Grimwald Keep: New Month, New Level
The start of February means that I start to turn my attention to the underground areas of Grimwald Keep. February focuses on what I call the lower keep. I've done some planning of the general layout, but some gaps remain that will need to be filled in as I go.
Each of the towers extends below ground, where they connect to what originally were service areas and living quarters for the shaper garrison. The shapers are long gone now, of course. Instead, various creatures have made their home in the abandoned tunnels, there are treasure hunters trying to find a way further down and Rock Folk standing in their way.
People of the Mountain
The Galgoromon, known to most outsiders as Rock Folk, are humanoids with grey skin that gives them a rock-like appearance. These reclusive peoples live in mountainous areas and mostly keep to themselves. Some of them have recently moved into the lower keep and are in conflict with the treasure hunters who occupy the keep. I'm looking forward to learning more about the Golgoromon this month. There will be several NPCs to discover alongside the community they live in.
This will be the second of the major factions for the players to interact with. It is likely that initial interactions will be adversarial, but there should be plenty of scope for diplomacy if the players are so inclined.
Shaper Machines and Level Design
The shapers used magic to power machinery. The remnants of these machines remain scattered throughout the dungeon in various states of disrepair. Most of these will be inoperable when the players first encounter them, although repairs may be possible. At first, I mostly thought of this as some interesting scenery and maybe a goal to work towards, where access to the working machine would be beneficial. Then it occurred to me that these machines would have included lifts (well, levitating platforms). A broken lift requires more thought because it can restrict access to the areas it is supposed to service. So what to do? After some consideration and discussion on Mastodon (thanks to @ordinal and @stephenwendell to help clarify my thoughts), I've come to the conclusion that the best course of action is to have a variety of access modes. There may be areas that are difficult to access without a lift, some that have a lift but can also be reached in some other way, and then there will be areas that are most conveniently accessed via stairs.
Variety is always good and has the added benefit of opening up some exciting level design possibilities with rich rewards waiting for parties that make the extra effort to explore hard to reach places. Ideally, the lifts to such places should not just act as an obstacle but also provide their own reward once repaired, most likely in the form of a convenient shortcut that makes the travel to and from the deeper levels a bit easier.
The Week Ahead
The next week is mainly dedicated to completing the second half of the underground area attached to the Water Tower, complete with a minor faction that occupies that corner of the lower keep.