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  • Writer's picturePeter Humburg

Grimwald Keep: Week 3

Updated: Jan 23, 2023

Week Three draws to a close. We are getting close to the end of the first month, and I'm still going strong, which is encouraging. It also means that I'm close to the end of the rooms I had roughly laid out. I completed the Earth and Fire Towers and the lower half of the Water Tower this week. That only leaves two rooms in the tower and three wall segments. I should have those completed by Friday. That will leave me with four more days this month. I could add some extra rooms, like lower levels for the towers, but I think those are better suited to be part of February's underground area. Instead, I'll use the time to round out the cast of NPCs, make sure they all have stat blocks, polish some of the background lore, and start planning the next level. It means that I'll end up with fewer rooms, but the January level will be closer to actually being playable out of the box.

Screenshot of a diagram showing 27 rectangles, 12 coloured green, the raining ones are grey.
Map progress at the end of Week 3. Green rectangles indicate completed rooms.

I promised some more details on the Shapers, the civilisation that built the dungeon all of this is about. I'm keeping this post light on spoilers and will put more detailed information in a separate post. Below is what most people could be expected to have heard about Shapers and their ruins.


The Shapers

This long-lost civilisation of humanoids dwelt mostly underground. Today, all that is left of them are a few ruins scattered across major mountain ranges and complex tunnel systems below. Most people know them as the Shapers because their buildings appear to be moulded directly from the rock around them. In dwarven legends, they are said to have shaped the world shortly after its creation, raising mountains to give a home to dwarves. Others claim that they were distant relatives of elves.

Shaper Ruins

The ruins left behind by the Shapers are made from smooth stone that appears to grow out of the mountainside. It is common knowledge that these ruins are dangerous. Haunted by the vengeful ghosts of the Shapers and riddled with deadly traps they left behind. The abandoned cities that lie deep below the surface are rich in valuable artefacts, and when word spreads that an entrance to a Shaper city has been found, the race is on loot its treasures. An undertaking that carries considerable risk and has claimed the lives of many hopeful treasure hunters.

On the surface, the only thing that hints at the presence of a shaper settlement is a small fortification. Build in the typical shaper style with once smooth walls, cracked by age and spotted with lichen. These crumbling structures are little more than the tip of the iceberg that is the sprawling shaper city below. Ambitious treasure hunters will scour the ruins for access points to the underground structures in hopes of gaining access to the central chambers where untold riches are just waiting for those brave and clever enough to overcome the many obstacles on the way.

Few have walked the halls of the Shapers and returned, but some things are known for certain. The mountains housing the ruins are sparse in vegetation as if all life fled from here long ago and is reluctant to return. Although more level-headed folk may dismiss the stories of Shaper ghosts as baseless rumours, all can agree that the area around the ruins is home to all sorts of strange and dangerous creatures. It stands to reason that even worse things lurk in the tunnels below.

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