The Caves of Chaos
The Venetian Stonemasons occupy a niche that often gets overlooked by adventurers – that of evil lair design. Originally a small guild serving the needs of castle construction and maintenance, they soon realised that pretty much every two-bit baron, self-proclaimed lord and tyrant all had one thing in common – none of them wanted your typical castle design. Rather than settling for the usual keep, turrets, moat combination, these psuedo-nobility were united in their desire for unusual home design and decor; pit traps, trap doors, swinging chandeliers, undead sheep suspended from a complex series of ropes and pulleys on the roof were just some of the unusual, frequently ludicrous and routinely impractical requests.
Rather than encourage their employers to consider more conventional architecture, the Stonemasons revelled in such challenges, and quickly garnered a reputation for being not only accommodating and resourceful, but quite amoral to boot. ‘Gold’, they would often say, ‘is still gold, regardless of whether it’s earned tilling the soil or making a delicate net of live centipedes to drop on unwelcome visitors.’
Naturally this reputation quickly spread to the darker corners of their world, and the Venetian Stonemasons soon found themselves in service to mad wizards, evil clerics and even the occasional devil or two. They met each challenge with utter dedication and professionalism, regardless of how insane it was. In deference to practicality, however, and to ensure their own longevity, each of their designs features what they happily refer to as an ‘anniversary gift’. This gift activates if one of the stonemasons doesn’t return to provide regular maintenance on his handiwork, due to, say, premature death at the hands of his client. In this event, the structure’s owner quickly find that their home/castle/lair/labyrinth quickly becomes as deadly to its occupants as it is to intrepid adventurers.
The Venetian Stonemasons are still active in the world, meeting each of their clients’ specifications and operating more or less in secrecy. If you don’t know how to find them, they’ve long since concluded, you obviously lack either the money, minions, or dark power wrested from the bowels of the seven hells to do so.