Friday, May 29, 2015

Creating a Campaign World pt.4 - The Megadungeon (Azag Mozu!)

Of course, every good campaign setting deserves a tentpole Megadungeon. For Atheon, I wanted my Megadungeon to tie in with the mythology of the setting.

Azag Mozu

On the northern edges of Atheon, at the feet of the Azar Mountains and past the ruins of Fallen Abydo, lies the Valley of Judgement, within which lies the great black heap of Azag Mozu. The origins of the place are lost to the mists of time, but it was said to have been a great black finger of stone, a thousand feet across and more than a mile high, that jutted up from the red earth like a dagger jutting from the back of a god. This is where the name Azag Mozu came from - "Obelisk of Death" in the Old Tongue of the Makers.

The texts on Azag Mozu still to be found in the labyrinthine libraries of Izkalal claim this Obelisk was anything but solid, referring to its insides as Mara Dootha, Kala Dootha, "the Thousand Halls of a Thousand Worlds". As Death touches all things and all worlds, so it is said her great Azag touched all things and all worlds as well.

A Dark and Troubled Time

For a long while, the Azag Mozu was a site of pilgrimage, and the faithful of many gods, not just Mozu, going to pay tribute at this marvel of supernatural wonder. But at some point, something awakened within Azag Mozu. Something dark, something the dreamed of conquest. Fell hordes of creatures, many never seen in this world, issued forth from unseen gates. First they ravaged the once great city of Abydo, the center of trade and power between the holy lands of the southern rivers and the trackless forest realms of the north. The city was crushed, hundreds of thousands died, and it is said one hundred and thirty thousand souls were marched off as slaves to disappear into the Azag, never to be seen again.

After this, the hordes began to move further south, into the fertile flood plains of what would become Atheon. In a rare show of unity, the heads of the Eight Temples met with the heads of the three great Houses of Sorcery, and all bowed the knee to the legendary warlord Haga Nurald, then only a young man just come into his prime. The host of Atheon fought back the horde, until at last a great battle raged across the Valley of Judgement to the very foot of the Azag.

It is said during this battle forces were unleashed that have never been seen in this world before or since. Gods and their angelic knights walked the earth in plain view of Men, and fought shoulder to shoulder with them against horrors from beyond the Walls of Night. Unheard of Sorceries shook the Valley of Judgement (indeed, it is said this battle is when the priests of the Eight first began their long mistrust of wizardry), and martial heroes of unmatched prowess matched blades with unholy warriors of diabolic aspect. Haga Nurald himself slew, singlehandedly, a massive Wyrm composed of fire and shadow.

At last, the tattered remnants of the horde fled, throwing the gates of the Azag closed behind them in their terror. Then the earth gave out a great rumble as the joined might of the gathered priests and wizards threw down the Obelisk of Death into a great heap of tumbled black stone. It is said dust hung over the valley for seven seasons before settling at last.

A Modern Curiousity

After being shunned for centuries, Azag Mozu has now begun to draw visitors once more. Some go, as in the past, to marvel at the sight of the heap, ruined as it is, or to give praise at this visible evidence of their gods' power. Others go out of curiosity, as Atheon's long peace has lent itself to the pursuit of scholarship and sciences. Still others go for less altruistic reasons - treasure is said to lie in the deep vaults beneath the heap, in subterranean halls that somehow survived the collapse of the Mozu.

And, it is whispered among the caravans that even now ply there ways northward, no few explorers have ventured into those halls never to be seen again...

In the next part, I'll take a look at the Megadungeon itself, its environs, and the tools I'm using to build it.


  1. Some dramatic and creative background for this megadungeon. It's always interesting to see how referees come up with layers of history and hopefully rousing descriptive narrative. Makes me think of looking up elements of creative writing for pointers on doing this stuff better, myself.

    Where did the art come from? The black and white tower with the eye images looks like some of the illustrations from Ursula K. LeGuin's EarthSea books. She had two different illustrators for those, both good artists. With strong hints of LotR thrown in, in this case. The angel has neat armor and helm. The first pic, is that a Tom Denmark piece? Looks like his style and coloring.

    Off that subject, you've got a link to a Bill Murray sketch, "A modest link." that never seems to work for me, has it been disabled? I'll take a stab that it's something Saturday Night Live related, but I don't know it. Maybe its from something else?

  2. Ha, the Bill Murray link used to go to a youtube of his lounge-act version of the Star Wars theme, iirc, but it must have been taken down.

    The art I post for the Atheon articles is random stuff I find online and save in a folder for inspiration. The prose is purely from my own fevered, degenerate mind, pocked with holes and morbid erosions caused by delving too deeply into mysteries best left hidden, as well as an unhealthy attraction for the fruits of the poppy and the vine.

  3. Hahaha! Yeah, that's quite the turgid exposition of fevered Poe-Lovecraft prose, all right! You did say that weirdoes showed up at your games and shredded paper every time they missed a roll, and who let everyone know they weren't into the attractions of opium and alcohol?

    That post about that guy showing up to your table, was actually pretty spooky, and made me think I'll only go looking for a gaming group in a neutral location. And where the people you go to meet know your bodyguards are packing flame throwers and are waiting in the armored car for you to come out in exactly 4 hours.

    Come to think of it, Lovecraft's prose wasn't a product of addictions, except maybe to cheese.

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