Friday, September 14, 2018

DREAM-SLAVE OF THE NIGHTMARE FACTORY

Apparently these are album covers for a band called Sepultura. So now we know, you and I. If you're a player in my Crownless Lands game you might not want to read this, but it's really not so much for that game so I wouldn't sweat it, I stayed up till 6:31am glibbering this to the void so I expect its final form would prove divergent anyhow
This is in a hijacked dream, or maybe it's where a kidnapped dreamer was taken. The lines are blurred.

Top is up and bottom is down.
ENTERING- The players plunge through an opaque black portal found behind a wall and find themselves in 1.
1. 10 foot wide hallway, 50' feet tall, curving slightly. Before you is a cold blue light visible as ambience diffusing around the bend, behind you is darkness. After a bit of walking, the whole place rumbles and grinds horribly and continually and you all feel a bit unbalanced. Metal grid of crypts on right wall, easily scaled and traversed, left wall a rusty expanse of iron.. Every encounter turn, an undead awakens in a crypt just beyond torchlight, 1d6-1*10 feet above the ground. All move towards the party with some movement gimmick, and if somehow bypassed in the narrow hall do not change direction and vanish once out of sight. No wandering monsters here besides the dead.
like this but dark and spooky and apparently infinite
1-Skeleton- Crawls at elevation they emerged at, drops on players beneath.
2-Headless Zombie- Lands with a splat, gets up 1 round later, shambles forward.
3-Giant Bouncing Skull. Jumps forward in arcs with 1d3*10 max height and distance each round.
4-Wraith- Stays at elevation they emerged from, floating slowly by.
5-Giant Rolling Skull- Lands with a hollow 'clunk' and rolls at players at high speed.
6-Starving Ghoul- Stays put. Bursts into screaming action and attacks if someone comes within 10' feet. The only monster that actively pursues players.

No matter how much you walk, you won't reach the blue light, but the hallway is only about 200 feet long. This is because the light source is floating in a fixed position, while you and the crypt are all a big rotating ring cylinder.

Breaking through a tomb leads to the giant's area of 3a. If they somehow break the left wall, it leads out to 6.
 Undead return to niches in the rotating tomb-cylinder and are rotated out of sight, to spook the players next revolution. Hiding in a tomb-niche while the other players keep walking gives you a free ride around the cylinder to the end of the hallway and snuffing your torches causes the mechanism to cease and the undead to remain dormant, since it's run by zombies seeing light through pinholes in the walls and then running in hamster wheels or something. Or you could just split the party to walk opposite directions and while one group walks in place, the other group will advance on the light double-speed from the other direction. I'm sure enterprising players will find other ways to foil this goofy obstacle too.

2. Cute but evil glowy blue will-o-wisp who can ethereally interact with esoteric mechanisms inside the iron walls to turn a column of iron tomb-alcoves into a handy maintenance ladder, providing access to 3 and stopping the rotation. Will o wisps can only derive pleasure from being chased by people, but by the time the players actually reach it, the foul spirit is thoroughly satisfied and willing to help you out, and also explain their motivations until everyone is bored and distracted. Ladder is slippery with ectoplasm, unwary climbers save or fall into 3c for around 4d6 damage and squash a Watcher, because will o wisps also love luring people to their doom. Anyone who dies from this becomes a wisp themselves. I sorta like the ghost class here.

3. Control Chambers.  Glass windows look out upon the sheet-bound form of a titanic figure and the strange machinery that binds it, and strange buttons and levers abound. Pulling them injects/electrocutes/tickles the titan to affect its mentality, which in turn effects a change in the rules of this place. It also attracts a wandering monster. You can view each square bit as a separate room that might have a Watcher inside, filing paperwork or drinking coffee or tinkering with settings.

Random Reality Warping Examples
1-Gravity turned off.
2-Light/Darkness reversed.
3-Living beings muted.
4- Party Hasted. Age 1 year every turn/10 minutes.
5-Slow motion. Nonliving objects move at sluggish paces- arrows can be outrun, dropped items take a turn to land on the floor.
6-Water glows and burns, fire becomes an endothermic reaction that freezes things.
7- Party teleported to random location within dungeon.
8-Party Fused
9-Inventories put into temporal stasis.
10- Consumable items have infinite usage within dungeon but double in weight whenever used.

