Friday, October 16, 2020

3 Alternative Monster Biologies

In a world where magic exists, calories are overrated.

Obscurovores — Eaters of Darkness

Dungeon ecologies are a precarious balance of scavengers and fungal culture. The only resource a dungeon has an abundance of is darkness. The challenge is turning darkness into energy, and this is where the Glowpig comes in.

Glowpigs are short-legged, headless swine, like the rear ends of two pigs stuck together. They eat darkness through their skin, which causes them to shed light as a torch (light is the absence of dark, as the drow will tell you). Their meat is black and rich and, according to some, corrupts the soul.

When threatened, they stop glowing (because they’re no longer eating) and curl up into a ball, relying on their thick, cactus-bristle hair to deter predators. They excrete noxious smoke (save vs. 1d4 poison damage) which crawls over the dungeon floor like a heavy fog, extinguishing campfires and choking sleeping adventurers.

[quick note: most creatures that live in the dungeon have true darkvision, and see as well in the dark as we do in the light. When everything that wants to eat you has darkvision anyway, shedding light isn’t a negative. It can even momentarily confuse predators when the light suddenly goes out and their vision has to adjust, buying the Glowpig precious seconds to flee.] 

Chronovores — Eaters of Time 

There is no such thing as immortality, a truth belied by the timeless nature of the fae. Their secret is chronovory: the consumption of one creature’s lifespan to extend another. This explains the faerie practice of abducting humanoid children, who are likely to have many years ahead of them, and their fascination with food, which they do not need but appreciate artistically much like theatre or music.

This is also why only human children are seen living alongside faeries; they die of old age before they ever grow up. 

Fae of Wishes by Wylie Beckert
 

Cogitovore — Eaters of Thought

There is a whole category of spirits which draw energy not from calories or magic, but from sapient thought. Among them are angels/devils, spells, nature spirits, and (arguably) gods, all empowered and affected by the thoughts of others.

Emphin are feral cogitovores without an onus or guiding principle to align themselves by. They are sometimes believed to be proto-angeloids, and as a result many eventually ascend to angelhood. Until then, they are as cordial as you would expect a rogue spirit to be.

Emphin are shapeshifters who look like you’d expect them to. Their identity begins and ends with the expectations of others, and their bodies fluctuate as wildly as the rumors surrounding them. Only their size is fixed, scaling based on the number of people who know about them.

If your players are hunting an emphin, describe it in vague terms. The villagers will have conflicting accounts of what its appearance and abilities, and give it vague names like “the monster in the woods”. Right before they meet it, ask your players what they think the emphin looks like, then tailor its abilities to match.

CHOOSE THE FORM OF YOUR DESTRUCTOR

1d20
Emphin Rumors
1
It has many mouths and can skeletonize a cow in 30 seconds.
2
It flies on gossamer wings, but charges like a bear.
3
It cries acid and bleeds saltwater. It has an insect's maw.
4
It’s immune to fire, and spits flames from holes in its neck.
5
There are thousands of wasps in its mouth.
6
It can command undead. It’s afraid of holy symbols.
7
It eats soil and silt and regurgitates locusts.
8
It has gorgeous plumage and a long python-like neck.
9
It has a bird's beak and 2d8 additional heads all over its body.
10
It's lean like a panther and can tunnel through the earth like a mole.
11
It’s invisible.
12
Don’t look it in the eyes, or you’ll die from fright.
13
It’s actually a set of triplets.
14
It has a rhino's horns and shines like the sun when it roars.
15
It has claws the size of scythes, which weep cobra venom.
16
Its skin is harder than stone. Its mouth is long like a crocodile's.
17
It has two extra pairs of arms, which are always praying (+cleric spells).
18
It can speak, but only in blasphemies (+wizard spells).
19
It’s invulnerable to attacks by mortal men.
20
It’s actually pretty chill. Leave it alone.

They wouldn’t be such a big problem if everyone wasn’t so convinced that all emphin are monsters.


 

Drow, the Dark, and an Edgy GLOG Wizard

by Tyler Crook

This post is a bit of a chimaera, incorporating ideas about the Mythic Underworld, Advanced Darkness, and Arnold K.’s Book of Mice. The intersection between these works should give you a pretty good idea of the kind of stuff I try to write here.

