Posted in Musings

Why Are There So Many Dungeons?

I’m very new to Reddit and I’ve found the /rpg community really friendly, open and informative so far. One of the more interesting reddits I’ve been reading asked the question “Why are there so many Dungeons?”. Lots of great answers were provided and the reddit is well worth a read. I have another motive for this posting though: my comment thread about the ancient evil masterminds who built all my world’s dungeons to take refuge in before detonating an alchemical nuke to destroy the world.

There’s a lot more to it than that, but that’s the gist of it. Read on for the re-posting of my reddit comment, but check out the thread for responses from others and our discussion on my ideas.

One idea I came up with for my world was that in ancient times, technology and magic did reach far beyond the normal level in fantasy worlds. However, with such incredible power, several civilisations were driven to conquer the world. One civilisation, with advanced magic-technology saw the massive conflict coming and decided to launch a pre-emptive strike.

Basically, they set off a massive alchemical nuke to take out all their enemies at once. However, it would kill them in the blast too, so they built hundreds of underground vaults throughout the world – and using their superior technology, this was a lot easier than it would be in standard fantasy. When building these, they realised they could use them for several purposes. After the vaults were built, they retreated into them and fell into a stasis/slumber.

After they were all in stasis, the alchemical bomb went off and destroyed 90% or more of the world’s population. So, their plan didn’t quite work: it was meant to kill everyone. Through mutation, it created many of the monsters in the world today, created a large uninhabitable area around the blast, and their vaults did suffer some damage, causing them to not wake in time. Instead, thousands of years passed and the few surface survivors rebuilt civilisation and the world healed itself.

When they woke up and left their vaults, the world had progressed much further than they planned. Now, their vaults are open. Think of them as a cross between classic dungeons, Egyptian pyramids and the vaults in Fallout 3. Some are just a series of rooms, some are massive caverns, some were built to be lived in – so have eating and sleeping areas, etc. – some were made as a “palace” for just one individual and all his possessions and slaves, and some have their own ecosystems and were used for various experiments or to put plants, creatures and monsters in stasis – like a Noah’s ark of sorts. Some even cracked open much earlier and underground creatures found these new homes and adapted them to suit their needs.

Using this method, it explains the various vaults/dungeons, why they aren’t all the same – many were built for purposes other than just stasis – and you can have huge caverns and twisting labyrinths (maybe used as a giant rat maze experiment, with sentient humanoids as the rats) or just small living quarters or fortified dungeons. Due to the people who made them having advanced technology, it would also explain the traps and artefacts that are often found in dungeons. Even dungeons without such artefacts make sense, in that they’ve been open for a while and have been raided – giving a reason why tribes of savages might have a powerful magic device.

It also gives you an ancient mastermind race to play with who used to almost rule the world and have now awakened into a new world that is not their own. If you don’t like that concept, then you could say that the vaults were all damaged and none of that race survived – except as wandering skeletons, zombies and the occasional lich.

So, that’s the reason for most of the dungeons in the world of Gahn. By the way, the mastermind race is called the Zarkrov. I’ve even talked to Nicolas Logue about them – let me tell you, he was pumped! – and he helped me brainstorm the beginnings of an excellent villain. Can you tell I’m fond of this race? I don’t think this is the last you’ll hear of the Zarkrov.



I live in Canberra, Australia. I love games and stories.

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