Saturday 31 December 2022

Questions Nobody Asked Me

Though Alex Schroeder, I came across these questions. What better way could there be to spend the dead zone of the late afternoon on New Year's Eve than to answer them? [Note: I will answer the questions as they come but I will not use the obnoxious acronym 'TTRPG'.] 

First store where you bought a an RPG?

It was in a small nerdy bookshop in Tel Aviv, and it was the AD&D 2nd edition DMG. I already had some RPG books, but I am fairly sure this was the first one I actually bought. If it wasn't that particular shop, it was almost certainly the Virgin Megastore in Liverpool. It is a sign of how old I am that: a) Virgin Megastores still existed when I was an adolescent; and b) that shops like that actually sold any books, let alone RPG books, during my youth.

Favourite RPG game world?

I would probably end up plumping for Dark Sun, because it is I think the most compelling and interesting of the TSR settings - not that that is really saying a great deal. Or, if I'm allowed to cheat a bit, Middle Earth, from MERP.

A published NPC who has made a lasting impression on you

I can't say many have, partly because I don't really buy modules/adventures, and partly because...seriously? A 'lasting impression'? The main one that actually sticks in the memory is the female cleric who gets killed in the introductory Red Box Basic adventure. God, what was her name? Still brings a tear to my eye.

First RPG you bought from its creator

Assuming this includes digital purchases it would almost certainly be something by James Raggi - maybe even the Random Esoteric Creature Generator back in the day?

RPG you've played the most

I imagine it is probably 'Classic' BECMI D&D, but I did play an awful lot of Shadowrun and Cyberpunk 2020 as a youngster. If you totted up all the hours then it might end up being one of those.

A favourite RPG character you've played

One that just popped into my mind was Trout, a megalomaniacal, manipulative, Stalinesque cult-leader from an old Apocalypse World game. I suspect his personality aligned pretty closely with mine.

The RPG you've spent the most money on but never played

'Never' played is a high bar. I spent a lot of money on the oWoD games but didn't play them much. I do have some games I have never played - Cyberspace, Judge Dredd, etc. - but they didn't cost me a lot.

Favourite RPG for its art

Has to be Planescape if that counts as an RPG. I also really, really like the artistic direction behind Changeling: The Dreaming even if it lacks in execution at times. 

Favourite RPG for its writing

I think I may have commented on this in an old blog entry but there is a lot to be said for the (admittedly cheesy) authorial voice in Cyberpunk: 2020 - I have a real soft spot for the in-universe quasi-hard-boiled elements especially ('Frak it, Johnny! I'm chippin' in!') I can't say I think many RPG books are brilliantly written, in the end.

Have you played a journaling game?

I'm not sure I know what one of those is. If it means a solo RPG game that you write, why not try to write an actual novel?

Have you played a hexcrawl?


Have you designed a dungeon?


Have you played a LARP?

No. LARPS are down the geek hierarchy, I'm afraid.

Favourite object one of you characters has owned

Is this a serious question? 

Memorable relationship one of your characters has had

I'm now worried these questions were penned by a fourteen year old. 

Do you collect RPGs by a certain designer?

I suppose the answer to this is yes, in that I think I have everything Patrick Stuart has made. Other than that, I tend not to buy many RPG materials in general. I would never use them, so I only buy things that I think would be interesting to read, beautiful to look at, or inspirational in some way.

RPG you really want to play in 2023

I'd be happy with my ongoing BECMI campaign continuing on a weekly basis, although I would love to run a bit of MERP at some point as well. Or maybe even resurrect Cyberpunk 2020.

Most memorable monster/villain you've confronted

I really liked an evil version of Father Christmas a friend invented for a one-shot long ago.

Ever experienced bleed?

I don't know what that is, nor really wish to.

How did you get into RPGs?

A friend's big brother ran a game for a group of us when we were somewhere around 11-12. I think probably 90% of people in the hobby from my generation had this experience. Then again, it depends on what the question means - I could just as easily say that Fighting Fantasy books and Warhammer got me into RPGs in the sense that they primed me to be interested in the concept. 

Wednesday 28 December 2022

Megadungeon Practical Example 3: Keying

In the first and second posts in this series, we saw how a megadungeon concept can develop based on a handful of central themes, and how this can then guide the sketching out of a rough, bird's eyes view of each dungeon level, with ideas about contents.

The next step is by far and away the lengthiest, though one can cheat a bit by leaving the higher/lower levels for later on. It involves actually creating the map itself, chamber by chamber, and then stocking them with contents. 

