Friday, 22 July 2011

Too Long for a Comment (Sorry)

Those who are doing the mocking on Circvs Maximvs and EN World are not completely wrong to mock, either.  Certainly, they are right to mock my faith in the AOTHS, or in the moderation staff, to do the right thing.  Mockery is, BTW, par for the course at Circvs Maximvs.  In this particular case, it is mockery of the rather ironic school:  "This is so unimportant that we must pay a lot of attention to it!"

I note as well that most of those doing the mocking are among those who contributed the least toward the site in the first place.  That isn't universal; there are one or two who have made very valuable posts in the past, and will no doubt continue to do so in the future.  But the AOTHS cannot be blamed for this mockery; he is actually being very civil, AFAICT.  Especially for posting to Circvs Maximvs.  I'm not happy to tar the man for something he hasn't done.

The general thread of the mockery goes along with "Those posts were essentially worthless; how dare he remove them!?!"  For the most part, but again not universally, the CM thread is "those who cannot" mocking "those who can".  That's very often the case on CM.  The funny thing is that there is no apparent cognizance of the irony.

It is also ironic that they seem to be mocking Pawsplay for....well, for mocking them?  That sort of need for self-justification should evoke our pity more than anything else.

In any event, I note that Morrus (belatedly) took down the PM....I assume in response to ProfC's comment to the last blog post.

Which brings up a related question, I suppose:  How valuable are the Rules themselves?  In terms of a business, a site is set up, with or without free access.  Posts on the site drive viewing statistics up, and in turn make the site valuable both for advertisers and for those who wish to support the site via membership, donation, or posted material.

For example, I have three times been asked by EN World if I could supply material.  Once was a faerie article for EN World Gamer (which folded before publication; the article later appeared on site and in an extended format in Dragon Roots), once by Morrus (to publish my Doctor Who game with the Doctor Who elements stripped out; I agreed, but Morrus then dropped the ball), and once to provide material for War of the Burning Sky (which I simply didn't have the time for when asked, although I had been otherwise willing).

A large part of the willingness to do these things is, IMHO, the idea that the Rules of the site act as a covenant between posters and the site.  Almost a form of contract.

You know that you are not going to have to put up with pro-rape wankery because the Rules prevent this from occurring.  You know that your posts will not be associated with such a site because the Rules prevent this from occurring.  You know that no one is going to be perma-banned without just cause because the Rules prevent this from occurring.

But what happens when the Rules are unilaterally broken by the site itself?

One could make an argument that the site is obligated to abide by the Rules, because it received material (posts, donations, membership fees, etc.) under the pretence that the Rules would be enforced.

To do otherwise would be rather like a hotel advertising a pool, without actually having a pool on premises.  Obviously, if the pool is important to you, you might want to take your money back.  Equally obviously, if the pool is important enough to enough people, those people can take a class action to rectify the problem.

When I was part of Golden City Comics, a class action suite was settled against Diamond Comics Distributors.  It named as the litigants all customers of Diamond Comics Distributors which did not specifically waive their participation.  In the case of Golden City, the cost to Diamond was somewhat over $200 US.  But there are a lot of people using Diamond, and I am sure that the suite hurt.  It certainly helped to ensure that Diamond stayed within set policies in the future.

(As far as I remember -- and I could well be wrong, because we were not directly involved -- the litigation was related to returns policies.)

So, "How valuable are the Rules?" may be a relevant question in the long run.  So far as I know, nothing like this has ever faced a legal challenge.  Sooner or later, though, some site will face just such a challenge.

I wonder just what the threads on CM would look like then?

I imagine that they would look rather like they do now -- a lot of self-justification, with no one apparently aware of how ironic their statements are.  Certainly, I don't imagine any sort of reflection that the Rules - when egregiously violated by the owner or staff -- are worth fighting for.  After all, if that was the case, we wouldn't be where we are now.

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Mistakes Were Made (By Me)

Further to the previous blog post, it is obvious that I could have responded to the events on EN World and Circvs Maximvs better than I have thus far.

I have to assume that the AOTHS (Admiral of the High Seas, or the Guvnor, if you prefer) is not a bad man.  I have to assume that, initially, the thread which some came to consider as glorifying rape didn’t seem so bad.  And, once that decision is made – “This isn’t so bad” – it can be awfully difficult to back down from it.  In fact, even with the extraordinary events that occurred, the AOTHS has to be commended because he did, eventually, agree that it was not only bad, but that it was very, very bad.  In fact, he may even have realized that it was as bad as his “opponents” made it out to be.

Cognitive dissonance theory tells us what happens next.  The person in charge is then faced with a conundrum.  “I am not a bad man.  Yet I didn’t see how bad this was.  How can I explain that?”

There are two possible ways to go here.  One is to realize that one has blind spots…that even a very good person can make very bad mistakes.  The other is to find someone else to blame.  In effect, I wasn’t wrong at first.  It really wasn’t so bad until “They” made it so bad.  

And once you have found someone else to blame, it is difficult to step back.  It is difficult to go back to that first possible choice.   Even a very good person can make very bad mistakes.  In fact, scientific experiments in cognitive dissonance would indicate that the more self-confident you are, and the more you feel your chosen victims are helpless to retaliate, the more cognitive dissonance you feel, and the more you convince yourself that they are really bad people in order to relieve that dissonance.

My first step into this morass based of EN World's "pro-rape" thread and the fallout that resulted wasn’t the post I made on EN World (copied into my last blog post).  It was a private email to a moderator I trust, asking what exactly had happened.  

I should have sent that email to the AOTHS instead.  And I should have taken that moderator’s advice and contact the AOTHS directly.  Instead, I discovered Piratecat’s post on EN World (also copied into my last blog), and felt a need to stand against injustice.

Doing so, first on EN World, and, then, when there was no real response to the EN World post, on my blog, has probably made it more difficult for the AOTHS to step back and reconsider.  Taking a stand against injustice is not a mistake.  Not giving the AOTHS a chance to calm down, think it over, and perhaps reconsider was.  Not contacting him directly was.  I should have sent him a personal note, and then given him a week or two to consider before pressing him farther.  We might have ended up in the same place, but, then again, we might not have.

Removing posts causes harm to individuals who were neither involved in the atrocious behavior on EN World and Circvs Maximvs, nor (in some cases) were even aware of it.  I am truly sorry for that harm, to those individuals.

But EN World is a business, and it is a business that is funded by (1) advertising revenue, (2) memberships, and (3) product sales.  Both advertising revenues and memberships are spurred by traffic, and traffic is spurred by the quality of posting.  If the posts being removed are of poor quality, they do not help to drive traffic or memberships – but neither does their removal do much harm.  If the posts being removed are of good quality, they do more harm, but leaving them there provides content to drive traffic toward a business acting in a fundamentally unethical manner.

Again, if people only read newer posts, there would be no harm in leaving them for me (as they would not be driving traffic) or removing them for anyone else (as they would not be reading them anyway).  That, however, is not the case.

