference that OD&D doesn't assign morale ratings to the various monster types not in Chainmail so the DM has to make them up on the spot), the latter is a precursor to the AD&D morale rules (which are so over-complicated and unwieldy that the DMG explicitly advises the DM not to use them once they're familiar with the concepts - that "empathizing with the character or group in question and having them act accordingly" is considered preferable in most cases to actually totaling up the modifiers and rolling dice).
 
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