Thursday, October 22, 2009

Dungeon Design: The Dragon's Lair

I said that I would talk about a dungeon idea that I had, so I'm going to do it. The general setup is that there is dragon who lives in a volcano that has been terrorizing the local area and needs to be stopped.

You enter the mountain through a cave on the side, a long holdover from before Lavodormu took hold there. You go down and down, and eventually the cave opens up and you enter the main chamber. An old iron bridge that was used to cross through the mountain spans a magma lake and the dragon sleeps in the middle of the bridge. The bridge inclines to a higher platform on the other side. When you approach the dragon, the battle begins.

Lavodormu fights you on the bridge, posing as a barrier to prevent you from getting to the other side. The dragon swipes with his claws, bites with his jaws, and breathes fire upon your party, forcing you to move away from the recently heated iron.

The ground starts to shake, and you can see that the magma below you is rising. You continue fighting the dragon, forcing him to retreat from the might of your blows. Weaker warriors would have been forced back into the magma by the gusts from the dragon's powerful wings. Finally, you force him to the upper platform. On this platform you see many dragon eggs, and at the far end, you see his hoard. When he reaches the top, the dragon takes to the air and you see two of his drakes fly in through the opening of the volcano. You are given a chance to rest as they descend, but the moment doesn't last long enough. The drakes each hatch an egg and a whelp comes out. Then, they engage you.

The battle with the drakes is fierce, and strange.  They seem corrupted and weird, like a nightmare, and the air around them feels strange.  The air makes you feel hazy, making it harder and harder for your attacks to land.  And the world around you seems to be twisting, becoming crazy.  You're seeing things that weren't there before.  Shadows of friends, guild members, and faction leaders are crawling out of the ground and attacking you.  You fend them off but they just keep coming.  When, from incidental damage, one of the whelps dies, and the drake that hatched it flies away to hatch another, the madness subsides.  But still, the air is hazy.  You take this moment of respite to attack the other drake with all of your might.  When the drake returns, you kill the other whelp, and it's master flies away, allowing you to attack the maddening drake with full force.  You decide this alternation is the key to this battle and continue until both of Lavodormu's leiutenants are dead.

Enraged at the defeat of his two lieutenants, Lavodormu flies down to meet you for the final encounter, yelling at you, "You fools, they were to usher in a new era for my brood!" He breathes fire all along the wall, preventing you from escaping. Landing with a crash, the edges of the platform sink into the magma. The dragon roars, and then attacks. More ferocious than the first time you fought him, he's not taking any chances, and is trying to knock you into the magma. Claws swiping, mouth biting, tail swinging, and wings flapping it's difficult to find a safe way to approach the dragon. Using his flaming breath to corral you into an weakened position, Lavodormu flaps his wings to knock your party back, pushing you closer to the edge.

The battle rages for what seems like an eternity when, finally, he stumbles and falls into the magma, defeated at last. The flames die down, and your exit opens. Your reward is whatever you can find in his hoard of treasure. Within, you each find a strange weapon, you decide to find someone that can help you analyze it.  Although peace has returned to the area, the volcanic activity during your encounter with the dragon has exposed new caves and passages. Who knows what evils and treasures lie within?