I tend to adopt a principles, rather than rules, based approach to this nowadays - I create as many rooms as feels right on the page, and usually keep things fairly abstract, with circles or oblongs to signify rooms and lines joining them together to indicate corridors, paths or other connections (more on this technique below). I find this more than suitable for what happens 'at the table', where the action can quickly get bogged down if there is too much detail. I don't worry about how much or how little treasure is on each level, trusting my instinct as to what 'feels' appropriate, and I tend to think that the ratio of rooms with monsters to those with traps to those with treasure, etc., can also really be left to common sense. As the DM, you know, taking a neutral perspective, whether there are (for example) too many monsters or too few in a particular area, or whether you're creating a 'Monty Haul' - and if you're not aware of it when jotting down notes on contents, you certainly will be when re-reading your work dispassionately a few days or weeks later. The one rule that I do have is that there should be something for the PCs to interact with in every room. That doesn't mean a monster or trap, necessarily, but something they can at least fiddle around with or manipulate, or which provides a clue to some other physical element of the dungeon or something about its history. Each room should have a reason for the PCs to stay for a bit (and possibly trigger a random encounter). 

I tend to do my detailed mapping on A3 paper, because that creates a lot of space in which to make notes on the map itself, which is handy both for reference and during play (you can just consult the map for a lot of the information you need, and only need refer to your notepad when in need of a greater level of detail).  I begin by drawing biggish circles which break down the area I am mapping into manageable chunks which each may have a loose theme, such as 'temple area' or 'earwigman lair' or whatever. So, taking the example of the Aviary area from level 1 of Lost Eskinoot (see last week's post) I might subdivide it as follows:

So here we have, going clockwise from 12, a large dome containing an artificial forest with owl automata; the home and workshop of the 'flying wizard', who is attempting to construct a flying machine; an area where vulture automata lurk; the quarters of the effete aesthetes who worship the avian automata; a zone featuring mechanical songbirds in cages; and a large area for various attempts at creating automata of peacocks. And, in the middle, a flamingo lake.

Now that I have this basic subdivision it's then a matter of mapping out the rooms themselves. Hence, for the aviary:

Here, a lot of the locations are in the open air, so the 'paths' between them may represent trails through undergrowth/trees, but you get the idea. It's then a 'simple' matter of numbering and keying them. I think there are about 40 here, which if multiplied across the other four areas of level 1 of Lost Eskinoot would result in 160 rooms. I might therefore might make some of the other parts of the level sparser, or come back later and reduce the number of rooms in the Aviary. But this is a good starting point.

Thursday 22 December 2022

"A Thing of Fierce Beauty"

You know you have a good campaign going when the players invent their own Wojak political compass based on events in the game (in this case high/low/bear/not-bear, with the high/low axis representing how far up the Three Mile Tree the inhabitant of the cell is, and bear/not-bear being, well, how bear-like they are). It is possible to make at least a little sense out of it by reading the comments here, but sometimes these things are best left unexplained, and simply displayed in all their weird glory:

The campaign has now run for almost two years, with what must be in the region of 80-90 sessions. We play most weeks, with gaps for holidays, marriages, births, and so on. I'm not sure whether it is a symptom of my killer-DM style (we've lost 21 PCs in total so far), the cripplingly slow level advancement of BECMI, or the tendency for the players to get sidetracked pursuing lengthy 'projects' with almost no return in the way of gold (like escorting 500 women they had rescued from a sinister swan queen through the wilderness on a 'death march'' that seemed to last for about ten sessions), but nobody has even reached level 7 yet except for the party's single thief. At this rate, in another 90 sessions, we might actually get somebody to level 9. 

Wednesday 21 December 2022

Megadungeon Practical Example 2: Rough Maps of Levels and Contents

In the first post in this series, I gave an example of how to come up with a basic concept for a mega dungeon giving effect to various themes. Today, we move on to the subject of general, rough mapping of contents - a bird’s eye view of the main areas within the dungeon itself, along with ideas about certain key inhabitants/factions for each, which will provide a guide when keying the dungeon room by room later. 

This exercise is partly brainstorming - free associating and letting the results just flow out without too much conscious filtering, influenced of course by the overall dungeon concept and its central themes. It is therefore loose, sketchy, and not to be taken as permanent - everything is subject to change once keying proper begins. 

