Dungeons in Practice
Contrary to expectations, Adventure sites – Dungeons – are very rarely discovered by Adventurers. Most of the time they’re stumbled upon by some hapless hunter, or livestock start disappearing, or the local wizard stops coming into town for supplies. Whatever the cause and whatever the nature of a Dungeon, Adventurers typically encounter it late in the site’s lifecycle.
Commoners are usually the first point of contact, for good or for ill. A farmer turns up a strange cave in their field, something tunnels into the basement of an inn, a woodsman discovers a tower that wasn’t there last season. Sometimes investigation of a problem like missing livestock or strange lights can lead to the discovery of something worse.
At this point a community will typically have one of three reactions:
- The first is an attempt to resolve the situation themselves, but commoners infiltrating dungeons seldom works out for the best.
- The second is trying to ignore it and cover it up, either by simply avoiding the area or more directly sealing it off somehow.
- In the third case, the locals prepare for the inevitable arrival of the Adventurers.
If the dungeon is near enough to town, this involves various merchants shifting their inventories to feature goods designed to cater to Adventurers, the sending away for tradesmen offering services not typically needed in the community, and the establishment of a market for hirelings. An adventuring party passing through can spend more coin in a few days than the locals see in a year, so nearby entrepreneurs will flock to what quickly becomes an ‘Adventure Boomtown,’ both to serve the needs of the adventurers, and to take care of the attracted tradesmen.
If the Dungeon site is farther from the local community, an impromptu shantytown will spring up, populated by the same tradesmen. This may be within sight of the Dungeon entrance itself, but it’s more likely on the edge of the dangerous wilderness region that surrounds the Dungeon. Such communities often fade away after the Dungeon has been played out.
In both cases, matters are often organized by members of the ancient Dungeon Keeper’s Guild, men and women skilled at knowing how best to cater to Adventurers to quickly and efficiently relieve them of whatever treasure they recover down below.
The Adventurers Arrive
Inevitably word will get out to the Adventurers themselves, possibly via runners sent to inform the closest Adventurers’ Guilds of the opportunity. The Adventurers arrive to find a community or camp set up to cater to their needs. Depending on the depth and the scope of the Dungeon, it may support only one such company on a few delves, or it may persist through multiple companies’ attempts to conquer it.
Knowing how big of a Boomtown a Dungeon can support is one of the primary duties of a Dungeon Keeper.
As Adventurers return from the depths, they find money-changers to sell their gems to, magic item vendors to buy their surplus, and taverns to quench their thirst. Once they’ve rested, the Adventurers can prepare for another dive down into the depths, or move on if they’ve had enough.
Dungeons Never Die
Eventually the Adventurers will clear a dungeon out and move on, and the merchants of the Boomtown move on as well, seeking out the next opportunity. Life returns to normal in the community, for a time, but a large unoccupied underground complex is a tempting home for many beasts and secret societies. Eventually, the Dungeon ecology will replenish itself, and the call of Adventure will go out once more, the grand cycle starting anew.