Thursday, August 12, 2010

POV of a Dungeoneer

It can get ugly quick three hundred feet below air. Hell, it can real ugly a few feet in. Dwarves or no dwarves, going underground is dangerous. Forget for a moment about the all the critters that can lurk in nearly every corner. It’s dark. I am not talking about its night and the moon is not out dark. I am talking about a blackness, a complete absence of light. This makes all the other problems worse.

Another huge problem is the simple act of walking. Uneven ground, stalagmites, slick rocks, cracks and holes. All of them can snap an ankle in a moment. A buddy of mine, a soldier, mercenary and known bad ass broke his leg and arm within the first 100’. It’s hard to be a hero when you’re on your back. Survival tip, always go with three of four companions and make sure one of them has some experience underground.

The cold. The cold can slowly sap the strength out of you. You would think all that moving around would keep you warm, but that cold creeps inside and waits. It waits for those times when you need to rest. So it’s critical to keep warm. Fires are usually a bad choice. Primarily there is little to no ventilation not to mention you are alerting anyone in the area where you are. Warm clothes and magical devices that can be picked up at most magic shops are best. If you fall asleep without a way to keep warm you’ll wake up dead.

Water. Underground water is one of the worst things you can come across. One, you don’t know how deep it is. Could be a few inches deep, could be a few hundred feet down. It’s freezing. I saw a cocky rogue drop in a small pool and he froze to death before we could put him out. And a little known fact is sometimes that still water has gases trapped beneath. If you disturb that water the gases are released and that never ends well.

Collapses. You got a whole lot of hard stuff above you waiting to come down. You never know when it’s going to happen. This is one of those things you can’t prevent and can’t prepare for. A good dungeoneer can see the signs of this danger, but predicting when or how much that will come down only the gods know.

The critters that lurk in the darkness tend to be nastier than their cousins aboveground. Even the smallest of creature is armed with deadly poison. These creatures tend to strike from a hiding place and let their poison do the work for them. Once you are paralyzed or crippled they come put and eat your head off.

Traveling unexplored anywhere is dangerous, but when you do it underground all those dangers multiply by 100. The simple things that you can take for granted above ground can kill you underground. Stick with trusted companions, move slow, stay warm, avoid the water, and stay safe as you possibly can. I know your reasons for traveling beneath the ground may be important and I hope these little helpful hints will help you reach your goal.


  1. Good points there. I suppose almost every dungeoning party doesn't encounter those problems, only the enemies.

    But that is two bladed sword. It might be realistic, but is high-fantasy adventuring fun anymore, if you twist your ankle few feet after the enterance?

    It might be realistic, but not that genre realistic.

    Still, nice read bro.

  2. Well written.

    I can testify to the horrors of underground exploration. I had a claustrophobic freak out when I was crawling through a tunnel following some friends, at one point I realized...oh crap I can't move...everyone else with me was slighter of build and very slowly pulling away from me, with the good light.. and I was stuck and had a really fast freak out fit. I calmed down and very slowly took off my bag, jacket and helmet (a helmet is a must, you are constantly whacking your head or scrapping it crawling about underground) and crawled on, I ripped the hell out of my jacket and almost lost my bag but I got out okay and we were exiting so I got out into the real world.
    Good thing for fantasy RPg characters most tunnels are 10'wide and 10-15' high.

  3. Thaumiel> Generally I don't run a high fantasy game. I prefer a low grade gritty grind. I would never use all these at once, but in certain situations I would use one and have the players make a roll for something. I wrote it up after watching Dirty Jobs tv guy fill in an abandon mineshaft and thought some of the stuff they said was interesting.

    JD> Thanks. The one time Rob (Conley) convinced me to fo on a LARP event he ran. I got stuck in a cave for several hours waiting for the stupid party to find me. Not going to do that again.