|"Oh, that looks like a nice place to rest! Let's see who's home!"|
Everybody seems manic for megadungeons these days, eh? Sure, I like dungeons as much as the next red-blooded roleplayer. But, of equal interest to yours truly is the castle! Call it an "inverted dungeon"!
More specifically, there's the haunted castle! To me, there's no better location to inject a bit of gothic horror into your game.
There are, of course, a goodly number of old-school D&D examples of castles. Beyond the obvious infamous D&D locations such as Castle Ravenloft and Castle Greyhawk (which really seems to be a "front door" for a dungeon system, but you get the idea), there's also more recent OSR examples such as Castle of the Mad Archmage. Heck, I daresay the Temple of Elemental Evil is also something of a castle...right? For added inspiration, seek out gothic horror literature such as the famous "Castle of Otranto."
Even though there's something to be said for the anticipatory dread of a dungeon, I think the ruins of a castle can be just as intimidating. Whereas a dungeon can bestow the fear of the unknown hazards that lurk beneath the earth, a dungeon can instill fear and foreboding simply by its imposing appearance. Here is not just the rumor of twisting passageways filled with danger in the form of traps and monsters. Upon first glimpsing the brooding, towering walls and towers of a fortress, one is immediately hit with a physical manifestation of the dangers to come. The structure itself becomes almost a foreshadowing, the first "encounter" of the adventure.
So, please share! What castles have you encountered on your adventures?