Smit clicked his tongue mentally as he observed the dungeon he had created so far. A grand total of five floors, which had a combined distance of well over a thousand kilometers to be traveled. Certainly, that sounded quite good to most people; it was a substantial achievement for a dungeon that had not even existed for half a year. Hell, Smit had heard of dungeons that were half a century old with only five floors!
However, despite the fact that he was quite advanced for a dungeon his age, he was not satisfied with his current dungeon, or to be more specific, he was dissatisfied with the inhabitants of his dungeon. Even though he had a significant variety of species already living in his dungeon, he had more in store due to his recent rank up. It seemed that dungeons received general improvements to their abilities with every rank up, which he found useful but less than ideal.
Smit had come to a very dissatisfying realisation during his completion of the final floor of his dungeon. Unlike dwarves, humans, or elves, who could selectively specialize in very key aspects if they so choose to, he could not. Or at least, not directly.
A dwarf could master the art of war by choosing the path of the warrior over the path of the blacksmith. The warrior would dedicate himself entirely to learning the secrets of the body, the movement of his arms, the motion of his feet, and the art of survival. Then as the years came and he tried different weapons, he would specialize in a certain weapon, preferring it over the rest. In time, he would gather experience, and his fighting style would evolve, and he would further specialize in certain way of fighting, perhaps even becoming a famous figure. Under this situation, the dwarf would have specialized his physique and his mind to maximize his skills in the battlefield. However, this would have been done at the expense of forgoing the secrets of the forge.
Thus this dwarf would have been near useless in a smithy, but should there be a war, he would have been able to display his full potential.
Of course, one may argue that this dwarf could have conceivably learned both the paths at the same time, but the amount of time required to master both arts would still be greater than the amount of time needed if he was only to live and breathe for one art at the time. One could also argue that the dwarf could master one art first, and then master the second one, but the same problem presented itself: more time was needed than if he were to pick only one path.
That was exactly the problem that Smit was facing. It all comes down to time.
Smit could not choose to specialize, or at least, not in the conventional sense of the word. His rank up gave him fixed increases in his abilities, thus locking him in a format that would restrict his ability to grow quickly in any given direction he would have otherwise chosen.
This, of course, was the source of Smit’s worries at the moment. While he would have preferred to work his way to specialize his dungeon and its creatures to grow in a specific direction, he found that he could not force the matter past a certain point. In other words, despite his rank up, he was limited in modifying and guiding the evolution of his creatures. Moreover, he could not select what animals and plants became unlocked to him after his rank up. The knowledge simply came to him as if some unknown god decided to implant the blueprints into his mind on a whim.
What was he supposed to do with the knowledge of how to create a gopher? Or the power to bring pigeons into existence? Neither creature excelled at defence or offence and as such, barring an invasion of enhanced earthworms capable of digging their way through the mana-hardened stone of his dungeon, they were essentially useless for Smit.
The realization that he had so little control over what his rank up entailed and how it was managed was stressful to him, to say the least. He, who had lived for over seven centuries in his past life, spending untold decades to master each of his crafts so carefully by planning his future and overlapping knowledge, had now minimal control over his own development. It was madness!
The best he could currently do was modify creatures thanks to his abilities [Enhancement] and [Modification of Creations], both of which stemmed from his dungeon trait [Enhanced Monster Alterations].
He shuddered to think how much more difficult it would have been to manage everything if he had not chosen that trait when he came into being. Then he might have experienced true despair. At the very least, he might not have been able to create the current versions of Pala and Echo, which were heavily modified and enhanced. Pala in particular had been enhanced twice, and Smit had to push himself to the limit to make the modifications work. The only creature that had been more modified than Pala was his two-headed spider, and that had required many failed experiments to even achieve.
With his modifications, Smit could make his creations more dangerous, and he could certainly make them more viable to use. Pala himself was a testament to this, as without the enhancements, Smit doubted he would have been able to keep up with that giant adventurer last time. That alone made his selection of the dungeon trait [Enhanced Monster Alterations] well worth it.
That thought made Smit smile to himself, even if only a little. Perhaps there could be a way to make things work. There was always a way to make things work. Even if the materials were not ideal, a good blacksmith could still craft a brilliant axe if he used the right technique and the right tools.