My own preference is to take a blank piece of paper and just scrawl a few largish circles (say 4-6 in number), with each circle representing a subdivision of the level proper, in the region of 5-10 rooms on average. This provides the level with a very basic shape that can be properly fleshed out during the process of detailed mapping/keying. It also provides space in which to jot down ideas about contents.

For the purposes of this illustration, I will just do one level of Lost Eskinoot, Palace of the Artificiers, but in reality I would do all the dungeon levels, one after another, in an A4 or A3 pad. The advantage of doing this kind of rough, 'ideas mapping' for all levels before beginning the detailed mapping is that it allows you to spot links and points of commonality or divergence between locations on different layers. ('Aha, maybe the orcs on level 1 are actually the servants of the hags on level 3', etc.)

The levels of Lost Eskinoot, Palace of the Artificiers are concentric rings, so with that in mind, it's pretty simple to come up with a loose ring-shaped set of sub-divisions, with ideas about contents:

Going clockwise, we begin with the Aviary - a parkland containing many automata of birds, some of which can fly and others not. They are worshipped by a cult of effete aesthetes who marvel at their finery and the cleverness of their designs, and who have constructed an elaborate, ritualistic faith accordingly. Also present in the area is an eccentric wizard who is attempted to fashion apparatus to power flight. 

Next is the Forge, where the artificers' servants heated metal for their constructs - probably not from just one forge, but many. These servants are still there (perhaps pech-like creatures commanded by a salamander as their master?). Also present are dweomerlings, formed from the slag and molten metal and magical run-off present in the area.

Next to the forge are the Kilns, where the artificiers made their clay and porcelain. Their servants here were mephits, who remain to this day, and who have since developed a complex society with different ranks and roles, under the rulership of a Sultan. I imagine they are rivals of the servants in the forge, and exist in a state of 'cold' war with them. 

Onwards to the Water contraptions - a series of canals, pools, cisterns, pipes, and so on which the artificiers used for recondite practices. Now home to a gang of vodyanoi and their underlings - water weirds? (These might be a bit too powerful for level 1 of a dungeon; I did mention everything would be subject to later revision.) 

And finally we come to the Statues - another parkland containing many hundreds of stone statues, each depicting an artificier in commemoration after his or her death. A pleasant and extensive place, filled with rose gardens, willow trees, lawns and wildflower meadows, it is now home to a group of lotus-eater-style decadents, as well as scholars and sages studying these reminders of the artificiers' greatness. 

We now have in place a basic structure in which to work when mapping the level for real. The locations and inhabitants suggested above will not be followed slavishly and there is plenty of scope for revision. But they provide the springboard to start the process of keying.

Friday 16 December 2022

Megadungeon Practical Example 1: The Concept

All this talk about Dungeon23 has put me in the mood to write some posts about megadungeon design, not as a tutorial exactly (I wouldn't begin to call it anything as presumptuous as that) but more as a kind of worked example that others may find interesting.

The posts in the series will (as currently envisaged) be:

1. The concept (a somewhat unified thematic approach being crucial, I think, to giving a  dungeon coherence and verisimilitude) 

2. Rough maps of levels and contents

3. Keying

4. Random encounters

Concept first, then. As mentioned above, it's important for a good dungeon to be based around a set of basic themes that will guide both the design and contents. Partly this is simply because it makes it easier to come up with everything that follows (rather than having a random smorgasbord of contents without rhyme or reason). Partly it is because it gives the players the feeling that the PCs are actually in a real environment, that exists for a reason. And partly it is just more interesting for the DM to actually design - it keeps one motivated.

By 'themes', I am referring to very loose, guiding principles that inform the planning process - not hard and fast rules, and certainly not details or concrete elements. We are talking, in essence, about the framework within which the actual planning of the dungeon will take place. This will become more clear as we go on.

Themes can be grouped, I would suggest, into the historical, structural and aesthetic.

A historical theme gives the dungeon its backstory and environment. By this, I don't mean a complete history or timeline or even anything very concrete - remember, this is a theme only. I mean, rather, something akin to an elevator pitch - a thumbnail descriptor of what the dungeon is and where it comes from. For instance, the dungeon I will use for this worked example is one I will call Lost Eskinoot, Palace of the Artificiers. Here, the historical theme is encapsulated in the title: a palace within which there one dwelt a group, guild or cult known as the 'artificiers', who from their title we can assume were in the business of making things through 'artifice' - perhaps having a magical element. This, in turn, suggests to me a vaguely science-fantasy world. 

