Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Shifting Dungeon: The Undying Slave Kraken of Kas the Bloody

This is an example of a 3D shifting mini-dungeon, like I talked about the other day. Took me longer than I thought. What a surprise. This little scenario might be put anywhere before a dungeon. Some might consider it a trap, but I saw smaller Dungeons than that, so I guess both is right. Okay, here is my example...

Well, to begin with, there is no picture of this dungeon. So:

It's a shifting 3D Dungeon,
damn hard to make a picture of...
The Undying Slave Kraken of Kas the Bloody

Background

To protect his lair from nosy intruders, Kas the Bloody (mighty wizard of ill reputation, wielder of the staff Skinflayer) build this shifting passage to crush them all. The powersource for this dungeon is the enslaved and enhanced undead gigantic pet kraken Oggie. He resides in his slimy pool under the dungeon and moves the mucous 10*10*10 foot tiles with his phantom tentacles*.

One unit is 10*10*10 feet.
The Kraken (powersource)

This creature is in command of an gigantic 6.000.000 pieces structure, using the pieces of it as if they were its tentacles.
It's the wizards masterpiece. Intelligent and quite playfull, it holds about 3d10(+8) creatures of any kind in the maze it forms. Its favourite so far is a gelatanious cube, but it grew quite fond of a small group of 7 crafty kobolds that managed to stay alive in there (3 hd, tough buggers with a mean attitude and tools). Other creatures are up to the DM to insert. It might even be a person the characters are looking for (or some other MacGuffin).
It feels creatures that are inside of it and knows exactly where they are, as long as they are putting pressure on the stones. It is able to move its head in the structure, but does so only on rare occasions. Basically it tries to kill intruders either with the creatures already in the structure (which it thinks is great fun) or by shifting them as high as possible and into a pit trap.
As soon as it's prey is dead, it moves the bodies into its mouth. But it really likes to delay the process and play with its prey as long as possible.
The kraken moves deliberatly in any direction with a speed of 50 units per turn in any direction (but does so only, if he gets really annoyed by something). It is pretty tough and clever, how tough is for the DM to decide (I'd go with 15 to 20 hd and 2d10+5 bite damage), INT I'd say is about 18. He has treasure like a black dragon with the same hd would have, down in his slimy and poisonous pool. He is to be turned like a lich. Killing him will let the structure collapse (which means certain death for those in there, barring very few loopholes and some creative ideas).

The kraken, courtesy of LotR (source: here)
The setup

From the entry on it's a long and straight tunnel up to the center. The 10' blocks it seems to be build of, are full of strange carvings, a lot of scratches and a very resistant dark green moss. 60 feet in it blocks the entrance with a loud bang. As soon as the characters are in the center, the dungeon starts to shift. The kraken will try to route them to a random threat (roll 3d100 and one d8 for position). From now on shifting occurs every 10 minutes. Corridors after every shifting period will lead to threat, too. At least it is the easiest way.
The tiles move very slowly (that's why the movement rate is 1d10 per direction), so getting crushed isn't that likely. But it will test the characters capabilities and it might move creatures towards them, too (arriving after 1d6 shifting turns. The kraken goes even as far as staging ambushes to help the other monsters in there or to rescue them, if it feels like it (use Monster Reaction Table, kobolds get a +2, the cube a +3).

Navigation

To a great deal this depends on the set of D&D rules used. I'd go with the skill acrobatics (basically DEX + 1d20 vs. a difficulty, in this case 20**) or DEX -5 vs. 20 (without the skill) for every shift. Anything above 20 is used to alter the results in the direction the group wants to go. Failing the skill check means a character might get lost (the DM moves him in a random direction for the difference the character failed to reach 20. The character might be able to find the other by closing the gap. Critical failure means the character is stuck and might be crushed to death (2d10+5 points damage, save for half).
It is important to know where to go in this moving maze, so research and a goal might be a good idea. A Magic User might not be able to find the powersource (it being an undead creature and whatnot), but a cleric might. Scrying is an option, though. It is possible for the characters to discover some writings of those trapped here before. Something like "saw the exit above!" scratched in common unto the wall (they'll have 10 minutes between every shifting phase, so there is some time to explore). If a DM wants to handle this randomly, he might assign (again 3 times 1d100 and a d8) locations for stones with messages. Or more features, like a broken stone, for instance, that might be a safe place to hide and rest, stuff like that.
They will need light sources to navigate the dungeon.

Features

Assign x, y and z each with 1d100, direction with 1d8. Those tiles move with the others, so take the shifting result, but roll the d8 again for directions. If the characters are within ten tiles of a feature, they might find it between shifting. If they cross paths during shifting, they might see it. Features are:
  • 1d10 Stones with messages (1d6: 1, 2, 3 "saw the exit above!", 4, 5 "the kraken lurks below", 6 "the black stone holds treasure").
  • The black stone: Fractured and blackened by a fireball. Some treasure might be found here.
  • 1d6 kobold holes: those smart little guys know how to navigate the dungeon by the pattern of the stones and have dug off holes in some stones as safe havens.

It's all about the numbers

All the DM has to do is keeping track of a few numbers (encounters, features and characters) How close those numbers are gives a DM the distance and relations to each other. What level a group should be is entirely up to the DM and depends on how it's used. If they just have to pass through, if they need to stay inside or if they have to kill the kraken will mean a different difficulty setting. This is a very clever beast and a lot depends on how a DM handles it and how creative the players are.

I hope some of you will give this a try.

Of course a setting like this can't replace the classic "normal" dungeon. I get that. But I think of it as some kind of fantasy variant of a safe. If magic was real and magic users were something like the hackers in the 21st century, how would they protect their stuff? Simply by putting a heavy metal door and some monsters in front of it? I don't think so.

Feedback, as always, would be very welcome.

*Octopi are really quite cunning, strong and aggressive. I mean, really, check this scary video:


I pity the shark...

**I handle skills in connection with endurance and it is possible to use endurance to make the skill check. Read the whole story here.

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