There's this "daily mega dungeon challenge" to make a room a day, a floor a month, for a whole year. So I'm using it to put my cartomantic galaxy generator called to the test. Instead of making a sci-fi galaxy though, I'll be using the same system to generate a dungeon.

In this thread I'll be posting that process.

Fractal Galaxies uses a standard deck of playing cards to develop the large and small details. The card readings will just be using face cards plus jokers, while I'll be using the numbered cards to determine the shape of the reading (aka. "the spread") and to determine which suit is predominant.

First, I want to figure out the overall themes and conflicts:


The hearts represent the living world and the people who work with it, and the whole court is here. Kh represents these forces taken to their most powerful extreme, but the Kh is in the bottom, representing the past. Perhaps a leyline nexus is in this place, from which the font of life emanates. The Qh represents their suit at its most stable is on the left, the side of chaos. In that position, with the Kh beneath her, she cannot be tamed. 3/*

The clubs represent society and it's institutions, with Kc again taking that too far. At first I thought it'd be some kind of powerful cult, but it's on the side of Order which feels less subversive than a cult. The Fulcrum at the center of our reading is the Qs, representing the sure and stable application of technical knowledge. Not too reckless nor timid nor bold. All this makes me think that perhaps instead of a cult, we're looking at some kind of a Guild or College of Inventors. 4/*

Maybe they're trying to tap the leyline nexus to harness its vast power. And the Jh in the future tells us of a world weakened, fragile, and desperate. It's technical skill is simply not up to the task they're attempting and the Guild’s hubris will be our doom.

Each floor we descend through their experiments as they delved deeper, growing more sophisticated, but stretched beyond their limits while the Nexus energies lash out wildly.

Next I'd like to learn about the entrance to the dungeon. 5/*

7s tells us that technology and artifice will be the major theme here and it shapes everything else going on. The diamonds in chaos show us that there are significant physical challenges, but the Kd in the undercurrent shows that the greatest physical threat is unseen. 6/*

A treacherous approach with some very well equipped (Ks) junior members of the Guild (Jc) outside, but they have some wild animals or biological weapons or great numbers (Kh) that aren’t apparent immediately. The joker indicates that the chaos and order in this situation are unmediated, unrelated, and don’t work together. Perhaps triggering the Kd is what allows access to circumvent or destroy the Kh etc.

I'd like the megadungeon to have multiple entry points but I'll figure that out later. 7/*

The treacherous physical approach where the main danger is unseen makes me think of a steep mountain gorge (probably because I live near those). Between a rocky river and rock slides, there's plenty of potential for chaotic physical danger. The Ks on the side of Order across from the Jd in Chaos makes me think of a dam or some other large, impressive technical achievement. But the Jc is in control of Ks, so maybe the dam was built too hastily. Maybe that's the Kh lurking in the Undercurrent. 8/*

If we have a dam, we should have hydropower! Pathfinder 2e's genre expectations don't totally rule out electrical power, which could definitely be cool and fits with the Kh vibe. The hydro power could be driving pumps bringing rubble and contaminated leyline energy up and sending air and electrical power down. The power station has workers maintaining the equipment and the dam and also conducting experiments on the contaminants that aren't getting dumped into the river. 9/*

That could be our initial plot hook! The river that feeds the town has become sluggish and runs low and now the water is poisoned! It's unsafe to drink and without the river, the town will have to be abandoned. Our heroes go to investigate! But what do they encounter first? Let's find out by finally coming up with our first room! 10/*

S.1 - The way upriver

I forgot to take a picture of the spread, but I wrote it down. It was a 4h, so living things are the main feature. And the spread was Jc and joker in "The Surface" and Js and joker in "The Undercurrent". The jokers represent *nothing*, so there's just no order in this situation. The Jc is some desperate, weak, aggressive, or minor Guild member and the Js means there's some secret technological thing with or driving them. 11/*

Since our predominant suit is hearts, which represents the Leyline, what if a lab accident exposed them to an awful dose of corrupted leyline energy and they're stumbling blindly down the gorge, dying, but lashing out miserably? Let's have two of these poor, doomed scientists be our first encounter and our first clue!

Recalling the physical treachery, let's say navigating the steep sides of the canyon off the path made by the Guild requires DC 15 climb checks between little outcrops. The river is easily navigated but drinking the water (or being knocked prone in it) functions as very diluted arsenic (DC13 instead of 18).

Moderate 1

2 Poisoned Scientists

Our reading today was an easy one, the ace: 1s

The pip on the ace was face up so our reading with be a single card in the Surface. The predominant theme will be technological, so let's see what it is!

Jack of Diamonds which represent the non-living world. Physical resources and the people and institutions that work with them. Our Inventor Guild antagonists are almost certainly very interested in Diamonds, so the combination of technology with physical resources here makes a lot of sense. 14/*

A 1x room shouldn't have a much going on, so I see this more as an opportunity to open up different pathways for the players to choose from. The Jd in this case represents a vantage point that gives the players their first look of part of the facility (as represented by the spades). Perhaps there's a steep bend in the river and they can climb up to the ridgeline to see the dam and power station. 15/*

Then they can continue along the ridge, pass over the power station (which has a service entrance the Guild created that descends to straight to the second or third level down) to overlook the lake created by the dam where there's a natural cave entrance created by a spring that can be entered too. The spring is the entrance the Guild originally found before they made their own way in down at the power station. 16/*

From this vantage, players can see the dam driving a large waterwheel attached to the power station. They can see people working on the dam and on the outside of the power station, which is probably 2-3 floors. The people working are fixing up the dam, moving debris brought up from below, and dumping a barrel of toxins they're done with into the river. 17/*

They can see beyond that to the lake and the spring running from a sizable cleft in the rocks beyond. Near the cleft is another structure that's just some simple barracks and a terraced garden where they're growing the food they need to support the project. 18/*

Today we have something more involved for S.3 which I presume to be outside the Power Station! There's a lot to unpack here, so let's find out what's going on. 19/*

The first thing to notice is that the Hearts are our predominant suit, so something related to life, living creatures, or the leyline nexus should be the focus. Also because of the way the 6 of hearts was dealt, most of the cards are in the Undercurrent, so most of what's going on here will be hard to spot until it's too late! 20/*

Show newer
Sign in to participate in the conversation
Tabletop Social

We are an inclusive Mastodon community for everything tabletop (and more).