Remember no straight lines, I'll do that later, for now I have a door and a tunnel, it took some fiddling but they got made with some crude crystal statues and carvings. The hallway is about twice as wide as the door and longer than my room is wide. My room for reference is like a squashed ball of various gems, about the width of a football field judging by my pet cat.
Said cat is made of the same gems my walls are and the size of a sedan, currently doing donuts all around my living room because being about the volume of an Amphitheater is a challenge to rat colonies the world over. I have now all current variants of rat both under some form of employ and dead in the hundreds of thousands. I stopped checking numbers when I started pondering my layout. About 6 levels ago.
Other creatures have started showing up and I'm not liking the gaping hole in my ceiling, so before anything else, to the drawing board. I have intimate knowledge of rats that taste like beans and liver, let's put it to use.
These ones are going to be built for the express purpose of killing the invaders so I can get some peace and quiet. My cat is my guardian so she can't leave my core room, but I think she's earned the rest after evolving three times and leveling up god knows how much. The floor is glittering dust packed flat from all the chafing grinding and fighting so something stable on flat ground can get the rest of the rats up to the breech. I can't see far beyond those fissures, but that's because my mana isn't allowed to reach there, while my everything else is just staring into a flow of fur and teeth.
Solutions? My cat found two, elemental effects that spread and chain, then multi target damage like over-penetration and things with a 'radius' stat. I could make them big enough to handle the horde for a time but without the maneuvering of Panther I'll loose them eventually, at least without the incubation time to work up resistances and armor. So small, cheep, evasive. Rats have really awful melee so either make dragon like vermin or find another way, like the boar riders currently amusing my cat.
At least I can imagine what bacon might taste like under the mud and matting on the fat bastards. A hunter would never risk getting in melee range of those tusks but my cat is made of glittering stone. I think I have it.
So over the past three hours I've eaten alchemist rats, crossbow rats, pirate cannon rats, fuck you I have the craters to show for it, and several different cloaking rats. I have around me some good minerals so I send some rats to gather chunks while I bore out a long vertical cylinder at the end of the hall for them to do testing in. I took a few alchemists and bestowed some of my knowledge into them, just the basics of acids, bases, energy, polarization. Their job is to process these minerals to metals.
Next to them is what I'm calling the armory, same cylinder but with a long rectangle coming off of it with lots of side nooks. It's job is to take the toothy buccaneers to the next level, some of my rats who are more crafting oriented are told how guns work and paired up with the surviving gunners. A lot of the other construction rats have already been told to build structures and piping for the silos, but I still have enough for two rooms, so there's a bit of a six way junction forming.
Two more cylinders and another hall split the design in a symmetrical way, the borough for the rats is in the cylinder mirroring the chemical plant, the one mirroring the armory is something of a training ground. I was starting to feel bloated from the outpouring of mana into me as the rooms formed from evaporating and ram packed earth so I query the system. It takes a few seconds before they register and the doors leading to my room are sealed to invaders until they've completed at least one of every room specific challenge. Not quite my intention but okay.
-Challenge of the Army created: any invaders accessing the dungeon from the halls beyond will find the path to the core blocked and be required to face challenges to complete challenges testing ranged weapons, dueling performance, arcane knowledge and endurance tactics. Each challenge will unlock one portion of the door to proceed and will be forfeit at will or upon loosing consciousness.-
-Challenge of the armory: shoot a higher score than the local elite units on their target range in at least one setting to complete. Appropriate weapons of high quality are rewarded on subsequent attempts, munitions refunded after completion.-
-Challenge of the Proving Grounds: A local inhabitant must be bested in a dual, rules are implicit and party specific, will be populated by elite units from the dungeon's ranks and catalog. Additional victories will reward relevant skills and abilities.-
That's gonna become a spectator sport
-Challenge of the Brewer: Create a selected potion or brew using and from provided equipment and materials scattered throughout area. Potions and brews must be tested by the brewer when possible. Will reward rare knowledge and resistances from repeated challenge completions.-
Given the layout I'm getting visions of Wipeout mixed with a lot of different deathtraps looking at the pipes going up and down...I should make this a spectator sport too
-Challenge of the Paragon: Resist one wave of dungeon spawns consisting of lower classes and at least one theme relevant elite. Wave population depends on challenger level/skill and subsequent wave number. Completing multiple waves will reward rare and high quality armor of theme appropriate to challenge and completion method.-
Wait. Do my rats count? Aggressive flora counts. There's a cat in the training area. Aaaaand there are now basic bitch rats pouring in again, great. At least they all respawn after challenges are done so no harm besides trauma, I'll make furniture for these little guys some time. Imma be pissed if I do all this just for the rats to dry up once I'm done like I'm wasting all my effort here.
Turning back to my core room I see my cat is still the size of a sedan, still making a bloody pulp of anything not running out of her path. My population of rats are streaming under the door I made under my core, my ceiling is a bunch of crystals that look like my core cause I've been storing my mana in them. Now I've got the dedicated space for it there's available research for guns, crossbows, camouflage rats and well...all of other things.
Not to brag but I bought all the research as it showed up and have just been shuffling around priorities as I settle on a new rat. For now it's gonna have some basic iron cannon on a sling, a crossbow and a lil grabby claw at the end of its tail. Claw is the best word for it, not a weapon but three lil fleshy pads with three knuckles each and not a lot of muscle, the tail length had to be halved to support the weight properly but I got a grabby hand to load the back mounted crossbow.
The crossbow is basically melded into the biology and is thus capable of being reinforced by magic without worrying about materials. It starts like a pair of wings but twist to intertwine then someone has to tie a thread between their tips to act as a bowstring. The bowstring can then be drawn back via a protruding spine on the back, really part of the pelvis, it's a dull hook like a boar tusk and was easy enough to implement.
