The Labyrinth of Ghul

“There are strange things living in the pools and lakes in the hearts of the mountains; fish whose fathers swam in, goodness only knows how many years ago, and never swam out again, while their eyes grew bigger and bigger and bigger from trying to see in the blackness; also there are other things more slimy than fish. Even in the tunnels and caves the goblins have made for themselves there are other things living unbeknown to them that have sneaked in from the outside to lie up in the dark. Some of these caves, too, go back in their beginnings to ages before the goblins, who only widened them and joined them up with passages, and the original owners are still there in odd corners, slinking and nosing about.”


The key to understanding the Labyrinth, and why it is so extensive and interconnected, is that when Ghul, the Skull-King built it, he forced his servants and slaves to toil for a generation carving out the network of chambers and passages under the present site of Mornhaven. This was done for three reasons; To find a place where he could enter the Banewarrens, which he never accomplished; To create a place to prepare for his assault into the Underdark via the Deep Way, which he accomplished; and most importantly, to find a place to create his Squirming Horde. The network of tunnels and caverns housed and supplied his army, and he also built laboratories and breeding pits to add to his forces.

Although Ghul is long dead, and his armies destroyed and scattered, his Labyrinth remains. Some have passages have collapsed, but most hold firm and remain an artificial honeycomb of tunnels beneath the city streets. These passages connect with many natural caverns belowground, and include some of the hidden dungeons, crypts and sewers, and the deeper realms under the earth, mostly further away from the city itself.

This network of tunnels and rooms has a unique ecology all its own. While similar to the underdark in many ways, it is inhabited by creatures that can cope with doors; either through slipping under them, or by opening them. Giant rats and ghouls are common. The air is clammy, but temperature changes are minimal. Torches and open flames will sputter, and the air smells of mildew and decay. In the lower levels the walls are damp and dripping, showing their closeness to open water sources.

The upper tunnels are crumbling and somewhat unstable, but have no real effect on the actions of the adventurers, unless wide-scale damaging spells are deployed, such as lightning bolts and fireballs. Doors are usually stone, or thick wood bound in heavy bronze, turning on central pins and opened by central pull-rings on both sides. Most doors to chambers have provision for locks that use keys to drive metal or stone bolts into their frames to seal them near the locks, or at both top and bottom. Many are damaged, and jam frequently, given the age of the place. Archways between sections are common when no door is noted.

The Labyrinth of Ghul

Thieves & Kings Robling