Thoughts From a Dwarf III: Some Notes on Dragon’s Delve and the State of Magic in the World

Misc by Arxaggus Add comments

The more we explore Dragon’s Delve, the more me mates and I realize that it’s just one never-ending puzzle.

From what lore we’ve learned, and from what sections of it we’ve personally explored, we know that the Delve is a multi-level installation constructed on a ley line of arcane power.  Its subsections are sprawling complexes unto themselves and are inhabited by different assortments of monsters, which imbue each level with its own unique flavor.

The first two levels are of “traditional” dungeon design.  The Delve’s top level was inhabited by orcs and goblinoids and the occasional ogre, who worshipped an entity they called the Bestial Horde.  The only other notable landmarks were a magical vault and a shrine devoted to some manner of lunar demigoddess, who is imprisoned somewhere on a lower level.  We’ve yet to find her.  The second was much like the first, inhabited by some gnolls and owlbears.  It was also home to a magical fountain, which was destroyed by Elios and the Doc.  We rescued a half-mad halfling and managed to give him a nice home in town.

The third level is nought more than a typical cave at the depth of the water table.  We had some fun inhaling hallucinogenic fungi and fighting some fish-men, but the main attraction of that level isn’t much more than a curiosity.  Perhaps, if we were dragonkin, the bloodline rock would be more important to us.

The fourth is not tied to our reality in any physical sense.  Used as a prison by a human who called himself the Red Saint, the mind-bending, extra-dimensional tesseract was home to a damned rust monster and staffed by golem sentries constructed out of nails.  Otherwise, the prison was remarkably empty with the exception of the main “vault”, where all of the high security inmates were, uh, stored.  We killed a troll that dwelled therein but were kinder to the others.  Arpunia rescued a hippogryph, which now serves as a faithful mount for the warrioress.  Also imprisoned there was a civilized ogre, whom we put to work at the Hob, and a human warrior of dubious character, whom we released under his own recognizance, possibly to our own peril at some point in the future.

The fifth, like the fourth, was designed for a very specific purpose.  The majority of the rooms and hallways are enclosed by a field of lightning generators; many of the interior chambers were inhabited by disfigured amalgamations of existing beasts.  It’s clear the place was used as a laboratory to create horrific monsters, although why is unknown.   The Band will require another trip there to discern the importance of the frost-filled chamber.  The main draw of this level, in me opinion, is a room that somehow leads directly into a lush, outdoor forest.  We’ve a passing mention in our notes of a tropical island which may or may not be the place this chamber leads to.

Also worthy of mention was a small side trip to an unknown location that I believe was somewhere in the Delve.  Chaster, the previously mentioned halfling, is a wizard of some skill and has the ability to temporarily open circles of teleportation.  Elios is somewhat obsessed with these things and is convinced there’s a network of these circles in strategic places on this continent, waiting for anyone who would venture to discover them and activate them.  If true, it would dramatically cut down on travel times to distant places of interest in this land.

Shockingly, Dragon’s Delve is but a single dungeon in a much larger world.  I say “shockingly” because, given the attitude of some of me mates, the Delve is the only point of interest in all of Westhaven.  Old Man Elios, for example, refuses to venture outside at all if his destination isn’t the Delve.  He claims he has a degree specializing in arcane lore from some human university on the other side of the Great Sea, but I fail to see the usefulness, or relevance, of such things here, because of one important realization about our world…

Magic is dying.  This simple fact is reinforced by exploring only a few hours outside of Westhaven’s high walls.  The Delve is likely the most glaring example of this statement, although there are indicators scattered throughout the territories we’ve explored in the past year.

This continent is largely uninhabited, though signs of past civilization abound.  Ruined towns and outposts dot the landscape in every direction from Westhaven, hinting at a once-grand society now lost to history.  We know that humans and dwarves once dwelled here some centuries ago, but now only the uncivilized races call this place home.  The Delve itself is of dwarven construction, and we have uncovered other places that were also built by me brethren.  By the writings and relics left behind by these ancients, we know that magic was once a powerful pervasive force, used by only those skilled enough to harness it.  I’m pretty smart but I just can’t grasp the concept of an all-encompassing field of invisible energy.

For whatever reasons, this energy field went into a state of decline an unknown number of years ago.  Despite our best investigative efforts, we’ve yet to discern the cause.  It’s possible the answer lies at the bottom of the Delve, although it may just as well lie on the other side of the continent.  There may not be an answer at all, which would certainly drive some of us mad.  Whatever the cause, the results are rather clear: the world and those who live in it are left without magic.  Artifacts that served an arcane purpose in the past have lost their enchantments, rendering them unusable or at best, unreliable.  We have gathered many weapons, sets of armor, and other trinkets that hummed with mystical energy, only to have that energy fade when we attempted to use them.

It’s clear to me now why adventuring fell out of fashion.  Given the widespread existence of supernatural creatures, many of which are not native to our reality, it seems only logical to combat them using magic of your own.  Steel armor offers no protection against a conjured ball of flame, and the edge of a plain sword often fails to penetrate a thick hide bolstered by the effects of a demon’s native realm.  Once magic faded, so too did the ability to combat many of these beasties, some of which the Band has already encountered.  The civilized races’ control over this land waned in concert with their command of magical energies, until eventually they only claimed what little territory lies within The Edge of the World.  However long this dark period lasted, it was surely the worst in Westhaven’s existence.

Me mates and I are the first generation of a new species of adventurer.  Having no magical crutches to rest upon, we trained ourselves to use exhaust every resource, exploit every maneuver, and summon every ounce of strength to lead us to victory.  I believe that the warriors from the ancient sagas could not hope to best any one of us in single combat.  We are stronger without magic; the very proof is clear even when examining the Band’s various members.

We are still learning and, perhaps most importantly, we are sharing our knowledge with others.  I have already written of how the Band’s activities has triggered a massive influx of money and manpower into Westhaven.

This appears to be a work in progress.  Ox never had a chance to finish his train of thought, as he was interrupted by important matters in the north.

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