Sunday, June 3, 2012

Dungeon Stocking 2

FrDave over at "Blood of Prokopius" has given me a lot to think about with regard to organizing a dungeon's key.  His original post is here.  My follow up post is here.

Thanks to FrDave and Brendan for the comments.

My first thought upon reading FrDave's post was that "elements" of a key should be organized in a predictable way by section.  That means that monsters should always be in this box.  Stuff that affects characters (like traps or tricks or slippery floors) should be in this box.  Treasure in another box, and so on...

FrDave further added that his dream is a map beside the key in his binder.  I don't know if I can meet this goal myself.  I see the elegance here and I know that the great Gary Gygax had this kind of setup in his game:

I think this CAN BE DONE if you are comfortable improvising A LOT and/or the dungeon has been internalized in large part.  If you are trying to put the ideas down, I think making the map "removable" so that it can sit atop the pages you are referring to is the best bet.

This is my binder for CotMA.  I printed all the maps on 11x17 paper and folded them over.  When I'm on a given level, I pull the map and flip where I need to go in the key.

When I started putting my idea together, the concept of "white space" also jumped out at me.  OK, it's a bit meta-gamey, but if there are "empty rooms" on a map that might inspire a GM to "fill them in", maybe "white space" in the key might also be evocative to a GM.  Maybe that would inspire additional details.

Brendan suggested that obvious features should be separate from hidden features.

That led me to think of a flow:

Start --->  Middle --->  End

The "boxes" should suggest an order to how the room is interacted with.

Top and/or left = things that happen FIRST (typically)

Middle = Monster/Trap/Trick

Right and/or bottom = treasure.

So, here's iteration two.  Still a work in progress.

TITLE: WhatTheCharactersCanReadilySee

OVERVIEW: ROOMS 1-5 are covered in bat guano. When running or while in combat a save must be made every round to avoid falling down.
1. ENTRY HALL: There are some bats on the ceiling.

If disturbed (a Light spell, for example), they will panic and a wandering monster check will be triggered. They are otherwise harmless.

2. TEMPLE: The ceiling is covered by a swarm of bats.

Saves are at -2 to fall

If disturbed (a Light spell, for example), they will panic. Visibility will be reduced to 5’ and a wandering monster check will be triggered.

3. ALCOVE: The ceiling is covered by a swarm of bats. In addition, there is a broken statue of an Atenist priest. There trails in the guano that lead to both Rooms 4&5.

Saves are at -2 to fall

If disturbed (a Light spell, for example), they will panic. Visibility will be reduced to 5’ and a wandering monster check will be triggered.

4. CHAPEL: Rubble of a statue and several dead centipedes litter the floor.  Guano in this room is mostly dry.
The door to this room is jammed shut (-1 on opening). Within the rubble of a winged statue are Giant Centipedes.
8 Giant Centipedes (small, non-lethal): AC9; HD 1d2; HP 2,2,2,2,1,1,1,1; ATT 1 Bite (Poison, save at +4 or be at -4 on all rolls for 2d4 days).
Saves are at +4 to fall down.
60gp, 2000sp, and a gold & silver Atenist holy symbol worth 65gp.

5. CHAPEL: The door to this room is ajar. There is rubble from several statues that have been broken beyond recognition.
If the rubble is removed, they will reveal a discoloration in the wall where the secret door is.
14 Kobolds AC6; HD 1d4; HP [4],[3],[3],[3],[3],[3],3,3,2,2,2,2,2,1; ATT 1d6.
The Kobolds are recovering from a battle with the centipedes in Room 4. Numbers in brackets indicate poisoned kobolds — they are at -4 on all rolls.
Each kobold carries 3gp. The leader (4hp) has a gem worth 25gp.


Aaron E. Steele said...

Very smart.

Telecanter said...

Hey, been in the wilderness, so I'm a little late to the discussion. I actually tried room contents with three levels of detail. It was for my Alabaster Tower adventure.

I think it makes sense to keep things that are obvious on entry and things that require careful inspection separate for the DM who is trying to juggle all this stuff at once.

Further standardizations could be good too.

-C said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
-C said...

Here's my reply to the above post.

I think that this format is a little inefficent. See if mine does you any better.