The very mention of the word ‘dungeon’ brings to mind tales of the innumerable adventurous exploits that have been covered in the vague, spoken history, both recent and ancient, of Adylheim. Adventurers have been exploring, plundering, and conquering dungeons for untold eras. The practice of Dungeon Keeping and the cult connected to it came about when a powerful wizard took it upon himself to find the holding place of the god Maadrth. Through the advice of the wisest and oldest beings in all the planes, as well as the use of enclosing spells to weaken the stone of the mountain, he was able to dig his way into the god’s prison. Once within the god’s relatively small sphere, the wizard was pounced upon, having bit off more than he could chew in an all powerful being. He was made to form a geis with Maadrth, lest he be crushed then and there. The god confessed that he was seeking the power of all true names and, with them, the power to break his chains. The geis stipulated that the wizard and all of his future apprentices were to build their towers underground, rather than above the ground. Within the deepest layer of the underground tower, or dungeon, the wizard, who was henceforth to be known as a Dungeon Keeper, was to keep all of the true names that he collected. The wizard was also charged with taking the true names of all his apprentices, and keeping them from them. So long as the names were stored someplace deep underground, he would be given the power to use these names in spells, to draw upon the power of his subordinate Dungeon Keepers. To aid in the keeping of names from students, a powerful hex was gifted to the wizard, whereby a true name could be exchanged for a true name. The hex is a major part of the compact that must be formed between the Dungeon Keeper and his apprentice. It’s what binds the apprentice to the path of Dungeon Keeping, so that Maadrth’s will could be done. Come what may, whether Dungeon Keepers are overthrown by their subordinates, or remain dominant, the true names must survive and be kept underground, so that Maadrth will be able to free himself from his prison. What exactly happens when Maadrth is freed is a point of speculation between Dungeon Keepers. Most tend to envision a cataclysmic scenario, such as the shattering of Adylheim itself. It’s a commonly held belief that whatever happens when all true names are gathered beneath the earth, it will not bode well.
Dungeon Locations and LayoutEdit
Obviously, there are dungeons scattered throughout Adylheim. Whether they began as the resting place for a long dead dragon, a series of catacombs, or even just a simple cavern, these dungeons do exist, and a good few of them are occupied by wizards who refer to themselves as Dungeon Keepers, their semi-sentient servants, Dungeon Maggots (the Keepers’ term for apprentices) and otherworldly creatures summoned by the Keepers. These aren’t the only places where a Dungeon Keeper may set up. Some rare few take up an abandoned homestead within a crowded city, or a ruined estate in the countryside. Wherever there are expansive spaces that can be dwelt in, a Dungeon Keeper may be found. While the actual layout of the various dungeons will vary in terms of what is placed where, there are always the following common features present in each true dungeon:
This portion of the dungeon is critical to the continued expansion of the dungeon and the Keeper’s power. This is where the Keeper’s apprentices (called Dungeon Maggots, as written below) are held, and where they help him to expand and build upon his dungeon with various pieces of dungeoncraft (torture devices and traps), while also aiding him in magical experiments that would be conducted. This portion of the dungeon is usually the largest, but also kept far enough from the exit so as to make escape from the various wards, traps, and other devices that follow from therein difficult. Dungeon Sanctum Perhaps the most important point in the dungeon, the Sanctum serves as a personal quarters for the Keeper, a library, a museum of magical artifacts, and anything else he wishes to keep from the clutches of adventurers, his Maggots, and other wizards. This is usually where the Keeper holds the true names under his possession, including the true name of the Dungeon, as given by the Keeper upon it’s establishment.
A catchall name for the rest of the dungeon, whatever form it might take. Typically hard to navigate and full of traps, wards, lures, barriers, and puzzles, some magical and some non-magical, some deadly and some meant only to imprison. It is through here that the adventurers must pass before getting to the rewards that lie within the dungeon’s heart. Or, particularly in the case of Maggots, it is where they must crawl through to reach the relative freedom of the outside world.
