Uncle Dungeoning Ma’att – #1 The Temple of Shadow


Nephew, I have done it! I have explored my first dungeon! And, although I found it exhilarating, I was left with more questions than when I went in.

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Temple of Shadow, PDF


Now that I'm out of the village and on my way, I've become keenly aware of the differences between a normal person, such as myself, and the silly adventurers. However, one difference has proven almost insurmountable - the silly adventurers have a knack for encountering dungeons that I seem to lack. Why, just this afternoon, as I lunched in a roadside inn, no less than three different wizened old men entered the dining hall, announced their need for a group of hearty delvers, and immediately selected a party from amongst the crowd. But, no matter how disparate the group selected, not once was I even considered. In fact, a fourth of these pensioners entered the hall, looked around at the six or seven of us who remained from the previous selections, shook his head and left!


Fearing my research could be halted on so trivial a matter of locating dungeons to study, I've reached out for help. I've procured assistance in the form of a retired rogue who was left without a party after an incident involving a huge pit filled with 200 spikes. His name is Billfinger, but for the sake of my memoirs I've decided to forgo that abomination and just call him Ferguson.


When I explained to Ferguson that I wanted a dungeon that was already emptied of threats, he almost balked. But the glint of my coin persuaded him of my sincerity and he admitted to knowing a recently emptied dungeon not far from the very tavern where we sat. He said it was called The Temple of Shadow, although when I asked why he simply shrugged and said that all dungeons have imposing names, it's just how they grow.


Ferguson first led me to an uninteresting cave entrance on the side of a mountain, not far from the city. If he hadn't told me it contained a dungeon, I might very well have walked past it. Ferguson lit a torch and we headed inside and down a simple, shoulder-high tunnel leading into the mountain. I stumbled along after him while I tried to sketch a map of the tunnel in my notebook (the maps I am sending you are on gridded paper, with each square of the grid representing the architectural standard measurement of 4 and 1/7 targs).


The tunnel soon opened out onto a large cavern whose sides stretched away from the light of Ferguson's torch. Below us, the ground dropped off precipitously into untold depths. A natural bridge led across the chasm and I could see, by the flicker of the torch, a carved, ornate archway flanked by two massive stone walls, each preventing approach of the door from its direction leaving the bridge the only means of approach.


Ferguson and I cross to the entryway and there found two skeletons clad in robes of the deepest blue, arrows protruded from their chests. I started to examine the carving of the walls and archway (how could such a thing evolve naturally?), but Ferguson shoved me forward.


"Wild things live in the caves", he said.


As we entered the foyer of the temple its clever design became apparently. Through a cunning system of precisely cut amethysts suspended from the ceilings, Ferguson's torch was multiplied into a shimmering purple light that bathed the halls in an otherworldly glow. With its illumination, I could see the large main hall before us. I started toward it, but Ferguson stopped me.


"Always follow the wall to your right," he said, then touched his nose. I nodded as if I understood, but this must be more silly adventurer wisdom which is incomprehensible to normal people.


Ferguson placed his hand on the wall and we walked to the right. We first came across a series of rooms decorated with simple bunks. We found many bodies in these rooms, dressed in the same lovely indigo robes. Who were they? Did they spawn from the belly of the mountain along with the dungeon? I asked Ferguson about them but he merely shrugged and said, cryptically, "mooks".


We moved back to the main hall and I was able to take in the impressive structure properly. The main room was almost square, with amethyst-embedded columns lining the two side walls. A deep, tiered pit with short stone staircases dominated the center of the room. I noticed it's center tier was simply a yawning black pit; who knows what deep horrors could come through such a portal.


A statue, twice the height of a man and painted in a similar blue to the robes, stood on a raised wall at the end of the room; the twinkling gem-light almost made him appear alive. More bodies were littered around the statue, a great fight had happened here. Down a hidden hallway behind the statue we found a room dominated by a large stone beetle, it's eye sockets were empty. Ferguson told me gem eyes were a standard adventurer trade.


We continued tracing the right-hand wall with our hands and wandered down another long hallway to a smaller, rough-hewn sanctuary. A statue of a squat, foul-looking man with a beard sat in an alcove, glaring down at a handful of stone pews. More bodies, more evidence of fighting. "Boss fight", Ferguson mumbled. I filed the term away for later research.


Ferguson told me this is where the adventure probably ended. I asked about the remaining hallway, the one that went left that we hadn't checked out yet, and Ferguson explained that, as we leave, that hallway will be on our right. That was where we would find something called "fat loot". And Ferguson was right. At the end of the remaining hallway we found a room with a massive stone altar along with many fearsome looking stone daggers. A small alcove in the room proved to be a tunnel to another room. We crawled its length and found a round-ceilinged room with several columns and a terrifying statue of a monster at the far end. Skeletons hung from chains bolted into the columns as if this were some sort of jail. At the feet of the beast was a wooden chest; it had been upturned and emptied long ago.


Ferguson promised our next adventure would be more exciting, but I couldn't imagine a better place to begin my quest. So many thoughts ran through my mind! How could such a lovely main hall be created by the random tectonic forces below our feet? Who were the blue-robed inhabitants, and were they real people who evolved along with the dungeon, or were they a simulacrum of people created by the earth to provide sport to adventurers?


So many questions, nephew. So many questions.

All Dungeoning Ma'att posts

Uncle Dungeoning Ma’att – #0 Intro

Uncle Dungeoning Ma’att – #1 The Temple of Shadow

Uncle Dungeoning Ma’att – #2 The Green Ravine

Uncle Dungeoning Ma’att – #3 The Wizard’s Sleeve

Uncle Dungeoning Ma’att – #4 The Marsh Mines

Uncle Dungeoning Ma’att – #5 Shadowhome

Uncle Dungeoning Ma’att – #6 The Nu Chi Compound

Uncle Dungeoning Ma’att – #7 The Haunted Cistern

Uncle Dungeoning Ma’att – #8 Bridgebelly

Uncle Dungeoning Ma’att – #9 Sturdyrock

Uncle Dungeoning Ma’att – #10 Molotok, the Demon Forge

Uncle Dungeoning Ma’att – #11 Agaricus, Lair of the Ants

Uncle Dungeoning Ma’att – #12 The Warren

Uncle Dungeoning Ma’att – #13 The City of the Dead


Corey posted 05/03/13 11:24 pm

I do say, I think you got the characters voice quite right. I wonder if you'll ever write a campaign centered around the Nephew. :D

steveo posted 05/04/13 12:37 am

I've been doing this mostly as a personal exercise to explore different types of dungeons - what were these things used for before they became dungeons? I've been referring to it as The Ecology of the Dungeon. I don't know about the nephew, but I think it could be fun to play in a world that takes such a sarcastic view of old school gaming tropes, where people believe that dungeons just spring forth from the ground for the purpose of entertaining adventurers.

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