Friday, January 25, 2013

A Watery Danger, David McLouth's D6L1

This is one of the many, many maps created by David McLouth in the 1980s.  Some of my all time favorite holdings of the archive, the McLouth maps are different enough from any published mapping style to deserve remark.  The closest relative might be the TSR Dungeon Geomorphs, their influence is much clearer in other examples - there's even a keyed geomorph in the collection which proves that McLouth was looking and using such tools.

Flipping through the archive looking for a map for an academic project I came across this particular example, DM186DungeonSixL1_A, and I felt like I saw it for the first time.  The river is pretty amazing in that the curly-Q of river in the upper right actually circles back underneath itself, I think, which makes for a pretty exciting piece of dungeon dressing.  Whoever gets in that little red boat just to the left of the curve is in for an exciting ride. 

Unfortunately the river doesn't show up in the lower levels of the dungeon, the back of this page had an incomplete map and Level 2 on a separate sheet of paper doesn't pick up the swooping, dropping river.  It's possible that the arrow in the curly-Q is actually the start of the river, that it drops down from above and then exits the paper left.  This is support by the passageway leading into the triangular 77 room being shown as under the water.  

Whether the river goes up or down it's certainly going to be a rushing torrent, and this immediately made me fear for the long term life of this dungeon.  The usual conceit of a dungeon setting is that it's many centuries old, and when you start talking about long periods of time and rushing water we have to think about erosion and flooding.  There's no reason to think that there isn't sufficient drainage to avoid a flood where passageways open into the river (though Dwarf Fortress might indicate that such is always a possibility), but given enough time the river will bite its way through the rock and flood whatever in the complex is below water level - this is especially unfortunate news for everything below level one.

What a fantastic way to clear a dungeon, flooding it with water.  It might take weeks, but most everything that needed air would be done away with or severely inconvenienced and all the durable goods like gold and magical items that adventurers crave should be fine.