Chapter Seven: A Dungeon’s Revisions
Brandr surveyed his dungeon. He had just completed his seventh floor, moving the faerie realm down to the eighth. The constant raids on his dungeon provided him with a lot of power. However, they also showed him just how effective his domain was at luring in new prey and defending itself from invaders. It was high time he went over his masterpiece. He had learnt a lot watching the adventurers run through the place. The recent lull gave him the perfect opportunity to revise his strategies.
In contrast to its initial showing, the first floor was practically a joke now. Up to three teams of low-ranked adventurers roved the place in five-hour intervals, clearing everything of worth. They were often accompanied by a rank three or four adventurer who served as a lookout or assurance against the vipers and the more dangerous traps. Like this, the wily bastards scoured his floor like locusts. No stone was left unturned and having figured out his spawn rate, they made sure to come back as soon as his stocks were restored.
The wasps were the only threat, and even they were being ‘farmed’ as the adventurers called it. Now that their weakness to fire was known, it only took a properly outfitted team a quarter of an hour to wipe them out. The clearance rate had subsequently skyrocketed. This meant that Brandr was actually running a loss as far as the first floor was concerned. He was forced to reduce the numbers of the rarer plants as well as remove the secret rooms and special reward chests from the first floor. No longer having to make those swords and spears only saved him a smidgen of essence but it summed up to a significant count in the long run. He was also forced to spawn a couple of roaming wasps to keep the low-ranked adventurers on their toes. Only then was he able to stop haemorrhaging essence on the first floor.
The second floor was much better. Thus far, only four teams had successfully beaten Magni and gained access to the third floor. Of these four, one was the first team that came with the elder, a party he never saw again. The second was Utir’s bears. They tended to challenge Magni quite often. The third was nearly wiped to the man, claiming a pyrrhic victory atop Magni’s corpse. The last was a party of dwarves that handled the fight in the most professional manner thus far. They had only done so once but they left an impression. Nevertheless, their methods shared too much in common with Utir’s Bears for it to be a coincidence.
Even so, Magni was proving to be an effective wall. Plus, he secured a considerable number of kills for Brandr’s growth. Unfortunately, he could not rely on this fact to remain true forever. The adventurers were much more ingenious than the first party had led him to believe. Soon a proper strategy would be worked out, and the second floor would be no better than the first. He needed an appropriate solution to the problem.
It was regrettable, but he could not just make each floor more difficult. That would defeat the purpose of having floors with ascending levels of difficulty as well as ruin the aesthetic he was working towards. The problem was not that the dungeon was too easy. It was that the adventurers were camping out the conquered floors instead of diving deeper. Only the genuinely daring like Utir’s Bears and the new dwarven group seemed to be making any progress.
Brandr’s growth and the growth of his cultivation base required that he lure powerful creatures into his dungeon. Failing that, he had to create them himself. Either way, he did not want scores of weak adventurers camped out in his upper floors. Unfortunately, they were only too happy to do so. Perhaps, it was because he went too hard on them in the beginning or maybe it was because his rewards were too rich and they were content enough to simply farm his top two floors. It did not matter which. None of it helped him.
The idea behind offering treasure was to pique their interest. To make them think, ‘If the stuff here is so good, how about the stuff deeper in?’ The planning that went into the top three floors was intended to introduce them to what was expected of them, weed out the chaff and arm them for the actual trials ahead. That was why he provided weapons even in the secret chests. So that even the weaklings could improve. He only stood to gain if the people who depended on him became stronger.
However, none of these measures worked!
After a week of brainstorming, Brandr came up with a new idea to discourage ‘camping’ and ‘farming’. By adding special rules to the drop rates of his guardians, he made it so that the more often a group of adventurers fought a guardian, the worse their rewards would be. This was an expansion on the system that gave the best drops to the party responsible for the first clear.
For example, the first clear reward for the Blightwasp Hive was the Blight Bow. It was also the best of the possible prizes that dropped when this guardian was defeated. Besides first clears, the bow only had a five per cent chance of dropping regularly. On the other hand, Blightwasp parts, the least valuable reward, had a fifty per cent chance of popping up. The quiver of blight arrows and the wasp’s miasma had a thirty and a fifteen per cent chance respectively.
Under the new rules, the drop rate of the blight bow would reduce by one per cent every hunt after the fifth until it reached zero. Same for all other drops besides the monster parts. Any item that reached zero would no longer drop for the affected party. That meant that after twenty successful clears, an adventurer would have a zero per cent chance of getting the bow, zero per cent chance of getting the wasp miasma, fifteen per cent of getting the quiver and eighty-five per cent chance of getting Blight wasp parts.
Brandr even tweaked it so that after thirty runs, the drop rates would then be fixed and the quantity of the rewards would decrease instead. Imagine having a mere five per cent chance of getting a quiver of arrows, and succeeding only to then find out that there were eighteen instead of twenty-four arrows in the quiver.
With luck, this would be enough to discourage ‘boss farming’ and force the adventurers to delve deeper into the dungeon. If it worked as intended, competition for first clears would soar, and he would have his first party contesting the hobgoblins in two months at the latest. Then, his plan could really take off. The adventurers believed they were farming him. They were wrong. He was the one farming them! The thought earned a chuckle from the former dao lord. Cultivation was never this literal before.
Were Thorn here, he would probably stare at the dungeon in disbelief and complain about how callous he was being. By reducing the rewards for fighting his guardians and forcing the adventurers to delve deeper in search of treasure, Brandr was essentially giving the weaker adventurers three options to choose from; leave, improve or die! Too bad the dungeon core could not care less about that.
Ignoring the fact that he was now a sentient mystic realm that gained sustenance from the essence and lives of the creatures it lured into its depths, Brandr was once a daolord, a cosmic entity with the power to destroy worlds like this one by his lonesome. As insulting as it sounded, the inhabitants of Tignar were ants in his eyes and the bottom-ranked adventurers: less than ants. He might no longer possess that kind of reality-warping power, but that was precisely the point.
Brandr’s current goal was the restoration of his former powers and not sparing the feelings of the beings that would have entirely escaped his notice just half a year before this. He had made headway by converting to the path of a world god, but that would only buy him time. His cultivation tier was high, but his cultivation base with respect to that was in a considerable deficit. He had no time for weaklings.
Author’s Note: They say no plan survives first contact with the enemy. It is not just the adventurers that have to adjust to Brandr. Our beloved World God/ Dungeon needs to adapt to them too. He’s probably never met loot hungry murder hobos of this calibre before.