Drow worship the Dark (note the capital D). In their stories, she is the God before all Gods, the Ur-Mother, the primeval ancestor of all living things. She is the starless night shackled beneath the earth and sea. She is parent and predator, giver and taker of breath and blood. She is the womb, the hungry crucible, the warm embrace of perpetual stillbirth.

The following enumerates the many beliefs of the drow.

The Dark is always making things. She is the source of all spontaneous generation, from the mouse born in the pile of grain to the dragon hatched on a hoard of gold. She is strongest in the lightless places, under bridges and in dungeons far below the surface, where she fosters her oldest and strangest offspring.

All living things are her children, or are descended from her children. This is why all life contains a fragment of the Dark, which is released into the air when the body is burned or decomposed. The drow know how to extract these fragments and refine them into Vanta, a carcinogenic venom which they use to wet their daggers. (save vs. volleyball-sized tumors)

Only the Dark can give life, for she is the mother of men as well as monsters. This is why offspring must develop in the womb or egg rather than out in the open.

[There are creatures born from light rather than Dark—angels/devils (same thing) as well as emphin and aasimar. The drow believe these are sterile constructs manufactured behind the moon or sun as enforcers of the Lumocentricity.]

Conjuration magic draws upon the Dark to manifest her children in the service of the caster, from unseen servants to summoned woodland creatures. Golems are usually created during a New Moon, when she is at her most powerful, as are undead.

[Because they are born from Dark, golems and undead are perceived as more alive than angels and devils. Liches and ghouls often hold surprising status in drow society.]

someone please tell me where this image is from
 

The Dark embodies the most natural animal state. She is savage, base, and uncivilized. All animal urges—greed, hunger, love, and so on—originate from the fragment of herself which resides in the liver; a doting mother guiding her child towards the most primal forms of satisfaction. Her favored children are the grue, vicious man-eaters who swim through the Dark like water.

Consumption and reproduction are the only virtues she abides. For this she is sometimes worshipped by druids, who abhor the laws of the civilized world as she does. The drow seek her favor through carnal worship and red-blooded atrocity. Their temples are built with gutters, which collect the runoff from their abominable rituals and feed it drop-wise to the hungry earth.

The Dark is forgiving. She harbors a deep hatred for the kingdoms of men, who betrayed their mother and drove her underground, yet she wants nothing more than for her children to return to her. This is why drow are the only mortal humanoids with true darkvision; those who earn her forgiveness can see without light, as they did in the age of the first kin.

This is the origin of undeath; If a body is not properly buried and sanctified, its stillness may be mistaken for repentance, and the Dark reclaims it. Necromancy is merely the practice of drawing her attention to a viable corpse.

This is also why doors close behind you in the dungeon; as one descends into the embrace of primeval darkness, she will do everything in her power to keep you just a moment longer.

Theological Conflict

The drow are a pretty backwards people, on multiple levels. They see light as the absence of darkness. Their vision is perfect in perfect darkness and dulled in direct light, the literal polar opposite of how everyone else sees the world. Their worship of the Dark reflects this backwards perspective, and vice versa

Drow theology may directly contradict the rest of your campaign world; that’s fine. Different cultures with incompatible worldviews are very true to life and make for interesting role-play, and as DM you can pick and choose which elements each culture gets right and which are left ambiguous.

If all else fails, history favors the victors. If the players can clear out a drow encampment, it will certainly be interpreted as a sign that their gods are more powerful than the Dark.

by Piotr Foksowicz
 

You can pledge yourself to the Dark for dope shit, at the cost of everyone at the table calling you an edgelord. 

Tenebrous Wizard 

This is a wizard school for the GLOG. (I considered writing a 5e Warlock Patron too, but the concept doesn't quite lend itself to a system with de-emphasized light mechanics.)

Perks 

You have true darkvision in pitch darkness; if you can see any light, your vision returns to normal. Grue do not appear to you.

Drawbacks

You cannot cast spells in direct sunlight or on targets standing in direct sunlight. 