Sinking deep into thought, Smit contemplated his options.
Option one was the most simple: rank up as fast as possible and gather as many new species as possible randomly. Eventually, he would get something good out of it. The downside of this was that he had no idea how many rank ups that would take, and that each rank up would take longer to reach.
Option two was instigating fighting frenzies. He could force his creatures to continuously evolve through the bloody evolution method. This was guaranteed to be faster than option one, but the downside was that if anyone entered his dungeon during a frenzy, his forces would be weaker due to the very nature of the frenzy.
Option three was that he could send out Pala and his kobolds to hunt more creatures outside the dungeon, which would certainly benefit him by getting him new species faster than the rank up and the frenzy. However, he would also be sending out one of his most powerful forces into the wild. With so many adventurers starting to gather, they might simply hunt down Pala and his brethren, or worse, associate Pala with the dungeon and come in force to investigate the situation.
Smit sighed as he thought of this. None of the options were what he would call ideal, or even satisfactory, especially when he knew that the village down the mountain was starting expansion plans, further reminding him about his time constraint. He wouldn’t be surprised if the village doubled its original size within a month at the rate that it was expanding. Smit had to praise the master craftsmen leading the workforce of the village, as they were truly guiding the other craftsmen skillfully.
Suddenly, as if a switch had been flipped in Smit’s mind, an idea surged from within the recesses of his mind. Perhaps he could guide his creations? Perhaps he could at least partially guide his creations down a broad path that he wanted them to take. It should be doable and it would increase the efficiency of his fighting frenzies too.
Smit speculated that his modifications could give a certain edge to his creations and his creations would, in turn, utilize his modifications to their advantage. By constantly utilizing these modifications and growing used to fighting with them, his creatures would be more likely to evolve into something that used those modifications as a strength. In theory, this should make his creatures more likely to evolve into other creatures more in line with what he desired them to be. With a bit luck, he could potentially enhance the chance of creating a variant or a rare subspecies.
The idea sounded a little farfetched at first, but the more he thought about it, the more plausible it seemed. It made sense to him that, if a creature relied heavily on defence, its evolution would also rely on defence, whereas if another creature relied on the use of poison, its evolution would be more poisonous. In a way, his snakes and mice had already proven this. Smit had enhanced the constricting snakes previously and the evolutions of those snakes turned them into larger snakes with more powerful muscles. The same could be said for his mice evolving into dungeon rats, a more aggressive and powerful form created for the purpose of fighting.
As he considered this, he hoped his hypothesis would be correct. If it was correct, then it would allow him to enhance his current strength significantly. Even if a he risked the fighting frenzy, he was confident that his maze would slow down his enemies enough for him to recuperate some of his troops, even if the cost of creating them was enhanced for the duration of the ordeal. After all, if the enemy spent upwards of a month in his dungeon at this point, even if the cost of recreating creatures in the dungeon increased, he would have plenty of time to regenerate his mana.
With this in mind, Smit swiftly took action. He was acutely aware that time was not on his side, and another group of adventurers could dive into his dungeon at any moment. He looked over the entire selection of creatures available to him. In total, he could create just over a hundred and ten different species of monsters and animals and fifty-two different types of plants. However, that included a large variety of creatures and plants he had not even attempted to create, such as pigeons, gophers, or cockroaches.
Frowning at his list, he looked over the new additions to his creations. He just recently had gotten the ability to create an additional twenty creatures, amongst which the only useful ones seemed to be dingoes, bobcats, iguanas, and an odd type of fish called “betta” which, despite being rather small, ranging between five and thirteen centimeters in length, seemed to be hardy fish that could ingest a large variety of things. Though not the strongest fish by any means, Smit approved of the hardiness of the species and hoped to make something useful out of them.
Other than that, the rest of the creatures seemed to be rather… underwhelming. Pigeons were hardly what he would consider a threatening creature, unless his invaders were deathly afraid of projectile bird poop landing on their gear. However, Smit might be able to find some use even for pigeons, but goldfish? Ladybugs? Dwarf rabbits? What was he supposed to do with those?
Particularly the goldfish got on Smit’s nerves. Few things were less threatening than a goldfish. The little bastards were not even that that great, with stupid looking eyes and droopy lips, the only thing they had going for them was the color of their fish scales. He was willing to bet his beard that they probably didn’t even taste good, either.
