Barbarian vs. Robot WIP

Barbarian vs. Robot is still on track to be my first Patreon release! Vacation is heaven. Spent several hours over the Thanksgiving weekend working on the comic and translating my old sketches into drawings. Hopefully post production will be wrapped up within a week or so. Comics are *really freaking hard*. I am even more in awe now of anyone who can produce a regular web comic.
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Dungeon Dressing: Rope Bridge

The humble rope bridge has many adventages for dungeon-dwelling folk. First, it can be assembled entirely from lengths of rope, iron spikes, and pieces of firewood; in short, items that can be readily scavenged in a dungeon environment. Second, it can be quickly assembled and deployed or disassembled to prevent passage: using an axe if neccessary. Finally, even left intact, it poses some barrier to the threat of adventurers. An average adventuring party encountered a rope bridge, even assuming a desire to pass over it, can be held up for many crucial minutes and even hours of debate and discussion. Tromrick’s Theives Guild has been known to offer training courses on rope bridge use and navigation, among other things.

Dungeon Dressing: Scriptorum

A scriptorium is nothing more than a room where acolytes or other trained scribes are employed to copy books or scrolls. Within these limitations, a broad range of arrangements are possible. Scriptoriums of the religious, arcane, or commercial sorts are possible. Arcane scriptoriums in particular may require special magical security measures if the material itself is at all magical. Even a small typographical error can cause catastrophic results. Those employed in these places are often lesser underlings who spend long hours at tedious work. As a result, there always the temptation to tuck away a particularly choice bit of script for personal use or enjoyment. Such a hidden stash might include valuable arcane lore, magic spells, or religious secrets. Petty gossip or pornographic poetry is just as likely to be the subject matter, though occasionally these can be valuable pieces in their own rite.

Dungeon Dressing: Mildew

The sage Emmerline classifies mildew as being any dungeon mold that is non-carnivorous and non-motile. Mildew is omnipresent in dungeon environments where moisture is available. Typically, mildew is little more than a nuisance, but there are notable exceptions.

Mildew can form a dangerous slippery scunge in hazardous areas. Uncertain footing can spell disaster near a chasm, underground river, or in a combat situation.

Some rare species emit a natural light, making it possible to navigate in complete darkness. Unfortunately, attempts to remove this species from its natural environment invariably destroy its luminous properties.

Mildew is occasionally edible forming the base of the dungeon food chain. Adventurers should only use this food source in desperate situations, however, as mildew may accumulate poisons or magical contagion in the surrounding area. Areas with mildew deposits are known to harbor an unusually large number of mutant denizens.

Mildew can also spell utter destruction for books, tapestries, and other perishable loot left unattended for long periods of time where no magical protection is employed.

Dungeon Dressing: Fine Porcelain

Fine porcelain is often more an item of treasure than of storage. Depending on lineage, provenance, and age, such a piece may be a simple curio or an extremely valuable treasure possibly warranting an entire expedition all on its own. An expert thief can easily identify the less valuable types, but exactly determining the value of the rarer objects requires specialized knowledge. The biggest challenge with such plunder is transporting it out of the dungeon. Highly fragile, these objects become worthless once shattered. Nagas are said to be particularly fond of well-made porcelain.

Dungeon Dressing: Shrine

According to Emmerline’s Taxonomy, a shrine is a space dedicated to the veneration of a specific god, which, unlike a temple, has no permanent attendants. A shrine may be any size, but a small chamber, niche, or cairn is most common, though. Given the chaotic nature of many dungeon environments, it’s a significant feat for a shrine to avoid vandalization for any period of time.

A popular shrine may have the protection and patronage of the surrounding denizens, even where these denizens are enemies to one another. This may be particularly true where the shrine offers some benefit, magical or otherwise. In some cases a shrine is considered neutral ground, though in others, it may be fought over as a valuable possession. Lit candles or recent offerings are a clear sign of regular patronage.

An unmolested shrine in a heavily trafficked dungeon area may also be a sign that the local population share the same religion or, more likely, that the shrine has a powerful protector nearby, possibly on a deeper level of the dungeon. A few shrines protect themselves from desecration via trap, curse, illusion, or teleportation. Some beneficial good shrines are able to disguise themselves, being visible only to good-inclined individuals.

Some races have characteristic shrines. Grey Mountain Gnolls, for example, leave noisome memorials wherever they travel as a means of marking their dominance.

Dungeon Dressing: Windows

Being underground, dungeon locations do not commonly include windows. Nevertheless, the humble window can be a significant and telling feature of the subterranean environment.

Dungeon windows are naturally of two types, exterior-facing or internal-facing. External windows may be encountered anywhere that a dungeon abuts a surface space, such as in a tower, ruin, pyramid, or mountain retreat. These can provide an excellent means of orienting your position in relation to the outside world, a source of light, or even a way in and out of the dungeon.

Internal windows are by no means rare, as there are any number of reasons to connect underground spaces in this way. Dark Elves in their great labyrinthine cities are known to relish the sounds of urban life, and their dwelling often include small windows that allow it to echo from room to room. Where there is a large cavern or hall, windows will open directly into it. Where there is no such great space, they will open onto major underground thoroughfares. Often these windows will be placed high up, or barred and trapped against assassins and thieves. By contrast, the various races of sentient fungus in their cavern villages do not use windows. The reason for this is unknown.

Light shafts, dimension doors, arrow slits, murder holes, and scrying devices are outside the scope of this article.

Dungeon Dressing: A Dead Adventurer!

Few sights are more mixed in their reception than the discovery of a dead adventurer, for on the one hand, to the jaded, it promises the possibility of treasure, but on the other, it represents the potential fate that awaits every delver. And then there’s the question of what caused the adventurer’s demise in the first place. The wise explorer always thinks of the cause of death before the value of treasure. A certain tribe of Gnolls in the northlands has taken to planting nests of poisonous arachnids on the corpses of fallen adventurers in hopes of gaining more victims and loot, though the efficacy of this practice has been somewhat degraded by overuse.

Dungeon Dressing: Canopic Jars

Canopic jars are used exclusively for the storage of human organs. Often canopic jars are associated with the ritual removal and storage of organs, possibly to preserve the deceased from arising in an undead state. In rare cases, however, they may be involved in rituals with the opposite purpose. An experienced cleric or magic user should have a good chance of determining which is the case. Most necromancers will know at a glance.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Dungeon Dressing: Fireplaces

Fireplaces are common enough in shallow dungeons, burrows, and hobbit holes, but in the really deep dungeons, they are rare. The problem is the chimney. The Dwarves have learned the trick of creating deep networked chimneys that make use of natural faults in the stone. As a result, Dwarven constructions may have working fireplaces even in very deep dungeons. The flue is almost always well barred against monsters and vermin, though there are occasional exceptions. Only a very brave or foolhardy adventurer would enter such a place, however, due to the danger of encountering a monster in a difficult enclosed space. Dwarven fireplaces may also occasionally feature a hidden compartment for the storage of gems. Gold is never kept in such a heated space. Powerful magic users such as wizards or Rakshasa also relish the luxury of a fireplace, though theirs are more apt to be illusionary or otherwise magical. Adventurers should beware of a burning fireplace in an otherwise abandoned area, as this is a sure sign of old, powerful magic and a misstep could trigger an arcane explosion, or bring them face-to-face with an angry fire elemental.