After some Patreon feedback, I decided to add sewers to the City of Vermilion. I was hesitant to do so because....what sane adventurer would want to scramble around in some shit tunnels? Did they really have the forethought back then to create sewers in the first place? What possible hook could get a party to go down there? Caves and old dungeons can be nasty as well, but sewers are DEFINITELY gross and disgusting. There is just no way around it....and then there is the same ol monsters in a sewer...right? Giant rats, wererats, otyughs....slimes?
So yeah...I was hesitant to add sewers...it's been done before. But I was going to do it anyway, and yes...there is freaking giant rats in it...ok? I couldn't justify a sewer not having rats and giant rats, besides, they could be the food staple for the rest of the sewer inhabitants which helped with the ecology of the place...But everything else I demanded of myself that it needed to be different, or at least a good attempt to being different.
As I was delving into the map work...sewer maps had the potential to be somewhat boring. Long, straight tunnels, maybe some round rooms where debris/waste collect. Having the streams of sewage in the middle of the tunnel can add some potential surprise aspects though, with creatures lurking just under the sewage stream, ready to lunge out and eat an adventurer....and also several areas of access points from the streets to the tunnels... who knows what may drop in? I also tried to think what could make the tunnels more interesting. I liked the idea of underground rivers being a natural way to flush the sewers or the tide of the ocean...or both..and with high water flows, that may cause some erosion...and erosion can create new passages and caverns....so I rolled with that idea a bit in a few areas.
As I delved deeper into the concepts of sewers and their purpose, it got to think about the history of Vermilion a bit. Who created these ancient sewer tunnels? Who started to build the city? I know some reviewers frown on history if it doesn't add anything to the adventure DURING play...and I agree to some extent...but thinking about the history helped me design a more interesting sewer. And it allowed me to drop some historic hints inside the sewers to make the area more interesting for players overall.
I decided that pirates gathered on the island, and slowly a place of refuge grew and grew. Slaves were used to dig the sewers and build parts of the city. Slaves died during work and were buried in tombs inside the tunnels of their own creation. The main architect slaves were put in tombs of honor....except they were slaves so their tombs were inside the sewer to mock them. Secret tunnels might connect to other tombs and crypts of past city inhabitants--like under Winterfell in Game of Thrones, and/or secret tunnels could be used as an underground highway for the Shiver, my thief guild....and maybe secret rooms for meetings by the Whirlers, a cult....and perhaps the Pirate Lords had their own ancient tombs with traps buried deep under the city with all their loot...Interaction, exploration, puzzles/traps, and fighting??....the sewer was starting to become interesting for me and something I would want MY character to go through....
Does it sound like something your players may be interested in? If so, look for the Kickstarter in a few weeks. Would love to have your support for editor and commissioned art costs to bring this adventure to life!