3a- Undead giants pushing axle of 1 in response to light trickling through crypt-cracks, or standing around aimlessly. Poking them makes them move predictably.
3b-Precarious rope and metal elevator down to 9. Can get off halfway to traverse gargantuan wall of 6 and its chaos incursions.
3c- Control room main. Locked Hatch leads to Titan Tubes, which lead to various small rooms (more like cages) along the titan's body where Watchers observe the titan from. There's usually at least a few Watchers here.
3d- Ejection Plug- Guarded by Watchers. Releasing its locks drops the titan into the Breach.
3e- Titan Tube Exterior. Climbing for the brave.

4- Watcher Living Quarters. Where the watchers hang out when not doing important Titan tasks. Really friendly watchers might invite you to hang out here, or you can play Home Invasion and rob the place of what trinkets they may have.

Watchers
Humanish, mostly, but they're from the dreamlands or the future or something. Doing important work here. No names, only jobs. Show up in yellow metal-lookin areas. Good reaction rolls indicate they're slackers looking for entertainment and ways to not do their jobs. Bad reaction rolls indicate they're no-fun allowed sticklers for trespassers and will try to exterminate you before you screw everything up and cause a nightmare incursion. They carry fairly standard adventuring stuff like rope, lanterns, paper, and random trinkets like these.
1-Senser- Nose like bloodhound, eyes like eagle. As thieves, with crossbows.
Wants: Knowledge, shinies, smellies.
2-Thinker- Just a giant head. Levitates around. Wizards with a focus on mental and dream magic.
Wants: Solutions to Problems.
3-Feeler Pin-headed brute. As Ogre.
Want: Lift Heavy Things
4-Gibberer- Disposable wretches. As Goblin.
Wants: To obey orders.
5-Necro-Manager-Indispensable wretch. As Goblin but other watchers have unbreakable morale while they're around, to the point where they can keep going even if they're dead.
Wants- To have orders obeyed.
6-Crossbreed-Roll Twice 

5- The Titan
This is the dreaming psyche of someone the Watchers invaded the dreams of to do mad oneiromantic science on. Just pick some relevant NPC, like a hireling or their main antagonist or the king or something. They are currently not lucid, and cannot be made lucid until the Watchers cease mucking around with things. Once freed of imaginary dream-drugs pumped into them and made to understand that this is a dream, they either wake up, collapsing the nightmare, or become as a god within their own mind and go mad with power and probably accidentally tear a rift to Nightmare and get psychically rent asunder and possessed. If they're dropped into 8 they'll vanish both in the dream and in real life, but telling clues of where they ended up will remain.


6- The Wall
Beyond this wall lies the Dreamlands. It is massive and the cracks in the mortar can easily be traversed to various '6' locations, or all the way down to 10. Reaching 5 or 3 locations might be possible with leaps swinging from precariously-hooked grappling lines. The wall is leaking horrors in this place, which seek to devour the watchers, or you in a pinch. They look like whatever displeases you, mostly, and their effects mostly only last until you escape the nightmare.
1-Exposer- Nightmare that looks like people you want to like you. Dissolves your inventory, starting with pants, then makes fun of you for CHA damage.
2-Pursuer- Looks like a wolf, sorta. Is always just a little bit faster than you are.
3-Insecuratrix- Doppelgangers, but they don't pretend to be you. They just turn into you and then act BETTER than you until your own party votes to kick you out and keep the Insecuratrix instead.
4-Desynchronizer- Removes senses. If all are removed, you are expelled from the dream and save or cease to exist. Feels like falling through nothing.
5-Neuterer- Reverses your stat bonuses, lowers weapon damage dice, counters spells. Not particularly tough but neither will you be. Also your teeth fall out.
6-Succubus That Looks Like Your Mom But Has A Penis???
now this is what i call high concept RPGing
6a- Ed the Abominable-Stats as gibbering mouther or black pudding or chaotic psychoplasm or whatever. A nightmare monster from realms of deeper sleep, trying to invade this realm and get everything it wants that it doesn't have, which is everything, pretty much. Knows all the desires of the players and can grant wishes that only apply in dreams. Needs to cooperate with Iago to break through but hates that stuffed-up schemer more than anything.
6b-Nightmare Eggs You know that scene from Alien with the eggs? But with a bunch of nightmares patrolling and tending the eggs, too. Too many to fight fair, that's for sure. Eggs make for squishy handholds on the side of the wall-cliff.
6c- Telespiral-Walk through the spiral shell, come out the other one.
6d-Iago the Abominable- Like Id but more stable, physiology wise. Wants to invade the realm, take over the watchers, possess the titan, and basically begin a 12 step plan for world domination. Has no plans of what to do with the world once dominated, but has the intellect to advise players on anything they like. Needs to cooperate with Ed to break through the wall but hates that undisciplined oaf.
6e- Stress Geometry- Can be manipulated to undo reality warps, seal off the nightmare incursions or unleash Ed and Iago. Give the players something like this and 5 minutes to explain, or the opposite will happen of what they wanted to happen.
6f- Huge Trilobite- Stats as the biggest beetle/crab/scorpion in your monster manual. Kill it and it becomes 200 years in a bottle that you can pour out on things to age them in increments of 10 years. Also it guards a hollow bone tube that leads to-

