Thursday, November 24, 2011

Ditlana and dungeon architecture

Thanks to everyone who commented on Wednesday's post! I'm only the most casual of tourists to Tékumel, I'm afraid, and have never read beyond the 1975 EPT book. Rob L's comment from yesterday had me wondering if ditlána was the default origin of dungeons in EPT. Some of the quotations in my previous post undoubtedly focus on the ditlána of the city of Jakálla, but Professor Barker leaves plenty of latitude for a variety of underworld origins:

Scattered over Tékumel are innumerable half-buried, half-forgotten ruins. There are fragments dating back to the prehuman ages, when the Ssú and the Hlýss vied with one another for control; there are tunnels of melted rock and steel constructed during the days of man's first glory; there are jumbled heaps destroyed by the cataclysms which rent Tékumel when the planet was cast into outer dimensional darkness; there are catacombs and subterranean labyrinths dating from more recent empires, cities, temples, pyramids, and fortresses dedicated to the lost and unremembered gods of half a hundred kingdoms. Another factor is the custom of Ditlána, the ceremonial "renewing" of many cities every 500 years: cellars and foundations of an old city are filled in and roofed over, upper floors are razed, and then new and more splendid edifices are built upon this foundation. Such earlier buried habitations are now full of burrows and tunnels built by humans, half-humans, nonhumans, and the many parasites and predators of Tékumel who subsist upon man's leavings.

This reminds me of How to Host a Dungeon.

As I currently see it, there are three major aspects of big-picture dungeon architecture:

  • the physical origin of the space: natural caves, mines, nonhuman excavations, ditlána, etc.
  • the spacial relation of levels in terms of number, depth, and interconnectedness
  • the configuration and type of areas or neighborhoods within a single level (randomly generated interstices, Saturday Night Specials, scenario/faction areas, empty regions, etc.)

Just as in How to Host a Dungeon, each of these will be modified over time, by nature and with use. Natural caves will be expanded and adapted for habitation. Commercial mines will be abandoned, and later repurposed. New connections will be tunneled between levels. Geological evens will reshape sections.

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