Hydra Keep

Not named for an resident beast, but for the multitude of winding, mazelike passages fraught with danger.


Nestled in the mountains at the end of a valley lays a fortress unlike any other. Not for it's scale or strength, but for the fact that it's designed to prevent breaches from either inside or outside.
Being the only point in the mountains to cross from one warring kingdom to the next, a Keep was built to prevent an invading army from entering the tunnels. Things ran nicely for a good while, fending off strikes with few casualties, but, obviously, that ended.
The tunnels that the keep defended were vast, some running to uncharted and forgotten places under the mountains. Only a few of the tunnels were actually known, most of these leading to an exit and the others being converted for use by the keep. The encroachment of the surface dwellers, punctuated by the roar of battle, slowly drew the attention of the creatures that lived under the mountains. Within the span of a month, the keep became besieged not just on both sides, but from withing as well. An army on one side, eager to claim the keep for themselves, and a shadowy horde erupting from the mountain that, for many of the soldiers, was composed of beings of nightmare on the other. The keep fell in record time, and the two besieging armies collided. When all was done, the keep was scourged of those who came from the surface. The dwellers from the depths now controlled it and the tunnels completely.

In recent times, the keep has been slowly descending into disrepair. Every now and again a petty bandit lord or group of refugees will take up sanctuary in the ruined fortress, and then it's only a matter of time until they encroach on territories deeper than man was meant to go. It is then that the beings from the depths inevitably surge forth and scour the life from the crumbling walls.
This place would be avoided all together except for one fact: people don't know to avoid it. The ones who anger the beings beneath the keep are never heard from again, and the few who stay above and leave unmolested have no harrowing tales to tell about the place. If people knew what lay in the mountains, they would never willingly come anywhere near the accursed place.

As far as layout and architecture goes, the keep is fairly standard. It has a thick curtain wall, now damaged in many places, some surrounding buildings that house cold forges and the bones of horses and of course the keep proper, a multi-level affair that is designed to withstand a siege. It's only real exception is the linking to the caves in the back of the keep.

Hooks and Stuff

The players may well be running from something, or trying to get somewhere in a very short period of time. For a small group, the route through the caves is certainly perilous, but unlikely to incur the full wrath of the creatures beneath the mountain. There are many interesting locations beneath the surface, vast chasms and fields of phosphorescent mushrooms. Almost all would be epic locations to find nightmare beasts.

One of said mushrooms may well be needed for some spell or potion, and divinations have revealed that they exist in abundance somewhere deep beneath the mountain. How convenient, then, that there should be a keep right nearby...

One of the primary things to remember about the keep is that it is not impressive by itself, but it is a doorway. It is a yawning gate into the darkness, into deep places where no light has ever shone. There may very well be things down here not seen since times that are now myth, or beings that no story or folktale even begins to resemble. This is a gateway to the other half of the world, the one beneath simple dungeons.
This is the entrance to the other half of the world, with it's own traditions, civilizations and monsters.
The keep is simply a beginning.

? Hall of Honour (1 voters / 1 votes)

Hall of Honour

Cheka Man

? Responses (8)

Goto Author

*wonders what the underground dwellers are* Dwaves? Dark Elves? Nekron? 4.5/ out of 5.

Goto Author

I left it vague so that you can develop it as your campaign needs. Need something peculiar but don't know how to introduce it, like a six limbed, seven eyed vorpal beast of doom? Guess where it lives! On the other hand, it may just be a particularly violent crossbreed of orcs and dark elves.

Goto Author

Nicely done. it is a solid concept. I would of liked a little more description and explanation, but I could live wihtou it. So we have a place, some history, and a few plots. It works for me.

Goto Author

Nice, doing a Keep myself these days. Cant seem to finish it though.

Goto Author

I know the feeling. The concept for this was sitting around on my desk for a long while, took me forever to actually get anywhere with it.

Goto Author

Very nice. Not to long but complete enough. I was slightly confused on one part; when the fortress fell, you said that the keep was 'besieged not just on both sides, but from withing as well'. After that it sounded like there were only two armies, one above and one below. It would clarify that part a good deal if you reworded it for two armies from the surface or if you would mention something like one army had surrounded it from the surface.

Goto Author

This is a good one. It has a somewhat Conan'ish feel to it.

I like it!

Goto Author

Solid idea

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