Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Campaigns I'll Probably Never Get to Run: Reverse Dungeon

When I was younger I read a series of comics called Dungeon.  Written by French authors Joann Sfar and Lewis Trondheim, you can buy the books here.  Dungeon was something of a parody of the classic Dungeons and Dragons tropes of dungeon-delving and monster-slaying.  It's primary actors live in the  previously mentioned Dungeon, which is run something like a business.  Adventurers are lured there in hopes that they will bring various trinkets and magic items to add to the ever expanding wealth of the Dungeon.  The cast is essentially the monsters that the players would ordinarily fight.  The Dungeon is any number of mega-dungeons that have been published over the years.  The Caves of Chaos, Castle Ravenloft, the Tomb of Horrors, Undermountain and of course Castle Greyhawk.

Running the Dungeon

My proposal is this.  A campaign where, rather than barging into and looting the dungeon.  You play the monsters that call it home.  The party would be made up of any manner of mismatched, misfit, creatures that the players cared to create.  I mentioned that the comic Dungeon is an inspiration.  I've done some research on the topic of playing Monsters and Villains in D&D.  There is a 2nd Edition module called Reverse Dungeon (where this post takes its name from), the Way of the Wicked adventure path for Pathfinder and Savage Species for D&D Three point Five.  There is also a variant of Dungeon World that has this as the norm.

Potential Plots

  • Protecting the Dungeon from various adventuring parties that come to loot and slay the inhabitants (several plots of the Dungeon Comic revolve around this)
  • Exploring the parts of the Dungeon that are unknown even to its inhabitants (example the Drow  or Illithid City way below the level that the characters currently inhabit)
  • Going on adventures on the surface (linking up with a branch of the Dungeon that you have lost contact with, retrieving a macguffin that is essential to the Dungeon's survival, etc.)
  • Avoiding areas of the Dungeon that are inhabited by monsters more dangerous than the players (a Medusa does nicely for this plot)
Compared to my other campaign pitch this one is a little lacklustre.  Largely on account of it being an incredibly broad topic in comparison to Shanghai 1930.  Yet at the same time be incredibly limited in the scope (a flaw of Dungeon-Delving fantasy in itself, I've found).  This is definitely a campaign where I would have to see what characters the players created before I ran it.  As the plot would largely need to be built around what types of monsters were thrown into the mix.  I hope you've enjoyed my musings on this potential subversion of classic Dungeon Delving.  Have a nice day and may your dice roll true.