Underground Campaign

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A few months ago I started working on a campaign idea I have always wanted to run, completely underground.  One of the biggest problems in doing though was I needed a map large scale enough to handle an entire campaign but detail enough to keep a group busy without rehashing old steps every week.  Could get kind of boring if the same cave has orcs one week and then bugbears the next, etc etc etc.  So I started mapping out a region I call the Lake of Spires.  This campaign map is actually 9 different panels put together so I could get a good idea of the direction things were headed.  As far as I am aware no one has ever done a really large scale underground map, I always see maps for regions above ground.  So just thought I would ask for input, maybe some people have done this before and experienced a few pitfalls or just simply have some ideas. 

This map is currently less then 1/10th of the entire region to be mapped out, I figured this was a good point where people could give input.




Individual map panals are available on the site for free, don't even need to go through the hassle of registration to get.
www.rpgattitude.com
Nice cave map. Reminds me a bit of some of the maps from the old DOS computer RPG, "Nahlakh", but with better detail and colour.

As far as I know, nobody has done this before. If they have, then it's certainly not going to hurt to have more maps like this - they can't be very common, and there are so many things that can be done with them in a variety of game settings and systems.
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
Nice cave map. Reminds me a bit of some of the maps from the old DOS computer RPG, "Nahlakh", but with better detail and colour..


Never heard of the game before though didn't play many dos games as I recall.


As far as I know, nobody has done this before. If they have, then it's certainly not going to hurt to have more maps like this - they can't be very common, and there are so many things that can be done with them in a variety of game settings and systems.


Yeah, I have found nothing as far as what someone has done or even commented about doing, found a few posts on some forums with people looking but nothing ever saying found or they did it.  I have ket any info regarding settings or system off the primary map so that others can do what they wish, I am even keeping elevation changes and labels off of it for the sake of being able to provide basically virgin maps.

Thanks for the comments.




Nahlakh was a great little D&D-clone game. The game was vast - hundreds of different types of monsters, each with its own unique graphics (crude, but cute), customizable character graphics, a race/class character creation system, hundreds of different weapons, a gigantic and unique spell system that encouraged experimentation, the game world was huge and difficult to map, there were a lot of books of lore that could be picked up (and optionally read - they were suitably creepy to read), there was an elaborate skill system, and it provided months or years of single-player play, and more.

It made for a cool little game, and the whole thing was programmed by one independent programmer with a little help from his brother, and distributed as freeware. The game's author still answers questions about the game and stays in touch with his games' fans - he seems like a very nice guy.

In any event, the cavern maps for that game were smaller than yours in area, but looked similar to yours in layout; the Nahlakh cavern maps felt natural and realistic in spite of the old-school DOS graphics.

DOS games did have a higher learning curve to them than more modern games, and Nahlakh provided a really huge game world... I wonder if I still have the patience to load Nahlakh back up and try playing it again?
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri

You can probably take a look at the OOP "Underdark" from the Forgotten Realms 3rd Ed.  What I liked about this accessory was the attempt to break the Underdark into three regions: The Upperdark, the Middledark and (you guessed it) the Lowerdark. 

Very simple maps are overlayed on the Forgotten Realms map to indicate the true expansiveness of the underdark which indeed stretches over the entire world!  People seem to have a tendency to think of the underground as a small, limited space with everyone tripping over one another.  In reality, you could very easily stretch this underground world over an entire planet.  Explorers could quite possibly wander for days, weeks or even months with never seeing a thing.  I wouldn't worry about the players retracing their steps ever if you put enough into the planning and layout of your world.

As a boost in the right direction, here are some things gleened off the Underdark Accessory:

The Upperdark
-extends from the surface to a depth of about 3 miles
- inhabitants more likely to have contact with the upper world (if you want to)
- main import from the surface are slaves
- inhabitants include chitines, dwarves, goblins, quaggoths, minotaurs, orcs, svirfneblin, stone giants and troglodytes
- travel is fairly easy as a great many passages exist from point A to point B

The Middledark
- lies between 3 miles and 10 miles beneath the surface
- contains many of the more settled communities of underground dwellers
- trade caravans and raiding parties to the surface are not uncommon
- inhabitants include drow, duergar, fomorians, grimlocks, hook horrors, kuo-toa, maurs, mind flayers, orogs and umber hulks.
- travel is a bit more difficult as there are not as many tunnels and passageways at this level

The Lowerdark
- an almost alien-like environment extended below 10 miles
- few surface dwellers ever venture this deep
- life is the most harsh and the most violent at these depths
- travel is very difficult unless one can pass through stone as few tunnels and passages exist
- resources are scarce and air may not always be in plentiful supply
- inhabitants include aboleths, avolokias, beholders, cloakers, deepspawn, derro, desmodus, destrachans, elementals, extraplanar creatures, psulons, tomb tappers and the undead.