Cantrips

  1. Dim or extinguish mundane light sources within 10’.
  2. Touch an egg/expectant mother’s stomach to learn the exact time of birth.
  3. Spend any number of Rations to summon half that many HD of vermin: flies, rats, pigeons, etc. They eat their way out of the Rations, as if they were always inside. They have no loyalty to you. 

Spells

Mostly stolen from here and here and also here oh and here too. I really like the abbreviated spell format Lexi's using for Sawn-Off, so that's here too. 

1. Rot
2. Fear
3. Light
4. Darkness
5. Enhance Senses
6. Aura of Warmth
7. Forge from Shadow
8. Control Light and Dark
9. Imperceptibility
10. Primal Descent
11. Create Life
12. Maw of the Dark 

Rot
An object you touch ages [dice] x [sum] years. Alternatively, a creature you touch takes 2 x [dice] damage and ages [sum] years. 

Fear
Up to [sum] HD of creatures within 50’ must Save vs Fear or take a morale check/flee from you. If [dice] >= 4, creatures unused to supernatural occurrences (peasants, domesticated dogs, etc.) must Save or age 2d10 years. 

Light
You bend darkness away from an object you touch for [sum] x 10 minutes. It shines as a torch. If [dice] >= 3, it shines as sunlight.
Alternatively, make an Attack roll against a sighted creature you can touch. If you succeed, the creature is blinded for [sum] rounds. If [sum] >= 12, it is permanent. 

Darkness
Darkness descends upon a [dice] x 10' radius sphere within 50’ for [sum] minutes. It drowns out mundane light sources and sunlight. If [dice] >= 2, it overpowers magical light sources. 

Enhance Senses
Choose [dice] senses. You enhance these senses for [sum] minutes. You have advantage on checks with these senses. 

Aura of Warmth
You and creatures within 5’ of you are immune to cold environmental conditions and take half damage from freezing attacks for [sum] hours. 

Forge from Shadow
You reach into the shadows and retrieve a mundane object, weapon, or tool no larger than a [dice]’ cube. It dissolves into shadows after [sum] minutes 

Control Light and Dark
You freely control light and dark in a [dice] x 10’ radius sphere within 50’ so long as you maintain concentration. You can cloak objects in darkness or displace light from its source, dim or extinguish light. 

Imperceptibility
Choose [dice] senses. You cannot be perceived with these senses for [sum] minutes. 

Primal Descent
Up to [sum] HD creatures within 30’ must save or have their higher brain functions reverted to a feral state for [dice] minutes. They have no loyalty to you and retain their base personalities, albeit in a much blunter form. 

Create Life
You conjure a [dice] HD creature into being after 30 minutes of casting. If it’s a humanoid, it dissolves into shadows after [sum] minutes. Otherwise, it dissipates after [sum] hours. If you roll triples, it lasts forever. 

Maw of the Dark
Up to [sum] HD of unwilling creatures (and any number of willing creatures) within 50’ must save or be swallowed by the Dark. They return after 2d10 hours, aged 2d10 years.

Mishaps

  1. MD only return on a 1-2 for 24 hours.
  2. Take 1d6 damage.
  3. Random mutation for 1d6 rounds, then Save. Permanent if you fail.
  4. The Dark rejects you. You lose your darkvision for 1d4 days.
  5. The Dark rejects you. You emit 5’ direct sunlight for 1d4 hours.
  6. The Dark rejects you. You taste and smell delicious to dungeon dwellers for 1d4 hours. The DM rolls 3 Encounter Dice for each Encounter Check and takes the lowest.

Dooms

  1. The Dark whispers to you, and you listen. You treat bright light as dim light. You become an obligate carnivore, and require meaty rations (cost double and go bad quickly).
  2. The Dark makes a few suggestions, and you oblige. You are blinded by bright light. You can no longer read or write, except when it comes to spells.
  3. You can hear the Dark calling you home. When you next enter a dark place below the earth, such as a dungeon or cellar, you wander off and are never seen again. You slip through cracked stonework into the earth and return to the Dark, becoming a child of the mythic dungeon. You are completely feral, perhaps even a goblin lord or grue.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Belliserum's Mind Palace (2/2)

by Francois Schuiten

Thanks again to my amazing girlfriend, who inspired and basically co-authored this whole dungeon.