My decision was to remove the posts, organize them into essays, and repost them here or elsewhere.  The goal was to minimize any involvement toward driving traffic to EN World, while minimizing harm to others by making the content (if not the form) available elsewhere.  I am aware that this is not a perfect solution, and I am willing to consider any better solution anyone might offer.  Be aware, though, that such a solution must address both of these goals.

I am far from perfect. 

If you have a better plan, I’d love to hear it.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Mistakes Were Made (But Not by EN World)

I have been involved with the EN World rpg website for some time.  I lurked, then joined in 2004.  At the time of this writing, I have 12,488 posts on the site, and am #12 (of 112,271 members) for XP (a method by which useful posts and posters can be rated). 

I believe that I have made valuable contributions to the site in the past.  I have spent a lot of time on the site, and stepping away from it is going to hurt.  I believe that EN World has been great in the past, and has the potential to be great in the future, but conscience requires me to disassociate myself with it now.

Allow me to explain.

EN World was originally owned by Eric Noah, and had what came to be known as the “Eric’s Grandmother” rule.  To wit, if something was not appropriate for Eric’s Grandmother, it was not appropriate for the site.  This rule was retained (and rightly so) when the site was taken over by the current “Admiral O’ The High Seas” (hereafter AOTHS).

Recently, a thread appeared on EN World that dealt with topics which the Eric’s Grandmother rule would seem to apply to.  Specifically, to the topic of rape.  Rape was depicted in a way as to be offensive to several posters.  And, no, I am not going to go into details about this depiction.  Some of these posters went to great lengths to attempt to get the AOTHS to deal with the problem.  They were unsuccessful.  In fact, the AOTHS perma-banned at least one of those posters from both EN World and its sister site, Circvs Maximvs.

In a Meta thread on EN World about this topic, EN World moderator Piratecat posted:

Up until now, we've never needed guidelines about this. In the recent event a discussion about in-game rape occurred under very congenial "I abhor this in real life but it occurs in my game world" discussion, and it very understandably made a lot of people furious. That's a problem in part because the moderators, quite correctly following our rules, moderated the people who lost their temper and not the polite person who brought up the subject regarding his game. 'Cause hey, using babies as human shields is truly repugnant too, but a thread where bad guys in a game do this won't even raise an eyebrow; shouldn't a discussion of in-game rape be treated the same way?

We've decided, quite correctly, not a friggin' chance.

Baby-shields don't require a trigger warning. One in five people aren't subject to baby-shields during their college years. And while we've been moderating according to our guidelines, in the case of discussion surrounding sexual assault the moderators and administrators here agree that our guidelines are flat-out wrong.

So we apologize, and here's the deal. Like racism or adult topics, this isn't the place to discuss your campaign's variants of rape or molestation. We don't care, we don't want to hear it, and we won't put up with it. We will moderate accordingly. Folks, please report it if you run across it.

All well and good, right?

Well, no.  Because, despite coming to the conclusion that the AOTHS had been wrong to dismiss, repeatedly and vociferously, those who tried to tell him just that – rather than being thanked for fighting so hard to make EN World a better place – have been ostracized.

There were claims that “we don't discuss moderation with anyone other than the person being moderated” but moderation often appears publicly.  Anyone who examines the site can see public moderation appearing frequently in red or in orange text.  Indeed, people are asked not to use red text because that colour is reserved for public moderation. 

Moreover, after publicly castigating individuals for trying to point out the obvious, a public apology is in order.  Or, even, a public admission that, perhaps, said castigation was a mistake.

And, of course, the cross-board drama went a bit beyond castigation.  When the AOTHS threatened to close Circvs Maximvs – when it became clear that there were more people who thought the original decision was as obviously mistaken as the EN World moderators eventually came to realize – the overblown vitriol was somewhat disproportionate, shall we say, and it was not aimed at the individual responsible for both (1) the original error and (2) the threat to take his toys away, but rather at those who pointed out the obvious moderation problem.  And that vitriol was of the type that, in the “real world” beyond the InterWeb, almost anyone would be ashamed of being associated with.

There have been claims that the moderation staff of EN World are not “a big fan of cross-board drama”, and people have been banned from EN World for posts on another site (SomethingAwful). 

Of course, Circvs Maximvs has always been about “cross-board drama” – the staff merely don’t want the drama going in a direction that makes EN World look bad.  There is always an “Asshattery on EN World” thread of some sort ongoing, where people create cross-board drama, including intentionally trolling EN World and then returning to Circvs Maximvs to brag about it.  So, this explanation for the behavior of the AOTHS and moderation staff falls rather flat.

It also rather ignores that the thread arose on SomethingAwful, not simply “to get a rise out of” EN World, but because of the actions of the EN World staff.  To wit, making it impossible to speak on EN World requires either that one goes elsewhere, or that one shuts the fuck up.  Clearly, people on EN World are being punished for not shutting the fuck up.  As though the AOTHS can control people’s reactions to his actions, even beyond the precincts of his little spot on the Net.

(Not long ago, I’d have been surprised if I were banned from EN World for making this blog post; now I will be surprised if I am not.  Of course, not so long ago, I would have denied that anything like this ever would happen at EN World, where the moderation has been historically excellent).

The real problem, IMHO, is not that EN World refused to take action to deal with the “pro-rape” thread – everyone makes mistakes.  No, the real problem is that, knowing this to be a mistake – an obvious and egregious mistake, the AOTHS has apparently chosen to punish those who pointed it out in an ongoing matter.  In other words, it is not the mistake that was made, but the mistake that continues, which is the real problem.

So, the claims about how this is being dealt with, and the reasons for actions, seem to be rationalizations (at best) to avoid fixing the real problem.

“In normal circumstances, people who turn their backs on reality are soon set straight by the mockery and criticism of those around them, which makes them aware they have lost credibility…..[T]here were no such correctives, especially for those who belonged to the upper stratum.  On the contrary, every self-deception was multiplied as in a hall of distorting mirrors, becoming a repeatedly confirmed picture of a fantastical dream world which no longer bore any relationship to the grim outside world.  In those mirrors I could see nothing but my own face reproduced many times over.”

-- Albert Speer

“We were completely wrong, and only when we have admitted that and paid the price of our mistakes can we expect the public at large to have much faith in our government or our political system.”

-- Jeb Stuart Magruder

Of course, Albert Speer was talking about the Third Reich, and Jeb Magruder about the Watergate scandal, but the difference is in degree, not in kind.  Those posts have been put behind a wall, so that only members can see them now, but they are not pretty.  And, again, they are so not pretty that I am not going to post them here.  Some selected quotes have appeared on the SomethingAwful website if you really need to read them.

Suffice it to say that what the Third Reich did, select denizens of Circvs Maximvs and EN World expressed a desire to do.  In the case of Watergate, lies, cover-ups, and blaming those who discovered misdeeds was rationalized as just another step.

And it is so easy to take just another step.  After all, this is only the InterWeb, and no one takes anything we say or do seriously, right?