A structural theme gives the dungeon its basic design. Here, I am thinking, again, not in detail - certainly not at the level of individual rooms or structures - but a rough idea of the overall layout, perhaps with a particularly unusual shape in mind. For Lost Eskinoot, Palace of the Artificiers I have in mind the kind of maze that you often find in kids' toys, in which the child manipulates the maze itself this way and that in order to get a ball to the centre. This suggests a basic design of concentric circles, each corresponding to a different level of the dungeon, with certain 'choke points' between each circle where transit is allowed. Something along these lines:

Finally, an aesthetic theme is what the youth of today might call a 'vibe' - a governing mood or feeling. For Lost Eskinoot, this, riffing on the science-fantasy motif, is very much rooted in the pulp tradition, and designed to channel what I have elsewhere called 'fantastical fantasy':

So that is what I mean by a concept - an imaginative palette, so to speak, giving the dungeon a reason for being, a basic physical outline, and a steer towards content. In the next post, I'll turn to the process of mapping.

Tuesday 13 December 2022

On Dungeon23 and the Correct Way to Write Dungeon Room Descriptions

So, people are excited about the idea of creating a megadungeon over the course of 2023, at a rate of a room a day/level a month/365-room dungeon a year. And, I will admit it: I am excited by the idea too. Yes, even I, who would describe myself as one of history's greatest contrarians if only it didn't involve being grouped in with other contrarians. Even I feel the allure of impossible-to-realise and foolhardy projects that are begun with great enthusiasm and forgotten just as quickly. 

I might do it. I might even make it a Yoon-Suin-based one. We'll see.

In the meantime, though, I have been alerted to the existence of extensive discussions about the 'right way' to write and format dungeon room descriptions.

My own thoughts on this are: keep it simple, try to be evocative, and make use of basic text formatting tricks to make sure important information is quickly conveyed.

I just so happen to be typing up my handwritten notes for my regular campaign, and have developed a patented bold/underline/UPPERCASE technique for doing this that you are free to make use of. The rule is:

Bold text is for anything which needs to 'pop' when the DM is quickly scanning the description in the heat of the moment

Underlined text is text which refers to another location on the map


Here's an example:

31. Old Pupating Chamber. A large, high-ceilinged vault whose walls are lined with honey-comb like hexagonal receptacles, each around twelve inches wide and two feet deep. These contain the dried remnants of chrysalises of beetles, long ago hatched. One of these receptacles contains a small sack with 200ep and an ordinary black widow spider who will bite anybody putting their hand into the sack, killing them within 1d6 rounds on a failed save vs poison. The floor is covered in shrew-man urine.

The chamber was once used by the fair folk for feeding up the giant beetle grubs bred in rooms 37 and 38, one to each receptacle. FIVE SHREW-MEN are here, looking after THREE GIANT WEASELS. As soon as there is any noise in rooms 29, 30 or 31 the shrew-men will come running, goading the giant weasels in front of them. 

SHREW-MAN: HD 1-1, AC 7, #ATT 1, DMG 1d4+1 (small handaxe, sling), Move 120, ML 6 

GIANT WEASEL: HD 2+2, AC 6, #ATT 1, DMG 1d8, Move 180, ML 7

Friday 9 December 2022

The Great North - Illustration and Content Teasers

Tom Kilian continues his work on illustrations for The Great North (formerly The Meeting of the Waters), soon* to be released by yours truly.

Here are some more of his developmental pieces. Lovely work, I am sure you'll agree. Accompanying text is from the book itself:



When the Emperor left the Great North, his mechanical servants remained. Whether this was because they had tasks allotted to them that were still incomplete, or simply because he had no further use for them, no one can now say. It certainly appears as though many of them are still mindlessly performing missions that were given to them in those ancient days - repetitive, laborious acts long ago rendered futile by the passage of time and the changes taking place in the world around them. Others, however, only seem to be standing in disconsolate stillness - as if one day the reason for their continued functioning disappeared and they have had nothing to do ever since but wait. 


There are seven basic types of automata, although there are also many sub-types. All are made of supernaturally hard porcelain and animated by some unknown force. They can communicate in the Imperial tongue if required to do so by their role, and are generally non-aggressive unless their role or task determines otherwise. They can also usually be commanded by the use of a special long-forgotten code words or phrases in the same manner as the spell of that name. Below is a guide for creating a typical example of each type; use the basic stat block provided and then provide it with all or some of the stated ‘additions’ accordingly. 