Read part 1 here.

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Belliserum’s Mind Palace (1/2)

by Bruce Pennington

 All credit to my wonderful girlfriend, who inspired and basically co-authored this entire dungeon.

EDIT: Part 2 is up

Our tale begins, as all tales in fantasy roleplaying games must, with a wizard. Belliserum of the Vaste was a master of the arcane arts, yet she was a human wizard with human limitations, and the mortal mind only has so much space for arcane formulae and esoteric knowledge. Worse still, in her advanced age, Belliserum found herself plagued by pathological forgetfulness (her contemporaries had no name for this phenomenon at the time). In typical wizardly fashion, Belliserum devised a solution bordering on madness: a physical castle within which her memories could be safely kept.

The Mind Palace was designed as a direct extension of its master’s brain. Information was encoded in every book, brick, and tapestry, which were carefully copied and restored by a retinue of curators. Belliserum could then access this knowledge from anywhere on the material plane via a phenomenally clever bidirectional scrying spell, the nature of which has been lost to history.

Of course, she’s dead now—has been for many centuries—but the palace remains. It was originally sealed in an underground cavern below the Vaste, until a sudden sinkhole and subsequent excavation revealed its ivory-white spires to the world. Nowadays, scholars and thieves alike delve into the Mind Palace to translate its arcane secrets... or sell them to the highest bidder. These mercantile agents don’t take kindly to competition, but perhaps they are preferable to the palace’s original inhabitants: curators of the upper cortex, and nightmares born wholesale from the dead wizard’s malfunctioning brain-castle.

Perhaps your party is on the payroll of some ambitious merchant-lord, or perhaps they seek forgotten truths for their own sake. Roll a d12 to see which potentially game-ending information they’re hunting for.

1d12
Dead Wizard Secrets
1
The true name of a real bastard of a devil
2
The favorite foods of each member of the faerie judiciary (as with most elements of faerie culture, the judiciary’s membership has not changed in centuries, trapped in whimsical torpor)
3
Where the giants went
4
Blueprint: anachronistic technology (gunpowder/telegraph/tandem bicycles/really anything your players want)
5
The location of an unguarded hellhole not even Satan knows about
6
Blueprint: The original Bag of Holding
7
Ritual of the Covenant of Accursed Mortality (allows gods to be killed permanently)
8
Recipe: Immortality elixir, but with a catch
9
How to raise/train/befriend/debate your own dragons
10
Lyrics to the Song of Twilight’s Revival (restores elven fertility)
11
“Unbody me tomorrow” (memetic cure-all vaccine)
12
Spell: Belliserum’s Bolster Intellect (allows information exchange between the caster and the Mind Palace, forever)

 

Giulio Camillo Delminio's "theatre of memory"
 

There are four dangers inherent to the Mind Palace. I’ll discuss two of them here and follow up later this week.

The Palace

The Mind Palace is an architectural abomination, a mass of bone-white turrets and bartizans at odd angles, as if a thousand castles were swept into a pile and mortared together where they lay. The inside is a labyrinth of stairwells leading to gardens leading to master bedrooms leading to wine cellars, connected by a confounding array of vertical corridors and twisting crawlspaces.

Every square inch of the palace is crawling with information—books full to bursting with loose pages, paintings and carvings so intricate they make your head swim—and if you watch closely you’ll see it all changing in waves. Tiny ripples in the masonry pass from room to room, leaving the engravings ever so slightly different from what they were. These ripples accumulate in size, and if a big enough ripple forms, entire rooms will move.

Whenever the party rests in the palace, there is movement. Roll twice for extended rests. These apply to previously explored rooms unless otherwise stated.

1d12
Palace Movements
1
The room the players are resting in drops one level down.
2
An explored room disappears. The players may rediscover it later, repopulated.
3
A connection between two explored rooms disappears.
4 - 7
The movement occurs somewhere else in the palace (no effect on the known map).
8 - 9
A connection to a new room appears.
10
A connection to a new room on a different level appears.
11
A new room appears between two explored rooms.
12
The room the players are resting in raises one level up.

