fork & the road

Cassian Andor: A Character Analysis

Before I begin, I would like to make 2 things perfectly clear:
1.  I am not a therapist or anything like that. I am just stating my opinions/observations/assumptions. None of which need be taken seriously. 
2.  Here there be spoilers.
Now, let’s get started, shall we?

Who he is:

Originally posted by enalgunlugar

Cassian Jeron Andor is a loner; he has maybe one friend at the start of the movie. He is quiet; he rarely says more than needs to be said at any given moment. Both of these traits stem from one: practicality. Cassian is an unbelievably practical man. He doesn’t bother with friends because he doesn’t see the point. He doesn’t get very emotional (even though he does have emotions) because what would that accomplish? He’s a no-nonsense, get-in, get-out, focus-on-the-mission kind of guy. This is likely a result of his childhood (or lack thereof), but it is also not a bad thing. It’s simply the way he operates.

What he is:

Originally posted by fuckyeahrebelcaptain

Loyal. To a fault. Once he decides on a path (or a person), he will not leave it. A long time ago, he chose to align with the Rebellion. And so a rebel he is, and a rebel he will stay. Even when being such requires him to do things he doesn’t want to do. Which brings us to…

How he feels (at the beginning of Rogue One):

Originally posted by krasnaya-ledi

When we first meet Cassian, he is burnt out. He is still a good spy, soldier, captain, ect., but he lacks conviction. He doesn’t fight because he wants to, but because he thinks he has to. To put it bluntly, he’s in a dysfunctional relationship with the Rebellion. (Odd way to describe it, yes, but I’ve been in a relationship like this before. Please bear with me while I explain.) He gives everything to the rebel cause: his time, his skills, his opinions, and, most importantly, his morals. He lies, steals, kills, and/or lets die, if the mission requires it. All the while, he tells himself that it’s not really wrong, because he’s not doing it for himself. He’s doing it for something he cares about- the Rebellion. This does not make his actions right, of course- murder is murder, no matter the reasons behind it. And Cassian feels this, even if he doesn’t admit it. Saying anything he does is wrong is the same as saying the Rebellion is wrong, and that completely contradicts his “Rebellion = Good” mindset, so he pushes his guilt away. He stuffs his opinions, and, at times, gets angry at himself for having them at all. As Chirrut puts it, he is in a prison of his own making. But fortunately for him (and all of us RebelCaptain shippers), he meets Jyn.

What Jyn means (to Cassian):

At first, Cassian thinks Jyn Erso is nothing but trouble. She is reckless, unpredictable, and selfish. In other words, she does what she wants, when she wants. And that is a very big problem to Cassian, who never does what he really wants to do, deep down inside. But as he soon learns on Jedha, what Jyn wants to do is pretty… great. He witnesses firsthand her kindness, bravery, and selflessness as she risks her life for random kids, risks her safety for his own, and risks getting shot for his only friend, a snarky droid. And she didn’t do any of it because she was told to, or because of the mission. She did it only because she wanted to. This awakens something in Cassian. Call it jealously, if you like. He wants what she has- the freedom to do the right thing, even if it means disobeying orders, even if he doesn’t have permission, even if it’s not practical. He wants to be free to choose. In his mind, Jyn quickly changes from a troublemaker to the embodiment of his trapped morality. And that’s when the real fun begins.  

What he’s going through:

Originally posted by tfa

So, as stated above, Cassian is devoted to the Rebel cause. But as the movie progresses, he starts to feel a kind of loyalty to the cause that is Jyn. Unfortunately, these two causes don’t mix well. The Rebellion doesn’t need Jyn after Jedha, and Jyn doesn’t want any part in the Rebellion. And then there’s that whole issue of him being on a mission to assassinate Jyn’s father, who may or may not be a rebel in his own right. Cassian is a good soldier; he follows orders without question. Right now his orders are to kill Galen Erso. But his instincts (and Jyn, and Bodhi, and Chirrut) tell him that his orders are wrong. His interests are divided, his thoughts conflicted, and thus he becomes more and more frustrated. On Edu, he lashes out at everyone around him. But he’s not mad at them- he’s mad at himself for questioning the Rebellion, and he’s mad at the Rebellion for asking so much of him. 

