“It’s not nice to fool with Mother Nature.” – That episode of “What’s Happening?” where Rerun joins a cult that worships a head of lettuce.
The second quadrant of Stonehell, Level 3C: Hothouse Flowers, is available for download here.
It started simple enough. I wanted to feature a section of dungeon with a monstrous vegetation theme. The problem was that there’s not a heck of a lot of plant monsters in either Labyrinth Lord or Moldvay/Cook – at least, not ones suitable for use underground. Even looking through some of the Mentzer era supplements didn’t turn up a decent variety to use. A lot of them were plant monsters that had their *ahem* roots deep in modules and were tied in with the backgrounds or settings of those published adventures. I considered creating a half-dozen new monsters but I realized that by going that route I’d fill up a lot of the limited space of my two-page layout.
Then I remembered Mutant Future. There was bound to be a few funky plant monsters in there I could steal and they’d already be compatible with Labyrinth Lord. I flipped open my copy of Mutant Future and started looking.
Sweet Mordenkainen’s codpiece, were there ever plant monsters in there!
The result is that there are a lot of monsters in this section that require a copy of Mutant Future to run as written. If the .pdf wasn’t free, I’d probably have settled on some other theme for this quadrant but it is, so I didn’t. Introducing Mutant Future to the mix opened up some pretty big flood gates too. With so much high weirdness already on the page, it was a small matter to start thinking in new, crazy directions. The Hypnotoads and the mutant dryad soon followed. Rounding out the mix are the Spellspiders whose resemblance to the aranea is 100% intentional.
I think I officially pushed the two-page layout to the absolute limits on this section. I doubt I could cram any more information within the confines of the template without shrinking the font down to microscopic size. This is a good thing, however. One of the reasons I've been using the template is to get an idea where exactly the wheels come off of it and where I need to work on getting as much information as I can in as brief a form as possible. The file's a bit bigger than normal; partly because of the sheer amount of text and partly because I went with a full-color map on this one. You'll see why I had to once you get a look at it.
The gist of this dungeon section is that, once upon a time, a radical Nature cult settled in the area to pursue their heretical form of worship. The cult started messing around with forces better left alone and, before too long, something went kablooey, making a big dent in the layout of this area. Most of the cultist were killed in the either the explosion or by the rampant mutant plant life that started eating their former caretakers. This dungeon section is now mostly under the control of the plants, a race of fungoid caretakers, and a mutant dryad who may or may not be the original object of veneration by the cult. A group of spellspiders lurks in the area, studying both the effects of the explosion and waiting to try and gain control of what’s occurring in sections 3B & 3D, which we’ll get to in the weeks to come.
See? It all makes sense when you look at it that way. Who says megadungeons are unrealistic?