Sighing internally, Smit reminded himself that he didn’t have a beard at the moment, as he was currently a stationary crystal that resided in the last room of his dungeon. Grunting to himself as he pushed that thought out of his mind, Smit calmed down and considered his possibilities.
He took a moment to settle down, stilling his mind as he tried to attain perfect clarity of thought. As much as he hated to admit it, he had to consider every single possible creature at his disposal for evolution, even those dumb floating sacks of fool’s gold. He had to remember that even his little harmless mice had managed to evolve into a pseudo monster called dungeon rats. Even if the dungeon rats were far from being the most powerful creature he could create, they were still capable of hunting snakes in packs, and with enough of them, even normal adventurers would face danger if they weren’t prepared.
From cute little mice to predatory tiny killing machines, his dungeon rats were proof that even the weakest creatures could grow to be fearsome little bastards, if they had enough time.
Who knows, maybe in the future he would have a giant goldfish that shot magic lasers of fire from its eyes as a dungeon boss.
Chuckling at the thought, Smit let the thought fade away as he returned his mind to the matter at hand. No matter how hard he thought about it, he did not have a sure-proof way of determining how any of his creatures would evolve, even if his theory was correct. And even if his theory was correct, he could not be a hundred percent certain that a specific result would be reached. Even if he gave a snake horns, it didn’t mean that it would turn into a horned-lightning snake down the line, it might evolve to use the horn as drill to burrow underground for all he knew.
Ergo, now he had to decide how to enhance his creatures so that they may evolve down a more useful path to him. He suspected that if he were to be too outlandish, the animals might not realize how to use the enhancements to their full advantage, or use them erroneously, leading to deviations from the path he wanted them to take.
Based on this, perhaps the simplest enhancements would be the most effective. A simple increase in size, or hardness of their hide, or their speed might be the most simple enhancements that a creature could get, and that might be all it took to get them to evolve in a certain way.
“Well,” Smit said out loud, “no use in just guessing these things right now. It’s all theoretical anyways. The fastest thing would be to experiment.”
“Father?” Echo called out to him, pausing her exercises as she turned to look at the shinning green gem that was Smit.
“Don’t worry about it,” Smit grunted. “I am going to be doing some experimentation, see if I can accelerate the growth of some of the inhabitants of the dungeon. Get back to training.”
“Yes!” Echo said enthusiastically, throwing herself at her training once more, her halberd swinging through the air with energy.
Throwing Echo a glance, Smit nodded in her direction, before creating a common dungeon rat before him. The creature was a dark furred large rat, the size of a common size cat, much like any other dungeon rat. Looking at the rat for a moment, Smit considered his options. If he was going to enhance a rat, he might as well enhance it in a way that the rat would have a serious advantage over its peers. However, what were rats good at? They were slippery creatures, nimble and adaptable. His dungeon rats were particularly hardy due to their already large size.
After considering the issue for a while, Smit set himself to work by increasing the size of the hind legs of his rat, making the muscles brim with power, hoping to increase its speed and agility. Additionally, he pushed his modification powers further by even giving the rat a short horn, no longer than two or three centimeters in length.
It was hard work to rearrange the bone structure of the rat to the extent of giving it an actual horn, but he was hoping that the little thing learned to use its horn defensively. Even if it didn’t though, the rat would certainly look more threatening if it had a horn, so there was no real downside to having the rat keep the horn.
Once he had finished creating the rat, Smit gave it the order to go up to the first floor, where it could get ready for the next fighting frenzy.
“That’s one upgrade,” Smit grunted. “Let’s get another nine, at least. I need more test subjects.”
Smit spent the following six hours simply enhancing creatures. He created ten separate species, from his repertoire of species, half of which already were in his dungeon, and from each species he created three members that he later enhanced. In short, he created a total of thirty different creatures, each enhanced to make them stronger in one way or another. His personal favourite was the grizzly bear that he had enhanced so that it had a thicker hide and longer arms. It had been difficult to rearrange the bone structure of the bear so that the shoulders were placed a bit more to the sides of his body, thus giving the bear a wider range of movement for his arms, costing Smit the same amount of mana to create that small change as it had cost him to create the entire bear, but Smit was confident that, if anything, this would give that bear a higher chance to become a hind bear.