What he does about it:

Originally posted by diegolunadaily

He doesn’t take the shot, obviously. And it’s easy to say, “He didn’t kill Galen because he cares about Jyn” or “He couldn’t pull the trigger because it didn’t feel right”. Both statements would be true. But there’s so much more to it than that. By choosing not to shoot Galen, Cassian finally admits that the Rebellion doesn’t necessarily dictate right and wrong in the Galaxy. He finally allows himself to see the flaws in his “the Rebel cause is always good and perfect” ideology. Finally, for the first time, he goes against direct orders and does what he wants, because he knows it’s the right thing to do. That’s why he looks so distressed on that ridge: he’s just busted through a huge barrier in his subconscious. And you know what? It feels like crap.

What changes:

Originally posted by forcewakens

At first, it seems like nothing is different. Even without his help, the mission is completed. Galen still ends up dead. Jyn still ends up angry with him. And when they fight, he defends himself, although every one of Jyn’s accusations are true. Even (dare I say especially) her Stormtrooper comment. In this one line, she has him pegged. Cassian refuses to admit it right away, but he is very much aware and ashamed of this fact. He is also aware that the Rebellion will never green-light a mission to Scarif with the evidence they currently possess. Thus, he finds himself at a fork in his road: Does he continue submitting to the Alliance, to his commanding officers, to his cause, even if their next decision will be the wrong one? Or does he follow Jyn into what he knows, in his heart, will be the best hope for the Galaxy? Thank the writers, he chose the latter.

What comes next:

Originally posted by rebelcaptained

I see a lot of posts talking about the times Cassian came back to Jyn. But what a lot of people (including myself) fail to notice right away is the most important time- the time he stands in front of her and so many others and says, “I believe you.” All the other times are vital (life-saving, in fact), but this time, it’s different. He isn’t acting on instinct; he isn’t rescuing her; he isn’t making excuses. He is making a conscious, life-altering choice to break free from the Rebellion, from the only life he’s ever known, and take up her cause. Finally, he frees himself from his prison and does what he wants. And the irony is that siding with Jyn is not just the right choice, but the practical and loyal one, as well.

How he feels (at the end of Rogue One):

Originally posted by swr-girl

Content. Yes, yes, I know there’s more going on than that. There’s also sorrow and regret and fear and pain and longing. But Cassian Jeron Andor, the Good Soldier, the Selfless Spy, the Rebel Captain, must’ve imagined he’d die at the hands of the Empire. And he likely begged the Universe more than once to let his death be quick, and let it mean something. Well, folks, now, on the beach of Scarif, it’s his time to go. He knows these are his last moments. He knows, too, that he’s done more for the Rebellion on this day than he had in the 20 years previous. He knows he’s completed his mission; he knows he’s given Jyn what she needed; he knows he’s made the right choice, and that it was his choice alone. He knows he’s dying for the cause he lived for. And above all that, he knows he isn’t dying alone. 

It’s probably not the end he’d asked for; it’s more. 

Random Writing Asks
  1. What is your favorite punctuation mark?
  2. What writing taboos do you break consistently?
  3. What POV do you prefer and why?
  4. What tense do you prefer and why?
  5. Adverbs: for against?
  6. Do you outline or not?
  7. Do you prefer writing dialogue or narration?
  8. What punctuation/grammar/spelling errors do you make consistently?
  9. Do you write characters based off of real people or make them up?
  10. Do you write more guy or girl characters?
  11. Which is easier to write: guys or girls?
  12. Which is easier to write: original fiction or fanfiction?
  13. Which of your characters would you want to be stuck in an elevator with?
  14. What do you include in character descriptions?
  15. Do you let people read your rough drafts?
  16. What do you do with your rough drafts once you write a new draft?
  17. How do you handle writer’s block?
  18. How many stories do you work on at one time?
  19. Do you write from beginning to end, or jump around in your story.
  20. What is one thing you would never do in a story or to a character?
  21. What do you do if you come to a fork in the road (where your story could go one of two different ways)?
  22. Do you “write what you know” or not?
  23. Do you research things in your story? If so, how?
  24. How do you figure out your characters looks, personalities, and speech patterns?
  25. How do you figure out character motivation and backstory?
The Seasoned Skillet

The Gentry favor the culinary arts students. Like any Elsewhere student in a creative field, their passion is already intoxicating, but sometimes they leave offerings of baked goods. Sometimes they even get desperate or stupid enough to make a bargain.

