Thursday, January 6, 2022

30 Regions of the Underworld



There's no true mapping the Underworld. It is a place unstuck in spatial flux, endless in its depths and its variety.

  1. Delvers' - The last homely house, the last call before hell.
  2. Access Tunnels - Bare concrete, dim flickering lights, exit signs in the distance, stairs leading down. The creak of old pipes, the scurrying of rats, a dark shape turning a corner in the distance.
  3. Sightless Passage - A steep, blind meander. Stones engraved with thousands of eyes that cannot see. Tokens left in piles in crooks in the walls; offerings. You must find the path with your fingers alone.
  4. Filth Nest - Pools of refuse, corroding pipes, streams of shit trickling down and down. Mold, mushrooms, hot air. Beware open flames. The stink lingers on your clothes.
  5. Devil's Knot - The stone is dark red, veined with oilsmear-black. Coiling passages loop back on themselves like fractal intestines. Something is down here, watching in the darkness over your shoulder.
  6. The Gates - The first barrier. Great doors of celestial bronze, egraved with the names and deeds of angels.
  7. Forest of Flowers - Pale blue-white blossoms glow in the ghostlight. Olms long as your arm sit placidly in their pools. Off in the distance you can hear birds like tinny woodwinds.
  8. Boneway - Skeletons crushed down to yellowing grit beneath long kiloyears of travellers. A shallow descent, easy on the knees. Cracks in the walls lead out, elsewhere.
  9. Eel Hollow - Narrow, slippery ledges curl around the rims of deep blue pools, filled with the pale writhing swarms of blind lampreys.
  10. Scab-downs - Slopes and scree of gravel and cracked stone, rough and jagged, skin-tearing. Bottomless blue pools, perfectly circular and ice cold at the nadirs between these hills.
  11. God-King's Road - Red stone, vast paving blocks, toppled statues. Knotted vines and white flowers push up through cracks in the work, slowly reclaiming it for the underworld.
  12. Dreaming City - A cthonic leviathan rests here and a city was built in its dreams. It will wake eventually, but not for an age or two.
  13. Lower Passage - Slower, but safer.
  14. Goblin Market - There are no goblins here, not of the kind you'd imagine. But anyone can be a goblin if they're off just enough, and plenty folk are more than a little off down here. They meet at the market, wherever the market may meet,
  15. Inverted Garden - High above, you can see the carefully tended groves and ponds at the feet of the ziggurats. Creatures you can't make out swing through the branches in reverse, brachiating over the abyss that eventually leads to you.
  16. Narrow Gap - There is no room to breathe.
  17. Empty Throne - Names carved in its base in unrecognized letters. Great galleries caked in dust, cracked and faded murals of bulls and serpents.
  18. Cinder Path - Dry heat, like a blast furnace. Charcoal and ash fill the air with each plodding step.
  19. City of Devils - You look to be struggling down here. Care to sign a contract?
  20. The Pit - A smooth-sided borehole, wide enough that you can barely make out the other side and deep enough that you swear there's no bottom at all.
  21. Sea of Towers - Stone-blue waves crash against the stone. Pillars lean under the blows of ages, many have collapsed into rubble.
  22. Queen's Descent - Broad, flat steps, fit for a sedan chair
  23. Deep Cathedral - Best not stay long here. Who knows what gods were praised in this church of the living stone.
  24. The Slough - Stagnant black water up to your knees, crippled trees stretching for the light of false suns. The runoff of some distant hell you've yet to breach.
  25. House of Hungry Doors - "In my father's house there are many doors, leading ever inward."
  26. The Spiral - You already know how this goes.
  27. The Black Needle - The metal obstruction must be miles long, and its torn through the caverns like a bullet. Perhaps it is. And if it is, what brought it all the way down here?
  28. The Great Machine - clic tic tic clic tic tic clic tic tic clic tic tic
  29. The Throat - Nearly there. One more pass.
  30. The Shore of the Abyss - Black sand, black water, grey mist, off into forever.
  31. The Heart in the Dark - I hear it beating, beating, just out of sight.


  1. First draft preceded me learning of Heart: The City Beneath, so happy convergent evolution on that.

    1. Convergent evolution also possibly drinking from the same well! Heart's a good book so you are forgiven. Check out Tumbbad (a Hindi movie) for other organ(ic) dungeon delving.

      I love how in this list I'm being led downwards, and it becomes increasingly more abstract the deeper I get. Numbered lists are depthcrawls by default!

      Also want to add how much I appreciate your top-level, first comments on nearly all of your posts. I need to start doing that, it keeps the post nice and clean and focused (3 things for me to work on in 2022!)

    2. Top level comments are a great place to put commentary, and I always have more of that than I know what to do with.

  2. Good stuff. Reminiscent of the zones I riff on in Dungeon Seeds