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One of my favourite games for wasting my own time when alone is Tony Dowler’s “How To Host A Dungeon“, a solo game of dungeon evolution.

Here’s a map from a recent game – I played the game in a few hours, and then remapped it the next day to get this final map. One of the few maps I’ve posted here that technically had a “rough draft” prior to the final version which you are seeing here.

Mines of the Dark Ones - How To Host A Dungeon

Mines of the Dark Ones - How To Host A Dungeon

You can click on it to get to a version that’s roughly twice as big.

Like any good megadungeon, there are multiple points of entry into the depths. The one on the left is a natural cleft in the rock from an ancient earthquake that has been used for years by ogres and some other brave souls to enter and leave the underdark. The right-hand entrance is a much more recent mine opened by human miners looking for the gold vein that the elves had once exploited. The mines at the bottom of the shaft are a mix of elven and human mines. The ones closest to the shaft are made by humans, while the ones even deeper underground were made by the elves and are still populated by the degenerate descendants of their slaves.

The initial dungeon complex is made up of two dark elf cities deep beneath the land, connected by an underground “highway” of sorts and a waypost between them. After the collapse of the dark elf cities, however, is where most of the interesting stuff comes from. The major complex on the left side of the page mid-way up (connected to the dark elf city at the bottom) is a gnomish construction that was added years later in a search for the mithral veins that the elves had supposedly built their city for. It turns out there was no such mithral deposits and the gnomes are gone now also. The right side of the map however gives us the old elf mining city who’s mines were expanded by the humans in the last two years.

The secret caves just off the human mineshaft are home to undead kobolds who lurk there waiting for easy prey to pass by, while remaining clever enough to not give away their position or existence by ambushing too obvious of groups or shipments up and down the shaft.

Roughly in the middle of the map is a warren of goblin cultists of a goddess of murder and mud, with passages carved out to the gnomish structures that the goblins also once occupied but have since given up after being abused by some much larger monsters that moved in later.

 

How to Host a Dungeon provides a great organic framework from which to build a megadungeon environment, or just a slice of an underdark ecology that feels “real” because it comes with history and turf wars.

This map was drawn in HB (#2) Pencil on plain white paper, scanned and contrast-enhanced with the Gimp.

This entry is post 10 in the A to Z Blogging Challenge (J is the Journey down the Mines) and is also part of this month’s RPG Blog Carnival which is focused on RPG Cartography.

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