Today, I’m going to talk about one of the side projects I’m working on for my Patreon: a megadungeon setting currently titled Necropolis, inspired by Ptolus, the Necropolis from the Sandman graphic novels, and by a desire to create something a bit more coherent than the other megadungeons that I’ve encountered.
The basic premise for Necropolis is that around twenty thousand years ago, one of the first gods died, entirely by accident, and became an undead divinity. The other gods wanted it locked away, being too guilty to destroy it, so they appointed a new god to be the god of death. She took her people and locked the undead god away, things eventually went bad, the other gods tried to remove her and destroy everything her people had made so they could bury the prison tomb forever, and she inflicted the curse of aging and death on all the gods.
Since then, quite a few civilizations have come and gone in the valley where the prison tomb was built, each one building on the ruins of the previous civilization. Today, the city on the surface is known as Hallow, and it sits atop a massive complex of ruined cities and forgotten civilizations, all the way down to where the prison tomb sits. All the gods involved are now dead, their powers broken up and passed along to mortals until all the faiths of the current world have living demigods presiding over them. Most of the dead gods are interred in the various levels of the buried necropoli, some resting quietly, some still holding their divine spark even in death, and some as restless as the first undead god, even if they lack the same degree of power.
The city is a multiracial and multicultural haven, now existing at a crossroad of trade that ensures the city prospers even without the treasures unearthed from the depths below; those treasures, however, are what drives the uniquely high population of delvers and adventurers in Hallow. Relics of the past, lost pieces of magic and technology, and the occasional strange creature to be sold to private menageries all make certain the city is a center of prosperity. This, in turn, draws the current gods of the world to base their temples here with no regard for how good a fit their personal theology is for the city’s laws.
Under the city, the upper layers are still inhabited, although generally by the creatures that ended up responsible for the fall of the civilization that was responsible for that layer of the alley. Goblins, pale orcs, monstrous vermin, and more dwell in these layers; some have adapted to having a new city overhead, establishing trade with those willing to risk being taken captive and enslaved or eaten. Others raid the other tribes below and, when they can, the city above. Here, too, are the crypts and tombs of Hallow, used to house those unable or unwilling to construct mausoleums above ground.
Beneath this lie the wilder layers; home to the truly lost civilizations of the past and their descendants, including the twisted descendants of the dwarves, gnomes, and kobolds who once ruled over the valley. Long ages with slowly degrading magic have made areas that are hazardous in their own right, with planar overlaps, twisted spaces that turn into demiplanes, and aberrant mutants lurking in the dark. This is also where much of the riches of Hallow come from, as many of the ‘lost treasures’ are chance creations of magic leaking over time.
Deeper still lie the vaults where the wiser civilizations of the past interred the things they deemed to dangerous to leave loose but too valuable or difficult to try to destroy. Artifacts, dead gods, and strange monsters wait in prisons crafted from both living rock and forgotten ruin. Down here, time has mostly erased the cities that were, save for portions preserved against time. The earliest dwarven city sits in the depths, along with the portion of the Labyrinth that overlaps the material plane. At the deepest part lie the tombs of the first gods, each home to a restless divine spirit angry at the curse of the first god of death and spiteful toward those who still live.
Last, at the very bottom, lies the entire preserved city built around the prison tomb of the undead god, home to those who chose to serve their goddess even after her own death to ensure that the prisoner remains sealed away. A mix of strange mutants and the living dead, they know the full price the world would pay if their captive were to get free, and so they’ll fight to the last to keep anyone from entering the city or approaching the tomb.
Currently being designed as a Pathfinder-compatible setting and megadungeon, Necropolis will have a few changes; holy and unholy weapon properties being replaced with radiant and umbral properties (and associated damage types), alignment restrictions being lifted on most things (would you like a lawful evil solar or a chaotic good devil?), and the gods being mortal, corporeal beings directly in the world are some of them.
Hopefully this intrigues some folks; you can expect occasional snippets from the project to be posted here.