I posted:

If EN World recognizes that mistakes were made, kudos to you.

I assume, then, that those who should have been moderated will now be dealt with appropriately, and that those who were inappropriately moderated -- and, perhaps, banned from the site as a result -- will receive an apology and an invitation back?

Because, if not, it isn't the decision you are trying to undo; it is the consequence of the decision. And if it is only the consequence of the decision you are trying to undo, I don't believe that is acceptable.

Obviously, I am only asking in a general sense. I am not asking you to comment on any specific moderation. But if anyone remains banned for trying to bring the site owner & staff to come to the conclusion that you seem to have here, I cannot in good conscious remain associated with EN World.

A great nation is like a great man:
When he makes a mistake, he realizes it.
Having realized it, he admits it.
Having admitted it, he corrects it.
He considers those who point out his faults as his most benevolent teachers.

-- Lao Tzu

Time to decide how great, or how petty, EN World is to be.

My post has been described as “petty” by at least one poster.  So be it.

I have begun the process of removing my content from EN World, from those threads where I am still allowed to edit my posts.  I will continue to do so, periodically, until I am no longer providing content to the site, I am no longer able to remove posts due to moderator action, or the AOTHS takes Jeb Magruder’s advice and restores my faith in his government.

Monday, 11 July 2011

M is for Megadungeons (Part IV)

City Ruins?

It may seem odd to some that this megadungeon project begins above the surface, in a ruined city.  The classic megadungeon is below the ruins of a castle, in a giant skull-shaped mountain, or something like that.  This megadungeon happens to intersect with, and be built beneath, the ruins of a city.

Where a megadungeon is located will have a (potentially) profound effect on its structure.  I have run megadungeons located beneath a bustling urban metropolis (the Dungeon of Thale…similar in some ways to Undermountain in The Forgotten Realms), megadungeons modeled off the MERP versions of Goblingate and Moria, and even a “Wandering Dungeon” that spans many planes.

Pattern Mapping – Stage One

It may be imagined that, once the basic elements are decided on, the GM should simply begin mapping the project on whatever scale seems convenient. On larger projects, however, it is often useful to begin with a “pattern map”; that is, a plan of the pattern by which the whole will be mapped.

In our particular case, we have already decided that many of the upper underground ways will, in fact, be the sunken and collapsed streets of our ruin. Therefore, it would help us greatly to have at least some general parameters of that ruin in mind.

What I have done is made a quick sketch of the River Ynde and the outlines of the ruin. I then placed the major locations which would be visible from the surface of the ruins. The attached pdf file contains this sketch.

You will notice immediately that even getting this far meant the inclusion of new features. The boundary of the town implies the possibility of a wall (and towers?). I have added the location of the main Market, a Ruined Keep, an Island, Old Wharves, and the so-called Lesser Ruins on the south side of the River Ynde.


This provides an area that is largely free of buildings and debris, and thus is open to rife plant growth. We will place one or more entrances to the lower levels here, as the result of subsidence. In effect, at least part of the Market will be an area of uneven footing, deeply rooted trees, slopes, and yawning “cave” mouths. Should be fun.

Ruined Keep

An obvious landmark, the Ruined Keep will be on a rise of land, looming over the remainders of the ruins. Flying predators, such as Esbastus, are likely to lair here, especially in the upper towers (where and if they are stable). The dungeons of the keep provide their own sublevel(s), above (but connected to) the first underground level of the ruin proper. Because of its fortified position, the Ruined Keep has become the lair of fairly tough monsters.


Everyone loves fishmen, and where better to hide their secret base than in tunnels beneath an island?

Old Wharves

Everyone loves fishmen, and where better for them to expand their secret base than in tunnels beneath some old wharves? Of course, it is likely that wererats or other ratmen were here before the fishmen, and may resent the intrusion. Smells like a faction war to me.

Lesser Ruins

Another fishman enclave, some animals, and a few monsters from the surrounding woods make this portion of the ruin interesting, but it is decidedly less dangerous than the main ruin. Thus, the Lesser Ruins are a good place for new players/characters to “cut their teeth” (as it were). Still, even an “easy” region wants for some looming danger, so we will add the Bloody Door, beyond which lies a passage straight down into a very difficult sub-level.

What's With the Lousy Cartography?!?!

The first sketchmap, above, is pretty sketchy.  That's okay; this is a "planning map", not a "playing map".  Playing maps will look considerably better (although they will still look like I drew them -- as I will have drawn them).

What we are doing now is akin to the "side view" maps of dungeons in some of the TSR-D&D books -- we are exploring the relationships between areas that must be mapped, rather than producing actual in-play maps.

Speaking of those "side view" maps, you know what I really liked? When there was a chasm with a really big spider in it on those maps.  Therefore, we shall include some form of chasm with a really big spider in it.

Locations of some features should make sense within the whole, and the layout of the streets followed from where boats could dock, where the Keep would naturally be, and where the biggest Market (largely determined by the location of gates, wharves, etc.) would be.  Basically, streets radiate out from these points.

The Dripping Garden has to be near the Amber Courtyard due to its backstory, but the old streets need not follow the course the Dripping Garden now runs along.

Pattern Mapping – Stage Two

The goal here is to give a general layout of primary, secondary, and tertiary streets to facilitate mapping.

Once the old streets are mapped, the location of features in the first underground level can also be placed, as these should follow "street logic" in some way. After that, we will place the rough locations of items on the second underground level.

After that, the work forks into two parts: (1) Determining what is happening in the Middle Levels and (2) Mapping the Upper Levels.

These accomplished, we can begin placing encounters in the Upper Levels, devising Wandering Encounter charts, and get the region ready for actual play.

Thereafter, the Middle Levels get pattern mapped, and we go through the process of fleshing them out while deciding exactly what is in the Lower Levels.

The Middle Levels then get mapped while the Lower Levels are pattern mapped. The Middle Levels get encounters, the Lower Levels get mapped, and (finally) the Lower Levels get encounters.

By the time all of this is done, the Upper Levels may have been "in play" for a year or more.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

M is for Megadungeons (Part III)

Eventually, we have to consider specifics for a megadungeon.  In this case, we are looking at specific ideas of how some of our brainstormed material might be developed.


Balton Major was a town nestled in the hilly Greenshaw forest, along the River Ynde. It was founded upon (and largely built over) the ruins of Baltanus, an ancient city of a Romanesque people. Nearby, at the edge of the Greenshaw along the Ynde, was Balton Minor. Balton Minor still stands; it is a potential base of operations for PCs and NPCs alike as the explore the megadungeon.

Beneath Baltanus were many catacombs that led eventually to natural caverns, which in turn led into a mythical underworld unguessed by Baltanus’ citizens (and, perhaps, portals to other planes of existence). Baltanus also had a system of real sewers, which Balton Major did not. Baltanus was ruined due to humanoid incursions, and later subsidence buried portions of the old city. It was further subsidence, leading to an actual collapse of an entire cavern system, that brought Balton Major low roughly 300 years ago. Now much of the town is below ground, buried by rubble and time. 

