THIS IS PART OF A COLLECTION OF IDEAS FOR BUILDING OUT A LESS-THAN-COMMON ADVENTURE WHERE YOU CAN PUT YOUR OWN DUNGEON OR NPCS–THINGS THAT TEST THE PLAYERS AND PC’S ABILITY TO THINK DIFFERENTLY.
The first was the original Being. The second was the planar embodiments. The third was the Gods. This is as high as one gets up the food chain before ascending into godhood themselves.
A great giant, maybe something like a storm giant–something immense and certain and titanic–dedicates it life to the great clockwork of artifice and the gods grant its lifelong labors for mechanical perfections with endless servants to help him.
He’s long gone. Dead. This was ages upon ages ago and its all dust and cold and old and rusting. But the whole thing should be littered with fantastic narration of a great giant-sized factory or manufactory long since gone to shit. Petrified and faded woods. Rusted irons. Wind worn stone (place is large enough to have wind from belows that still pump, from somewhere).
But no dust. Not cobwebs. Living things don’t exist here. Only chemistries and alchemies and metal and wood and stone and leather and the like. It should be quiet. Echoing. The ceilings a hundred feet high, maybe.
The Hammer of the Fourth Smith… +1 Magic warhammer that does 2d12 blugeoning. Something pure and scary and simple. A giant would hold it in one hand lightly for fine work, a medium creature would treat it as an exclusively 2 handed weapon with a head on it like a microwave oven sized brick of very hard, but magically light metal (still need STR 19 to swing it at all, though). I think most parties would find that legend worth braving a dungeon for. If not, I can imagine any kind of Forge of Spells variant thing there or possibly just the chance of stores of raw materials (what would a giant-sized spool of gold thread be worth?).
I wanted to design something that felt truly unearthly and different from the bog I thought up. Opposite, really.
I’m thinking perfectly hewn stone blocks like you’d find in a modern office building’s fancy lobby. Normal stone, but polished and cut to magnificent perfection. The perfection of the stonework is a detriment to finding traps. Instead of DC 10-20 traps (10 common, 15 hard, 20 damn hard), jack ’em up +5 for how immaculate the stone work is and how hard it makes it to notice cracks or gaps even.
I’d even toss a DC 20 or DC 25 trap right at the beginning (even if not too deadly) to give the Rogue a real scare at how much harder things must be further in (though they’re not, per se–it’ll put them on edge because people thing earlier “rooms” are weaker than later ones). In a Lawful, Mechanical place though–it can operate structurally how it needs to counter to intuition.
The Hallways and Storage Rooms
Most of the whole place is made of enormous (imagine 20ft wide, 10ft deep, 10ft high shelves stacked 50ft high–five shelves per “unit”) shelves. The space between facing shelves (the hall itself) is 30ft. The shelves have perfectly rounded “tops” so if someone were to climb up a shelf (very hard given how tall each shelve space is and how smooth the polished and petrified wood is), short of spiderclimbing one will doubtless need to Dex(Acrobatics) DC 15 to not lose their balance (and its a long fall).
So, imagine instead of stone hallways 10×10 and long, with ceilings and floors and whatnot (so common, we’ve all been there), it’s all just labrynthian shelves of enormous size. In theory, one could climb up one with Str(Athletics) DC15 to represent the jumping and hoisting up and lack of handholds and smooth surfaces and pure ahtleticism needed to do that and then Dex(Acrobatics) DC15 to balance on the top (perfectly smooth and rounded half-cylinder of brass 20ft deep and 20ft wide, peaking at 10ft at the apex tall)… and standing there, it would look like another shelf “back to back” with the one you’re standing on and a hall down there like the one you just climbed out of. And across the way (peak to peak) is 50ft. Past that, another shelf and between them a hall… 100ft. Then a gap off in the distance… then darkness. Every which way you look, perched up there, give you the impression (in the dark, no lights) that the ceiling is another 50ft up maybe and the labrynth of shelves goes on who knows how far (because every movement, more Dex(Abrobatics) to balance, it’ll discourage too much top walking after that first fall).
