Eyes of the Stone Thief started out under the working title of Moby Dungeon, which rather gives the game away. It’s inspired by Moby Dick, with the whale swapped for a dungeon full of traps and monsters. The characters must hunt the living dungeon as it swims through the Underworld. When it surfaces to feed, they’ve a limited time to delve into it and find a way to destroy it.
They won’t succeed the first time they try. It’s a campaign, not an adventure, so the player characters will return to the dungeon several times. Each expedition brings them deeper into the Stone Thief. The dungeon can rearrange its layout, so the player characters won’t often find themselves going through familiar areas – and when they do, it’s probably because the dungeon has restocked those levels with new traps and dangers. The shifting labyrinth fits with the 13th Age ethos, too – it’s not a dungeon crawl, it’s a dungeon stride boldly forward and don’t worry about mapping every 20′ x 20′ room.
The campaign also takes place outside the dungeon. Factions within the Stone Thief have agents on the surface, clues found in the dungeon point to other adventures, and of course, the Icons have their own schemes and agendas involving the Stone Thief. Also, the dungeon can eat places and turn them into new levels. That wizard’s tower you just visited? That city where you grew up? That castle the Emperor just granted you as a reward? They’re all targets for the Stone Thief. Think of it as a rampaging, power-hungry, city-eating monster that happens to be shaped like a dungeon.
Currently, I’m working my way down through the levels, cramming each one full of the nastiest traps and fights I can manage, while preparing notes on the surface side of the campaign. I’ve got my list of inspirations and aspirations beside me as I write, covering everything from Piranesi’s drawings of Carceri to House of Leaves and Gormenghast to photographs of abandoned buildings in Detroit to classic dungeons like Undermountain and the Tomb of Horrors to Knightmare.
And back again to Moby Dick. If the dungeon’s the White Whale, then the player characters risk becoming a band of crazed, vengeance-seeking Ahabs…