Whenever the party enters an unexplored room, roll a d6. On a 1-3, it’s a scriptorium, an etched stone chamber full of bookcases and tables for copying manuscripts. Roll on the encounter table to see what’s up in there. Otherwise, the room is one of the following you haven't explored yet:

1d6
Rooms in the Mind Palace
1
The Pit: A 40’x40’x100’ hole where a room should be. There are 2-4 doors visible on the walls and ceiling, all leading to different rooms/dungeon levels. The walls are slick with shadow, and a low moaning echoes from the horribly dark pit floor. There is no monster; it is an aspect of the decay, calling hungrily for more knowledge. If you feed it, you’ll gain its favor. If you fall in, you’ll be in the deep palace, and that’s probably punishment enough.
2
The Market: An open plaza dominated by a circular meeting table. Doors in all 4 cardinal directions. 2d6 curators are here, split evenly between two factions (roll 1d4 for each side’s identity). They’re trading heavy parchment strips and book binding materials for gear clearly looted from another adventuring party. If the players play their cards right, they can barter for anything on the table. The parchment strips are more valuable than they appear: they’re components for creating a new curator.
3
The Elevator: A 10’x10’x50’ vertical stone shaft with unusually high ripple activity. The door to the next room is at the top of the shaft, overlooking a sheer drop. An enormous book is affixed to the central lectern which, when opened, poses a series of nonsense riddles. The palace accepts any answer, raising or lowering the floor by 20’ per answer depending on its plausibility. Two plausible/implausible answers in a row should be enough to go up/down a floor. With repeated suggestions via this Q&A process, the chamber can be coaxed to produce a single mundane item per day.
4
The Garden: A dimly lit room full of tattered, translucent fabric growing in sheets from the ceiling. 1d4+1 curators are here, two of whom are harvesting the fabric while the rest transcribe memories. They complain about the absolute state of the place and how myelin once grew thick and healthy. If you do them a favor or offer enough stuff, they might let you take a few napkins’ worth. Wearing myelin around one’s head grants a +1 vs. fear/charm/mental enchantments in general.
5
The Cradle: An unsettlingly organic room, where the stone and brick flows like flesh into twisted spires. Tendrils of stoneflesh descend from the ceiling to converge into a throne in the center of the room, within which rests the remains of a human in fine silks. In his hand rests a locket, which contains two feathers of different colors. If you lie in the cradle and recount one of your memories, the memory will disappear from your mind.
6
The Gate: A tall, dark room with a tall, dark gate. There’s a normal exit to the side that you really should take instead. Ignore the tall gate. There is nothing behind it worth seeing. There is nothing behind it you want to see. There’s seven great stone locks, and all the keys have been hidden and broken and destroyed. (Behind the door is tiny pamphlet of memetic curses wrapped in rose petals the size of wagon wheels. Reading it grants visions of the future (advantage on all rolls) and sets your health to 0 for as long as you know the secret. If you tell someone else the secret, you no longer know the secret. Alternatively, it causes instantaneous brain death, depending on your DM style.)

Whenever the party searches a room for the first time in the Mind Palace, they find a stone key. They can also find stone keys in the bellies of monsters, or in unique rooms.


The Monsters

The upper levels of the Mind Palace are, for the most part, as they were during Belliserum’s life: immaculate, structured, and full to bursting with concrete information. The deep palace, however, is dirty, disorganized, and overrun with concepts and emotions given form. This is what happens to information in the Mind Palace when it decays: between an illegible jumble and nothingness, the idea begins to revolt against its slow demise and leaps from a symbolic existence to a literal one.

Down in the deep palace, where the decay is most prevalent, there are very few salvageable memories. What remains of the place is overrun with instincts, primal urges, and reflexes made manifest. That doesn’t mean its entirely devoid of interest—it’s a curator-free shortcut between most locations, and loose memories tend to fall down there when no one is paying attention—but you’ll want to steer clear unless you have a really good reason to wander into monster territory.

Luckily for the DM, monsters have none of the same qualms about wandering into your territory.