Ranks and OrganizationEdit
There are no volunteers in the wizardly cult of Dungeon Keepers. Every Keeper who ever held a dungeon, save for the original Keeper himself, began as a Dungeon Maggot; a child, or sometimes adolescent or young adult, who was captured by the Dungeon Keeper’s Bogeyman (more details on this variety of fiend later). A Dungeon Maggot’s existence is one of servitude, much like any apprentice. At the beginning of their term the Dungeon Keeper will meet with the Maggot and forge a geis, in which true names are exchanged. The method of geis varies from Keeper to Keeper, as does it’s effectiveness, which would generally be based on the rhetorical skill of the Keeper himself. Regardless of the details involved in the contract, the true name of the child is taken and imparted to the Keeper while being erased from the Maggot's memory. Then the true name of someone else that the Keeper knows of (usually of an adventurer that the Keeper killed and/or tortured to obtain their name.) is given to the Maggot in turn, and erased from the Keeper’s memory. From that point on, the child becomes his apprentice, more or less beholding to all the terms of the magical contract signed, depending on how complex the terms are, and also how much deception and outright falsehood was employed in the signing of the geis. The more complex the geis, the less effective it is. The more deception and falsehood employed in the creation of the geis, the less effective it is. Usually, however, the need for falsehood and deception aren’t needed, as the children captured are simply coerced or threatened into compliance. From here, the Dungeon Maggot is kept in a section of the Dungeon called the Dungeon Womb. Here, they aid the Dungeon Keeper in any and all magical tasks, as well as helping him to craft devices of dungeoncraft, such as traps, torture tools. When the Maggots aren’t busy with these tasks, they’re usually engaged in more menial labor, such as cleaning, cooking, etc. Over time, the Maggots learn a good deal of their Keeper’s magical art and dungeoncraft. In time, Maggots learn enough and are rewarded for their canniness by their keeper with a coded tome that contains all the knowledge they need to create and maintain their own dungeon. It’s usually at this point that they can make an attempt at escape from the Womb, the Maze, and the dungeon itself. Contrary to what some might believe, Maggots who escape from the Dungeon, while not helped much in the endeavor,are encouraged to do so by the Keeper. Those who think themselves free when they escape from the dungeon’s clutches, however, will still find themselves within the confines of semi-slavery. The geis is still in effect after escape, and they are still subordinate to their Dungeon Keeper and beholden to his power. However, the terms of their servitude change slightly, to gift them with more freedom to pursue their own goals and create a dungeon of their own. At this point, the escaped Dungeon Maggot becomes a Dungeon Seeker, a fully fledged wizard and dungeoncrafter. Most are forced by their geis to seek out an underground space for themselves at this point, so they can convert it slowly into a dungeon. Many Seekers will find themselves with an enmity toward their Keeper, and have designs on reclaiming their true name, as well as that of the former Keeper. Dungeons have changed hands in the past in this way and will continue to do so, as long as there are clever wizards being born from these dungeons, and less clever or lazy wizards claiming dominion over them. Eventually, provided the Seeker does not meet with an untimely end, he will find a place to settle down and become a Keeper. Then begins the process of building his dungeon, someday getting to a point where he acquires a bogeyman familiar, and can begin collecting Maggots of his own to help collect true names and expand his power. The geis formed between Dungeon Keeper and Maggot helps form a base for the Keeper’s magical power. A usual part of the geis consists of a hex that places a link between the numen of the Keeper, and that of the Maggot. The numen of the subordinate Maggots, Seekers, and Keepers, can be drawn upon by the original Keeper, forming an heirarchy that depends on who controls the true names of the subjects involved. This magical energy can be called upon with a complex, days-long Ritual of Calling (the details of this ritual varies from Keeper to Keeper.) Alternatively, the numen of a single Keeper, Seeker, or Maggot can be called upon, with no limits being placed upon the energy drawn in the call unless it is detailed to be otherwise in the geis. In this way, a malevolent Keeper can bring it upon himself to destroy a subordinate, while claiming his power for whatever spells or items he wishes to create.
Dungeon Keepers favour the art of Enclosing more than any other magic. It is through Enclosing that they are able to shape the environment and build dungeons. The manipulation of Ley Lines is particularly useful for breaking down the stone and dirt that lies in the way of their progress, while preserving the stone that will consist of the myriad of walls within a dungeon. Many spells from the art of Enclosing are needed to render their more magically inclined traps functional. Even their non-magical traps often require a spell called, quite simply, a trigger, which sets a trap’s mechanism off when a certain condition is met within an area. Still other traps are triggered manually, and a good deal of Dungeon Keepers enjoys setting off their traps personally, especially when in the presence of the one to be trapped. From there, it’s fairly even with regards to the other schools of magic. The ones favored differ from Keeper to Keeper. Some prefer to have a horde of undead or summoned minions to toil in their dungeon and help protect it from invaders. Others like to personally oversee their dungeon by placing scrying points, which allow the Keeper to maintain awareness of places within their dungeons at all times, but which drain their numen a bit for each point. Through extending their scrying abilities, a Keeper could even learn to set off trigger spells for traps that he feels through the scrying points, without having to be there. This sort of focus gives rise to dungeons which seem to have their very own sentience, but in reality are being controlled solely by a powerful wizard. Another potentially important art would be Summoning, and the lore behind the use of true names, how they might be used to manipulate creatures and people. The use of true names ties in with the art of Hexing, as well, and using the power of the horded true names to form vampiric relationships with one’s subjects and subordinates. Artificing is a useful art to the Dungeon Keeper, especially for the creation of traps and various other magical or semi-magical devices common to dungeons.
Usually, there’s very little choice in the matter of a familiar, and the Dungeon Keeper is stuck with trying to find a bogeyman familiar. These are creatures who usually roam within Maadrth’s domain of Deep Earth, where the sunlight never touches. Suitably enough, Bogeymen cannot exist in any space that is touched by the direct light of the sun, and will avoid any and all firelight if it’s within their power. Moonlight is tolerable, but somewhat painful to endure. Most often, a bogeyman will require cloud cover to function at full capacity. Bogeymen are extremely fast on foot, and can cover forty miles per hour without tiring in complete darkness. So much the better for making extended outings to find a prospective maggot. Usually they prey on children, as they are somewhat weak compared to a full-grown human. Iron is deadly to them as well, so young men who might carry knives or other tools aren’t common targets, unless they’ve been scouted extensively. A bogeyman’s form is somewhat vague, as few, even their Dungeon Keepers, have gotten a really good look at them. At best, they appear to be of a human shape, their bodies thin and faces gaunt, without any sign of character. The way a bogeyman familiar is acquired, is by building first a large and deep enough dungeon that the bogeyman will be attracted to it. The more intimidating the space that is set up, the darker it is, and the further away from the surface it is dug, the more likely a bogeyman is to take up residence there. From there, it's entirely up to the Dungeon Keeper to monitor his own dungeon, as the bogeyman will not reveal himself willingly. The Dungeon Keeper will need to actually trap it so that the bonding may be performed, after which the bogeyman will be much more cooperative to them, as befits a familiar.