But the student known as ‘Maillard’ was not here to bargain.

Their world was fire, and salt, and iron, and they carried that with them always. The scent of the wood-fired grill hung heavy on their clothes; their tea-towels scorched, but their sleeves always white and pure and clean. Their hands still stung with salt; coarse and crystallized, they’d scattered it over steaks, and sealed whole Red Snappers beneath its rocky crust. And the cast iron skillet at their hip carried with it the happy memories of a thousand meals or more, every one of them shared with friends.

And one of those friends was currently the plaything of the Fae, following what mortals would call a ‘bad deal’.

All around them, Maillard could feel the glamour, feel those burning eyes, feel the sheer unbridled outrage as it poured down from the thrones of ice and chaise-longues of living wood in turbid torrents, hell-bent on drowning out all thought. How dare you! How dare you bring these things here, into our world! How dare you think you can just walk in here, just stand there as if you’re anything less than nothing! Crawl, you worm! You insect! Bow down to us!

The words twisted themselves again and again, looking for a way in.

This is outrageous! We demand to speak to your manager!

But muscles honed from lifting sacks of potatoes and hauling huge sauce-pans of chicken stock held the heavy frying pan at arm’s length. Maillard had been pissed off before they’d heard The Bad News;they’d had A Busy Night at their professional kitchen internship. Tomorrow morning, they had to get up and laminate their croissant dough, rolling out unsalted butter and pastry into thin, unbroken sheets. There was no time for hesitation. No room for second guesses. Each and every one of those layers had. To. Be. Perfect.

So like hell they were going to stay up all night playing games.

“What will you give us for the girl?” One asked.

The Fae felt no fear. They could be offended, or be amused, but to them these were absolutes, far beyond the limited mortal constraints of 'feeling’. And being timeless, they were as patient as the grave. All they needed was a moment; the moment of confusion at a fork in the road, the moment a mortal’s faith was shaken, the moment when the stars were right and the moon was full. Sooner or later, they would have their way. They would have their - for lack of a better word - fun.

“I will give you my footprints, going back to whence I came.”

Maillard’s voice was unwavering, and their shoulders squared. The eyes they were looking into were like the winter sun, like burning ice, like death itself - but the customers at table six had ordered a round of extra-well-done steaks and sent them back three times because they were too tough. Table eighteen had requested vegan deviled eggs. Table nine had asked if they could take the sour out of the sourdough and the carrots out of the carrot cake. All were outraged. All were 'never coming back to this dump ever again’. Few left a tip.

They’d dealt with worse.

“I will take with me my fire, and my iron, and my salt. And from these I will forge not blades, but bread - the stuff of life - if you let her go.”

Bread, not blades. Keep the knives in the kitchen, not on the streets. Perhaps it was the magic in the air, but their whole reason for pursuing the culinary arts somehow weaved itself into words worthy of any storybook hero - and perhaps this was enough to amuse the Gentry. Perhaps they had merely tired of their plaything. Or perhaps, that momentary flicker amidst the Fair Folk - when the mortal, kissed by fire and blessed by salt, brandished their iron cookware - meant something else.

But they brought back their friend, covered with frost and fresh-fallen snow. And with their cast-iron skillet and their gas-fired oven and their kosher salt and their grandmother’s recipe, they made cornbread. And soup, because there was time, now. The two friends ate together, and the color came back to her hands and her cheeks, and the life came back to her eyes. And they talked about anything but what they’d seen and done, because that was What You Did at Elsewhere U.

Maillard left a slice of cornbread on the windowsill before they set their alarm clock. Not as a kindness, not as a payment, but as a promise; forged from iron, and salt, and fire, and love.