The Upper Levels consist of the buried streets of Balton Major, including still-intact or partially-intact buildings, often twisted or lop-sided (to create fun three-dimensional areas) as well as the upper reaches of Baltanus. Water runs through the Upper Levels in places, making some of these structures appear almost cavern-like. Others are still open to the sun, at least dimly, and in their upper areas, not unlike steep-walled canyons, some dry and others swampy. Wider “canyon” areas are generally vegetated, and may include the odd plant monster.

Blothegrue’s lair is in the ruins of a warehouse near the largest of these open areas, which the dragon uses as a place to take flight and land. The “Name Treasure” hoard is Blothegrue’s, and it is still known as the “Merchant’s Hoard” because it is believed to have been culled primarily from the warehouses in and around the dragon’s lair.

The “Old Blood”

The vampire mentioned earlier predates Balton Major, and preyed on the town while it existed. It is a “survivor” of the Romaneque people (we will call them the Aetali). I am unsure at the moment whether “beautiful seductress vampire” or “creepy Nosferatu vampire” is more appropriate for the dungeon. It could, like Jack the Ripper, select its victims on the basis of some particular criteria, and be self-limiting in its progeny as a result. If it attacks only creatures it hates on some basis, then it may well destroy its own spawn.

Earlier, we had determined that there would be some orcs in the lower levels (the mythic underworld). Perhaps these are descendents of the humanoids who sacked Baltanus. In this case, the vampire may hunt those who show signs of “the orcish taint”. It would be a terror and a legend among local orcs.

The vampire knew both Baltanus and Balton Major as they were as living, thriving communities. It has existed within the megadungeon as a dungeon. As a result, it has knowledge which is invaluable to adventurers, if they can find some way to wrest that knowledge from its guardian.

Angels and Devils

The Wandering Library is occupied by a devil (something suitably human-looking) known as the Librarian. It is trapped here. The chained angel mentioned earlier was chained as the price for trapping the devil. The devil is trapped until the angel is released, and does much to cause this to happen, all under the guise of offering friendly advice.

The chained angel is bloody, with wings torn out and bones obviously broken. She is clearly in pain, but her eyes are lucid and her voice is clear. She is chained because she chose to be so, in order to stop the devil, and she does not regret her choice.

The Librarian is intelligent enough to know that it needs powerful heroes to release the angel (and thus itself), and so will attempt to aid heroes in gaining the experience needed to do so. It is willing to play the long game. However, it does reveal itself in fits of temper when pressed.

The Librarian can take either male or female form, and will use this ability to make it appear as though there are two Librarians, either of which may be away at any given time. The Librarian has been the lover (in either of its human guises) of several prominent (but foolish) adventurers over the centuries.

The devil will not mention the angel unless characters do first. It will then refer to the angel as “My bright sister”, claiming that the angel is cursed, and cannot ask to be released. Indeed, she will beg not to be. The devil will not admit to being trapped itself under any circumstances – doing so will obviously reinforce what the angel says (as she tells the truth).

If the devil is slain, the Library no longer Wanders, and the angel is instantly released and restored. In this event, she will grant some boon to her benefactors. Obviously, the devil must be more powerful than the angel, or she would have slain it herself. In RCFG terms, the angel will be a Messenger Angel and the devil an Abomination.

For 3e

Green Ronin put out a nice little sourcebook for Roman play, Eternal Rome. If you have it, or can get it, this sourcebook will give you some real options for the Aetali, as well as for statting out the aforementioned vampire. Monkeygod’s From Stone to Steel also has some things you might consider looking at, and is an excellent sourcebook of its own accord.

For 4e

Got tieflings? Consider making the “Angels and Devils” storyline more personal by having one or more PC tieflings actually related to the Librarian. (This can work in 3e or 2e as well).

Consider making the Aetali into an ancient Dragonborn Empire....but keep the name.

The Amber Courtyard

A region of honey yellow cobblestones and ruined warehouses near the River Ynde, the Amber Courtyard is open to the sky. Some of the attached warehouses are likewise open, their roofs having fallen in long ago, but this is certainly not the case for all of them. Tangled trees obstruct the roadways still leading into the Courtyard – some of these are now tunnel entrances – and provide homes for quick, agile scavengers. This is the home of the great yellow-gold dragon Blothegrue, and the location of the Merchant’s Hoard. Blothegrue is the daughter of the Cinderqueen, found far in the lower reaches of the dungeon. In fact, Blothegrue did not so much settle in the ruins as crawl up from below them to make this her lair.

(In RCFG, a dragon’s personal outlook and abilities are not tied to its colour – Blothegrue is a fire dragon with a venomous bite. In 3e, consider treating Blothegrue as a red dragon with a template to grant a venomous bite; in 4e do whatever seems best. The dragon should not be beatable using straightforward means until at least high mid-level.)

Blothegrue’s hoard contains a massive amount of trade goods (as befits its name), but it also contains somewhere within its vast bulk the fabled Ring of Artimax, an artefact created by the legendary wizard whose name it bears. In addition to being a powerful ring of rejuvenation, the Ring of Artimax is said to have seven gems set within it, each with a different power that is released when pressed.

It is recommended that the DM examine the 1e DMG for ideas as to what these powers might be, then weave them into hints and legends of the Ring throughout the campaign.

Blothegrue spends much of her time in the Amber Courtyard – she is not so active as she was a century ago – but enterprising players may attempt to pilfer the Merchant’s Hoard while she is away. Obviously, any such pilfering will be detected, and the dragon will do its utmost to wreak vengeance on the perpetrators, perhaps going so far as to lay waste to Balton Minor.

If the GM wishes, an NPC may eventually steal from Blothegrue, putting the PCs in conflict with the dragon whether they wish it or not (unless they leave the area entirely). This sort of conflict is a means by which the GM can eventually bring the Cinderqueen into play. As with Grendel’s Mother in Beowulf, the Cinderqueen does not take kindly to the slaughter of her offspring, no matter how much her offspring has provoked just such a reaction. Obviously, some care must be taken with this development, as the Cinderqueen will be a truly epic monster.

There is a group of kobolds in the upper levels, so we will link them with the Amber Courtyard as well, and call them the Yellow Claw tribe. The Yellow Claw worship and serve Blothegrue, maintaining pits and cages where captured beings are kept as ready meals both for themselves and for their dire mistress. Thus, low-level adventurers defeated by the kobolds are not immediately slain, but are in need of rescue or escape.

In some cases, meals may last months before being consumed. There should be plenty of time for rescue attempts, escape plans, or even negotiations (“A captured bear surely has more meat on it than one small halfling....”).

Most of the area occupied by the kobolds are ruined and buried (with some surface) streets. They are winding, narrow, cobbled, and dangerous. Rooms in this region are the interiors of old buildings, some of which have been connected together in ways they originally were not.

The scavengers in the trees include both stirges, and small monkeys with horrid skull-like faces.

