Sad But True...
RPGs in general have long perpetrated the image of wealthy loot to be had for the taking in the world's understructure, D&D has historically been the worst of the perpetrators! Advertised in pubs and broadsides all around the semicivilised lands, dungeons seem to be ready made environments built to entice novice & experienced adventurers alike into the narrative of "good vs evil" -- Elf vs Orc, Man vs Troll, Everyone vs Dragonborn.
But how many of those greedy Elvish or Mannish adventurers ever consider the poor Orclings and lame Trolls slaving and labouring away, unseen, unknown, unconsidered, behind the scenes for their entertainment?
Of course! These adventurers meet the best Orc warriors the Master of the Dungeon has to send against them, but they are considered important to the whole enterprise only so long as, whilst spilling their life's blood far away from starlight and Moon shine, they also spill some hard won GOLD and perhaps some curious trinket or cool weapon. Once the battle is won and the chamber is secured, does the Party care for the slain Orcs? Not on your life! Do any of their noble Elvish clerics ever condescend to heal the Orcs' wounds or even ease their passage into the next life? Nope! They're just broken and now useless junk, furniture & empty chests to be abandonned as the Party moves ever onward and downward...
It's about time the adventuring world gets to know the economic toll and social slavery they perpetrate on Orcish & Trollish communities! Sure, those Orc warriors are paid a pittance by the Master and propped up by promises of freedom & wealth should they destroy the Party -- but when does that ever happen, knowing that the Master controls the Game? In far worse a state are the poor service Orclings and other denizens of the underworld not fit for duty on the frontlines.
Who do you think mucks up after the vampire bats and shovels all the wyrm shit? Who corrals the slimes and makes sure the liche warriors' bones are polished? Who prepares all the finnicky traps for the treasure chests and who cooks for and cleans up after the Orc hordes?
You guessed it ... SLAVES TO THE SLAVES!
Our focus today is one of the sorriest of the sorry. In a better, cleaner world, he might be called an "environmental technician". In a more ideal world, society might honour him for the hard & necessary work he does, and he might find deep in his heart a satisfaction that his work is meaningful and done with love for others. But the Dungeon is not an ideal world and the Master cares not one whit for the poor Treadmill Troll that labours endless day and perpetual night running the titanic exhaust fans that that draw in fresh air from the world above and drives out the stale air from the world below.
Too dim to pick up and swing a cudgel, these poor Troll rejects are forced into a gigantic system of iron cages where they are shackled to the device they are doomed to operate. Some tread to the point of exhaustion upon great sets of bellows, whilst others plod endlessly around a giant winch, and still others find no rest in the windlass.
Poor food, poorer sanitation, little opportunity for rest, no contact with others, no care for callouses, raw skin, wounds or even the chronic pain & injuries associated with ceaseless labour; these Trolls' lives is nothing but unremitting and unrelieved back breaking, foot numbing, leg splintering, and agonising work. Once in the cage, the Troll works until he dies, his only outside contacts are the prods of the Overseers and the slop slingers who toss in their meals of old gnawed bones and gritty, poorly baked bread.
Next time your adventuring Party crosses a dark corridor and your torches are blown out by a "magical wind" or you wonder where the slight but constant breeze in the Dungeon comes from, do remember the poor Treadmill Troll whose climb on the windlass turns the hundreds of belt driven fans that force the air to circulate through the endless miles of service tunnels, hundreds of hidden vents, shafts and windways of the Dungeon!