 

Yeah, I have it and read it.  I am just hoping to provide players with something that has a bit more appeal to the eye rather then something they have take at its word based on a verbal essay.  If that makes any sense.  I think maps add a lot to the personality of the game and a campaign, since I am doing something not many seem to have done... I decided to provide a map that would give a vivid scope of the environment.
If you have access to it, check out D1-2 descent into the depths of the earth (1E AD&D).  There was a hex map included with it that left a lot of things up to the DM to populate if the characters got off the beaten track to the Vault of the Drow (D3).

The fine members of Dragonsfoot.org fleshed out a number of these areas (for AD&D) the links to them are melkot.com/locations/underdark/underdark..." title="melkot.com/locations/underdark/underdark...">here for the map and sites.google.com/site/deadgreyhawk/mappi..." title="sites.google.com/site/deadgreyhawk/mappi...">here for the compiled encounters.
IMAGE(http://i6.photobucket.com/albums/y239/SoulCatcher78/techdevil78.jpg)
Well...so as to comments on the map itself...it looks great.  Possible things to think about:

Geology - Think about rock formations cutting through the map in certain areas, different minerals will produce different looking terrain.  Also think about folding in the earth (squeezes things), and expansion (creating chasms, pits).  Earthquakes and cave-ins might be nice too...maybe paths are mapped that are no longer accessible via the path the map indicates...  You've already got underground water flow--which is great.  Any lava flows, steam vent fields, etc?


Civilizations - Have areas been significantly modified by the races living there?  Mining, magic, or construction of things like bridges?


Since you mentioned you have the Underdark accessory, I'd try translating some of the written ideas there into visual representations on your map.

All in all it looks like a great map so far.
Well...so as to comments on the map itself...it looks great.  Possible things to think about:

Geology - Think about rock formations cutting through the map in certain areas, different minerals will produce different looking terrain.  Also think about folding in the earth (squeezes things), and expansion (creating chasms, pits).  Earthquakes and cave-ins might be nice too...maybe paths are mapped that are no longer accessible via the path the map indicates...  You've already got underground water flow--which is great.  Any lava flows, steam vent fields, etc?


Of course someone using this can cut off passages as they please and for the base maps am keeping them open, later for my own use I will put in several things to include blocked passages.  Good example is on the bottom right there is a side room off a main route, on my map that is a small shrine.  I don't want to force what I am doing on others if they want to use the maps. (At the same time I also want to give the maps some personality and flavor) 
There is going to be a small section of lava, which will of course create heavy steam areas as well.  Just not mapped yet, only on the planning board at this point.


Civilizations - Have areas been significantly modified by the races living there?  Mining, magic, or construction of things like bridges?



Several, I already have mapped out a Slave Market and a small hidden school of magic... The slave market is being placed this weekend, very bottom, the school is several panels away from that though.  I have started working out the base idea for a small dwarven stronghold as well but that is far above this map you see now (Yes that has three distinct mines as far as I have figured). 

At this point my plan is pretty simple, create a base map of the natural environment for the most part.  I am also putting in the main areas of population that exist as well.  From there I can determine whats been done or exists in areas based on who lives around it.  Not sure if you checked out the website but this map you see here is 9 panels that have more then enough detail to allow me to come back and add all the flavor desired.

Thanks for the comments, have to admit I didn't give much thought to steam until you brought it up..



Some of you might be interested in "How to Host a Dungeon" - a sort of pen-and-paper world-building exercise/game that starts with using dice to randomly roll up a geological environment, and then model ages of stability when various generic fantasy races delve dungeons into the area, punctuated by ages of war and catastrophe, ending with a dungeon that can be used to run an RPG in. 

A free version without illustrations can also be found on the website, and it's a fun little game to mess around with.

The reason I bring it up is that I can easily see the rules being modified to add civilizations and so on to the all-natural cavern map in the original post.
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
Thanks

I will probably pick over it for ideas dealing with features and such but will avoid all of the random stuff, I already have to much planned now to even need to go to randomly generated stuff at this point.  I have oftened considered doing an Adventure Generator type program just never got around to it.
Regarding the random generation stuff let me add this, I have created software that does handle like random generation from tables using scripts.  I do plan on creating scripts that I see can be used while running these maps during the campaign.  Good example of this if you notice the chamber in the middle with 3 pools, these are actually magic pools hence the difficulty finding this chamber.  So what I have done is first created a small script to serve more as an example to people what they can do or flesh out on their own a "magic pool" script and then will also be giving a script directly for that room just in case people want to use that idea instead (either for this map or their own gaming needs).

I also plan on providing wandering monster generation scripts for different encounter levels.