Bandit’s Roost

This is a narrow chasm running from the surface down four levels of the dungeon, with tunnels and roofing beams criss-crossing everywhere, sometimes from one level to another. Bandit’s Roost was originally occupied by Ten-Penny Dick and his gang, but some 40 years ago Ten-Penny Dick was captured and hanged at the crossroads north of Balton Minor, and the remaining members of his gang were driven deeper into the Greenshaw.

The area is now occupied by a Parliament of Cats. The senior cats refer to themselves as “Senators”, with the Chief Cat being called the Lord Speaker. Cats do not have long lifespans, which is true even for these cats, but they do tend to live at least twice as long as the average cat. Some few of these cats may even have a limited form of teleportation, which only works when no one is watching. Certainly, they seem to have some mysterious ability to bypass doors and get into closed rooms.

The cats do not themselves keep treasure, but the bandits have hidden treasure in this region. The cats have no use for it themselves, and will not be upset if it is removed. They know about it, of course, but cats do not volunteer information, and seldom give a straight answer to any question (if they are willing to speak at all).

Where the interlaced beams go from one level to another, it is obvious that subsidence has caused a street to fall, so that it is now on more than one level. Some of these areas might still be unstable.

The cats hate the Yellow Claw kobolds, who view them as food, but have good relations with Caliomeus of Sphinxgate, sometimes giving her information on successful adventurers.

Bandit’s Roost is a good region for a lurk to be hiding as well. (A lurk is a fey creature in RCFG that can fit into impossibly small areas, loves shiny things, throttles people from behind, and likes to display its treasures in the moonlight.) The lurk and cats simply ignore each other. Of course, there must be a nearby area, open to the moonlight (but sufficiently lonely....perhaps a room with a fallen roof) where the lurk can display its treasures when it wishes to.

Repeated material:  

Many, many cats from miles around gather here for mysterious purposes of their own. And for this to work, the cats must remain mysterious, despite the players’ fervent wishes to learn their secrets! Some of these cats are just cats, others are tough (average 3 HD), and some may even have class levels. Cats can be found on any level of the dungeon. They have their paws in everything in all of the human, halfling, and elven communities for at least a league in all directions.

If the cats are treated well by the PCs, all is well. They simply watch. If not, the PCs find themselves haunted by cats everywhere they do. The cats meddle in local politics, and use their influence to wreak vengeance on PCs who attack them. The city gaoler has a cat. When the PCs are refused a room at the inn, the innkeeper’s cat blinks at them from atop the bar. Etc., etc.

Eventually, the cats may deign to speak to PCs that consistently treat them well, neither pushing their advances nor forgetting gifts of catnip or cream. Perhaps by the time the PCs are level 6-10.....though a PC with a cat familiar may be able to send said familiar to treat with the Parliament earlier than this.

The cats know (or at least seem to know) absolutely everything. And their influence can open doors that would otherwise remain shut to the PCs. Even the King has a cat.....


Found as a wandering monster, Blott is a gargantuan, inky-black, intelligent grey ooze with telepathic and psionic abilities. It makes an easy living as a scavenger in the ruins of Balton Major and Baltanus, and has no need of adventurers as a food source. It shuns the sunlight, however, and knows full well that leaving the ruins would make it prey for many creatures...especially adventuring types.

Blott is addicted to mallumas, a highly addictive plant-derived hallucinogen that sometimes awakens dormant psychic powers. It became addicted long ago, when it consumed an addicted adventurer, who was carrying a considerable amount of the drug. It was this incident which awakened Blott to its psionic potential, and changed it from the slate grey of its kind to the inky black colour it now possesses.

Mallumas, when consumed, can cause periods of torpor – nearly hibernation – as well as hallucinations of out-of-body experiences. When Blott is there is a 20% chance it is quiescent, and will take no actions unless attacked. When deprived of mallumas long enough, addicts can become extremely violent – there is a 10% chance that Blott will be in this condition when encountered, attacking anything and everything unless offered a dose of mallumas. The other 70% of the time, Blott combs the ruins, looking for adventurers who can purchase drugs for him in Balton Minor.

Should the PCs (willingly or unwillingly) become Blott’s suppliers, they will discover that the ooze has a vast knowledge of the upper levels. Blott can certainly point them to the easiest areas to explore, where they have the best chance of looting with the least chance of being killed. But Blott also wishes to protect its suppliers, and will lie to keep them away from what it views as “dangerous areas” (even if the party wishes otherwise). If the PCs do not make regular shipments, Blott becomes angry, threatening, and (eventually) violent. Of course, the ooze will not kill all of the PCs, even if it wishes to make an example. There must be someone to bring it more mallumas, after all.

The ooze offers no coin for its drugs, either, and each “hit” of mallumas costs 25 gp or more, as well as potentially causing legal problems for the purchaser. What Blott initially tries to sell as a mutually beneficial “partnership” is just a form of slavery. The ooze doesn’t care about the group’s goals, and – sooner or later – if they wish to be free of Blott, they must leave the dungeon forever, or kill it.

Circvs Minimvs

Somewhere in the lower parts of the upper levels is the fabled Circvs Minimvs of ancient Baltanus. This group of rooms is the buried remains of a coliseum, its related rooms and pens, and the sewers that once ran beneath it.

In the ancient days, the archmage Artimax discovered a means to reduce the size of creatures permanently, and then cause them to breed true at their new size. He then bred creatures for exhibition at the coliseum, which were intended as a curiosity. When Baltanus fell, the miniature creatures survived, and the normal-sized creatures died. The miniature creatures still breed true throughout this region, which has many areas that are magically lit (and thus has vegetation, and a whole ecosystem in...ahem...miniature). There are Diminutive horses, elephants, ostriches, lions, tigers, apes, and even rhinoceroses. In short, any animal the GM desires may have reduced members here. 

What Circvs Minimvs is famous for, though, is its many Fine trolls. These trolls are too small to offer harm to any PC, but their voices are loud enough to be heard, and they resent the intrusion of larger beings into their region. They especially resent that such beings can see farther than they do, and live in a larger world. They follow the PCs around, heckling them at every opportunity, trying to engage them in narrow-minded arguments, and in all ways trying to pull larger creatures “down” to their level. Moreover, they seek to convince any who will listen that Baltanus was always the ruin that it now is, that the larger creatures which lived here were no different than those that live here now, and that the coliseum was always buried beneath the earth. In short, things have always been as they are now. Any mention of Artimax brings snorts of derision, for they deny the archmage was responsible for anything, and claim that his accomplishments have long been eclipsed by their own modern accomplishments. Trolls are, they will point out, giants, whereas Artimax was merely human.

The Circvs Minimvs isn’t particularly dangerous for PCs, and may offer a safe place to rest, if one can ignore or eliminate the trolls.

Bremeni’s Copper Pool

Located in a great, cathedral-like done, Bremeni’s Copper Pool is a circular basin some 20 feet across, whose water looks coppery (possibly from reflecting the painted ceiling, possibly for some other reason) and tastes somewhat metallic. The pool always keeps the same water level, no matter how much is removed, and no matter how much matter is placed into the pool. How this is accomplished is unknown, but the pool radiates strong abjuration, alteration, enchantment, and conjuration magic. The water is cool (but not cold), and safe to drink.

