Copyright 2009, Daniel Proctor
Demi-Plane of the Underworld
Demi-Plane of the Underworld
Fugilroag is at its heart a classic megalabyrinth with a base town. However, there is a twist. I wanted to create a megadungeon project for the Labyrinth Lord community that is conducive to group development, and that is infinitely flexible. That means nothing one person creates can invalidate someone else’s creation, it is infinitely expandable, and can accommodate characters of all levels. No one section will be dependent on the completion of another, so everyone can develop it at their own pace. Read on to see how we accomplish this.
Welcome to Fugilroag
Fugilroag is a small demi-plane. Its main section is the large Fugilroag cave, which is approximately 32 miles by 42 miles. Fugilroag interacts with other planes through a seemingly infinite system of transient passages that appear and disappear on the cavern walls. Some passages have been present so long they seem to be permanent, while others may last but a few hours, days, or weeks. There are small populations of humans and halflings that are permanent to the cave. Members of other races sometimes arrive, but often do not establish themselves. Many people live on family farms, but there are two small villages. Cave Port is a fishing port, and is the center for that economy. The village of Fugilroag is a farming center, and trade goods constantly travel between these villages. The approximate total population is 1,500 for the entire cavern, with members distributed among the communities and farms. There is a militia composed of 70 young men, divided into sectors throughout the cavern to keep watch for creatures that might emerge from the caves. While most residents are farmers or fisherman, a few misguided youths take to adventuring caverns, and are often never seen again.
The following discussion illustrates how the transient caverns work. On a Material Plane, adventurers may be wandering the underworld only to find an opening to a vast cavern with a mushroom forest. Somewhere else, perhaps adventurers are on a raft on an underground river, which opens into a placid subterranean lake. In each case, they find themselves in Fugilroag, and most often the passage behind them is gone. As a general rule, though not always, when a passage opens that delivers creatures, it disappears immediately.
Other passages open, leading to new unexplored tunnels. Some may be natural caverns, others clearly constructed. Some are small labyrinths; others may be sprawling underground complexes. Some are barren of life while others are filled with totally alien creatures and devices. Most are isolated, that is, they do not lead to another world. However, there are exceptions. Although a few natives sometimes decide to explore these tunnels, there is always a transient population of visitors who explores the tunnels hoping to find their way home. The locals are extremely suspicious of visitors, but do take them in for their precious money, which is scarce locally. Most visitors are never truly made to feel welcome.
The most abundant life in the greater cavern is various fungi, including moss, mold, and mushrooms. Various insects are present as well, though they most commonly occupy wastes. The cavern itself is subject to slight seasonal variation in temperature and humidity. The cavern is illuminated by phosphorescent molds and lichens on the walls and ceiling, in a cycle that corresponds to the seasons. In the winter the light is dim, and in the middle of the winter it is completely dark for four weeks. The light produced increases through spring and summer, and for a like period in the summer it is always as bright as normal day. However, the light has a greenish-blue tinge and does not support photosynthesis. It rarely ever reaches freezing in the cavern; it is never hot. During the “winter,” when it’s coldest, the humidity is lower. In the summer it becomes very humid and often fog enshrouded, with “rain clouds” that form in the uppermost part of the cavern, so that rain does occur.
Food and Economy
Monetary wealth is highly coveted, since metal coinage only finds its way to Fugilroag via the travelers who become stranded. Most of the time commerce is conducted strictly through barter, and rarely will people exchange goods for the few metal coins they’ve acquired. There are various industries in Fugilroag, many of which are typical to small towns, but may take on a unique character here. There are brewers who make ale from moss and mushrooms or wine from the fluids of bizarre subterranean beetles. Tailors weave cloth from various soft lichens, and so on.
The following agriculture is most common:
Mushroom farming: There is a great diversity of mushroom types in Fugilroag. Grand, fast-growing mushroom forests provide a dense type of mushroom used for “lumber,” firewood, and paper making. There are dozens of edible mushroom types, both wild and domesticated. Mushroom farmers often specialize in one or a few types, growing them either in fields or underground pits.
Moss farming: Moss forms the staple diet in the cavern. Fortunately, there are a few fast-growing nutritious types that taste respectable and are often used in stews, stuffed mushrooms, and other meals.
Animal husbandry: The most common farm-raised animal is the chicken. However, there are a few “native” animal types, all cave dwellers, that may originate in Fugilroag or they may have wandered in centuries ago from transient passageways. The following animal types are the most common of these, but several other less abundant and more exotic types exist:
Cave bison: These diminutive, eyeless descendents of bison forage on the ubiquitous moss available in the greater Fugilroag cavern. The bison reach no taller than three feet high, and are covered in thick, shaggy bone-white fur.
Mole Rabbit: These hairless, eyeless, pale rabbits are burrowers, living almost completely under the soil. They eat mostly moss and insects, and reach up to two feet long. They are farmed both for their meat and the supple leather that may be produced from their skin.
Bearer Ant: Perhaps one of the most exotic of the more common farmed animals is the bearer ant. These docile, one-foot long ants are covered in tawny black fur. They are raised primarily for the eggs the queen produces. Queens can be up to six feet long and produce as many as thirty, 8” diameter eggs per day. The eggs are leathery and typically stabbed to drain the milky contents, or eggs may be boiled and peeled. This ant has clearly been domesticated a long time, and is completely dependent on human care to survive. Common workers are discarded or sold as pets, but kings are coveted and traded among farmers so as to maintain the various herds.
Fishing: Fishing is an important component to the Fugilroag economy. In the greater Fugilroag cavern there is large fresh water lake that is home to many cave-adapted creatures. The most prized is the blind white trout that lives in the colder, deeper parts of the lake. Most abundant are the 2” long white cave shrimp that are netted near the cavern walls as they feed on molds and slimes. Finally, spiny white cave eels are netted by the swarm and form a less desirable, but abundant, protein source. Other less common fish are often caught and go to market, but are expensive delicacies. Fishing is a dangerous enterprise, for no one can know what creatures may inhabit the lake, brought in from underwater passages.