The latest quadrant of Stonehell, Level 3B: The Hexperiment – North, is now available for download here.
I know, I know. I planned to take some downtime but Grognardia’s review of Monte Cook’s Dungeonaday.com and the map of the Upper Catacombs of the Monastery of St. Gaxyg-at-Urheim started poking at my “publish or perish” nerve bundle, forcing me to finish up this week’s section of Stonehell.
This section is a little different. I wanted to play with the One-Page Dungeon idea (or Two-Page in my case) and see how it handled covering a larger area of the dungeon. I had an idea for a series of rooms for Level 3 but it became apparent that the layout of those chambers was going to be larger than 300’ long. I was forced to split the rooms between two quadrants. From what I can tell so far, it’s not too much of an issue. I’ll have a better idea once Level 3D: The Hexperiment – South is completed.
Longtime readers of this blog know that I’m not averse to throwing out logic and realism in my dungeon if I think that that will make a more entertaining evening’s worth of adventuring. That doesn’t mean that I won’t make allowances to try to explain some of the illogical events if the opportunity presents itself. This section of the dungeon gave me a chance to provide a logical explanation for why there are Higher Baboons and Carnivorous Apes lurking in the depths of Stonehell. They’re escaped lab animals; ones who have slipped from their cages in this section of the dungeon and established a breeding population in the overall dungeon ecosystem. The adventurers will find traces of their captivity here, but no live specimens remain.
This whole section (along with Level 3D) was once used for various magical experiments by an unknown magic-user (who may or may not remain in the dungeon somewhere). There are a few techno-magical devices, spell labs, and an entire series of chambers dedicated to the crafting of magical items. The origins, but not purpose, of the Small Men is revealed here as well. In addition, a medium level magic-user has set up camp in this area as he tries to win his way into the sealed chambers that he believes hold a plethora of magical goodies. So far his efforts have been for naught, but he and his hired band of bugbears are intent on holding the area against any who try to beat him to the goods.
It’s unlikely, but not impossible, that the party will be able to breach all the chambers that comprise the labs dedicated to the crafting of magical items. Some of the spells needed to power the rooms and open the doors are most likely beyond the ability of the party’s magic-users and elves. This is a feature, however, and not a bug. I like including areas in the dungeon that bear revisiting and this is especially necessary in a megadungeon that serves as the campaign tent pole. Just knowing these rooms exist is enough for the party at the moment. Once one of the magic-users or elves hits 9th level and is ready to craft magical items of their own, it will be time to pay a return visit to the Hexperiment section of Stonehell. Who knows what will be waiting for them upon their return?