Megadungeon of the Mad Archmage Gary-Stu


The dungeon itself sits on the cinder cone island in the middle of a crater lake that is the caldera of a dormant (??) volcano.

The lake itself is about 600 yards from shore to the edge of the island. The water is cold and pure; the lake itself contains no particularly dangerous creatures, but does contain a thriving colony of rainbow trout: Gary-Stu likes to fish, and has stocked the lake accordingly. As the players travel to the island, they will note a ring of vortices about 30' offshore. These vortices are not strong enough to pose a danger to swimmers, but are clearly visible.

On the cinder cone, 40 tall brick stacks (50' high) outline an area a little larger than 300 feet square. They appear to be smokestacks, but no smoke is visible.

Anyone who climbs a smokestack finds it to be an wide pipe, with either a very definite vacuum sucking air down into the pipe, or a rush of stale air venting forth from the pipe. Characters foolhardy enough to descend a pipe will eventually find themselves encountering a screen and, beyond that, a whirling fan blade. The GM's discretion must suffice to determine on which level which pipe eventually terminates.

Three other buildings are visible. One is about 40 feet square, and is a shed over the Grand Stairway. Two others are sheds covering the spiral staircases at the northeast and southwest of the map. A number of incongruous brick chimneys, about 10 feet high, dot the cone as well. Most of these have smoke coming from them.

Additionally, a crude cellar door covers a ramp down into the Goblin Storeroom on L1.

A spring bubbles from near the peak of the cinder cone (this is actually pumped up from beneath, but the party has no way to know this) and provides clean water on the surface of the cone. It eventually trickles through a crack in the rock again and serves to provide water to the sinks and baths of the first level of the dungeon (lower levels have water piped in from the intakes that create the vortices in the lake).

Detect Magic reveals a ghostly web of magical essence, encompassing the smokestacks and disappearing down into the ground. This magic is low-intensity but very high level; this is the Soul Net. It serves to capture the departing essence of any inhabitant of the dungeon slain, and reincarnate that soul in a newly-grown body prepared in the Flesh Vats (below). This process takes about 1 month per hit die of the slain creature, is very painful, very boring, and sometimes doesn't work correctly. Thus, none of the inhabitants like dying, but the sentient ones realize there's a good chance they will be back if slain, which makes the inhabitants of the dungeon much more likely to fight to the death than they otherwise would be.

Dungeon Levels

Each level is 300' x 300' and occupies 20 vertical feet of space. Thus the entire dungeon is a cube 100 yards on a side. There is probably some sort of pun about "die" to be made here.

10'x10' corridors are, in general, also 10' high. The otherwise unused space between levels may be assumed to contain pipes and air ducts within cavities in the stone.
Level 1: Barracks
Level 2: Lairs
Level 3: Labyrinth
Level 4: Sewers
Level 5: Crypt
Level 6: Caverns
Level 7: Library Top
Level 7: Library Middle
Level 8: Library Bottom
Level 9: Lake/River Surface
Level 10: Lake/River Depths
Level 11: Deep Caverns/Pits
Level 12: Temple Upper Balconies
Level 13: Temple Middle Balconies
Level 14: Temple Lower Balconies
Level 15: Temple

About Gary-Stu

From being the Mad Archmage, in the natural course of events, Gary-Stu passed to being a No-More-Than-Normally-Obsessive Lich, thence to a Really-Pretty-Normal Demilich, and then ascended to Quite-Well-Adjusted-All-Things-Considered Demigod status.

Currently, in addition to his ineffable demigodly duties, he maintains the dungeon and checks in on it every few decades. If the players should encounter him, he will be in his guise as a human: a fat, bald, bearded mage with bushy eyebrows, always smoking a vile stogie. He is phlegmatic and very nearly imperturbable.

If anything is too badly messed up in the dungeons he'll put it right with a Wish. Adventurers causing normal adventurer wear and tear don't bother him, and even those who do things like wreck the Flesh Vats will probably cause no worse than an exasperated sigh. On the other hand, casting Disintegrate on the plug in the lava tube might annoy him a little.

When rolling wandering monsters: if a wandering monster is indicated, and "1" comes up, roll 1d100. On 00, Gary-Stu shows up instead. Stats? Don't bother. He's a demigod, and beyond the power of any reasonable adventuring party to actually affect, although it may amuse him to take a sword thrust in the gut and collapse, gasping "You got me good, kid!" and then vanish, only to return later to scare the crap out of the party.

House Rules

The whole thing is house rules. Who am I trying to kid?

Basically, it's something close to Microlite20 or Microlite74, but no Thieves. There are Fighting Men (or Lay-dees), Mages, and Clerics. Races are Elf, Dwarf, and Human. No halfings. No Eldritch Wizardry classes. You roll your stats, and it's 3d6 in order (only STR, DEX, and MIND). No one has higher than a 15 in anything right now.

I'm not doing "all weapons do 1d6"; weapons do whatever seems right, which is slightly-nerfed AD&D or 3E, I guess: daggers and sling bullets are 1d4, arrows/staves/greatclubs/shovels/maces are 1d6, swords and heavy crossbows are 1d8, greataxe is 1d12. The falchion does 2d4. There's no bastard or two-handed sword yet in the game, but figure 1d12 and maybe 2d8.

There are no d10s in this world. The d10 is an effete modern invention. Real dice are Platonic Solids. If you need a d10, roll your d20 and ignore whether the number is colored in with crayon or not. And if you need that explained to you, get offa my lawn, you damn kid.

We use ascending armor class, because my players like that better, and saving throws are d20 + level + attribute bonus. We're using Microlite advancement rules, but I'm winging it. A minor but significant battle is 1 XP per player; the big fight with the hobgoblin boss on L1, his lieutenants, and the remainder of the goblins was 3 XP. I went with a "spend everything you have whoring and drinking back in town, and go up a level" wealth-for-XP mechanic, which seemed to work really well. Hit points are strength score +1d6/level (this seems high, and may change to 6+1d6/level). Reroll all your dice at each level; the total never goes down.

There is also a home-made character sheet.

Monsters are built with the "about what seems right" method; I don't go for the whole 3E "4d8+32" thing; monsters with N hit dice have no more than N additional hit points. I'm mixing and matching freely between 0E, Holmes, Moldavy, 1E, 3/3.5E, Microlite20, and Microlite74, depending on what seems cool. For instance, L2 has a Choker in it, which is in no way a traditional D&D monster, but absolutely terrified the players. I make no particular attempt to make armor classes or attack bonuses exactly match the actual armor types being worn or the number of hit dice of the monster (but it does work out that attack bonus is pretty near hit dice most of the time). Monster hit dice are d8 for everything but undead, which are d12.

No attacks of opportunity. Grappling is pretty much: I and the players roll a d20, I look at the numbers, and I tell them what happened. I like the Microlite hit-points-to-cast thing, but magic cannot cure magical fatigue/wounds. Magic Missile now does 1d6, because otherwise it never got cast. I think Sleep is going to have a saving throw because it's so insanely overpowered at low levels. There are lots of ad hoc +2s and +4s based on flanking or prone or whatever; we do tactical 25mm combat because I have an excellent battlemat and we draw the dungeon on it as it is explored.