Part of being a dungeon master is the responsibility for creating the dungeon. Now I do intend to fully explain the events of the siege of Castle Evernight in a future Saturday D&D post, but today I want to show you my dungeon setting, the Keep of the Duke of Passage, Dane Evernight. This is me thinking like an insane architect to build a tall, spindly castle that no real-life king or duke would ever try to live in. But insane as it was, it had to be drawn to scale and the inner workings had to be mapped out on grid paper where every little square represented a space of 5 feet by 5 feet.
Level one shows the areas you would enter coming in through the front gate. Colored-in areas represent the solid stone from which this castle is built as well as the rock spire it was precariously perched upon. The usual dungeon-master map symbols apply. The little empty rectangle thingy blocking passageways and interrupting walls is to be interpreted as a door. You can also see that to visit on horseback requires your trusty steed to be able to climb stairs. So, unless you have a verily dexterous and unusual horse, you should probably ride in griffin-back or dragon-back.
Moving to Level 2 brings you to where the Duke’s Great Hall would receive you as a visitor. There are also places you would like to get to, especially if you are a teenage boy, like the harem and the bathing pool attached to the harem, and maybe the Magic Lab, but you will most likely not be allowed into those places. But you see the dark spots in the walls? Those are the garderobes. You probably will be allowed access there, because, when you gotta go, you gotta go, and that is the proper place to go. Medieval castles have primitive plumbing.
Level 3 is the level I would most want to see if I were touring this place myself. Not only is it the place that has the library in it, but it houses the limner’s studio, and the limner is the resident painter, picture-maker, and white-washer of fences and garderobes.
Level 4 contains the “Party Central” places that every highly social and only mildly psychotic nobleman seeks to spend his schmooze time. There’s a ballroom for dancing, a solarium for getting sunburn when you drink too much wizard’s ale and dance naked in the sunshine for too long, and a hall of mirrors for admiring the way the sunburn makes your behind glow bright red.
Level 5 is getting up to the top of the towers. In a vertical dungeon like this one, this should be nearing the adventure climax. That was not how it happened, however. I will tell you more about that in another post. This is where the belfry bats and the Duke’s treasures are stored.
By the time you reach the Summit of the Keep, you are beginning to think that something is seriously and morbidly wrong with this Castle. This is where you will find the Evil Doctor Zorgo and the animated remains of Duke Dane Evernight. And golem labs next to sarcophagus rooms? Something has gone terribly wrong here. But don’t have nightmares about it, or anything. Rest assured that Gandy Rumspot and Mira the Kalashtar have already solved this problem or I wouldn’t be telling you about it. Dungeon masters, at least the good ones, never reveal a secret before the dice are rolled.