I spent a good portion of the day at one of my company’s other locations and after I finished my work I decided to do some exploring.
We occupy three complete floors and most of the fourth of a large building, though with the exception of a server room the fourth floor is vacant. It’s dominated by a large data center, built by the tech company that previously owned the building and which is now mostly storage.
The fourth floor is fun to poke around in and it’s not unlike dungeon delving. I made my way through an old cube farm, seeing the posters and notes still on white boards that hint at bygone departments. Darkened hallways open into lost conference rooms filled with old furniture. The old data center itself is a treasure trove of the fantastic. Passing through the no-longer locked gate reveals the relics of ancient technology. An old K-class server looms out of the shadows, its forgotten UNIX systems silent, it’s drives slumbering while waiting for boot commands that will never come again. A stack of desktop computers lines one wall, still bearing 3.5″ disk drives, their white cases yellowed with age. Old keyboards pile up in another stack, some still bearing Post-It notes underneath, with their former masters’ passwords written on them. Data tapes containing arcane backup files spill out of battered boxes.
The best part? Because the data center is on a raised floor I was walking around on a square grid pattern. If the walls were painted “Don’t-Photocopy-Me” blue it would be like falling into a TSR map.
Like a good dungeon, the office space has a mix of naturalistic design and the fantastic. The objects already mentioned fit in logically with the history of the structure and tell the tale of a once glorious data empire, now reduced in grandeur and largely forgotten.
In one corner I found a large black and white portrait of a group of about a dozen people. They were posed, stern faced, well dressed for business in the fashion of the 50’s. Who were they? I don’t know, but they were important once. The portrait probably held a place of honor, maybe in the entrance lobby of the building. The people may have been the executives, rulers of their departments. Now they’re nameless faces in the dark.
Climbing into the elevator tower I had two more surreal encounters. From down the hall I heard music. I stepped from the stairs to investigate, but stopped in surprise when I heard a loud metallic “clang” from beneath me. Looking down I saw a two-panel trap door as wide as the corridor. At one time it would have been used to haul up heavy electrical parts for the elevator mechanisms, but now it was unnecessary thanks to smaller and lighter technology. Still the implications were not lost on me.
I had failed to detect traps and had stepped onto a covered pit.
Undaunted, I continued down the hall, looking for the source of the music. I discovered a radio receiver with a wall speaker. I wondered if it was left here by electricians who might use this spot for taking breaks, but I saw none of the usual signs of a covert break room. Then I realized, it was the same type of speaker I’d seen on the walls in the public areas of the building. This was the master radio receiver for all the speakers.
I resisted the urge to change the station. Not for any Alignment considerations, but because I wished to maintain my status in the adventuring class: Employed.
I had a random encounter with a wandering employee, who I unexpectedly found working on a laptop in the back corner of an otherwise deserted cube farm. I moved on after a positive reaction roll and friendly nod.
Another surprise was waiting for me in what I thought was yet another conference room, just off the main data center, The chamber was dark and many of the modular floor panels had been removed, turning it into a collection of pitfalls. Near the far wall was a wide rack of systems, their green and amber lights the only illumination available. It was the demarcation point for the building, the place where public networking ends and the building’s network begins.
I had stumbled into the heart of the dungeon.
I’ve said before that I prefer my dungeons to follow at least a minimal set of logic, as opposed to a pure funhouse dungeon. However, even when designing from a naturalistic standpoint there is still room for something totally out of place and inexplicable.
I came across something like that too.
In one section of the data center, surrounded by the corpses of the computer age, I found an old upright organ. This was the real deal, with a wooden body, two keyboards, switches, sliders, toggles, and pedals. It’s the kind you would have seen during commercial breaks on The Lawrence Welk Show.
Why was it there? Where did it come from? I doubt I’ll ever know, but like any good adventurer I played around with it. Even though there was no power I had to press the keys, shift the sliders, toggle the switches, and try the pedals.
Sadly, my experimentation didn’t raise any ability scores or grant me a wish. Fortunately I didn’t set off a trap or summon anything nasty.
At least, I don’t think that I did.
Behold! The Lost Instrument of Wurlitzer!
Well, they did say to store the old keyboards in the data center.