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Monday, June 24, 2019

Confessions of a Reverse Dungeon GM

The Monsters have Unionised and are willing to let Adventurers ransack the place unless management improves workers' conditions and pay. See, Monsters can't go into town for essential services, becoming dependent upon the Owner of the Dungeon to provide fodder, healthcare, ongoing education, childcare, etc.

Since most Dungeon Owners and their despotic Mangers at best neglect their Monsters, and at worst abandon them to the mercies of Reaction Chart Old School (drop loot and food to avoid combat) or Kill-'Em-All Hack-n-Slashers (who don't even get a name until 3rd level), it has become increasingly necessary for monsters to band together despite natural antipathies brought about over competition for resources (Monster on Monster crime has been an under reported aspect of Commercially Operated Dungeons for decades, if not centuries).

Is it any wonder that while many Adventurers have become softer-hearted, and some Monsters have found a soapbox from which to decry their oppression (workplace injury rates for Monsters do not take into account wounds or fatalities caused by Adventurers), Dungeon Owners are switching to a Monstrous Dungeon model, where a living macroorganism (Giant Mimic disguised as a Dungeon) is purchased from Skunkwork Wizardry sites and replaces the need for construction crews and Monster employees. The Dungeon-Monster simply grows as it is fed, with the occasional stocking of trinkets is performed by off-site service contract personnel (often Humanoid, or even Demi-Human or Human veterans unable to adjust to commoner life after all of the killing).

Dungeon Politics is a complex, multi-sided issue, but one thing is certain, Dungeon Owners are getting something out of the cycle which cannot easily be sussed out; if it isn't money, what is the draw?


  1. "Dungeon Owners are getting something out of the cycle which cannot easily be sussed out; if it isn't money, what is the draw?"

    It was my understanding that the customer base and revenue source of the traditional dungeon economy is the adventurer. The adventurers, to maximise their chances of survival, arrive dressed up in the best possible armour and weapons, which given the hyperinflation surrounding dungeon delving equipment often amounts to values in the hundreds of gold pieces for even a novice crew; on top of that you have precious and/or magical items carried in by more experienced parties, and cash won from other, competing dungeons. The upper levels of the dungeon are deliberately operated at a loss, stocked with only minor treasures and kept poorly defended, minimising gold losses to the casual adventuring crowd while creating a psychological atmosphere encouraging adventurers to delve ever deeper in search of the "big haul". On the lower levels, the chances of poison spider bite or dragon breath increase exponentially; the majority of adventurers die, their gear and treasure stacks up, the losses incurred on the upper levels are partially recouped in the form of upgraded equipment stripped from the bodies of repeat customers, and the dungeon operates at a net profit so long as the odds favour the house and the overall flow of customers is large enough to accommodate the occasional "high roller" success who gets away with a major treasure hoard. Advertising the presence of rumoured mythical artefacts, kidnapped princesses etc increases turnover even further by tempting adventurers with very low-probability, high value successes on which the dungeon rarely, if ever, has to pay out. This is especially true when you consider that there's no regulatory oversight on rumour tables and many large, established, popular dungeons have been known to plant deliberately false rumours in their advertising.

    1. Hmm. On first blush, your supposition appears logical and a ready explanation. However, due to the minuscule number of high level adventurers with such 'phat loots', it seems illogical to suggest that Dungeon Owners are really making a 'living' from their Delve Sites; side-gig after finding an abandoned hole in the ground, perhaps, but the logistics of transporting monsters from their native environs to stock the dungeon (alone this seems cost prohibitive) seems unlikely.