Epic Dungeon in the Playground
Little known to most, the origins of Castle Abomination are indeed rather innocent. In a plane far from here, the a child goddess, beloved by her parents, was gifted a magical, living castle for her to grow up in. It moved about and did whatever she asked. Then, however, she asked it to show her the Abyss and all the demons inside. The castle, unable to refuse her wish, began to move itself to the deepest layer of the abyss, where it was killed instantly by a demon of unfathomable power.
The demon entered into the throne room of the castle, expecting to find some fool wizard that thought he could destroy the demons once and for all with his “all-powerful” magic. Instead, he found a weeping girl, the daughter of one of his most powerful enemies. Thinking quickly, he turned into an elderly man, and offered to teach the girl how to bring her castle back to life. She accepted, and he did—by teaching her necromancy.
Now the castle roams the planes, a mass of stonework and passageways and towers, changing shape constantly as it grows and creeps across the land. In some planes, Castle Abomination is seemingly still, perhaps merely a tower or keep sitting innocently on a hill, perhaps an entire fortress with walls and moat and grant inner castle, but most of it lies across the layers of the abyss, a veritable city of rotting stone.
1-5 takes place in a large castle that appeared seemingly out of nowhere on the outskirts of (insert large city). The players are at first treated as honorable guests by a young man who claims to be the lord of this castle, along with a host of robed and hooded servants. In actuality, the servants are undead and the young man an aspiring necromancer, who found this castle and realized it to be a greater thing that it first appeared. He has been staying in it for a few years as it moved about the material plane, trying to crack it’s secrets.
This part of the dungeon will be rather free-form, with the players trying to crack the mystery of the castle, eventually finding out part of the truth behind the castle. The players will eventually fight against the aspiring necromancer for a key, which opens a door in the basement that leads to the rest of the castle in another plane.
6-10 will be spent in the castle’s shadowfell section, where a group of Shadar-kai have used a powerful crystal to bind the castle to the plane, keeping it from moving back to the ethereal plane and somewhat stabilizing it. Horror and paranoia will be the main themes here. The various shadar-kai, each a powerful shadow-themed NPC, have been influenced by the demonic energies of the castle and have turned against each other, waging a silent war within the castle using undead minions.
The players will eventually have to pick one of the shadar-kai to ally themselves with, and help them destroy or obtain the crystal, depending on who they decide to help. In any case, a the end of it the crystal will no longer be holding the castle on the shadowfell, and it will revert to the astral plane while the shadar-kai make their escape.
11-15 takes place in the castle’s astral plane section, of which the part that was bound to the shadowfell is just a small section. Constant change and movement of the castle means nothing is certain. Here, the insane remains of a god, in fact the father that made the castle in the first place, controls the castle to some degree. (think castle Heterodyne) Eventually, the players will have to help the dead god re-gain his sanity by killing the various figments of his mind that he has created in his long stay here, and forming together his few remaining sane parts.
The theme here is change and the mindscape of the dead god. The castle might be formed into the vision of a young girl playing with blocks, building and re-shaping a large block castle, for example. Then, upon entering the room, the entire castle begins to crumble and the girl screams and disappears. The players should never really feel in control of the situation, though sanity should start to become more prevalent as they restore the dead god’s sanity. Eventually, they fully restore his sanity, and the god tells the full, dread tale of the castle.
16-20 takes place in the Abyss, and this is a full-on fight against the demon who killed the castle, who himself is a powerful necromancer. The main theme here is danger at every turn. Combat is dangerous, always fighting powerful demons and undead, as well as many traps and animated sections of the castle. Eventually the players will confront and kill the demon.
21-23 will involve trying to find young goddess, with the aid of the dead god, who has some control over the castle even here, now that the demon is dead. Eventually the goddess is found, but it seems that she is completely insane and corrupted by a mix of her despair, the influence of the demon and the castle, and the strain of keeping the castle alive with her limited divine power. The dead father realizes this, but still tries to convince the party to try and restore her sanity the same way they did his.
Eventually, this fails, or the father is convinced to help anyways, and the dungeon culminates with an epic battle against the daughter, who upon being threatened forms much of the castle into a giant monster. The players have to fight their way inside of the castle and kill the daughter. The players then have to escape the rapidly collapsing castle, arriving on the material plane just as the castle they first entered collapses and it’s link to the ethereal plane closes.