HD 1d3+1, AC 4, #ATT 1, DMG 1d6, Move 120, ML 12, Save as F[HD], TT None

*Suffers no damage from piercing weapons and 1/4 damage from slashing weapons 


Type I (Builder)

Typically humanoid, although frequently it has multiple pairs of arms, and specialist ‘hands’ for hammering, cutting or lifting. 


1 - Extra attacks (#ATT 2 or 3) from additional pairs of limbs

2 - Phenomenal strength (1d10 damage) 

3 - Telescopic limbs (can increase Move to 180, extend arms up to 12’, etc.)


Type II (Carrier)

Typically many-legged with a large, flattish frame. It may be dog-sized, horse-sized, or even larger.


1 - Extra HD (1d3)

2 - Ram/trample attack (triple damage if moving full rate)

3 - Increased speed (Move 150 or 180)


Type III (Miner)

Typically a squat humanoid, compact but immensely strong, and possessing limbs for tunnelling, rock-smashing, and wall-breaking.


1 - Pickaxe and/or shovel limbs (DMG 1d8+1)

2 - Shove attack (does only 1d3 damage but knocks opponent flat; opponent cannot then act in the next round except to stand, and is hit automatically if attacked)


Type IV (Clearer)

Typically a humanoid with axe, sickle, and/or shearing limbs, designed for clearing vegetation. 


1 - Axe, sickle or shearing limbs (DMG 1d8+1)

2 - Emits flame from a hand, the body, eyes, etc. (flame attack in 3’ diameter 6’ cone, DMG 1d4)


Type V (Dancer)

Typically a delicate, gracile humanoid, designed for dancing and ritualistic performance.


1 - Fewer HD (1d2)

2 - Mesmerising movement (opponent must save vs magic in order to attack)


Type VI (Guardian)

Can take any form, being designed to defend or watch over some fixed location: a soldier, a lion, a wolf, an eagle, etc. 


1 - Single-minded (+2 to initiative)

2 - Mighty in arms (#ATT 2)

3 - Emits poison or sleeping gas from the mouth, eyes, etc. (6’ cube, acts as a stinking cloud or sleep spell) 1/day


Type VII (Ranger)

Typically a tall, long-legged humanoid, designed for patrolling the borders of the Empire.





A handful of lost remnants from the time of the Empire, unable either to die or to perform their original function to any discernible end.


1d6+2 automota of the relevant type, and TT [?].





The automata are of a builder, miner or clearer type still attempting to perform whatever task they were assigned all those centuries ago, in a sisyphian struggle against time and the elements (for instance, they are excavating a mine which continually collapses, building the wing of a palace which elsewhere falls apart or become overgrown, clearing forest while the forest reclaims the area behind them, etc.)


The automata are of a carrier or guardian type whose task was rendered defunct eons ago; they now stand about inert and confused and overgrown by forest


The automata are of a guardian type and still actively guard an imperial ruin or other such site despite its gradual collapse (generate according to the appropriate adventure locale table)


The automata are of a dancer type and continually practice and perform odes, plays and songs in the ruins of a palace or amphitheatre 


The automata are of any type and have gone mad; they roam about a defined area or stand still, gabbling incoherently as though possessed by demons 


The automata are of any type and have developed sentience; they may desire integration into human society, the accumulation of power, revenge against the living, etc.




When the Emperor ruled the Great North, he brought men from the farthest reaches of his realm to fight for and serve him there. They are all long dead, and Imperial power has gone from the land, but loyalty to the Emperor himself does not fade easily from the human heart. Thus many remain, beyond death, clinging to the hope that he will someday return.


HD 2, AC 4 (scale mail and shield, unless stated otherwise below), #ATT 1, DMG By weapon (see below), Move 120, ML 8, Save as F1, TT [?]

*Turned as ghouls

*Undead, and hence immune to sleep, charm, command, and other mind-altering spells



Century of 2d20+40, with a 3 HD centurion






Lusitania (sword, heavy javelin [d8])

The auxilia protect the tomb of an imperial prefect and his family heirlooms 


Iberia (falchion, heavy javelin [d8])


Dacia (two-handed sword)

The auxilia protect an Imperial Artefact of great power (generate according to the Imperial Artefact table)


Gaul (spear, sword)


Baleares (sling, javelin, hard leather armour [AC 7])

The auxilia are in conflict with a rival century nearby, arising from mutual suspicion about each other’s loyalties to the Emperor 


Graecia (sarissa, sword)


