This castle evolved out of an effort to create a dungeon-like experience that has a reason to exist in context without stretching credulity. I was also experimenting with a dungeon that doesn’t have a linear or defined sequence of progress, like the rotating labyrinth. This was my solution: a castle with a military garrison, but in which generals and the master of the castle expect to be able to live in comfort during peace times. Any race could occupy the castle, though the surface races and the more organized races are more likely candidates. I’d use either Lizardfolk or Humans, I think.
The Ground Floor has only one direct entrance: through the main gate house. Mind Weave’s magic means that it is possible to choose any wall through which to enter, but such a spell is expensive. Furthermore, such a spell draws attention if anyone is nearby and may result in unintended collapses that could really raise a commotion. Another option is to fly into one of the open gardens and use one of the doors there (which will be locked at night). However, as we will see later, archers on the towers make it difficult to enter flying, and flying multiple people can be very expensive.
The Great Hall can host anything from balls to military reunions, greatly changing how many and what kinds of people are there. For some players, innocent bystanders may make life more interesting than additional foes, or viceversa. The Dining Room will be occupied during meals, but other times of day, other rooms (some of which I have not defined) will be in use. The servant and soldier commons and the kitchen are almost certainly occupied during the day.
The Second Floor has no direct entrances, but it is very accessible through the many towers, though these towers are constantly defended and require flight or climbing to reach from the exterior. The second floor is also less vulnerable to entry though wall breaking.
Most people in the castle sleep on the second floor, especially in the soldier bunks and servants’ quarters. While most of the rooms on this floor are meant for guests, some are preferentially used for high ranking officers garrisoned in or visiting the castle. These officer rooms have direct and discrete access to the War Rooms.
The Great Hall Balcony provides seating and tables during events held in the Great Hall. It is also a good place for discrete conversation during the day when most people are on the first floor.
The Third Floor is much smaller than the two lower floors. It contains six (6) bedrooms, including the Master Bedroom. This Master Bedroom has a secret stairway leading down through the other floors with access to a War Room, a study, and the dungeons.
The ten (10) open tower parapets on this level make it very accessible to anyone who can fly or climb well. However, these towers are always manned, and their connections tower to tower mean the alarm can easily be sounded if an enemy appears on top of one of them.
The roof tops of the shorter sections of the castle are slanted and made of clay tiles. Crashing in through these roofs may be plausible, but in some places this is a dangerous fall.
The central keep also takes form on this floor, extending up one more floor to be higher than the other towers. It is the tallest portion of the castle. Like the other towers, it is manned at all times. Nonetheless, someone who can fly stealthily may find it is the best entrance, since its guards are not as able to communicate with those on other towers that they are under attack. However, it is a longer flight to reach it, requiring better spell longevity and increasing the risk of detection.
The Basement of the castle is small. Six of the towers have storage rooms for food and arms in the basement (four are near enough the kitchens and garrison to rely on their supplies.) There is also a dungeon in the basement where criminals or prisoners of war can be kept. Two gaolers have their rooms in the basement and help to secure the passage from the chamber under the gatehouse to the dungeon.
The Garrison is divided into 4 watches of 40 or 41 each. Each watch is organized by 3 lesser officers who participate in the watch’s shifts. Each watch takes a 4 hour shift during the day and a 2 hour shift during the night. During these shifts, the watches generally keep 4 men on each tower, including an officer in the keep, an officer in a gatehouse tower, and an officer in the tower above the garrison. Higher officers or masters of the castle may inspect positions or visit the watches, but are not counted as part of any watch.
When the castle becomes aware of a threat in the area, it implements “double watches” in order to be more prepared. Double watches does not mean there are twice as many people on the towers. That would quickly reduce morale and occurs only during battle or more permanently during a siege. Instead, when double watches are in place, a watch that has just finished its shift remains armed an armored for another shift, but can move about freely so long as they stay in the castle or garrison. They are not allowed to sleep during this time and half of the watch must be on reserve in the garrison or gatehouse at all times. This means that they can pass their leisure time almost unimpeded while enhancing the readiness of the castle. It is also a good reason for players to avoid alerting the castle if they plan on attacking it.
I have a few other tricks up my sleeve to make it more complicated to decide on the best course of action, including an artifact that creates elementals to defend the inner door of the gatehouse, making it difficult to pick the lock or break the door. Soldiers from the garrison also have a direct route to reinforce the gatehouse.
Flying in may seem favorable, but it risks being overwhelmed by a large portion of the garrison at once. I suspect that a course that involves taking the unprepared garrison unaware may be more prudent. I hope to soon have the ability to test this dungeon with my players.