So, twisting and turning (right angle) hallways.
Built into the floor are countless wonderful traps of a fairly large size. Nothing 5×5, all much larger. 10ft.x10ft or 15×15. or 20×20. Big, big. All examples of amazing mechanical ingenuity.
Every once in a while, there’s a wall of solid bronze-like metal all shiny and perfect… hard… it entirely blocks the path and always in the center on the floor is a hole about 1ft in diameter with a complex locking mechanism that opens the “door” or slides it down and away. All are trapped against tampering. Unlocking them requires tools and time and a DC15. Percieving the trap is DC20 (very well concealed, more important than the lock really). All the trap does is lock adamantine “manacles” or “cuffs” on the appendage in the lock. Break DC should be Str(Athletics) DC 25 or Dex(Escape Artist) DC 25. It should be super hard. It should be so hard that one considers it possibly easier to try breaking the crap out of it rather than try wriggling free with just lots of damage or magic. The idea here is… the lock is hard, but the trap is worse. Otherwise, it does no damage. is annoying.
You can litter future “doors” in the labrynth with the fully mummified (again, no animals or insects or bacteria here) and dried our corpse of an adventurer with his arm stuck or having bled out after hacking his arm off…).
Stone Ejections – some stones (10ft square or 15ft… huge) are simply set to eject into the air under pressure. Launching a party member or group of them into the air a random 1d4x10 ft. and then a Dex check to avoid being crushed by the stone as it comes back down with the group (4d12 bludgeoning).
Fire Cleaners – Through some mechancial/magical excellence, probably hearable as a passive perception of something very high, periodically something way up in the air (way up there) flies overhead and blows fire down into the halls… “cleaning” them.
I’d try and imagine very “Saw” like traps that are mechancially terrifying. Can’t be reasoned with. Always painful and brutal.
The shelves are lined (endlessly) with all those Modrons–those tiny mechanical “creatures”. Every single shelf. Packed. All of them. Hundreds of these things. Flippin’ Hundreds.
They’re all inert. They’re all lifeless. Rusted. Broken even. Up to you if any are still active, but I’d say of the thousands that must be here in this great warehouse of storage the vast majority should be bust.
Encounters though are never with anything big. The traps should be “big” dangers. The monsters should all be little servants of different drone-type. +2 or +3 to hit. Dinky. 1d4 piercing or 1d4 slashing or whatnot. Dinky damages. Ranged, sure. Melee, sure. But the fear comes from the party not knowing how many of these thousands might just pour off the shelves onto them. The farther they go in, the more dangerous being cut off by hundreds of tiny things must feel.
Big traps, little monsters. Rather than the other way around.
No food here. The Druid would have problems here without anything natural. Flying “things” up in the great ceiling (small as they might be) should keep people from trying too many flying or spider climb tricks. Most of the drones up there are inert, but it’s even riskier to be away from the party up there.
Days of lanbryth travel, random encounters from things that clean with fire or acid or gas (pesticide?) mindlessly.
A Great Giant Forge of sorts. Rivulets where magma flows (like small rivers all over). Obscured and searing hot air all over. No “traps” (this is a place for work), but lots of hazards from slipping or accidentally turning something on or waking some machinery up just by being there that starts weird and non-intuitive processes.
Laying on a great, enormous bench of some kind is the dried out husk of a great giant–long dead and forgotten. His last work half finished with his great tools. Most of his “tools” would count as magic weapons, but they’re also impossible to wield as weapons. A forge hammer with a hammerhead the size of a small car and a haft as big around as a telephone pole. A set of pincers that weight 800 lbs and would require a team of horses to squeeze.
But… the detail hammer, the fine hammer. THAT can be a warhammer for a medium creature. Invent properties. get creative.
Lots of interesting opportunities here for raw materials or clever magic items (I’d just recommend making them very “utility” over “war” given the scenario).
Take the players on an adventure through a world of artificial things.
I absolutely love your work. Never stop!!