View Full Version : What to do with a network of tunnels? (mostly 4th edition or at least low magic)

2010-05-29, 04:41 PM
Here's an idea for a dungeon:

A tribe of kobolds or another digging race have decided to construct a wide-reaching network of tunnels that spread all across the land (and possibly the world if they can get enough diggers involved). They reason that the surface world is full of all sorts of dangers like monster tribes and giant flying things while in underground tunnels big things are at a disadvantage.

Their basic goal is to create a network of tunnels which they could use to make money (to buy supplies and good food and stuff) and provide them with an advantage over other surface kingdoms. Of course, they would need plenty of diggers and workers to excavate and build the tunnels, along with someone to design it, and guards and various traps to ensure threats don't get in and paying customers can move around (at least in the areas they are allowed in).

They would allow others to use their tunnels (provided they pay for it), and would be interested in having guards and occasionally build tunnels underneath cities and towns to bypass fortifications (even if they don't plan on attacking right away, its always a good idea to have something on hand in case they do want to start an invasion... or alternately complete the tunnel to help out an ally under siege).

Assume its in the heroic tier of 4th edition or at least they can't pull off much in the way of magic cheese. They would still need contact with the surface to get food.

2010-05-29, 04:45 PM
It could also be an interesting plot hook when bits collapse due to faulty engineering or old age, perhaps revealing paths that have grown out of use (due to more expedient ones being dug or the digger finding something unpleasant and barricading it in).

2010-05-29, 04:54 PM
Since the tunnels are small that means large-scale transportation using them would be out of the question. Anything being transported via the tunnels would have to have a really high value/mass. As such I see a lot of smuggling and illegal activity going through these tunnels.

Governments and the like might use them to transport machinery and such in secret, though the size limitations create some problems.

I see the tunnels being intentionally difficult to navigate unless you're properly trained, know how to read a special map, have a certain magic bauble, etc...

It also occurs to me that if governments know about these tunnels they might take measures to protect their cities (provided they have the resources)

2010-05-29, 04:56 PM
There's lots of ways you can go with that.

Contingencies (dig under cities), trade (but this one has a catch: Merchant caravans want big tunnels to move more goods, the diggers want smaller tunnels for security), and so on.

The simplest method of security is, of course, a controlled cave-in to seal off the tunnels at certain points. Trigger manually, keep a guard on watch to do so. Doesn't help if a paying customer turns on you, but it's something (and it can help with that - you just need parallel networks of tunnels - customer tunnels and trusted people only tunnels).

Then there's the "The tunnels stopped here because they found something", and "Someone's collapsing our tunnels because they think we're spying/smuggling" (true or not), there's "Someone is systemically invading the tunnels, taking them over for their own use", and so on.

2010-05-29, 06:04 PM
Underground rivers/streams would allow rapid transport of heavy items underground.

The New Bruceski
2010-05-29, 07:34 PM
Ever dig into an anthill as a kid? Suddenly there's a seething carpet of angry red ants swarming up the shovel, your legs, and anything else they can find.

Now imagine if the kobolds tapped into a giant anthill or a colony of ant-men (D&D has those, right? Formians or something?)