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Dungeon 23: A Second Interlude

Dungeon 23: A Second Interlude

Throughout 2023, a roster of Kobold Press superstars are working together to create a full dungeon for the Dungeon23 project. Each installment contains a few areas that will stack up to a full delve! Catch up on previous articles here.

Dungeon 23: Year to Date

Throughout the year, the Dungeon 23: Small but Fierce project has highlighted members of the D23 community. At this point, we’re struggling to find community members who are still updating their projects. (If we’re wrong, enlighten us in the comments.)

Well, we’re not stopping! We plan to finish the year with our fourth dungeon level. If you started but lapsed, or even never started, consider picking it back up or starting fresh. There’s no judge panel, no punishment for failure, and no awards for success. There’s just an invitation to exercise your creativity and curiosity. RSVP to that invite, friend.

Here are some things we’re pretty sure contribute to D23 working for us:

Borrowed Maps. Using Dyson Logos’ maps made the whole process a lot easier. Dyson’s maps are such an asset to the GM and creator communities! Please go to Dyson’s Patreon and help support more free maps for personal and commercial usage.

Achievable Goals. Designing one dungeon room a day is an admirable but extremely hard goal for most folks. The Kobold project involved three to five rooms every two weeks. It’s not cheating; it’s just setting a goal we knew we could hit and then delivering on it.

Accountability. We have an audience (you!). Knowing that you appreciate the dungeon design and responding to how we went about designing dungeons really helped the team.

Teamwork. Many hands lightened the load. This deisgn featured the imagination and determination of our all-star team of freelancers—HH Carlan, Andy Dempz, Jonathan Miley, Kelly Pawlik, Mike Welham, and the inestimable Ben Eastman riding herd on the process. Blog editor, Jeff Quick, also provided guidance colored by his many years of industry experience.

Finally, if you’re inspired to start or restart your own D23 creative outlet (or even D24!), check out our first article for tips and tricks on how to pivot into your next project.

Restocking the Dungeon

Unlike our first interlude, there is no pause necessary before our heroes need to head to the fourth dungeon level. They have the high inquisitor’s rod, which can open and close the portal to Sooledeed, the Mirror Hell of Lies, and they are flush with some new magic items from recent adventures.

If your PCs plan to go through the breach within 48 hours of finishing level 3, don’t bother restocking the dungeon. Whatever awaits on the other side knows that the high vindicator of Sooledeed and the aspect of Yskarakta haven’t returned. They’ll want vengeance on whomever dared attack their devilish lord and overseer.

If your PCs take a little more time, however, you might restock the dungeon with more hellbound derro, satarre destroyers,and satarre mystics (see Tome of Beasts 2). They probably bring devilish companions in tow, like bearded devils or even volguloths.

Other denizens of Sooledeed may also join, including shadows and perhaps even a voidling (see Tome of Beasts 1) for a heavy challenge before your PCs go to the Eleven Hells.

New Map Who ‘Dis?

To map level 4, we’re using Dyson Logos’ Statues of the Thrall Gods. This massive, multilevel dungeon map provides lots of interesting places to challenge PCs. The PCs enter the tower from a portal at at the bottom of the map, and ascend into the complex from there.

map by Dyson Logos

Where the Gates of Hell Meet the World Tree

In our last article, the PCs met the hellforged derros’ true masters: the foul satarre from Sooledeed. For purposes of this adventure, the satarre make their home along one of the branches of the World Tree that comes to this tenth ring of hell.

Here’s a bit of background about Sooleleed from Warlock #16: Eleven Hells:

The deeply disquieting plane of Sooleleed is a world of illusions and shadows where very little is real and most creatures, objects, and even features of the landscape are not as they appear. Items routinely melt and reform over a period of hours; some lakes and hills are little more than mirror-trickery, and entire villages may be reflections of a single building or a mirror maze of real and illusory places. Likewise, the inhabitants of Sooleleed are shapeshifting, skilled at deception, and often spin webs of arcane deception impenetrable to even the keenest eye.

Herein, our PCs will take the fight to the satarre servants of Yskarakta and his enslaved minions. By destroying a device in the pockmarked chamber towards the center of this dungeon level, the PCs will close off the world from the foul influence of Sooledeed.

Designer Note: Why the World Tree?
The great ash world tree that connects physical existence to other planes is unique to Norse mythology. The Midgard Campaign Setting is awash in this mythology, but few other fantasy campaign settings borrow this trope. You may ask: isn’t this supposed to be setting neutral? Yes, but world trees can be setting neutral. And we’re using it in part because it’s a cool element that can be easily ported to another setting. As Andy Dempz suggests, Midgard is ripe to be mined for spare parts.

Adventures with Teeth

The warrens are hard at work making the Tales of the Valiant RPG, and it’s due Q1 2024. Pretty soon! Now that you’ve had opportunity to review and digest the Tales of the Valiant Alpha Release, we’ll begin slipping in elements of the game to our adventure design.

Delving Deeper

In two weeks, we go through the portal to one of the Eleven Hells: Sooledeed.

If you’re looking for a notebook to jot down your Dungeon 23 ideas, check out the Kobold Press TeePublic page!

About Benjamin Eastman

Benjamin L. Eastman was introduced to D&D by his four closest friends—who immediately betrayed his trust by sacrificing his first character to a demonic artifact. Undeterred, he’s played all manner of RPGs in the intervening years. In addition to writing Warlock Lairs and monsters for Kobold Press, he’s contributed to the Stargate RPG and Americana, and co-authored DMs Guild adventures including Baby Tarrasque. He is perhaps proudest of the bar brawl—his first published monster in the Creature Codex

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