Comments on Fortress Dam of Ix


  1. long legged machines stalking the shore, looking for trouble makers, spotlights, some sort of ranged blasting? Science fiction feel
  2. ancient eels to fight for the thematic connect to the previous area
  3. armored speed boats with a gun, can be jumped on and glass cockpit can be smashed into
  4. Patrols of guards in power armor with hell hounds; the power armor can be disabled by central control, that prevents long term abuse by players

(for a more optimistic touch, à la Beyond Good & Evil, have innocent animals or plants to observe?)

A riddle: how can we force the guards to open the sluice gates? Plants that grow and need to be cleaned away, sensors to manipulate, communication terminals, the need to fake authorization. A kind of nuclear meltdown choreography.

Hints: the messages from the loudspeakers. The challenges by guards and boats.

Make sure that the air passage is very tricky as well. Some sort of flak.

What does the dam want? Why is it here? Why is it so well guarded? Why are the operators, with their superior technology only in charge of this area? Why would the PCs want to go there? How would the PCs known that they want to go there?

I think the dam is there to produce power – like an old water mill it would have a sort of turbine, huge axles, cog wheels – maybe this where the clock work stuff is wound up again.

The general setup for the entire Styx circle should be “how to find a passage down to the next and last level of the megadungeon” for Fight On readers that are using this as level 13 of The Darkness Beneath, ie. the Tomb of the Dark Lord Of Nothingness or something similar. This would be the power that arranged for the local Styx loop, hiding the secret passage to the Ooze Lord and down to the next level. My idea was that every leader of the various areas can contribute a little information that will eventually enable the party to figure how to proceed.

If you’re not using The Darkness Beneath, then it’s just a game of exploration along a single dimension (up or down the river) and the dam is simply one of the obstacles to overcome because it lies between the starting area and the prisons of Dis. If the PCs don’t take over an armored ship as mentioned elsewhere, or if they don’t get access to some tame flying sharks, the party will have to pass through this area.

Idea for an area-mechanic: inverse of Onbog: based on actions of PCs, one of n possible doomsday clocks is started, forcing the group to race against time. Use some ideas from Telecanter's posts on heists, but more executed more as I wrote in my comment ;-)

If we can find a way to implement one or two cool countdowns, that would be awesome. I think the tricky part is how to count time, and how to adjudicate consequences for failure. We could count maneuvers à la Burning Empire, or a sort of extended skill challenge à la D&D 4E. I like this idea. We’d provide a list of eight maneuvers. The clock runs out after six maneuvers (thus the party has some choice and can skip two of them). The party needs four successes to beat the clock (thus the party can fail ⅓ of the time).

We’d also provide a list of yes and suggestions, I think.

Maybe the dam is sort of a giant relict of a lost civilization (or aliens) and works like a clock since eons. Maybe it forgot why it does what it does. Maybe, even though its alien and brutal, the world has come to rely on it to exist and continue to function. Maybe it stops the old flow of the styx, thus making one or several basic tenants of fantasy possible (our real world has no such dam, our styx flows as it should). Maybe that tenant has to do with passing on the river styx into hades. Or it has to do with time itself

Right now I think of the various areas as particular aspects of hell, like Dante’s various levels of hell, these are different pockets of punishment – except that I didn’t think of the particular sin that was being punished per area – we could do this if we needed more sources of inspiration, but right now I feel no need.

Thus, I’d say all the areas are already in Hades.

I do like the dam as a sort of greater machine, however. Perhaps it powers the magic that keeps the local Styx loop in place. In the D&D Planescape canon, Styx traverses all the evil planes, turns into Oceanos, which in turn touches upon all the good planes, and turns into Styx again. Styx going in an Escher endless loop is an anomaly caused by the Black Lord of Nothingness who used it to isolate his tomb from the remaining evil planes. Thus, the dam could be powering the transplanar anomaly.

Idea: There are critters living in the clockworks! Gremlins, Kobolds, Sentient Rats or something. They are to small to be registered by the machines and they live inside them protected from the harsh fauna around the dam. The critters know best about the dam and its secrets. From time to time one of them is caught up between cog wheels and its squeaks can be heard - shortly followed by blood dripping down the machinery… The critters will try to protect their way of life as best they can.

This is very much in line of what I was thinking. I thought “machine hell” – who is in hell? Not the machines, surely. Thus, there have to be souls (mostly humans, perhaps) that are in hell with or because of machines. Lazy people that relied on machines to do evil deeds and now are punished for it. Frail, sickly beings that must rely on cruel exoskeletons to move around, suffering while they move and yet forced to move around for fear of even greater suffering. Constantly slaving to maintain the dam working if they want to keep their exoskeletons working, and thus upholding the source of energy that keeps their hell running. A sprinkling of Sisyphus’ suffering and Nietzsche’s contempt.

Thus, clockwork should actually refer to mobile torturing devices operated by the damned, on the damned…

Encounters on water near the dam:

  1. Clockwork robots
  2. Clockwork boats
  3. Ancient eels
  4. Remains of stranded whale
  5. Clockwork auto-canon/trap

Encounters on the dam and on land near the dam:

  1. Walker robots
  2. Control room with cog wheels, something to manipulate, secondary tables/effects
  3. Junk heap of robotic debris
  4. Machine Hell: the core of Ix
  5. Rewind Station: all clockwork machines must come here to rewind their flywheel every day or so or they will “die”. The area is littered with the remains of robots that, over the course of millenia, have for some reason failed to come back here in time.

How do the clockwork machines work? What are their weaknesses? → They need rewinding like clocks, with massive inner flywheels that must never stop. Thats why they need the dam! Its waterwheels drive the rewinding station and the control room, the machine hell.

What are the doomsday clocks? how are they triggered? how do they manifest? how are they manipulated by the PCs? what guarantees that the players care about them enough to get stressed?

I also like the idea of chrono anomalies. I need to think about this some more.

Doomsday Clock 1: Reopen the sluice gates!

Doomsday Clock 2: Avert Time Reversal!

– Alex 2011-06-13 12:53 UTC

Rein von der Länge her habe ich nicht das Gefühl, dass ich noch einen zweiten Countdown reinschreiben kann, obwohl ich die Zeitumkehrung cool fände. Mir fehlen da im Moment auch die Ideen.

– Alex 2011-06-13 22:46 UTC

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