“For the crime of poaching, your sentence is to bring back a map of sub-level 3, just below the giant griffon skull. If the map is of insufficient quality or is proven false by future delvers, you will be hanged until you are dead, dead, dead.
“For the crime of theft, your sentence is the retrieval of the lord-mayor’s sentient dagger, lost by his great-grandfather when level 7 was discovered by the Municipal Delving Teams. If the dagger is not returned within five years or if you are located under the sun by any of noble birth, your family will be forced to send one of your blood to work in the dread mines in your stead.
“For the crime of murder, your sentence is to bring back the heads or identified dust (the price of the Identify spell will be billed to the guilty) of the Tri-Lich. If the Tri-Lich should be slain, you are to turn yourself in to the city gaol for further sentencing or being back proof that you rid the world of an equivalent evil presence. If you are seen in daylight by anyone of noble birth, a municipal hunter clone will by fed your blood and sent to destroy you, taking your place in this world.
“You will all be sent into the Under together with food and water enough to last you all 3 weeks, a map of the first 4 levels, municipal delving suits, backpacks, staves, knives, lengths of ropes, lanterns, oil, one bow with 20 arrows, one spear, one spellbook with a full compliment of first level spells deemed useful by the city archmage, 10 sticks of chalk, 20 iron spikes, 2 hammers, 10 rolls of vellum, a writing kit and a domesticated delving owl.
“Take this word of advice from a magistrate who carved his name into the pillars of level 6 in his youth. Don’t split up the party. Move briskly but do take the time to look around you; details can save your lives. Know when to run; violence often not the answer. Mercy will get you killed down there. The sun’s light doesn’t reach; the sun’s love is lost to that world down there and only hell’s breath moves the air.
“Think on your crimes that got you sentenced below and use that time to become something greater than just a poacher, a thief and a murderer.”
But that is never how it ends. The Lord-Mayor came to me, letting me know that if I didn’t deliver a missive to the death knight in the caves, he would see that I was sent right back if I ever surfaced with my sentence completed. The gaoler hid a chest with our gear, demanding the murderer deliver it to the toad-god somewhere on level 4. And the thief was told to steal a key from a prisoner sent below ten years ago, the legendary Queen of the Under, who taunts the world above with her acts of derring-do, stealing from the rich and giving to the kobolds.
There are municipal markers for the first few levels, even helpful constructs on the first two with some healing and magic mouths with advice and wisdom but after that it is nothing but darkness and unmapped chaos.
Still, I reckon it is better than the mines any day.