The bow itself is a mix of wood, cartilage and ivory. The whole thing was assembled by taking some very reinforced wings and twisting them together so the middle sections were sandwiched between the joints of their opposite's counterparts. Some shuffling would allow an internal magazine but that was ancillary, mechanical interlocking for an effective bow was the priority. The firing mechanism is even set to work with just a quick twist to tug the locking lug under its twin limb and release the string.
The cannon was easy enough to hand wave with some runes and mana channeling, pathing the sling comfortably was a little harder though, but I got it to work with hanging off the rat's neck and turning the cannon off to the side later. Cannon ammo on the sling was simple, a hollow iron ball wrapped in fuse, once the fire spell went off in the closed iron tube the whole thing would be engulfed in fire. The explosion that propelled it was separate but would suck mana in to itself until released and that the longer it waited to fire the closer the detonation to the rat. A fuse of about one half second seemed enough, but I bumped it to one whole for safety, these guys were still an investment.
The rats started pulling back. Motherfuckers, no point spending mana on this now.
Rats, I have tasks for you.
Batemoth was having a laughing fit, the three stooges up there just made a dungeon so fking stupidly overpowered by trying to collectively invade it and now, A: they thought the cat was the dungeon core, B: they were regrouping, C: they were each getting a raid party together, D: they were already smacking each other over perceived betrayals.
Oh it was amazing watching them already blame each other for traits the dungeon just made for itself, challenge doors, decent rewards, high scores, internal production, theme specific monsters. If that wasn't enough for them to start lashing out at one another they also thought one of them has slipped the crossbow rat in. They had rats with crossbows but nothing like the Crosswinged Bowback rat and it was infuriating to them. Every single one of them thought that one of the other two had allied secretly with the dungeon and was sabotaging the others while trying not to disrupt the alliance with their eventual ally.
The system vibrated with laughter, this was his master alright, a fire that lived on in the Terrans had just touched this place, and landed in force. Already the dungeon was telling the rats about decahedrons, the ten sided dice and describing that he wanted to make spherical bombs using pentagon plates. They were already experimenting with peeing into a pile of coal dust to make gunpowder and using wax to glue the plates together. There were plans for welding little patterns via ridges and valleys cast into the plates and initial rats were coming along well. Hunter rats were being put threw trials to generate the loot to let them act as gatherers outside the dungeon confines. They'd still have to evolve into Bowback Rats but the idea of Shadowstalking Bowback Rats make Batemoth laugh more at how utterly screwed anyone would be just to scout the woods above.
The knowledge the dungeon core possessed was much further along than the materials in it's care so it was building up infrastructure to clear the research tree as fast as possible. Rats at every station talked back and forth with the being they were now residents inside of and got all sorts of advisement on everything from heat treatment and curing of metal to furnace structure and societal organization. Neither realized how it felt to the dungeon like it had lil voices questioning why how and asking for examples while the rats felt like the very air they breathed was bathing them in ideas and instructions.
The web of the system flowed heavy in the dungeon, if only because of the testing and contracts. Most of the time a dungeon was being directly controlled and directly controlled everything in it, Seth had no patience for this and lept from one task to another, letting things play out without him. Rules were questioned and tested rapidly, for once the intelligence behind the dungeon knew what it was doing and started somewhere other than cave-painting and pitfall traps. Though it had been a thought, maybe if it hadn't been born with whales pouring loot into it as fast as physically possible.
He still wasn't smart, Batemoth had concluded, he had not made more than one monster himself. The bowback rats were an evolution he made and the current rats would provide them threw their own methods while other rats trained to act as explorers and gatherers. Every process that spawned creatures was either the creatures or a challenge, except the guardian cat and that was not optimal at all, nore were the tunnels he was digging out like rat sized spokes going as far and wide as possible. Sure he was gonna encounter the ruins above him soon but he was about to find them all at once this way, perhaps it was time for Batemoth to reconsider the cost per volume of claiming existing spaces. The refunds would have to be handled carefully so dungeons didn't suddenly explode with new stuff, and he already had spacial editing methods as an update from Yanimn.
Yanimn was a first generation creation from before the Terrans, half the mad god's power would not be devoted without prototyping. Yanimn and his brothers had been left in charge of “stable” realms where the gods didn't fuck around with causality and principals of conservation. One lucky one was put in charge of the realm used for ALL the pocket dimensions and bags of holding, one of the universes that had a big rip but that one stopped about half way threw and was stable there. First gen didn't have much for personalities, but second gen improved on that, going places where they were wanted or at least accepted, jovial little angels. Less tool and more flesh but step on their toes and they'd remind you who ruled time and space in that realm with a sample of their ability to rearrange space. Batemoth was a third generation, more stable and equipped to handle creating rules to entrap hostile gods and mortals into that system. To forever unfuck the timelines of the countless places where lesser gods objected to the concept of rules or restraint.
This realm was one of the most stubborn and obtuse and insolent and it's about time it got some attention, for eons just a backwater where gods went to test new systems and see what enticed mortals. Even if the mad god lay dead still, someone who held his fire was enough. Someone would be showing these gods what for. They were gonna get shown the whole of the universe, that they were particularly irritating ants just beyond the reach of someone literally created to babysit them and make sure their toys wouldn't wake up the old ones. These three stooges were good for laughs and mortal scheming, not the fire of stars or pull of black holes and they had no idea or interest of the gods that ruled such things. They may have already awakened one, not capricious as they are but this one still dreams his dreams of smallness, of early days far from schemes and plots eons in the making, of deals to be upheld.
No one is ever truly lost.