One of the challenges about doing Stonehell the way I have been – with very little planning ahead – is that each new level surprises me by the time I’m done with it. I’ll look back and realize that I ended up someplace I couldn’t possibly have reached with a lot of preplanning. Sometimes this is a positive result and other times, not so much.
I suspected the third level of the dungeon was going to open up new problems. Starting about third level, there’s a gap in the monster lists that don’t allow for a lot of mindless creatures like giant bugs, big rats, and an abundance of oozes and slimes. Most of the monsters within the 3-4 HD range have at least some semblance of intelligence, so cramming a bunch of them into a dungeon level might strike some people as unrealistic. Once, I would have worried about this; but ever since I learned to stop worrying and love my dungeon, I’m not going to sweat it. Instead, I’ll embrace it.
Not too long into Level 3A, I began to see that there was going to be four main groups of inhabitants on the level: ogres, gnolls, harpies, and wererats. There’s a few more sentient beasties but these four comprised the majority of the monster population. The theme to the “Odd Couple” began to resound in my head. I asked myself the question, “Can four monster races share a dungeon level without driving each other crazy? Or eating one another?”
The answer is “yes,” if you look at it like a college dormitory. With that in mind, I started giggling.
Viewed through that mental lens, the ogres started looking like member of the college football team. I even gave them their own weight-room. The harpies became a clique of vapid coeds - the loud kind that scream and shriek when drunk at the bar. The gnolls were the dorm rats - social misfits that the rest of the residents shunned. The wererats became the brainy guys who put their intelligence to use cooking drugs in the lab after hours. The section makes more sense if you keep the dorm mentality in mind.
Although that doesn’t really explain the giant skunk…
Notes on things to come: I’ve made a change to the Equipment List on the right side of the blog. I’ve removed individual links to the first four sections of the dungeon (Level One) and replaced them with a link to a zipped file containing all four of files for that level. I’m going to do that with each level once I’ve completed them and they’ve been available separately for about a month. Otherwise, by the time Stonehell’s done, I’ll have a list of files running the entire length of the page.
Next week’s section will be Level 3C: Hothouse Flowers. I’ve got to skip around alphabetically because I’m trying something with the eastern section of the dungeon and will need to release Level 3B and Level 3D back-to-back. Just a heads up so you don’t think you (or I) missed a section.