Chapter Thirty-one: Defenders, Elite and Guardians
Brandr had been staring at his Dungeon Management interface for a long time, his mind deliberating the merits of several different plans. Dungeon creatures, he had learned, were dived into three different categories; defenders, elite defenders and floor guardians. At least, that was what his blue panels said. Thorn, however, was telling him something different. From what he knew, the dungeon monsters were divided thusly; ordinary, elite and bosses. That the two were the same was obvious. It did, however, let Brandr know that the way dungeons categorised and perceived things was wholly different from what others thought. Even adventurers, the so-called experts on all things dungeon were wrong though not completely.
According to them, ordinary monsters, for dungeon creatures could only be considered monsters, were those creatures who simply lived in a dungeon. They lived the same lives as their counterparts outside the dungeon. They sought food, shelter and mates. That was it. Considering that dungeon variants were usually superior or magical when compared to non-dungeon ones, they could be hunted by adventurers. However, only those whose parts were useful would, in fact, be hunted the rest were usually just killed because they were in the way. No one went into a dungeon to hunt rats and even when they encountered them only killed them because of the confrontation. However, should the rat be special in some way, say in possession of a mana core or some useful fur or hide, then, of course, they would have parties coming into the dungeon for their sake. Perhaps that was wrong. They would have parties diving into the dungeon for those special materials.
Brandr’s dungeon interface told him something completely different. It said that all creatures, no many how insignificant, were defenders. They existed to defend the dungeon from invaders and to provide it with sustenance in the form of mana, spiritual energy and life essence be it from their unconscious emissions or from the invaders they killed. Adventurers believed that ordinary monsters would not attack if avoided but the interface told Brandr that if need be, they would attack with everything they had to protect his core. Usually, those too weak to pose a threat to invaders would steer clear but should he will it, even flies and maggots would attack his foes.
Elite defenders were different. They were usually the cream of the crop on each individual floor, defender wise. They were creatures that had either distinguished themselves in some way or been bred or awarded by the dungeon such that they possessed incredible powers or abilities. They could be elevated from the usual fodder defenders but they could also be designed specifically to suit a purpose. The funny thing was, dungeons created elite to be killing machines. They, not the defenders, were in charge of hunting down invaders. They were the leaders of normal defenders, generals, kings or lone star trump cards there to defend critical areas or wander the floor in search of prey.
Adventurers felt different. To them, elite were the true draw of a dungeon. Be it the challenge they posed, the rewards they guarded or the loot that dropped from their corpses, they were irresistibly enticing. This created the strange situation where elite defenders sought out adventurers and vice versa. The elite were a dungeon’s true fangs and were thusly equipped, allowing them to reap the lives and essence of invaders but they were also walking treasures to adventurers. Some dungeons learnt from this, placing them in locations that promised great rewards to act as additional lures to draw in ‘prey’. Brandr could tell that was something he was going to have a lot of fun with.
Floor Guardians or Bosses in adventurer parlance were different in every way from the other two kinds of dungeon born. For one thing, they were the only category that both Thorn’s adventurer knowledge and his dungeon interface agreed on. They were protectors. It was simple if you looked at a dungeon from a macro view. Defenders populated the dungeon. Elite defenders hunted its prey and floor guardians protected it.
Dungeons were divided into floors, each acting as a separate layer of space for its inhabitants. However, each floor was connected to the ones above and below it. Floor Guardians protected these connections points, preventing invaders from delving into a dungeons depths and reaching its core. Thus, they were usually the most powerful creature on the entire floor possessing power and skills that even adventurers were hard-pressed to match. Unfortunately, this made them even bigger targets in the eyes of invaders. Dungeons were duty bound to provide loot for every creature defeated and floor guardians were assigned the best it had to offer. Whether the offering was a distraction, compensation for not taking the core or even a lure to draw even more adventurers, Brandr did not know and neither did Thorn. He just knew that dungeon monsters dropped loot and bosses dropped the best loot.
While it made for interesting reading it also told Brandr what standards he would have to adhere to when designing his dungeon. He thought back to the mystic realms he had explored in his youth and the trials he had had to overcome. If he was to implement this defensive system on a mystic realm, how would it turn out?
‘The greater the treasures, the greater the dangers’, he said to himself. He knew the standards he held himself to and he knew exactly what it would take to motivate the explorers. Thorn had said it himself. Should the rewards be great enough, adventurers would go anywhere and do anything.
Thorn did his best to dissuade his master but the dungeon core would have none of it. He watched horrified as Brandr designed the first boss room to house his abominations. Already, the blightwasps, his master’s ace, had taken to the place. They flew about the chamber inquisitively whilst their creator anchored their nest to the centre of the ceiling. Each was close to twenty centimetres long and harshly coloured in menacing degrees of black and red. They brandished five-centimetre long cursed stings and flitted about on screeching wings let all know to steer clear or suffer.
“At least assign them to the third floor or make them elite on the fourth”, the sprite lord implored.
“No!” Brandr said noncommittally. “We have had this discussion. Anyone who invades this dungeon expecting loot or glory had better have the power to back those desires. If they cannot even beat these insects then they are unworthy of my treasures and of no use to my growth.”
Turning to face his guide, Brandr made his stand clear. “This will be an elite dungeon!”
“There’s no such thing!” Thorn argued.
“There is now!”