They supposed you could call it complimentary. The Fair Folk did love a compliment.

They tipped better than most mortal customers, too.

x

10

There was a fella once running for a train, and he’s carrying a pair of gloves, this man. He drops a glove on the platform, but he doesn’t notice. And then later on, inside the train, he’s sitting by the window and he realizes that he’s just got this one glove left. But the train’s already started pulling out of the station, right? So what does he do? He opens the window and he drops the other glove onto the platform. That way, whoever finds the first glove can just have the pair.

For NTs: Manic Impulse Explained

It’s not what it looks like. It’s not wilful self destruction. It’s not a cry for help.

Imagine the most important moment of your life, the pivotal decision, the fork in the road that changes everything 

- accelerated.

So I want to instantly (this very hour) do a thing… this very, VERY important thing.

This is the thing that I have only realised RIGHT NOW is so incredibly imperative. I know it’s impulsive but it’s utterly, utterly brilliant. This is what I need to do. It’s such a great idea. Besides I’m young, this is supposed to be my time, I am allowed to be spontaneous! I can’t believe I’ve only just realised how much I really, really need to do This thing. This is absolutely what I was supposed to be doing all along!! I’m going to do it right now, no point waiting, I’m more sure of This than any decision I’ve ever made before! I have absolute freedom, I am without restriction, I will accelerate to euphoria and success.

Possibilities for ‘This’:

◻️ Drop out of college to pursue something I’ve never even heard of before.

◼️ Resign from a good job I actually enjoy.

◻️ Classic ‘Sex, Drugs and Psychosis’ brand of mania.

◼️ Viciously abandon every friend I have because ‘they’re holding me back’.

◻️ Literally run away to live with someone I’ve only just met.

◼️ Buy business supplies in bulk, for an idea I’m bound to have later.

◻️ Dump my boyfriend/girlfriend on a complete and utter whim, to revel in the turmoil.

◼️ Abandon life, buy a one way ticket to a country I have nothing to do with, have nowhere to stay, no way to get back and no money or safety when I get there.

◻️ Tattoo of something so profound I can’t even articulate why I want it.

◼️ Drink all the spirits in the house alone for literary ‘inspiration’.

◻️ Play with knives to feel the power of taunting mortality.

◼️ Seduce this romantically committed person, chronic boredom likes challenges.

◻️ Buy 14 pairs of these same shoes: it’s an investment.

◼️ Stop taking my meds because they’re stealing my potential. Manic me is the true me, they’ll take her away . After all, what if the Doctor’s are wrong? Maybe I function in a higher plane, all great innovators do, and there must be a misunderstanding.

◻️ Open water swimming, alone, at night, in a very angry sea.

◼️ Start collecting reptiles… I think I’ll start with five… I’ll be going to the shop now.

At the time these decisions don’t appear reckless, ridiculous, risky or wrong. They seem like the most sensible and obvious thing in the world. We are not attention seeking. We don’t have a death wish. Our ability to judge risk is just monumentally impaired and the urgency of these actions becomes overpowering. This is why unintentional death is so notably high in rapid cycling bipolars.

We are brave and inspired and running on double time to the people around us. We are the glorious and the invincible… and sometimes we are running into traffic for the joy of the adrenaline hit.

We’re hitting the ground running… hard… and usually in the face.

If you’re able to help us, please do, but know what you’re looking it. Stare the ugliness of mania in the face but know, with doubtless certainty, that for us, it is most beauteous thing, the most precious place we’ll ever be.

And it’s going to be heartbreaking to leave.

Wolf Creek (Part 2)

Cowboy!Steve x Reader AU

Summary – You and Steve were supposed to have spent the rest of your lives together, but lies and betrayal tore you apart.  A family tragedy forces you to leave your life in the city and return to the Montana ranch you used to call home. Can you and Steve forget the past and find love again?

Warnings – None

Word Count – 1,473

Notes –  Well, Steve didn’t make it into this part, but he’ll definitely be in the next part. That’s when things really start to get interesting.  I’m still so excited for a bearded Steve Rogers, in boots and a cowboy hat, sitting on a horse!!!  Anyway, I hope you enjoy!!  As always, feel free to leave me any comments or feedback!