Germania (spear, short sword)

The auxilia are engaged in a campaign of conquest against a nearby band of heron men, tritons, brags, hobgoblins, etc., who they aim to bring under the Emperor’s rule


Illyria (short spear, short sword)


Thracia (javelin, rhomphaia/falx [d10])

The auxilia have turned to rebellion in the absence of contact from their superiors over the centuries, and are accumulating slaves and loot and the other spoils of war


Arabia (spear, sword)


Syria (short bow, sword)

The auxilia are under the control of a grindylow or other sinister power who has managed to convince them that she represents a Prefect or some other Imperial functionary, and is manipulating them for her own purposes



Wicked man-shaped things made of gorse and matted grass given hideous tensile strength, and with pale yellow eyes like amber. They act with clear purpose, as though playing a part in some great but inexplicable scheme, and may travel long distances to put those purposes into effect.


HD 1+1, AC 6, #ATT 1, DMG By weapon (stone axe)+2, Move 120, ML 8, Save as F2, TT: [?]




1d20+20 bogles, with a a 2 HD leader and a 3 HD wizard, casting spells as a 3rd level magic user






Stealing children

In caves beneath a great boulder


Killing travellers and stealing a specific organ or body part (heart, brain, eyes, hands, etc.)

On top of a wind-swept heugh amongst gorse


Waylaying travellers and stealing a specific type of item (copper coins, steel blades, leather, etc.)

In a long-abandoned bastle house


Freeing livestock and chasing it into the wilderness

In the branches and hollow of a huge sprawling oak  


Setting forest fires to make wide clearings

In the ruins of an old fort or holdfast


Damming rivers to cause floods

In a dense thicket in a copse of trees in a hidden dene




Violent and spiteful animal-headed spirits with a romance for cruelty. They lurk in wild places in the open air, oblivious to, or even savouring, the bite of the cold wind and the seeping wetness of the rain.


HD 1, AC 6, #ATT 1, DMG By weapon (club, sling, spear, axe), ML 7, Save as F1, TT [?]



20d10 brags, with a 3 HD leader and five 2 HD champions, and a 5 HD wizard, casting spells as a 5th level magic-user



Head Type




The brags are poisoning the water supplies of local manors



The brags are attempting to raise the spirit of one of the Emperor’s mightiest dead servants from an overgrown mausoleum so he or she can help them on a campaign of conquest



The brags have kidnapped the son or daughter of a nearby lord and are sending him small pieces of the captive’s body from time to time



The brags know of a secret passage into the vast catacombs of a long-vanished Imperial cult 



The brags have d6+3 human slaves, one of whom is connected to a significant NPC in Joyous Garde, Dolorous Garde, Deadyoungestson or Killers’ Path



The brags worship a broken-down Imperial statue which is imbued with magic (treat as an Imperial Artefact)


Dragons came to live in the wild, high places in the Great North in the world’s adolescence, long before the existence of the emperor or even the elves, and they will be the last to leave, when the ancient hills collapse into the sea. 








Under the Harrow Bog, an expanse of mire on a high moor, in a web of caverns magically kept dry, but whose entrances are all flooded



In the network of caves atop High Cove, known for being haunted by the whispers, cries and pleas of those the dragon has slain




A labyrinth with its entrance in the side of the steep promontory called the Captain’s Tongue, which is said to reject climbers with rockfalls and landslides



In the Hog’s Mouth, a vast cavern which sits at the top of a long, high, narrow cleugh and from which spills the Quick River from its birthplace deep within the earth




In the roots of Dovehole Crag, reached through a small hole with stone steps going down, hidden amongst bracken, through which the dragon comes and goes in human form



In Three Corner Wood, a thick copse of wizened and wind-shrivelled trees, hidden in a cleft in the hills; some of the trees are quickwoods 




At Blakehope Nick, a high cave above a nearly sheer drop of scree, hundreds of feet high, from where one can look out upon lands stretching as far away as the distant sea




In caves cut into the side of Coal Cleugh, whose waters run thick with black sediment; in the caves themselves lurk black dweomerlings and other carbonite spirits




In the vast underground river system below the Grey Mare’s Moor, accessible only by a series of wide or narrow caves burrowing vertically down for a hundred feet or more 




In caves accessible through a wide crack at the foot of Buzzard Crag, which were carved into the root of the hill by things much older yet than the dragon himself

*In this context, 'soon' should be interpreted to mean 'not any sooner than a year'.