Now that would be a fine addition to his repertoire.
Smit smirked to himself at the thought of some cocky adventurer trying to assault his dungeon on his lonesome, only to be met with the fury of a hind bear. The bear would, of course, tower over the adventurer, and show him that this dungeon was not a game for the amusement of pompous fools.
But alas, that was only a distant possibility at the moment. As of now, not a single adventurer had ventured into his halls since the retreat of Azure Arrow. He was thankful for that, as it had granted him time to build one hell of a maze. He was rather proud of his work, as it resembled walking through a living museum in his opinion. Every detail of the halls was crafted to resemble the image of a forest. Leaves, vines, branches, and tiny creatures hiding amongst those gave the impression of an incredibly dense forest being trapped in the walls of the maze.
One could even call his maze a single, massive work of art, a unique gallery that displayed only one sculpture through which the admirers could walk through to observe. Well, or at least that’s what they would be free to think when they weren’t trying to find their way through it all, avoid traps and all that.
The only thing that was left for him to do before the adventurers came into his dungeon was adjust the settings for the drop rates of his creatures.
He opened his a blue window in his mind by willing it to appear and reviewed the details of his dropped items. Thankfully, the widow could organize the information in multiple ways, the default of which was organizing the list by creature. By simply selecting a creature, Smit was able to see what the drops would be for that creature and the rate at which they dropped.
For instance, if Smit selected the dungeon rat, he could see that there was a sixty-five percent chance that the rat would not drop anything at all. Of the thirty-five percent chance that the rat did drop something, the rat had equal chances of dropping a dungeon rat tail, tooth, or foot. There was also a chance that the rat dropped a leather pelt of random quality.
Smit hummed as he looked over this, and spent a while looking through all the drops of his creatures. He noted that in general, the weaker the creature, the lower the chance that they dropped anything. A grizzly bear had a seventy percent chance of dropping something, which was vastly superior to the meager thirty-five percent offered by a dungeon rat. Moreover, better items became available with higher difficulty creatures. A grizzly bear could even drop non-organic items such as silver coins or fur boots, though that seemed to be a rarity with a chance of occurrence of about one percent.
Smit felt mighty confused as he read some of the items that his creatures supposedly could drop, but there was little he could do about it other than adjusting some of the rates for his creatures to some extent.
In the end, he didn’t know enough about the rarity of certain items to change their rates too drastically, so he left the drop rates mostly untouched for the moment.
Instead, he decided to focus on his other skills, namely the ones related to actual loot and treasure chests.
To his disappointment the loot was… rather mediocre. Copper coins, rusted knives, brass bracelets… total junk for the first three floors, in his opinion. One would have to open about ten chests to make it worth anything more than pocket change. Calling this ‘treasure’ mediocre almost seemed like a compliment to him.
Shaking his head, Smit resolved to fix this immediately.
First, he erased any trace of treasure chests in the first floor of his dungeon. In his opinion, the first floor of his dungeon was little more than an introduction to the real dungeon and as such, he didn’t feel that there should be any sort of distracting little chest for getting through that particular part of his dungeon, especially when it wasn’t even all that dangerous.
Looking at his second floor, he felt it would be almost cruel to set a treasure chest in his greeting hall. More likely than not, few people would even notice it, and those who did, would probably get a nasty surprise from his traps for being distracted. However, he did put a treasure in the pond room, though, he dropped the treasure chest in the pond, beside his growing little surprise.
He paused and considered that his second floor would most likely be the first real challenge for most adventurer groups and decided to give the adventurers a little something for their troubles. Opening up the option window in his mind that regulated the loot that appeared in that treasure chest, he made sure that the treasure had a half decent piece of equipment in it. He invested some time to create a set of leather armour out of the hide of his wolves.
He had to spend quite a bit of time to create the armour and even then it wasn’t up to his standards of what he would even consider a half-decent leather armour. At best, he would label it as mediocre in terms of its actual utility and effect. None of the five pieces of the armour had any enchantments to speak of, nor were they made of particularly expensive or durable materials. They were merely modified versions of the proposed loot by the his new skill. Yet, he had endeavored to at least make his creations functional.
