Monday, May 27, 2024

The Carven Carapace (A Ten Room Dungeon for King of Kings)

Back in December, I purchased a little Japanese graph paper notebook, with the intention of filling its pages with as many adventure locations as I could come up with. I wrote up one (which I will be sharing here today) and then... subsequently didn't make any more until yesterday. In my defense, stuff's been goin' on. But anyway, here's the first dungeon I made for this notebook, using my favorite, the Ten Room Dungeon format from friend of the blog Tristyn. All the text is exactly as I wrote it in the notebook, with the addition of some monster stats that I couldn't actually fit into the three little pages I wrote this on and some slight edits for grammar.


The skeletal remains of a great tortoise, half-buried in the ground, made into a shrine dedicated to the poet laureate of the long-dead tyrant Shama-Khur. Ancient rumors once told that Shama-Khur was in a torrid homosexual relationship with his beloved poet. The shrine has been abandoned for centuries, other than the occasional peasant giving offerings and paying their respects. It is said, however, that a most beautiful lost poem of the laureate is buried in the turtle, on a slab of stone too heavy to carry out.

You can see the original unedited version of (part of) that description in the corner up there lol

Random Encounters
1-3: D4 Giant Ground Beetles
4-5: D3 Giant Shrews
6: D6 Dust Bunnies

Random Events [this, like most of my dungeons, assumes an Overloaded Encounter Die, where one of the results is a random dungeon-specific event]
1: Whispered poetry drifts into earshot.
2: The shell settles, sinking slightly into the ground.
3: Ghostly lewd moaning echoes off the walls.
4: The wafting scent of smokey incense.
5: One of the party members uncontrollably recites a line of verse.
6: A sudden draft animates a little dust cyclone on the floor.

Room Descriptions

1: The altar room. Cones of incense burning, and husks of sacrificed fruit left on the shrine. Stone brick walls depict mythological scenes, and one wall has the great poet on it. Lines of poetry circle the chamber near the ceiling.

2: Former shrine storage chamber. Stone door broken down. Inhabited by Jamshir, wandering vagabond. Desirous of warm clothes and money, but a philistine who cares not for art.

3: 6 of the zodiac signs are on the floor in a circle. A broken alcove in the wall hides a silver necklace worth 160 drachmae.

4: 6 next zodiac signs on the floor in a circle. Line up the 2 circles so that Libra and Gemini face each other through the door between the two chambers, and a secret door opens, as well as revealing an ebony box in a hidden alcove (long looted, but the box is worth 50 drachmae).

[Edit: Had a couple people express confusion over the zodiac wheel thing, which is fair because this text is the very pared down version directly from the notebook so I won't act like its super developed. Rotating the wheels to a given combination would take an exploration turn due to the weight of the wheels. When it comes to communicating the solution to the puzzle, I would likely do it one of two ways: if the dungeon is being ran as a one-shot, there would be a poetic mention of their star signs in the carvings in Room 1; if it is being ran as part of a larger campaign, their respective zodiac signs would be found outside of the dungeon, from an NPC or an ancient scroll.]

5: Secret passageway, intended for the tyrant's heir.

6: Semicircular staircase chamber, hidden behind a half-broken stone door connecting to room 2. Holds a stone chest with 200 drachmae worth of jewels, and a shiny obsidian blade that, on a failed save, slices open the fingers of whoever attempts to pick it up.

7: The inside of the tortoise skull. A crawling mass of black worms blankets the floor.

8: The ultimate chamber, the heart of hearts. A large, octagonal room, dug out of the ground, lined with stone bricks. In the center is a stone table, upon which sits a clay effigy of the poet laureate, and at his feet is a stone chest within which is a papyrus roll of poetry, which would be worth upwards of 3,000 drachmae to the right buyer. When the scroll is removed from the chest, 4d6 dust bunnies take shape and confront the adventurers.

9: A smaller side chamber, carved out of the tortoise's femur bone: the tomb of the poet laureate's mad brother. Clutched in his desiccated claw is a scroll with a vindictive spell of jealousy scrawled on it. He sits on a rotted fleece, next to a crust of bread and jug of wine.

10: The dug-out underground burrow of a mated pair of badgers, and their 4 offspring (who hide in the phalanges of the tortoise). Connected by a tunnel to a hollowed-out tree stump that can serve as an alternate entrance or exit point.

Number Encountered: 2 (+4 young)
Hit Dice: 1-1
Attacks: 2 bite (2 points of damage)
Armor: none
Morale: 9

Beetle, Giant Ground
Number Encountered: 1d4
Hit Dice: 1+4
Attacks: 2 bite (1d6+1) or 1 slam (1d6 and save or be pinned against wall)
Armor: as leather + shield
Morale: 7

Dust Bunny
Number Encountered: 1d6
Hit Dice: 1-1
Attacks: 1 bite (1d4) + 1 kick (1d4)
Armor: none
Morale: 5
Dispel and Disperse: Dust bunnies are animated by lingering feelings of sorrow and yearning. They can be dispersed by gusts of wind or the movement of fans, but will eventually reform (though this may give the players an opportunity to flee). They take no damage from mundane weaponry. Dust bunnies are immediately dispelled by the spell Remove Fear.

Shrew, Giant
Number Encountered: 1d3
Hit Dice: 1+1
Attacks: 2 bite (1d6)
Armor: as leather
Morale: 9
Agility: Always win initiative on the first round of combat, and +1 to initiative each round after.
Venom: On a successful hit, the victim of the shrew's bite must save vs. poison or be weakened and sickly, taking 2 points of damage each turn for the next 1d12 turns.

The above dungeon is, at times (not always, given how I gave into my proclivity for more flowery language there in those last two rooms), much more terse than the usual material I post to the blog. I think the constraint of the paper size in the notebook is a good influence there, causing me to really think through what I have to actually note or describe (which is why, for instance, the monster stats were originally left out). Anyway, hope y'all at least get something out of this dungeon!