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Dungeon World: Setak—Chiaroscuro

What's prevented the local populace from plundering these dungeons already? Aside from the fact that they're not the player characters, and therefore aren't the heroes—is that enough? Seems like there should be some plausible in-setting explanation—and it has to account both for the fact of the locals not plundering but also whatever dangerous creatures dwell there not sacking the surrounding settlements. That's kind of true for any dungeon, of course, but here with the dungeons and settlements entwined, it's more of an issue.
Hang on, I've got it.

I've written a bit before about the default cosmology of Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition. One of the changes I really like in this version is the addition of two parallel planes, the Feywild and the Shadowfell. They're basically distorted reflections of the world, the former being the faerie realm and the latter being a classic underworld realm of the dead, and they're supposed to overlap extensively, though structures built in one plane do not appear in the other two. 

And I also recently wrote about an idea of magically tethering beings to long-lasting, durable objects such as stones, in order to prolong their lives or effectively slow their passage through time. Obviously there are plenty of other stories about using enchanted objects as anchors or tethers, but also as passkeys—just one example, in C.S. Lewis's The Magician's Nephew, the enchanted rings which function by either drawing toward or pushing away from the Wood Between the Worlds. 

So, it's that simple then. At least in the area of Setak, the Feywild and the Shadowfell do not merely overlap upon the prime world, they intrude upon it so that in some places the three are contiguous, or even coterminous. A few of the enclaves will actually be present in one of the parallel worlds—the Queen's Hill, for example, will be part of the Feywild, and Cap-Ill might be in the Shadowfell—and maybe most of the dungeons will be as well. All of these areas will be present to the senses in the prime world, not just ghostly images or shadows but fully visible, audible, smellable; however, they will not be physically reachable except through certain gates. The gates to the enclaves are probably fully open, meaning that anyone can cross back and forth without needing magic (though of course the gates can also be shut and barred).

To enter one of the dungeons, however, you would need some kind of talisman; or perhaps the dungeons can be freely entered, but a talisman is needed to return. And on occasion, some of the monsters in the dungeons are able to wander out, but most of the time, in most of the dungeons, most of the monsters can't get out without also having talismans or magic of some sort. 

Also, once you're inside one of these overlapped areas, whether enclave or dungeon, there would be other exits leading out into the rest of the plane instead of back into the prime world. Maybe in at least some of the overlapped areas, all you can see is the rest of its proper plane and not the contiguous areas of the prime world or other plane, unless you're looking through one of the crossover gates. So it's possible that the characters could lose their talismans while in a dungeon, thus trapping them in that plane, but they'd have the chance of making a dangerous crossing over to one of the enclaves in order to get back into their world.

This is good. I'm now thinking again of changing the setting name to "Chiaroscuro", because the Feywild is said to be more vivid than the prime world—something like the difference between Kansas and Oz—while the Shadowfell is of course shadowed and gloomy. The urban area would still be Setak, or Cetak, or whatever, but "Chiaroscuro" is kind of a better name for the overall setting. Of course, now I want to call the city "Palimpsest" instead of Setak…


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