Many creatures come here to drink. So long as characters remain in the cathedral-like dome where Bremeni’s Copper Pool is located, other creatures (including mindless creatures, such as vermin) offer no violence. Undead do not come here. Thus, this is a very safe place to make camp.

If characters use this area to ambush monsters coming to the Pool, they automatically get Total Surprise (RCFG term) for the first 1d6 ambushes, then Partial Surprise (another RCFG term) for the next 2d6 encounters. Thereafter, all creatures they encounter here become aware of their presence automatically, and are automatically hostile (Will DC 40 prevents) to the PCs, even if they would not otherwise be. 

As with all “Name” places and creatures, it is worthwhile to allow the PCs to hear about this place first, through rumours, other adventurers, or scrawled graffiti, so that they can seek it out, recognize it when they’ve found it, and actually get some use from it. Not everywhere in the megadungeon should be “challenging” – some areas should provide opportunity to rest, to gain allies, and/or to learn about the setting. 

Crypt of Red Markings

Once part of the catacombs of Balton Minor, the Crypt of Red Markings is a series of undead-haunted tombs, tunnels, and crypts. Scrawled upon the walls are occasional runes and glyphs drawn in blood. As one gets toward the center of the Crypt, the runes and scrawls appear more frequently and more densely. These are, effectively, the “spellbook” of Yl Nesrith, a transmuter whose ghost still haunts this area.

Most people who know of the ghost believe Yl Nesrith to be a necromancer, and it is certainly okay for the player characters to believe the same. Legend Lore, bardic knowledge, or historical research can all uncover the truth, however. Yl Nesrith has used his transmutation spells to create bizarre undead here, as well as cunning traps, all in an attempt to prevent his mortal remains (and treasures) from being pawed over by adventurers. Reburial in a modern graveyard, with all of his grave goods, will lay Yl Nesrith’s spirit to rest (at least until his grave is despoiled....).

A PC wizard (especially a transmuter) who is able to spend enough time here unmolested could potentially learn a great number of spells from the walls. It is even possible that a PC could become apprenticed to Yl Nesrith. However, although the ghost has altered some of the undead, it controls none of them, and cannot guarantee safe passage to anyone. It has animated some skeletons as constructs, however, that it does control. Some of the spells scribed on the walls are living spells, and are themselves dangerous to examine.

Crypt of Sleeping Dogs

This area of broken crypts and tunnels is in the middle upper reaches. It is occupied by the numerous feral descendents of the hounds of Balton Minor, which have developed darkvision and a natural immunity to ghoul paralysis. Statistically, they are otherwise identical to hyenas, having a heavy build and strong jaws for cracking bones. In appearance, they are huge black mastiffs with red eyes.

This area is rumoured to contain a fortune in grave goods, including the fabled Chainmail of Vraxgyg, but adventurers are warned to avoid the region. “Let sleeping dogs lie” is the common wisdom, although the Hounds of the Crypt are far more likely to be prowling in search of fresh meat than they are to be found asleep.

The ghouls of the Bonestrippers’ Guild would dearly love to see the Hounds done away with, so that they could claim and polish “them lovely bones”, but the ghouls lack both the power and the courage to destroy the Hounds. The kobolds of the Yellow Claw are terrified of the Hounds, and the Parliament of Cats would like to see the Hounds destroyed for their own reasons. Thus, the PCs have several potential allies in assaulting this area, although these allies are not all equal, and few alliances will survive the end of the Hounds themselves.

The Dripping Garden

A series of cobbled streets, with running water down the center of them, seem almost like natural caverns, trapping the moisture and making everything extremely damp. In places, there is no ceiling, so that lush vegetation can grow. In other places, roots push down from the ceiling, and/or there is a heavy growth of fungus. Plant monsters and vermin are found here in abundance. The Dripping Gardens also include the buildings lining the streets, whose doors have long ago rotted away, making the interiors easily accessible for all sorts of creatures.

The Yellow Claw kobolds hunt in the Dripping Garden, generally for vermin (for their own table, not that of Blothegrue). They will be happy to capture adventurers there as well. The kobolds speak of (and fear) Kyckbodimyk, an albino monstrous centipede of huge size that sometimes hunts the hunters.

Within a natural-seeming grotto off the main route of the Dripping Garden, the oracular nymph Eodora has taken up her abode. The kobolds know of her, and fear her, also, but they treat her as a goddess (rather as humans might fear and propitiate a goddess of death). Eodora doesn’t normally appear to the kobolds (who leave her, truth be told, disgusting gifts), but might prophesy to adventurers. Indeed, Eodora offers the GM the ability to ensure that players learn whatever information he wishes.

The Green Woman

This jade golem currently occupies a crossroads in the mid-upper levels. While it relentlessly pursues any who attacks it, so long as they remain within the dungeon, no one is certain what its other commands may be. It is generally doing nothing more than standing – a fortune in jade for the character(s) who can finally collect it! Somewhere in the dungeon are clues that would actually allow the PCs to discern what this construct is here for, and perhaps even control it.

Pool of Shadowed Vermin

This deep pool is surrounded by sunken streets, tunnels, and chambers rife with vermin. The pool itself radiates strong transmutation magic, as drinking from (or bathing in) this pool transforms the unfortunate victims into vermin. The pool is located in the lower part of the upper levels. By the time that the PCs reach this far, they should have had some opportunity at least to be warned....and if not, capturing their erstwhile companion without harming it, and then restoring him or her to natural form, could be an adventure in and of itself. Characters able to break enchantment may find that some vermin in the area are actually other monsters, humanoids, or (grateful) adventurers, but vermin reproduce quickly, and there are many vermin here that are simply that. If the GM desires, some vermin might change into other types (potentially more or less powerful), as the pool affects vermin as well.

Smoking Shrine of Ly Valle

A rift in the floor of this chamber allows noxious fumes to fill the room, disappearing upward through a wide chimney. This is a shrine to Ly Valle, an Aetali goddess of divination. Any who leave food or coin here might (20% chance) hear a prophesy spoken. Unfortunately, these prophesies are now spoken by an invisible stalker, which was conjured long ago and pressed into service maintaining the shrine. It is insane from its long servitude, and attacks anyone who profanes the shrine in any way. The invisible stalker is, however, bound to remain within the shrine, and is thus easily avoided.

The GM is encouraged to keep a roster of 10 potential prophesies, with about 20% of them providing some level of accurate information. When a prophesy is used, the GM should line through it and provide a new one for that position.


The 6th level ranger, Owlgrin, hunts monsters in the upper reaches of the megadungeon. The GM may use this character to provide occasional timely assistance to PCs in need. Owlgrin doesn’t make friends easily, and prefers to remain semi-mysterious. Eventually, of course, he might go to the PCs for help with some problem, but this is more likely to be worded as “You must go to X and do Y” than “I need your help”.

