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Dungeon 23: Long Way Down

Dungeon 23: Long Way Down

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 Community Highlight

Kobold Press isn’t the only taking a modified approach to the Dungeon 23 project — EmeraldDragonWrites is doing “World23, “creating a new fantasy world, one location each day. Check out on their blog, EmeraldDragonWrites.

Dungeon Prompts

Seven words have been created to to help inspire this set of dungeon rooms:

  1. Woozy
  2. Imperfect
  3. Acoustic
  4. Chemical
  5. Ancient
  6. Salty
  7. Gray

The author can use any or all of them. See if you can spot where and how these ideas get used!

The Dungeon Map

map by Dyson Logos

This level of the dungeon uses a Dyson Logos map, Wylgarak’s Hole (use this link for a player version without area numbers).

This map offers diverse paths for the PCs to explore while pursuing their adventure hook, which should resolve in Area 18.

This installment of the dungeon covers areas 4–6 of level two.

Area 4: Looming Shadows

Stairs continue to circle the fuming pit below. As you pass beneath a stone outcrop, three rough niches in the wall each hold a tall statue depicting a cloaked and hooded figure. Ahead, a larger outcropping hangs over the walkway. Beyond that, a bridge connects the southern path to the northern portion.

The statues here stand about six feet tall and were carved by inexpert hands. The statue on the left has been defaced with crude engravings that depict the following:

  • A small humanoid creature holding an oversized  poultry leg
  • An arrow pointing down the tunnel toward the bridge
  • A stack of four wavy lines
  • A humanoid-sized insect

A successful DC 13 Wisdom (Insight or Survival) check reveals the markings as a kobold reminder to use food to placate a dangerous creature lairing nearby. (Any PC with kobolds as their favored enemy has advantage on the check.)

The center niche is filled with slimy purple-black mold run through with crimson veins. This ichor ooze (see Tome of Beasts 2) bulges around the statue sharing its space, which gives the figure an appearance of being menaced by eldritch shadows. The ooze is quiescent unless a creature attacks or handles it. If the ooze begins its turn with 19 hp or less, it flees combat and slithers down the slope to huddle just above the alchemical lake.

If the ooze vacates its niche, the walls are engraved with images of shadowy demonic figures. A kobold skull and wand of resistance (see Vault of Magic) sit on the floor of the niche behind the statue.

Designer Insights: Worldbuilding
Dungeons and adventure sites are wonderful vehicles for worldbuilding. Everything about them, from location to design to architecture, can convey the history of not only the site, but the region and the people that lived there. Ruins should indicate their former purpose and possibly hint at the events that caused them to fall into disrepair.

Area 5: Clacking Guards

An outcrop of stone looms 20 feet above the stairs. The ground beneath is littered with small bones. Occasionally you hear a dull click echo from somewhere above.

Three clacker beetle soldiers (seeTome of Beasts 3)nest atop the overhang. The beetles scuttle down to the stairs as the characters pass beneath. The beetles attack the closest creature to them, favoring their Clack action to their Bite. If a beetle starts its turn with 7 hp or less, it makes a final attack before retreating up the wall to its lair.

The kobolds quickly learned it was easier to feed the beetles than fight them. If the characters present at least one pound of unpreserved meat per beetle, the soldiers collect the offerings in their mandibles and carry them back to their lair.

If the characters flee toward the bridge without placating the beetles, the insects pursue and use their Clack action when they are in range of one or more of the characters. The noise of the sonic attack warns the creatures in locations 6–14 that the beetles have been upset.

A character who uses a rope and makes a DC 12 Strength (Athletics) check can climb to the beetles’ lair. A search through the small bones, feathers, and other refuse turns up a bezoar of the cockatrice (see Vault of Magic), scattered coinage totaling 41 gp, and a gray pouch of powdered diamond worth 212 gp.

Designer Insights: Bugging Out
Insects and arachnids are great low-stakes antagonists. There’s no cognitive dissonance for players when they show up, since these kinds of pests legitimately can be found in any environment. If your players have a revulsion or phobia regarding bugs or spiders, you can adjust this encounter to include another pest of a monster, such as the brimstone locusthound (see Tome of Beasts 2).

Area 6: Collapsible Bridge

A bridge formed of four partially overlapping slabs of gray stone spans the gulf above the noxious water. Across the bridge the path forks, leading east or north.

The bridge slabs are each approximately 20 feet long, 2 1/2 feet wide, and 1 foot thick. The kobold trapsmiths from area 2 have partially cut through three of the bridge slabs, leaving only the center-left slab uncompromised.

The cut slabs collapse into the alchemical runoff below if forced to bear more than 75 pounds, or if they are in the area of an attack or effect that deals thunder damage, such as the Clack action of the clacker beetle soldiers from area 5.

A creature standing on the bridge when it collapses can make a DC 15 Dexterity saving throw. On a success, they catch themselves on the uncompromised bridge span. On a failure, the character takes 2d6 bludgeoning damage as they tumble into the runoff with the rubble.

A PC who examines the bridge and succeeds on a DC 13 Intelligence (Investigation) check notices hairline fissures webbed across the three compromised bridge spans and determines that the center-left slab is safe to cross.

If the bridge has collapsed, creatures that Dash across the remaining span must succeed on a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw or fall into the water below, taking 2d6 bludgeoning damage.

Delving Deeper

In two weeks, we’ll open faded gates and explore chambers and hallways of wonder in the next set of rooms.

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

about Kelly Pawlik

Kelly started gaming after her second son was born in 2012. She delights in worldbuilding and prefers campaigns that contain an abundance of intrigue and romance. Kelly co-founded Dire Rugrat Publishing in 2015 and has worked on many projects with Kobold Press. In 2021 she released the first three novellas in her middle-grade science fiction/horror/urban fantasy series, The Olympic Vista Chronicles.

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