Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Castle Whale

I was thinking a bit more about what a low magic world with a mystical underworld megadungeon would look like. Is there some way to make the megadungeon a pseud-natural occurrence? As others have pointed out, you can't just make magic strange by making the setting low magic, players are already used to magic spells and items. How can I make the megadungeon itself feel weird?

The idea of a low magic world with a mystical underworld megadungeon put an image in my head. An Age of Sail setting where enormous whales roam the oceans, true titans of the deep. Not only are the whales large, but they do not rot when they die, instead their flesh turns to stone. Whalers regularly drag the carcass of a whale back to shore and towns are built in the bodies. Legends tell of a leviathan that dwarfs even these massive animals; the Castle Whale.

The Castle Whale is the size of a mountain. It died centuries ago, but its hardened corpse still drifts in the oceans, it becomes a floating megadungeon. Over the centuries many creatures have sought refuge in the whale. Pirates have called it home, unspeakable horrors of the deep have sought to claim it as their own, and its parasites have adapted and found a way to survive. Somewhere deep inside the Castle Whale is the fabled World Pearl.

The Castle Whale has been sighted a few days' sail from the mainland and the race is on. The king has ordered an expedition to seize control of the whale and bring back the World Pearl.

This setup allows for a low magic world, with firearms. It also bakes in the idea that this will be treated as an expedition, the group can start with a hundred or so characters at their disposal for setting up base camps. There could be more than one country sending an expedition to the whale, adding the element of a race. Obviously there could be more than one entrance (mouth, blowhole, and the business end of the whale). Perhaps many ships have slipped into the maw of the whale and were never able to come out. This could make for some kind of Sargasso Sea in the mouth of the whale. Perhaps there is some kind of makeshift town made out of linking these boats together.