An ominous question: “Marching order?”
With no more warning than a faint rumble, the ground opens up beneath your party. First and last in line may be able to make a roll to haul themselves back up to solid ground, but they won’t be able to pull anyone else out. Those in the middle are simply swallowed by a massive sinkhole.
Sinkholes—a mundane, through terrifying, result of erosion, or of pumping out too much groundwater? Maybe…in a boring world. But let’s put aside what we “know” and ask what else could cause a sink hole. (…like this one, that swallowed a guy in Florida last month – Ed.)
In a sword and sorcery game, such as Brian Patterson’s Karthun setting, perhaps the sink hole was a trap formed by conquesting dwarves, the “underlords,” who are out to enslave and eliminate the over-races. Or it may be a small group of dwarves on a particular quest or personal vendetta. It might even be an accidental overlap between your party, tromping heavily on the path and an Illithid working its way through an underground route which, coincidentally, runs directly under the road at this point.
If you’re playing Call of Cthulhu, perhaps it’s a giant burrower beneath, eroding the ground beneath them, or even stalking your party. If your characters are in an area populated by Deep Ones or certain kinds of cultists, perhaps your party accidentally falls into a network of tunnels and must work their way back to familiar ground.
In a more modern setting, perhaps this was a trap set by Reptoids who have a conspiratorial reason for taking out your team. Do they know too much? Is the villain in league with these ancient underdwellers, or perhaps secretly a reptoid itself?
Or, as the title suggests, your party might just happen to fall into a Hellmouth and fight the servitors of the First.
The sinkhole itself is unlikely to be a major plot element. However, it can prove a striking way to move your party from one setting to another. And hey, if your team ends up fighting a group of serial sinkhole creators who are out to suck the overdwellers into the underdeep, so much the bet…..what’s that rumbling soun…..
Photo credit horslips5.