1d6
Deep Palace Monsters
1
Phantom Limb: In the corner of this room is an incomplete suit of armor kneeling on the ground next to a handful of phalanges. The first character to approach it looks down and watches their arm come right off their body, no save. The disembodied limb will hover near its owner, stealing from/attacking them and generally being a nuisance. Damage dealt to the limb is also dealt to the original owner… because its still attached. The monster is a tangle of invisible tentacles spilling out of the armor. It tricks your brain into thinking of your own limbs as a hostile entity in the hopes that you’ll cut it off and leave it behind.
2
Amygdala: A large, spindly, eight-limbed humanoid with a head like a sopping wet sponge. It waits in the corner of the room, hunched over and shivering with what appears to be excitement, staring at the party with unblinking intensity. It’s deathly afraid of you, and fights like a cornered rat. Behind it is the door to the next room. If you start attacking from outside of its range, it’ll fly into a frenzy and leap at you (HD 8, or whatever seems appropriately unreasonable). Getting its blood on you (its constantly dripping out of its sponge-face) provokes pure fear; save vs. charm or be piss-your-pants terrified of it and anything that reminds you of it, forever.
3
Earworm: A flying, pink ribbon worm humming at a strange frequency. It hunts by vomiting its branching proboscis in a cone and drinking blood through it. It’s slow, soft, and collapses into brackish sludge when slain. Any living being who hears its song must save vs. charm or become a host for the Earworm. When the host goes to sleep, the earworm rematerializes from their dreams and begins to feed on them as they sleep. The only way to get rid of it for good is to remove it from your memory.
4
Isnt: You aren’t alone, but nothing is in the room with you. One of Belliserum’s mostly-intentional creations, designed to guard the palace from intruders. It’s an anti-mimetic, a self-censoring idea you can’t think about for more than a few seconds at a time. Stats as whatever you want it to not be. It can only be described in terms of what it is not: It isn’t blue. It isn’t small. It isn’t next to our fighter. It isn’t dead yet. It won’t attack unless you’ve wronged the palace in some way, but you can’t loot this room while it isn’t in a different room. (Pinning down its location is the first challenge, but once your players figure out a strategy, you can assume they know where it is.)
5
Homunculi: Diminutive humanoids with oversized hands, feet, lips, and genitals. They typically travel in packs of 2d6 and move like toddlers in clown shoes. Whatever they feel, the rest of the world must feel as well: hurting them will make everyone in a 40’ radius hurt, and caressing them will make everyone in a 40’ radius uncomfortable. Constructs are immune to this effect. They’re attracted to light, warmth, music, and smiling. 50% chance to be encountered as 1d4 Homunculi accompanied by a patrol of curators, who find them repulsive and use them as meat shields/anti-human grenades.
6
Oblitus: An old hag with milky, vacant owls eyes, cackling to no one in particular. Those who meet her gaze are stunned (save vs. charm), standing dazed as their party members appear to be fighting an empty room for no reason (on a successful save, they are slowed instead. make another check each turn they meet the hag's gaze). If all party members are stunned at once, go ahead and fast forward to the moment where the party collectively snaps out of their daze and realizes their pinky fingers have been bitten off. The Oblitus can see into the minds of those she locks eyes with, gaining access to their spells. If you’re harboring a memetic disease/parasite, she’ll take it from you (often to her detriment). The curators can’t see her.


by Brendan McCarthy

 History of the Palace (DM stuff)

The Mind Palace was more than a simple vault. It was capable of learning, constantly sprouting new towers and hallways to accommodate the wizard’s intellectual appetite. Eventually, Belliserum learned to sublet sections of the palace to perform complex calculations for her, allowing the architecture to think without direct supervision. Sometimes, it would even surprise her.

Right before Belliserum’s death, the palace was doing most of her thinking for her. At the time, she likely attributed her sense of self more to the palace than to the decrepit old woman it was attached to, whose gradually encroaching senility she so feared. Those who visited and cared for the physical Belliserum in her final years observed that she spoke of herself in the third person, and of the palace in the first.

It is unclear when exactly the switch occurred, but at some point the Mind Palace disconnected itself from its master. The old woman died peacefully in her sleep.

Some curators attest that Belliserum lives on in the circuitry of her creation, keeping herself busy with logical puzzles and theoretical doomsday devices. It would certainly explain all the new artifacts appearing in the palace; she’s prototyping.

