I’m quite enjoying #dungeon23 so far. Having 1/3 empty rooms is a fantastic safety valve, allowing me to bank the fire of inspiration for days when I’m feeling it.
Although it’s now day 40, level 1 of the Black Furnace is “only” 35 rooms — because this dungeon has five entrances, and I wrote those up first.
Notes about level 1
Here’s a stitched-together photo of level 1, with wing A on the left and wing B on the right. Wing A is the home of the cult of Hürak Mol, which performs some vital dungeon functions whenever the Black Furnace is in the mortal world — and, by keeping the faith, and even more vital function: keeping long-forgotten Hürak Mol from being entirely forgotten, and thereby still alive. Another faction, the bone automatons, claims part of this wing and is often at odds with the cult.
Wing B is largely in disrepair, but is home to two warring factions: the corpse-drivers, fungal beings who hollow out fresh corpses and pilot them like little “flesh-mecha,” and the lichenate, a hive mind moss-entity that worships a moss god on a lower level (who I haven’t written up yet). This wing is also full of malfunctioning and dangerous creations of Hürak Mol, which is another reason why the cult from wing A doesn’t spend much time here.
You can see my love of interconnectivity on this map. There are two ways down to level 1: the main entrance (S1), which offers an immediate choice of wing A or wing B, and the chimney (S3). Wings A and B have one sub-surface connection point (the long corridor to the north). Both wings connect to level 2, and the S3 chimney also leads straight down to level 4.
I’m also trying to pack in lots of the other stuff I love about a good megadungeon: factions, weird and gonzo elements, a nod to practicality (especially where it pertains to giving players information that lets them figure out what a level/wing is all about), an emphasis on new monsters, temptingly dangerous objects, and a mix of stuff that looks worse than it is and stuff that’s much worse than it looks, among others. Some bits I had a lot of fun with: the prison (9), a mirror that duplicates whatever you put in front of it in an internal pocket dimension (7), a magic oven (15), an abomination that extracts hearts (18), a waterfall that whispers portents (26), and a long hallway full of incredibly suspicious-looking clay statues that mostly just want to help new arrivals (27).
As this is a draft, I’ve left some work for Future Martin — random encounter tables, stat blocks, random item and magic item tables, and the like. Those feel like roadblocks in the moment, and the last thing I need is roadblocks. This is already the largest dungeon I’ve ever written up, and I don’t want anything sapping my momentum.
I also know from publishing my first Godsbarrow book, The Unlucky Isles [affiliate link], last year that I’ll be revising this dungeon if I ever take it further than a notebook full of maps and a spreadsheet. My approach is to get the raw ideas down, have fun with it, and tidy it up later.
On that front, the Black Furnace is definitely consuming almost all of my Godsbarrow processor cycles — or at least, it is for now. But while that’s slowing down my work on Godsbarrow Guide 2: The Gilded Lands, neither project is an obligation so I’m not treating them as obligations. I still work on them both every day, and there will come a time when the balance will swing back towards the next book.