Liminal Spaces: The Kaldova Oubliette

“Kaldova Oubliette, Day 4: I think it’s become apparent to all of us that this is not an ordinary dungeon. To paraphrase Glass, ‘it’s unnatural’. I may not share her affinity with nature, but it’s hard to argue with gut instinct. Nothing here feels right.”

DemaTova Corelle, A Dungeoneer in the Field, Volume 1.

A thousand years ago, a young noblewoman named Ezri Kaldova came to power after the death of her father. While her father had been a benevolent man, ruling his small area of the world justly and with great thought to the people who lived there, she was his opposite; cruel and cold and caring for little outside of the power she might gain. After claiming her title, Lord Kaldova led a massive campaign to conquer the surrounding lands and expand her newly inherited domain. She spread across the countryside, bending opposing lords to her will and throwing any who defied her rule into the great oubliette beneath her fortress. 

The exact origins of the oubliette were unknown, though various stories regarding its creation were whispered at cottage hearths and in tavern corners late at night. Some said it was created by a gnomish genius, paid for with gold stolen from the Lord’s new territories. Some said it was the handiwork of a mad wizard, inspired by the eldritch visions he had subjected himself to. Others swore it was created through a fell contract with the demon that had been at Ezri’s side since her cursed birth. Whatever its true origins may have been, all agreed that the Kaldova Oubliette was a terrible place filled with misplaces creatures, shifting walls, and rooms that seemed to drift between worlds.  

The once-great keep of Lord Kaldova has long ago crumbled to ruin, as has the reign of the woman who ruled it. But her oubliette is still there. Waiting for passing adventurers to be drawn in and trapped within its ever-changing walls

Design Note

Liminal Spaces are unique and ethereal locations for GMs that provide mechanics-free flavor and descriptions for their games. These strange locales can be applied to existing maps and coupled with complimentary creatures at each GM’s discretion.

 

The following are example locations and happenings that can be encountered while exploring The Kaldova Oubliette. 

1. Hall of Heroes

This beautifully decorated and ornate hall has painting after painting hung on its walls. Studying the large oil canvases reveals different people and adventuring parties in varying degrees of distress and health traveling down the same hall that you now find yourself in. After walking for what seems like miles, the final picture you see is of your own party – but there appears to be an additional member who you don’t remember.

2.  The Weaver’s Room

Long strands of yarn criss-cross each other and seem to come from every corner of the room. At their center, an old woman sits at a golden loom, her four arms working tirelessly. She takes no notice of you as you enter and her milky white eyes never leave her work, even as the doors you didn’t notice slam closed behind you. 

3. The Rat King

You hear the faint sound of horns and drums that grows louder as a parade of rats marches into view, each as large as a human child and playing a variety of instruments. On a litter at the center of the cavalcade sits the rat king – a massive rat with three heads and a tangle of tails lashing behind it. As they pass, the Rat King motions his procession to stop and studies you with all three faces. “Why do you not kneel before your king?” he growls.

4. Blurred Chapel

Small sconces burn on the walls of this simple stone chapel, throwing flickering light on the statue and altar at its center. As you study the symbols on the altar, they seem to blur and change shapes before your eyes. You shake your head and try to focus on the face of the statue, but it too seems smeared and illegible. 

5. The Encore

Improbably, the muffled sounds of a crowd of people seem to be coming from the thick velvet curtains in front of you. As you part them, the sound turns into a roar of applause coming from the audience that is now before you. Roses land at your feet, and tears stream from the eyes of the audience members as their applause stops and they begin rhythmically chanting, “Encore. Encore. Encore…”

6. Ansel’s Armory

A battle-worn man sits behind a counter, countless rare and magical weapons on the walls behind him. As he looks up at you, you can count several deep scars on his face, neck, and chest that look as though they should have been fatal. He holds his hand out to you as you approach and says, “Alright, let’s see what the captain needs this time.”

7. Crematory

The smell of burnt bone and rot fills your nose as you open the door. Loose ash swirls around your feet and the blast furnace inside suddenly roars to life. Hysterical shrieks fill the air as long twisted shadows pull themselves from the walls and begin moving toward you.

8. The Canyon

A canyon stretches across the hallway in front of you for hundreds of feet, impossible in its depth and location. A rickety rope bridge stretches across the chasm and provides the only means for crossing. Strange animal calls echo up from below the mists that obscure the canyon’s bottom and the forms of flying creatures can be seen circling in the fog below.

9. The Beetle Ball

Lovely string music draws you to the hatch in the floor. Opening the door reveals a minuscule ballroom full of various beetles in elegant gowns, dress uniforms, and other finery. The tiny string quartet begins to play faster, as the beetles take to the floor and begin their waltz. Watching them spin to and fro to the music, you begin to feel dizzy…

10. Pit Fight

Sand covers the floor of this room and the smell of sweat and sword oil is thick in the air. Training weapons are scattered haphazardly, surrounding a large circular fighting pit that lies at the center of the chamber. As you look around the room, you feel your heart begin to pound as your body floods with adrenaline and your mind clouds with rage.

11. The Tudor

“You’re late!” a voice snaps from the room as you enter. Standing before you is a rail-thin man, impossibly tall and very well dressed. He hands you a worn copy of a book titled Those Trapped Within and motions for you to take a seat at a row of oversized desks. “It’s time to begin your studies.”

12. The Kennels

Strange howls and the scent of wet fur hit you the moment you open the door. Cages line the wall on both sides of the corridor stretching before you. Glowing eyes stare at you from behind the bars and you can just make out the shadows of the misshapen creatures behind them. A loud whistle pierces the air as the cage doors swing open.


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Featured Image: The Rat King by Anderson Maia

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