Part 1

Series Masterlist

Masterlist

Previously:

“I’m sure Bailey can talk to the family, explain what happened. I can make the arrangements, go with you to your apartment.  I don’t think you should be alone right now.”

You took Mark’s face in your hands as you gently kissed his cheek. “Thank you, you’re the best friend in the world.  Right now, what I need is some time alone to process all of this.  I would feel better if you talked to Mr. Frampton, you were there in the OR, and you’ll be able to answer his questions better than Miranda can.”

You slowly got up off the couch and grabbed a couple of tissues from the box on the edge of Miranda’s desk to dry your eyes.  Mark walked up behind and wrapped his arms around you.  “If that’s what you want, you know I’ll do anything for you.  You just have to ask.”

You turned around to face him.  “I appreciate it, Mark.  I may just take you up on that.  I haven’t been home in years, but I guess it’s finally time I made it back to Wolf Creek, even if it is to say goodbye one last time.”



 

You changed out of your surgical scrubs and made your way toward your car.  It had just started raining and you thought that the weather fit your mood perfectly at the moment.  You sat in your car, watching the water run down the windshield as the tears ran down your cheeks.  You thought of all the missed opportunities you’d had over the years to spend time with your father.  You hadn’t been home since you’d left for college, and now regret was sitting heavily upon your heart.  Thankfully, he’d been to Seattle a few times over the years, so you’d had a chance to at least see him before he died.

Keep reading

Starters: Samurai Jack

❝ What sorcery is this? ❞  

❝ You have lost. The battle is over.  ❞  

❝ WHO ELSE WANTS SOME?  ❞

❝ These tricks are starting to annoy me.  ❞  

❝ I am not defeated, and I will hold my ground. ❞

❝ Then come get me. ❞

❝ Seeing as I’m a sportsman, I’ll give you a moment to recuperate. ❞

❝ We are in no condition to fight these odds. ❞

❝ I fear no man. ❞

❝ At last, after all these years, a worthy opponent. ❞

❝ Enough of this pointless battle. I will continue to fight you no more. ❞

❝ Warrior, rise! I must defeat you honorably! ❞

❝ My mission is noble, my heart is pure. ❞

❝ Who are you, and why did you help me? ❞

❝ You’re not the grateful kind, are you? ❞

❝ I did not mean to insult you. ❞

❝ How incredibly observant you are. ❞

❝ Your word play will not trick me, villain! ❞

❝ See what I mean? ❞  

❝ There are other ways to get home. ❞

❝ High-Five. ❞

❝ We have come to destroy you. ❞

❝ You arrive not a moment too soon. ❞

❝ I have no need for treasure. ❞

❝ I wish I could repay your kindness. ❞

❝ I am forever in your debt. ❞

❝ I humbly request your permission to use this great power. ❞

❝ By what right do you deny me? ❞

❝ Ain’t gonna happen. ❞

❝ Excuse me, I need to take your clothes. ❞

❝ You were prepared for sacrifice. I was not. ❞

❝ I suggest we waste no time crying then. ❞

❝ Seems we must find an alternate way out. ❞

❝ In the future, my strength will surpass yours! ❞

❝ What brings you to such bitter lands? ❞

❝ Time to end it, don’t you think? ❞

❝ I’ll find a way. I always have. ❞

❝ And so I journey on. ❞

❝ I have a bad feeling about this. ❞

❝ I won’t spend an eternity in this forsaken time! ❞

❝ Looking for a seat? ❞

❝ I’m gonna make a lot of money cashin’ in on your hide. ❞

❝ It seems so familiar, this place… ❞

❝ You have not yet earned the right to face my blade. ❞    

❝ Why do I have this feeling that I am being followed when I know it to not be true? ❞

❝ Your efforts are in vain again. ❞

❝ Please…help me…I beg you… ❞

❝ What’s wrong, friend? ❞

❝ You have insulted my footwear. My sandals don’t like to be laughed at. ❞

❝ At the fork in the road, follow the rocky path. ❞

❝ Aren’t you a little short for a demonic minion? ❞

❝ I will put a hurting on you, slave. ❞

❝ It’s more than a touch or a word we say. ❞

❝ I’m gonna tear you up into little shreds, and then I’m gonna take those shreds and tear them up into little shreds. ❞