The Sour Temple

Originally the Temple of Umartal in Balton Major, the air in the Sour Temple now smells and tastes acrid with the displeasure of its god. Still, the Sour Temple is a place of some refuge in the upper ruins, and truly evil creatures seldom venture therein.

Umartal has a church in Balton Minor, where an order of adventuring priests and monks – known as the Seekers of Restoration among themselves or the Silver Chalices (for their emblem) among the locals – works toward the cleansing of the Sour Temple. This is a major undertaking, for it requires that the Upper Levels at least be cleared out enough for human habitation.

Once PCs become established (3rd level in RCFG), they may well be approached by the Restorationists, who are willing to supply adventurers with information, advice, healing, and other resources in exchange for their work restoring Balton Major. The Restorationists will also expect to receive reports on what is encountered in the ruins, and to have the opportunity to copy maps created by adventurers supported under their charter. The Seekers will not work with characters that are obviously immoral.

The GM is encouraged to make use of the Seekers of Restoration both as a potential group to which PC monks and clerics can belong, and to provide NPC backup for smaller groups. In addition to monks and clerics, the Seekers can provide a limited supply of NPC NM Warriors to aid groups on important missions.

If the PCs manage to eliminate any of the three major threats of the Upper Levels – Blott, Blothegrue, and/or Esbastus (see below), they will receive a boon from Umartal the next time they enter the Sour Temple. These boons should be special abilities which aid the PC in question (so that each PC can receive a different set of boons), and be roughly equivalent to a bonus feat in 3.5e or 4e. No boon should be more powerful than the ability to cast a 1st-level spell once per day.


Esbastus is a gynosphinx that patrols the outer perimeter of the ruins of Balton Major, asking riddles, demanding tribute, and sometimes eating an unlucky adventurer or kobold. She has learned to avoid the ranger, Owlgrin, of whom she is afraid.

Typically, when encountering humanoids, Esbastus offers them a choice between paying tribute or answering a riddle, where failure is death. She will not accept less than 100 gp in coins as tribute, but has a craving for gems. This craving, combined with an inability to properly evaluate the value of gems and jewellery, may prove her undoing – her lair already contains many gems which are in fact made of paste or worth far less than she esteems them to be.

The GM must have several riddles prepared, and be ready to use them. Once a riddle is answered, Esbastus should not repeat it to the same characters. Generally, the GM should allot no more than 10 minutes of real time for answering the riddle before Esbastus becomes impatient, and then no more than 5 additional minutes before she pounces. Remember that PCs should be allowed to make Reasoning Action Saves to get hints about the nature of a riddle, but should not receive the answer by rolling dice. A good many riddles can be resourced off the Internet, as well as being taken from primary sources such as Mother Goose.

In the event that PCs can neither pay tribute nor answer a riddle, Esbastus politely asks them which of their number they wish to sacrifice – and she is not interested in the party’s mule or dogs! She will give them no more than 5 minutes to decide before becoming impatient, and then no more than 5 more minutes before making the decision herself (through random roll). 

If the party manages to escape intact (which is certainly possible), Esbastus will attempt to Get the Drop on their next encounter and pounce on them, slaughtering them all. Whoever survives this second encounter she will actually admire, and greet as though an old lover thereafter, perhaps asking for gems or riddles from that character, but neither expecting tribute nor answers to her own riddles. If the group manages to wound her to half her hit points or more, she will avoid them thereafter as she does Owlgrin.

Esbastus is on something like cordial terms with the Parliament of Cats, but they will not mourn her death, nor she theirs. The GM may allow players who are good at riddles to be known to the cats through Esbastus’ admiring words about them.

Tapestry of the Winds

I like the idea of the Tapestry of the Winds leading to a pocket plane. Let's run with that. In fact, let's let the party know that the Tapestry exists ahead of time, and that there are rumours of survivors of Baltanus having fled through the tapestry with their treasures. Somewhere on the pocket plane, there is a major hoard to be found.

Of course, the pocket plane will be a whole new environment all to itself, with Romanesque intrigue, some unusual monsters and substances, etc. Moreover, the Tapestry will be hard to find as it is no longer hanging upon the wall, but is folded up in a storeroom somewhere gathering dust.


The areas between the major regions described herein are mostly “empty” regions – lost streets and empty buildings, with a few lairs, hazards, forgotten treasures, and (of course) wandering monsters to make them interesting. There will also be clues as to the nature of the major areas they connect.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

M is for Megadungeons (Part II)

As mentioned at the end of the last post, evocative names are important.  It is desirable to have names that both “sound right” and that reflect the atmosphere of the game.  I came up with these:

  • Gathouse (from Gothous, from shoggoth)
  • Etolkin (anagram of Tolkein)
  • Ny Sandu (anagram of Dunsany)
  • El Nysrith (anagram of Slytherin)
  • Ogrushrub (anagram of Burroughs)
  • Hobert Warder (from Robert E. Howard)
  • Owlgrin
  • Portersmith
  • Malcaper
  • Grimalkin
  • Elzamere

In addition to some major sites, and some major creatures/creature groups, we need to consider major treasures – the “swords & hoards” that lure the PCs into the dark. In this case, we will be developing the following items (at a minimum):

  • Sword
  • Staff
  • Hoard
  • Gem
  • Crown
  • Amulet
  • Ring
  • Shield
  • Mail
  • Tome

Finally, I’ve begun the process of brainstorming about what has already been done:

(1) The hyenas look like grotesque mastiffs. They might be linked to the Crypt of Sleeping Dogs.

(2) The otyugh dwells in Filthfall Middens, a great chasm that runs through several levels, and is used by many creature groups to dispose of waste. Imagine the odour!

(3) The grey ooze is huge, maybe even colossal...inky black, intelligent, and telepathic (psionic?). It is called “Blott”. Blott is neither good nor evil, and has plenty of food in the dungeon. It wants something that the adventurers can bring in from the outside.....I am thinking some sort of drug that the adventurers would need to deal with the seamy underbelly of society to acquire.

(4) The dragon’s name has softened over the ages. While ancient books may refer to “The Bludgrue Wyrm”, it is now “Blothegrue”.

(5) Cinderqueen. Not sure who this is yet, but I liked the name.

(6) Some area of deep mudflats. Movement is very difficult for adventurers, but not for flying creatures. Even something like stirges could cause problems here, even for mid- to high-level adventurers (using the RCFG or Advanced Dungeons & Dragons rulesets anyway, for 3e you might want to consider a template!).

(7) Remember those polished bones on the beach? Well, without wind there won’t be regular wave action underground, so one has to determine what polished the bones. I am thinking of a “Bonestripper’s Guild” (perhaps the ghouls mentioned earlier). These are creatures the characters can talk to....from a position of strength, anyway. Think of the ghouls in Neil Gaimen’s The Graveyard Book.

