So I read a lot of other blogs by better writers than me, and they’re smarter and more creative game-masters than me. So it only stands to reason I’m gonna take some of their ideas and concepts and make them my own. Here is one I call “The Anglerfish Dilemma”.
So, a Dungeon Based Economy is the trope that dungeons are good or necessary for economic sustainment/boom, right? There was a post I wish I could find a while back explaining it, but basically the gist is, in a world where you have teleporting wizards and invisible wind-men, banks and treasuries just aren’t that safe. Hence dungeons to the rescue: wizards can teleport around, and inside of a dungeon, but not into or out of. So dungeons are effectively better banks. If you now see your adventurers as heist-planning bank robbers and all dungeon accoutrements as security measures, you’ve got the right idea. I mean, one of them is probably literally playing a Thief.
And then there is another thought process: Dungeons are a malign reality invading our own. I don’t know who wrote it first, but I first bumped into the concept on a review of “The Nightmares Underneath” by Johnstone Metzger on another blog. I immediately fell in love with the idea: that there is another world pressing ever so slightly into ours, or maybe just... breaking down the walls a little. And that those who go through those gates step into a literal Hell fashioned to look like a dungeon. It explains so much. It’s like the movie Cube, and also Pacific Rim. It’s where monsters come from, and why. Why is the whole reality doing this? Who knows? Better question: why try to fathom an alien and extra-dimensional intellect?
Now for the real fun: in my homebrew world, both of these are true. Dungeons, especially Megadungeons, are a sadistic and utterly incomprehensible world testing the boundaries of our own. And you can’t teleport into or out of them. Because Hell is the best bank ever made. What’s even better is that this reality makes silver and gold and magic treasures. Literally baiting adventurers to become bloodstains and gnawed bones in mouldering crypts. So, there’s interest. Beautiful, shining, compound interest. And for those cunning or brave enough, they seek to cultivate dungeons, which is half of why wizards build towers. It’s why castles have (traditional) dungeons. It’s why the foolish and the insane take up torches and swords and climbing gear and start crawling through caves.
Because the Anglerfish has beautiful, shiny bait, rats return to it. Some rats get lucky, some get smart, but the trap always has teeth and an appetite. And sooner or later, luck runs out. Plans fail, and when it does, the Anglerfish gets a meal.
One it’s waited for for a long, long time.