7-Dream Shrine- Finally, a way out of this madhouse. You can dimly see some chanting cultists, as if through a veil of water, snorting powders and chanting arcane words of summoning to summon a 'Giant Trilobite of Antediluvian Aspect' to save them from some conan-looking dude chopping through them like butter. You can let yourself get summoned to escape this place, though you'll end up wherever these cultists and their conan-enemy is.

8- Portal to Somewhere- Emergency ejection port for the Titan to collapse the dream-realm and end the mess. You could dive through yourself, of course, but that's not what it was designed for and not even the watchers could honestly say where you'd end up.

9-Psyche Extraction-2d6 Watchers atop a tower oversee memory and sensation extraction, and also fend off monstrous nightmares slithering and flying down the wall. 3 rooms, stacked atop each other to make a 3 story building
Top- A narrow bridge, a precarious fall on either side, and Nightmares winging about like bats, barely kept at bay by long spears wielded by the Watchers as the head Watcher examines the newest extraction.
Middle- A rubbery tube-pit that would roll people down to Bottom(inside the prison cage in fact), and work-tables dangerously near it as the 2d6 watchers here do tests on their haul.
Bottom-A prison cage, with 2d6 watchers outside and a Nightmare inside, as they test out the third extracted item on a live threat.
Spells known by the Titan, if any, would be found here as scrolls written in 'Dear Diary' format.
The three extracted phenomenon wielded by the watchers here could be as follows
Guilt, an axe that gets an extra +1 magical bonus but also x2 weight whenever it kills someone.
Ignorance, a shield that blocks spells and monster attacks you didn't know about before... and positive effects too.
Nostalgia, a perfume that makes your actions seem favorable and charming when people think about you after you leave their presence. Each of these are successful extractions from the Watcher's mad oneiromantic experiments, and if not returned to the Titan their psyche will be altered.

10-Plain of Metal-leads to gigantic, grasping hands that mimic what nearby people are doing with their hands, and also to 11. The plain of metal has the occasional watcher and/or nightmare corpse lying about, and it is also joined to the Dream Wall of 6.

11- The Inquisitor Lens- Questions asked of the Titan will be revealed as imagery in the giant lens here. If retrieved to the real world, the Inquisitor Lens is monocle-sized and can provide similar telepathic slideshows fpr all to marvel at. Staircase below lens leading to 11abc, can be reached by shattering or unscrewing and removing lens.

11abc- Disgraced Watchers
Kept in the dungeons of their fellow watcher's nightmare factory for their crimes of dreaming too greedily and too deep. Also these oubliettes can probably contain replacement characters, maybe some bonus prisoners to rescue.
They offer faustian bargains of power, knowledge, blatantly obvious plot-hooks for whatever other dungeons you had prepped, and of course, a way out of this place.

2 comments:

  1. Now this is absolutely excellent. I love every single about this, it's beautiful and strange and evocative. Also, why did I not think of designing dungeons from album covers alone? That is the greatest idea I've heard in a long time.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Metal album covers are pretty loaded...
    http://arsmagisterii.blogspot.com/search/label/metal%20monster%20manual

    ReplyDelete