(8) Bandit’s Roost would be near the surface (so the bandits can get out to plunder). It is now occupied by a Parliament of Cats. Many, many cats from miles around gather here for mysterious purposes of their own. And for this to work, the cats must remain mysterious, despite the players’ fervent wishes to learn their secrets! Some of these cats are just cats, others are tough (average 3 HD), and some may even have class levels. Cats can be found on any level of the dungeon. They have their paws in everything in all of the human, halfling, and elven communities for at least a league in all directions.

If the cats are treated well by the PCs, all is well. They simply watch. If not, the PCs find themselves haunted by cats everywhere they do. The cats meddle in local politics, and use their influence to wreak vengeance on PCs who attack them. The city gaoler has a cat. When the PCs are refused a room at the inn, the innkeeper’s cat blinks at them from atop the bar. Etc., etc.

Eventually, the cats may deign to speak to PCs that consistently treat them well, neither pushing their advances nor forgetting gifts of catnip or cream. Perhaps by the time the PCs are level 6-10.....though a PC with a cat familiar may be able to send said familiar to treat with the Parliament earlier than this.

The cats know (or at least seem to know) absolutely everything. And their influence can open doors that would otherwise remain shut to the PCs. Even the King has a cat.....

Another quick note, while I’m thinking of it. It is all too common for PCs to encounter creatures that are in the prime of their lives. Our megadungeon requires that there be young, and old creatures as well. Indeed, one of our “name” creatures could be something that was the most dangerous thing in the dungeon, once, but is now far past it’s prime.

It is far too easy to think of setting as a location for PC encounters. If you want your setting to live and breathe, though, it has to have a sense of existing long before the PCs come onto the scene, and long after they are gone. 

By this point we have quite a few elements to play with. Now we have to decide where they should go in the overall structure. 

A megadungeon has upper levels, middle levels, and lower levels. Without knowing exactly how many levels the dungeon has, we can divide the dungeon in this way. Thus, each of our elements can be found in one of these sections.

Where an element is found will affect its development. A major treasure located on an upper level must be very well hidden, or have a truly fearsome guardian, or it would have been plundered long ago. Likewise, a major monster located on an upper level must have some reason for not simply decimating everything within its grasp...including the PCs! A creature like Blott might be found on the upper levels, for instance, because it is more interested in satisfying its addiction than in eating people.

Some of the creatures and places we’ve already described belong on a particular tier (upper/middle/lower) of the dungeon on the basis of the development work we’ve done already. For instance, Filthfall Middens should be on the Middle Levels, where it can be accessed by many creatures (perhaps falling into the Lower Levels), and Bandit’s Roost should be in the Upper Levels.

Otherwise, we can roll 1d6, spreading these elements evenly throughout the dungeon. 

We should also consider how many entrances to develop. I would say, 4d6 to the Upper Levels, 2d6 to the Middle Levels, and 1d6 to the Lower Levels. Of these, most will be hidden and/or otherwise obscure. Discovery of a new way into/out of the dungeon can be a treasure itself!

There should be ways to move easily from the Upper Levels to the Middle Levels, and even to the Lower Levels.  Some levels and sublevels may well be "hidden" -- difficult to find. Likewise, if a primary level is spread out far enough, finding the ways out of it can be a fun challenge. What is important, though, is that once they are found they are relatively easy to use without slogging back and forth every time.

(In my AD&D 2e campaign, the Dungeon of Thale had one known entrance/exit, controlled as a business, where adventurers paid 10% of their take to use the gate. There were many other entrances, through the city sewers, in basements, through teleporters, etc., waiting for the PCs to discover so that they could avoid the toll!)

I am also considering a “Circvs Minimus”, where miniature animals and monsters were once displayed and sent to fight each other. Those animals are long gone now, and the Circvs is the home of trolls. Luckily, these trolls are too small to do much harm, although they are as loud and vocal as ordinary trolls (which might make PCs hearing them give them more heed than necessary). 
  • Amber Courtyard - Upper
  • Amulet - Lower
  • Angel of some sort (chained?) - Middle
  • Bandit’s Roost - Upper
  • Black Hall - Lower
  • Blothegrue - Upper
  • Blott - Upper
  • Bonestripper’s Guild - Middle
  • Burning Dome - Middle
  • Cerulean Well - Middle
  • Chamber of the Bronze Throne - Middle
  • Cinderqueen – Lower
  • Circvs Minimus – Upper 
  • Cistern of the Dun Waters - Lower
  • Cloudy Vault of Whispering Leopards - Lower
  • Copper Pool - Upper
  • Crimson Catacombs - Lower
  • Crown - Lower
  • Crypt of Red Markings - Upper
  • Crypt of Sleeping Dogs - Upper
  • Deep mudflats - Middle
  • Dripping Garden - Upper
  • Dwarf - Middle
  • Ebony Grotto - Middle
  • El Nysrith (anagram of Slytherin) - Upper
  • Elzamere - Middle
  • Etolkin (anagram of Tolkein) - Lower
  • Filthfall Middens – Middle 
  • Gathouse - Middle
  • Gem - Lower
  • Ghost - Upper
  • Golem - Upper
  • Green Lake - Lower
  • Grimalkin - Middle
  • Groaning Arch - Middle
  • Hall of the Bitter Banquet - Lower
  • Hellroot: Assassin Vine - Lower
  • Hoard - Upper
  • Hobert Warder - Lower
  • Human - Lower
  • Invisible Stalker - Upper
  • Kobold - Upper
  • Library of Bones - Middle
  • Like-Not - Lower
  • Mail - Upper
  • Malcaper Middle
  • Medusa - Lower
  • Monstrous Centipede - Upper
  • Moving Pool of Xar Yggar - Middle
  • Ny Sandu - Lower
  • Nymph - Upper
  • Ogrushrub - Middle
  • Orc - Lower
  • Owlgrin - Upper
  • Perfumed Machine of Sparkling Crystal - Middle
  • Pismire’s Yellow Fountain - Lower
  • Pool of Shadowed Vermin - Upper
  • Portersmith - Middle
  • Restful Chapel of St. Helmbright the Vigilant - Lower
  • Ring - Upper
  • River of Uncertain Dreams - Middle
  • Scarlet Gallery - Lower
  • Sea of Ivory Stones - Lower
  • Shield - Middle
  • Smoking Shrine of Ly Valle - Upper
  • Sour Temple - Upper
  • Sphinx - Upper
  • Spinning Chapel - Middle
  • Staff - Middle
  • Stone Giant - Lower
  • Sword - Lower
  • Tapestry of Winds - Upper
  • Tawny Altar of St. McCoy - Middle
  • Tome - Lower
  • Vampire - Upper
  • Verdant Caverns – Middle 
  • Vermillion-Handed Idol of Destiny - Lower
  • Wandering Library - Variable
  • Waterfall of Fearful Whispers - Middle

Looking at these, we can see that there will be some very dangerous areas even in the Upper Levels, so the PCs should probably have fair warning, say, about the location of the dragon’s lair.  There should also be plenty of "inactive" areas. After all, PCs need somewhere to rest, and you want the space to build up suspense.