The mind is the most powerful thing we mortals possess. With it we have altered the course of history, invented marvels of sciences, and created entire worlds. In a world of magic and multiple planes of existence it would be no surprise that dungeons could exist in the very minds of its inhabitants.
Housing a dungeon in the mind can be a way to break from the normal adventure or add to the narrative. This type of dungeon allows you and possibly the players more freedom where the normal laws of reality may not work properly.
Entering the Mind
As with any dungeon the entrance is the most important part. When the dungeon is within someone/somethings mind the entrance may be less physical. Here are a few ways to enter this kind of dungeon:
Location – Slipping into unconsciousness in a certain location.
Curse – A spell cast on the character to trap them deep within their own mind.
Dream Feeder – A creature that feeds on nightmares induced on its victims.
Physical Entryway – An actual doorway in which you pass through such as a door or an archway.
Having a theme to the mental dungeon can create for a more engaging experience. A theme can also speak volumes to the creator or the mind of the individual who holds the dungeon. Here are some themes that can be found:
Labyrinth – An endless maze with many dangers and secrets held within it.
Palace – A large home with several people, memories, and knowledge.
Past/Future Event – Having a player explore a future or past event.
Library – A massive repository of knowledge and memories
Gauntlet – A series of challenges to be completed.
Prison – A place to keep dangerous creatures.
Within mental dungeons there are dangers inside and outside the mind. One thing you need to establish when creating this dungeon is whether or not the person entering leaves their own body behind or if their body enters into the mind. Each pose their own challenges and hazards.
When leaving your body behind you have to remember that they are still exposed to the outside. Not only that but they are unconscious, which can pose problems over long periods of time if you fail to get food or water. What happens to you if your body dies while you are still inside the dungeon? What happens when you die in the dungeon? Does your body die as well or do you slip into a brain dead state?
Should your body go into the dungeon you are not as much at risk from outside conditions. Your body can be sustained by food and water from in the dungeon – if any exist. If you take damage inside the dungeon then your body is taking the damage. It becomes less difficult to determine what happens to you.
The biggest concern and questions you should answer is what happens when something affects the person/creature that the dungeon is inside of. When the host takes mental/psychic damage what happens to the dungeon and you? When the host takes physical damage what happens? Should the host die are you simply kicked out or do you die as well?
If you are the host what effects do people entering your mind have on you? Does destroying certain things inside of the dungeon affect your personality, memories, or your physical features?
With all of the dangers and challenges there needs to be a way of escaping a mental dungeon. This can range from a variety of ways but usually relates to the way that you entered the dungeon in the first place. Here are some examples:
Completing an objective – If the dungeon is a gauntlet you may need to complete a certain task before you are kicked out.
Destroying/Obtaining an Object – Perhaps the dungeon is held in place by an item of importance to its creator.
Defeating a Creature – Fending off a creature that has entered your dreams.
Physical Exit – An actual door or archway that leads back into the material plane.
Removing a Curse – Individuals from outside the dungeon remove a curse placed on you allowing you to awaken from your imprisonment.
These dungeons can create interesting ways to explore one’s character or the personality of another. Our minds house so many things that having a dungeon in someone’s head could literally be the seed of an entire campaign.