The armour had been tanned excellently, with polished buckles made of brass holding the straps in place. The design was neither flattering, nor crude, but instead it gave the impression that it was made to be used in a regular basis by a respectable person. Smit even went out of his way to thicken the leather around the chest area, ensuring that the lungs and heart would be a bit more protected than the rest of the body. It was an armour that, while superior to most armours worn by rookie rangers or adventurers, was still a not comparable to a high end armour. However, Smit deemed it sufficient. The chest would contain one of the five pieces of armour at random, custom made for the person who managed to open the chest.
Then the chest would disintegrate into nothing, only to respawn again in a few hours. He judged that this would be sufficient reward, especially for a lower leveled adventurer.
Satisfied with this, he moved on to his maze. He placed three treasure chests in the first floor of the maze, five in the second, and nine in the last. The treasures ranged from good quality iron ingots to a few silver coins, to even finely crafted steel knives. The knives in particular were designed to be thrown, a little inspiration he had taken from that mildly annoying fellow from Azure Arrow. He noted that his knives, while well-balanced, were much more limited in supply than the arrows of the ranger. Hence, he decided to provide some small measure of support. At the very least, his knives could be used in an emergency if someone lost their main weapon, or it broke.
Smit almost patted himself in the back for helping out adventurers, even if it was only slightly. Though part of his decision was definitely the fact that he wanted people to see his creations. As much as he wished to remain safe, a part of him wanted his creations to be seen. It was a similar feeling to an artist who wished to have his pieces admired at a gallery, for the public to behold. More than that, he wanted people to not just witness his creations but to experience them in all their glory.
What use was a sword that would never be used to slice? Or a wand that would never cast a spell? What would the purpose be of an armour that would never be used? It would go from being a useful tool to a mere eccentric decoration.
Smit, as a true craftsman, did not wish for that. No self-respecting blacksmith would be satisfied by creating mere decorations.
Just the thought of someone utilizing the equipment that he created to its full potential brought a smile to Smit’s lips.
Thinking of this, Smit smiled as he was about continue to fuss over the details of his treasure chests before he recalled what he needed to do.
“Oh, that’s right,” he mumbled to himself. He had gotten so lost in his work that he had forgotten entirely of the purpose of enhancing his creatures in the first place. “Enhancing them is not enough. They must evolve.”
Resolving himself to set things in motion, he sent a pulse through his dungeon, fueling his creatures with energy. An instant later, he willed everything in his dungeon to fight. To fight and survive so that they could grow stronger as a whole. The response was almost instantaneous.
The entire dungeon exploded with activity; rats, mice, snakes, bears, wolves, kobolds, spiders, and a whole host of other creatures leapt into action, instantly seeking to devour one another. The only restrictions he placed on the frenzy were Echo and Pala fighting each other. He couldn’t see that ending well for anyone. Instead, he ordered them to hunt within the dungeon the strongest creatures possible. Golems, bears, wolves needed to hunt as much as they could and increase their strength.
Of course, his two children agreed eagerly, rushing into the dungeon’s halls to find their quarry. And as pandemonium erupted in the dungeon, Smit began to hum an energetic tune as he continued to fine tune the details of his dungeon, adjusting, switching, and fussing over every detail.
|Species: True Dungeon||Rank: 2|
|Name: Smit||Age: 2 months|
|Mana: 17,036||Anima: 529|
|Mana Reg.: 861 MP/h||Anima Reg.: 19.27 AP/day|
|Floors: 5 (Max Floors available: 5)||Inhabitants: 75 Species|
|Titles: Creator of Dungeon laws; Creator; Guide of the Bloody Evolution; Legendary Craftsman;Master of Concentration; Reincarnated One;|
|Abilities: Absorb matter; Alter environment; Bestow Knowledge; Break down components; Craftsmanship; Creation; Digging; Destroy creation; Dungeon Laws; Enhancement; Equivalent exchange; Ether manipulation; Evolution; Interdimensional Storage; Life bestowal; Life-energy harnessing; Loot Craft; Luck of the draw; Mana absorption; Masterful mana manipulation; Modification of creations; Monster Link; Telepathy; Trap building; Transfer dungeon; Treasure Management.|
|Resistances: Magic (general); Mind control|