Now while most of these scripts will be for 3.5e, they can be easily modified to be used in other editions or even completely different systems.
Oh, my suggestion was aimed more at the "what about civilizations in there" replies:  those folks obviously are looking at the maps and seeing all the things they can add to it, and "How to Host a Dungeon" seems like it would be right up their alley.
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
Oh, my suggestion was aimed more at the "what about civilizations in there" replies:  those folks obviously are looking at the maps and seeing all the things they can add to it, and "How to Host a Dungeon" seems like it would be right up their alley.



ahh okay now I understand.  Yeah I imagine at this point even though it is still a large map the scope of the entire map as I have planned out is not even remotely seen.  Case in point the first of the civilized areas will come into view which is the slave market (Can actually be a large trading post with vendors if people wanted, just in my game it is more then that).  In the up coming weeks I do plan on fleshing out the background/history for the region because that will start to explain a lot about the area and why things are the way they are.

This is the 8th release of the Lake of Spires, one more until all of the panels of displayed in the campaign map can be seen in sparkling detail. As normal they are free for download on the website.

I would also like to state that if you are playing 3.5e you can use NPC Designer - 3.5e NPC Generator to quickly populate any location.


Oh, my suggestion was aimed more at the "what about civilizations in there" replies:  those folks obviously are looking at the maps and seeing all the things they can add to it, and "How to Host a Dungeon" seems like it would be right up their alley.



I was specifically commenting on the impact of civilizations on the environment around them (altering the landscape)...not so much on what populates the caves....but yes looking at the "How to Host a Dungeon" I would agree, it accomplishes the same thing.
Here is the 9th panel for the campaign map above, this completes this one and started on the next campaign map which connects directly below it.  I am also playing with doing battle tiles in the same style to give people options if they want to use the maps.  If you are still playing 3.5e, NPC Designer makes it easy to populate if you need an NPC Generator.



Last week was more or less just some passages connecting the a trade route to the slave market, the panel this week is the actual slave market.

Hope everyone enjoys


Thank you for the updates - it's looking fantastic!
[spoiler New DM Tips]
  • Trying to solve out-of-game problems (like cheating, bad attitudes, or poor sportsmanship) with in-game solutions will almost always result in failure, and will probably make matters worse.
  • Gun Safety Rule #5: Never point the gun at anything you don't intend to destroy. (Never introduce a character, PC, NPC, Villain, or fate of the world into even the possibility of a deadly combat or other dangerous situation, unless you are prepared to destroy it instantly and completely forever.)
  • Know your group's character sheets, and check them over carefully. You don't want surprises, but, more importantly, they are a gold mine of ideas!
  • "If it ain't broke, don't fix it." It's a problem if the players aren't having fun and it interferes with a DM's ability to run the game effectively; if it's not a problem, 'fixing' at best does little to help, and at worst causes problems that didn't exist before.
  • "Hulk Smash" characters are a bad match for open-ended exploration in crowds of civilians; get them out of civilization where they can break things and kill monsters in peace.
  • Success is not necessarily the same thing as killing an opponent. Failure is not necessarily the same thing as dying.
  • Failure is always an option. And it's a fine option, too, as long as failure is interesting, entertaining, and fun!
[/spoiler] The New DM's Group Horror in RPGs "This is exactly what the Leprechauns want you to believe!" - Merb101 "Broken or not, unbalanced or not, if something seems to be preventing the game from being enjoyable, something has to give: either that thing, or other aspects of the game, or your idea of what's enjoyable." - Centauri
Presenting map panels 12 and 13, 2 of 4 maps that cover a small reservoir. 

If you are using the 3.5e rules, you can use NPC Designer - 3.5e NPC Generator to easily populate the entire map in a matter of minutes. (It's free)


Check out Maps of an Uncharted World to download full versions of the maps.



Personally I do not think there is anything like these maps available, so enjoy!

This is our 3rd stop around the small reservoir with the release of map panel #14.  There are a few larger chambers down at this depth of the map that can be used for a great many things and the lone passage way leads to a long forgotten maze.  These chambers can be used by some creatures as a place in secret away from the normal passages or something hidden and ancient that lurks within.

If you are using the 3.5e rules, you can use NPC Designer - 3.5e NPC Generator to easily populate the entire map in a matter of minutes. (It's free)


Check out Maps of an Uncharted World to download full versions of the maps.


While I have not been posting in the thread does not mean work stalled, no weeks have been missed and new maps released right on schedule. On that note, this is the 20th panel to be released.

Also next weeek will be releasing Dungeon Tiles of the same personality and flavor of the Lake of Spires maps, they will be released in 10 images per set and free for download.


Check out Maps of an Uncharted World to download full versions of the maps.





New update, Map Panel #21

Check out Maps of an Uncharted World to download full versions of the maps.

Progress Update:
As this project approaches half a year thought it was time to put another full map together of my underdark campaign setting: Lake of Spires.



You can download full maps and map panels on my site free.
Just an FYI, the full poster map is available on the site for free download