Thursday, February 10, 2011

Dungeon Entrance To Die For

Among the fantasy tropes used to begin a megadungeon campaign is the abandoned monastery.

Legends tell of an abandoned monastery that was founded by an ancient order of warrior monks, who were tasked with the responsibility of containing some evil presence found beneath the site of the monastery. Over time, the monks either became complacent and abandoned their posts, or were corrupted by the evil they were charged to contain.

Now -- years, decades, or centuries later -- the evil beneath the abandoned monastery has grown to proportions significant enough to come to the attention of the players or their benefactors.

The players travel to the site to determine the threat posed by said evil presence and, if necessary, eliminate it.

The above illustration would be a neat hand-out, to present to the players as an illustration of what they see as the approach the abandoned monastery. But why use a black and white illustration, when you can hand them a photo of the actual freaking chapel!

This is the Saint-Michel d’Aiguilhe Chapel in Le Puy-en-Velay, France and was built some time around 962 A.D.

The entrance can be reached by climbing up 268 foot-high steps, carved on the exterior of the basalt extrusion that forms the mountain beneath the chapel.

Imagine having to climb that mountain every time you intended to begin your dungeon delve.

I would love to get the floorplans for this Chapel, and use it for an entrance to a megadungeon, with the dungeon proper following some endless staircase driving deep into the basalt extrusion and far beyond.

You could make the "endless staircase" the centerpiece of the dungeon architecture, with various levels hiving off, spoke-like, around a central staircase, complete with bottomless pit at its centre.

19 comments:

Tim Shorts said...

Abandon monasteries are the best. Not sure why, but always a favorite of mine.

And the picture is amazing. It's giving me an idea.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Tim Shorts said...
Abandon monasteries are the best. Not sure why, but always a favorite of mine.

And the picture is amazing. It's giving me an idea.


It's all that gregorian chanting. :D

The chapel is mind-boggling. Why they built this, where they built this, is beyond me.

R.W. Chandler said...

Wow, that is awesome.

Sean Robson said...

No treasure could be worth that climb...

The Dungeoneering Dad said...

That is fantastic. Deftly Ubernoting this bad boy.

sirlarkins said...

Agreed, fantastic. I like the central staircase idea too. Of course, it would have to end at the apex of the roof a massive cavern down on Level 8 or so...

"Why they built this, where they built this, is beyond me."

Well, if you don't want to be disturbed in your holy contemplations, seems like a good spot. It recalls the early Egyptian monks parking themselves on top of pillars.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

sirlarkins said...
Agreed, fantastic. I like the central staircase idea too. Of course, it would have to end at the apex of the roof a massive cavern down on Level 8 or so...

"Why they built this, where they built this, is beyond me."

Well, if you don't want to be disturbed in your holy contemplations, seems like a good spot. It recalls the early Egyptian monks parking themselves on top of pillars.


Someone had to carry all that building material up to the top of the mountain, to build that chapel. Yikes.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Sean Robson said...
No treasure could be worth that climb...

You should get experience just for reaching the top.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

The Dungeoneering Dad said...
That is fantastic. Deftly Ubernoting this bad boy.

I spent way too much time looking for the floorplans!

A Paladin In Citadel said...

R.W. Chandler said...
Wow, that is awesome.

Agreed.

John Williams said...

I had an abandoned monastery in my last campaign. Love the picture.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

John Williams said...
I had an abandoned monastery in my last campaign. Love the picture.

I'm a sucker for basing adventures on real environments.

1d30 said...

First big PC dungeon-altering project: tunnel into the dungeon from the side, entering at about Level 8. Of course you'd want to wait until your party could actually handle the dangers of Level 8 ...

A Paladin In Citadel said...

1d30 said...
First big PC dungeon-altering project: tunnel into the dungeon from the side, entering at about Level 8. Of course you'd want to wait until your party could actually handle the dangers of Level 8 ...

That would be awesome. Of course, you would want to map level 8 first, to make sure you break-through at the most accessible location.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

I'm thinking, though, that level 4 is about where the base of the extrusion is, since the dungeon is more vertical than horizontal.

Dave Cesarano said...

Okay, the first thing that came hammering into my brain was Name of the Rose. Why have an abandoned monastery? Why not have a monastery built on top of ancient catacombs? But beneath those catacombs lie secrets. The PCs may be travelers resting there, or pilgrims, or something, and get caught up in some sort of conspiracy, where the only way out is down.

The monastery provides a place of healing and recovery, the nearby village on the monastery's land provides taverns, places for resupply and carousing. The monastery itself provides all sorts of interesting secrets. Why was it founded? What does the abbot know? What if there's some bigger political stuff going on beyond the dungeon, and an inquisitor shows up? What if the monastery WAS abandoned, but was recently reoccupied by a sect of monks hoping to get their beatus officially canonized as a saint?

Man, this monaster-as-megadungeon idea is just fantastic.

A Paladin In Citadel said...

Dave Cesarano, I love your take on the monastery.

That would be an awesome way to play this megadungeon. The only problem will be the whole Gygaxian naturalism thing, but as long as you don't stock the dungeon with the usual suspects (orcs, goblins, etc) that follow gygaxian naturalism, I think that would absolutely work.

You could have more nuisance creatures (centipedes, slimes, oozes, spiders) and monsters that don't eat/breed. Add to that cultists that secretly live in the monastery or town, with their own secret ways into the catacombs, sprinkle the dungeon with multiple mysteries/enigmas, and you might have a recipe for a long-running megadungeon campaign.

Dave Cesarano said...

Oh, you can stock it with the usual suspects if you connect it to the Underdark or have multiple entrances to cavern complexes and stuff. There's all kinds of stuff you can do with it. Awesome idea for an entrance and I just might see if I can't devise something for it.

rorschachhamster said...

http://earth-of-fire.over-blog.com/article-neck-pouvoir-et-religions-3-st-michel-d-aiguilhe-au-puy-en-velay-53520646.html

scroll a little downwards. It's not big or detailed, but it's a floorplan.