After the death of her body, Belliserum lost her primary means of perceiving the outside world. She’s definitely gone a bit insane after a few centuries of near sensory deprivation. Whether or not she is aware of the adventurers wandering around in her brain is unclear, but the riddles she poses to the palace’s inhabitants seem to suggest that she’s probing them, either for knowledge or entertainment. 

Next Post (hopefully): Curators, Outsiders, Treasures, and The End

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

5 Sewer Rave-inspired monsters to invite to your rad houseparty


Acquired Sewer Rave in an itch.io bundle, and it’s great. There’s something about the discordant rave music, the flat character sprites, the endless teleporting from room to room (all doors, even the ones you just came out of, lead randomly to all other rooms) that's so wonderfully weird.

It sort of reminds me of the “mythic underworld”. Some of the rooms are just tunnels with rats and stinky water, but lots of them are ~special~ or downright batshit, connected to the other rooms not by logic but by association with a goofy, rat-filled, “mythical shithole”.

 

Possum Queen
HD 2  Defense unarmored  Bite 1d4
Move 25  Int 10  Morale 4
Special speaks with rats

A hairless, bloated possum-human-hybrid, reclining in a pile of trash and wearing a little silver crown. Hangs two different keys around her neck, but will only trade for other unique keys. Loves fruit, disdains gossip, demands respect. Worshipped by rats; if you harm her, be prepared to fight 2d6 rats for every room on this dungeon level.

Hoarding Snake
HD 4  Defense as chain  Bite 1d12
Move 10  Int 12  Morale 6
Special harmless swallow

A massive brown python in a pit full of (illusory) gold. Extremely lethargic, mostly eats greedy humanoids. Hungry, deceitful, and dismissive of anything smaller than her. Complains constantly about the pain of indigestion. Will trade whatever loot the last adventuring party was carrying for meat or companionship. Can hold up to three small humanoids in her gullet harmlessly; a nameless gnome is in there right now, mashing up and cleaning the snake’s food before she swallows it.

The Subway

Not a monster(?), but a room that extends into absolute darkness, impenetrable by torchlight. If you brandish a key, close your eyes, and walk straight into the darkness, you have a 70% chance of finding the matching door at the end of the tunnel, and a 30% chance of finding a totally different, unlocked door at the end of the tunnel. 10% chance the door leads to a lower dungeon level, 5% chance it leads to the surface. Offering a sacrifice to the darkness improves your odds of finding the right door (you’ll hear it eating messily; it sounds like fabric tearing).

Calcucat
HD 3  Defense as leather  Claws 1d6
Move 20  Int 10  Morale 8
Special pocket dimension

Tall anthropomorphic cats with spiral eyes and zero concept of lateral thinking. Pull you into extradimensional mazes to solve puzzles for them, either as a punishment or in trade for something. Solutions to these puzzles are monitored and recorded, then traded between outsiders as currency (basically fantasy bitcoin miner cats). Offer silver tools in trade (silver is an outsider metal), mostly for extremely specific uses like dream extraction and pore filling.

In combat, they’ll try to slap all but one party member into extra dimensional mazes. You can always escape the maze if you have the solution (they don’t make the mazes, just send people into them), but by that time your companion is probably slashed to death. Travel in teams of 1d4+1.

Totekni
HD 1  Defense unarmored  Bite 1d6
Move 30  Int 14  Morale 2
Special can move through small gaps, repelled by Turn Undead

Appears as a faun with wide eyes and opposable thumbs. Disdains torchlight. Hovers on the periphery of your torch radius, waiting for it to go out. Disintegrates into smoke when cornered/slain, leaving behind a despicable onyx shard which must be consecrated in holy water before the Totekni reforms. Bifurcated lower jaw.

Picks up abandoned loot, so keep an eye on inventory/encumbrance in the deeper levels. The more manufactured goods it picks up, the more human it becomes. Curious and quick to learn. Potentially useful as a native pack mule, although getting the loot back can be tricky. Whispers in the darkness: “share? won’t you? share?”

no description could do justice to stabby possum
no stats, because he'll whup your ass, end of story