Thursday, August 24, 2017

Megadungeon MacGuffins

I suppose it's a commentary on my work ethic, but I'm finally working in earnest on the megadungeon that I threatened back in this post.  The overall setting of the campaign was described (at my usual pace) here.  Because I suck at making pretty maps, I'm just using Warhammer's campaign setting as a map.  Middenheim is the city that the dungeon is beneath.

Part of the creation of the megadungeon will be MacGuffins, and that's the focus of this post.  MacGuffins drive dungeon exploration, but a megadungeon should have many to keep driving exploration.  You can find one, but there will always be more.  Also, like any MacGuffin, they'll drive intrigue in and out of the dungeon as well.  The stereotypical MacGuffin doesn't have much use on its own.  Player characters can trade any of these MacGuffins for gold (and I'm using gold for EXP) but some of these MacGuffins will have tempting uses on their own.  Whenever I need a new hook for the megadungeon, I just need a hook for another MacGuffin.  They'll also show up on my random dungeon stocking tables and on my city rumor tables.

Besides the usual 'specials',factions and individual NPCs within the megadungeon, this megadungeon will have the following MacGuffins: Heresies, Dwarven Treasure Vault Keys, and Raven Cloak Feathers.

Heresies:


Scattered through the dungeon are recordings of scripture and the testimony of prophets.  Some of these are desired by creatures within the dungeon for their own sake, others are recorded on pretty plates of precious metal, and others are incidental trash left alone.  Regardless, various factions within and without the Church desire these bits of knowledge, collectively called ‘Heresies’ and will pay handsomely for them.


Player characters can sell them, either to their faction contacts or through the heresy black market (called the ‘copper market’ on account of many of them being written on copper plates) run by the Thieves Guild.  PCs can also use them to play faction politics, as different heresies will support or counter the beliefs of the factions.  If they’re into it, we could even play a long run version of the game Credo.

The How of the Heresies
The dungeon is beneath the city of Middenheim, the seat of the Empire and at one point the seat of the patriarch of the Church of the Sun.  The CotS is a stand-in for institution of the Roman Catholic Church for my version of the medieval-not-medieval world I’m running.  In the Egestion of the Cathedra, the Trickster left through the back door of the Church’s Temple, breaking wards and opening doors, allowing the chaos underneath into the Church’s archives.  There may yet be some intact sections of the Holy Archives, but many of the documents are scattered into the unnumbered halls.

Questions of dogma and belief have created factions within the Church.  Other factions have their own beefs against the Church, their own beliefs or they are aligned with a faction in the Church.  Notoriously, Communing with the God to answer questions of dogma is unreliable as you only get the answers you want to hear.  So the Church is dependent upon the “verified” words of Prophets as authorities to handle those questions. 

Some of the current, long standing heresies include:  whether the Charioteer that drives the Sun was once a man that became a god (aka the Arian heresy), whether only the clerics that cast spells are true priests of the God (aka the Donatist heresy), whether the God is a divine charioteer that pulls the sun like Apollo, or whether the Sun God itself is a ball of fire (the Eastern church believes in the Solar heresy, the Western church is the Apollonarian), but there are others.  Most heresy finds within the dungeon will support or contradict at least one of the established heresies.


Dwarven Treasure Vault Keys

These use a physical minigame,On the Dot, in which 16 different transparent tiles are fit to match the pattern of 64 different puzzle tiles.  There were 16 Dwarven clans represented in Middenheim, corresponding to the 16 transparent tiles.  Many dwarves had their clan keys, which fit into the locks of 64 Dwarven treasure vaults (plus some single clan only minor vaults).  Scattered through the dungeon, and occasionally in the Dwarven Diaspora are multiple copies of the 16 transparent tiles.   

When the PCs acquire one, they can see it and I will record which one they have.  When they find the Dwarven Vaults (some of which are together on a single level, others are hidden on other Dwarven levels), I’ll give them the tiles that they have. There will be lore hints (reading Dwarvish will help), and on the lower levels the vault locks will disallow transparent tiles that aren’t part of the solution.  Each placement or rearranging of a transparent tile to match the solution will trigger a possible Dwarven theft counter measure or be noisy enough to trigger a wandering monster check.  Getting the puzzle right the first time will save them trouble.

The vaults are rumored to contain fantastic wealth.  Due to the Hysteria Regia and the circumstances of the Dwarven Disapora, Dwarves themselves are divided as to the correct providence of the treasures.  Some feel that the treasures are their birthright to return to claim.  Others maintain that the vaults contain the stolen treasure of traitors.  Dwarves have fought over the ownership of the keys, but like the Heresies, there is a market in buying and selling them that the PCs will be able to participate in. 

Feathers of the Raven Cloak

Before She entered the mundane world in what would become known as the Egestion of the Cathedra, Lady Dischordia tricked the Raven Queen into giving up her Cloak of Raven Feathers.  As She ran from the wrath of both Gods, feathers from the Cloak littered her path.  Subsequently they’ve been scattered throughout the dungeon.

Each feather has some power of the Raven Queen, which grows as more are accumulated.  However, they are also cherished by the followers of the Raven Queen, and are famously the only means to gain the favor of a Raise Dead spell from the Raven Queen’s High Priestess.