In today's preview of the Dungeon Survival Handbook: Into the Unknown, we look at infamous dungeons from the game!
Black passageways stretch out in all directions. The still, stifling air swirls gently with each cautious step forward. The clank of armor and the crunch of footsteps on gravel are the only sounds in the deep chambers, but their soft echoes seem deafening.
Around the next corner, faint lights are visible down the corridor. With no way to gauge distance in the darkness, they could be anything: far-off torches, nearby glowing fungi, or the eyes of a lurking beast reflecting the flame. After sharing a glance with the others, the party leader lifts the shutter of the bull's-eye lantern to reveal what lies ahead. . . .
Explorers find plenty of dungeons throughout the wilderness, but only a handful of these complexes stand out. Fewer still become legendary enough to make the list of infamous dungeons. The locations described within Dungeon Survival Handbook: Into the Unknown are some of the greatest dungeons of all time.
Hints of the dangers and legends of the treasures that await explorers in these dangerous locales might be enough to draw your character to seek them out, so here you'll also get some advice for how to deal with what you might face when you get there. As you read about each dungeon, consider how you and your adventuring group might be linked to it. Perhaps you grew up in the shadow of one of these places. With the DM's consent, your character might be a veteran of an attempt on the dungeon and already have some special knowledge. Alternatively, a loved one might have disappeared in pursuit of the secrets of one of these strongholds, and you or a fellow adventurer hope to discover that person's fate. Whatever brings you there, one day you too might stand at the threshold of an infamous dungeon, such as:
Ghost Tower of Inverness
The four outer towers of Castle Inverness still stand above its ruins. They lean at different angles like tombstones guarding neglected graves, jutting from the ivy-choked rubble that was once the walls of a mighty fortress. Castle Inverness is one of the three infamous "ghost towers" of the Nentir Vale, but unlike the other two, it is not merely a focus for the activities of undead.
The Lost City
The city lay bejeweled and soft under the sun, wine-drunk and sated by plentiful fields. Those who might call themselves its enemy felt no hate for it, only envy and lust. Its beauty captured even the hearts of some gods, binding them to it so that they would be worshiped by no others. It was called Cynidicea, Jewel of the Desert, and it is still out there somewhere, buried beneath the sands.
Temple of Elemental Evil
Sometimes they thundered in like a storm, their horses churning roads into slurries of sword-spilt blood. Sometimes they crept among the people, their corruption undetected and as contagious as plague. When they came to a village seeking wealth or goods, none could resist, nor hope. When they called a name or pointed someone out, people had to choose: Surrender, and thereby gain a few more days' breath; or resist, which meant swift death for the lucky and days of torture before execution for the rest.
White Plume Mountain
It happened in one night. Three of the mightiest weapons known to humanity vanished from the vaults and strongboxes of the people who claimed ownership of them. The owners scoured their homes for hidden places where the weapons might have been concealed. Neglectful guards and suspicious servants found their necks on the headman's block or in the grip of nooses. Bounty hunters filled their purses by rounding up known and suspected thieves.
When the three owners discovered their shared plight, they took stock of their common foes and sent assassins to take revenge on those individuals. Still, no trace of the weapons—the hammer known as Whelm, the trident called Wave, and the infamous soul-rending sword, Blackrazor—appeared. Only when the owners relented and offered outlandish rewards for the weapons' return did a clue come forth.
Bart Carroll has been a part of Wizards of the Coast since 2004, and a D&D player since 1980 (and has fond memories of coloring the illustrations in his 1st Edition Monster Manual). He currently works as producer for the D&D website. You can find him on Twitter (@bart_carroll) and at bartjcarroll.com.