Have you ever made a dungeon and then ran it months or years later and not made any sense of your notes? Not that you couldn’t read them, but you just didn’t have ANY CLUE as to what you were going on about.
Once your memory goes, forget it.
This happens to me more lately. Not just because I’m getting to be an old fart, or that I design (and run) while a bit soused, but because I give my players free reign to go where they want. They’ve found 6 separate entrances so far, each with many branches and their own character. Often they’ll switch from one to the other for whatever reason; they don’t have enough clerics, another player has a map for an area, they heard a rumor, they have a goal in mind, etc, etc, etc.
That’s by design. But it does mean that I’ll make something, more than what they explore, and then they won’t come back to it for months or more. Sometimes I’ll have warning, sometimes I won’t. It makes DMing interesting. And enigmatic.
So last week they went to another entrance to the ‘abbey’ (what my players call my megadungeon) and I found something surprising to me the DM.
All over this level of the “Abbey” is a notation:
"enigmatic repeating obelisks" (each 50%)
I haven’t the foggiest what the obelisks are for, or what they have a 50% chance of doing. They are indeed very enigmatic.
This portion of the dungeon is a former lair of a Suel necromancer, beneath the haunted Pholtan abbey meant to guard the evils within. These areas in particular are inhabited by several competing cults of various death gods, each claiming that the evil dead power within is from their deity. One faction is actually just hedonistic and uses the undead as tools to make life easy. Plus there are connections to the Ghoul Kings lair, an oracle that paints possibly prophetic murals on the walls, golden statues to gods, etc. And after last week when on a player’s request I randomly rolled a charisma for a priestess of Incabulous (god of plaques and other nasty deaths) I got an 18. And she got away in a spell of darkness so she’ll be down there too.
I wonder if SHE KNOWS what the obelisks do?
Eh. Maybe they'll go someplace else tomorrow.