❝ I am not intimidated by your shouting. ❞ 

it sounded romantic when I heard it the first time. it was before we were married, and he told us to not forget it. seriously, he said, keep this one with you because when it gets hard, you’re going to need it–okay here it is. the purpose of marriage is not happiness, but growth.

ugh, I love that, I said.

no you don’t, he said. you’re happy right now, so you feel up for it. growth usually happens when you’re not up for it. you love the idea of it, but you’re not going to like it. that’s okay, but it’s important to expect it.

he was right. it’s not romantic, it’s hard. it’s not that warm feeling i like. sometimes it feels a lot more like a limb is about to be pulled out of its socket. you reach a fork in the road, and it’s time to grow again, but God I just rather not today. you made me grow last week. resisting the growth is more painful than the growth.

he was right. it’s not romantic. it’s actually annoying how much growing is going on right now. I am tired of growing.

you know that scene in miss congeniality where she is forced to eat healthy food, so she has hidden junk food under her pageant gown? and her coach makes her give them all up? but there’s more. so he takes those too. no choice. no exceptions. that is how I feel. give me your pride, and now your greed–no, all of it. and jealousy–i’ll be taking that. ok, fine, here. is that enough? no, hand me your resentment. oh! and the comparison. i almost forgot that one–hand it over.

that fork in the road I mentioned with one way being growth–don’t mistake the other road as happiness. like I said, to not walk into the growth is more painful. that’s because resisting it means walking into avoidance, into denial, into defensiveness, into stagnancy, it is anything but happiness.

marriage is a mirror. by design, God created us to reflect back to each other what isn’t resembling him. you can get angry, and defensive, refusing to look in the mirror. you can punish your spouse for functioning as they’re intended to. or you can acknowledge what’s coming up, thank them for showing you, ask them to love you, and choose to grow.

L, marriage // year one

Libra:

As a Libra, you find both peace and chaos in fairness. On one hand, you want to always have a carefree, stress free, loving environment. However, on the road to such carefree loving environment, wars will happen. You have to fight to get to that level of stress-free life. It’s a big fork on the road to cross every time and it can block you from happiness if you let the fear of fighting for what you seek get in the way.

The great big “How to Build a Dungeon” post, part 4.

Lancelot at Carbonek by Alan Lee

It’s been too long my friends, so as usual here’s some well tested tips and tricks to ensure your dungeons are not only memorable but machine precise. 


Missions and challenge design. 

far too often a dungeon will have a stated goal ( seek the treasure, destroy the cult, ) but encounters within the dungeon will be little more than a series of combat encounters with maybe a puzzle or skill check thrown in as speedbumps. Instead, consider the value of identifying from both a narrative and gameplay perspective what MISSION the party is on, and then deliberately testing that. This is not to say that every encounter needs to relate to the dungeon’s overall mission, but ensuring that one or two encounters do means that there’s a mood that’s maintained between encounters. Some easily categorized forms of dungeon missions below: 

  • Explore: If the point of the dungeon is getting to successive areas or uncovering hidden corners the best challenge is to throw up roadblocks to the party’s progress.The dungeon will have a lot of dead ends, and plenty of physical hurdles that require sizable skillchecks to bypass.  Rewards in an exploration dungeon come in the from of shortcuts and maps to help the players better find their way around. 
  • Assault: perhaps the most default of dungeon missions, when the party is assaulting a dungeon. Enemy inhabitants are liekly to have built up defenses in preparation for such an occasion and the challenge comes from finding ways around these defenses . Intelligent creatures don’t just sit around all day waiting for adventurers to come and kill them: they’ll have spent effort engineering fortifications and choke points, ways to cover their natural weaknesses and bring their full strength to bear against invaders. Even unintelligent creatures are likely to have hunting patterns that put them at some kind of advantage. 
  • Defend: defense missions flip the script on the usual dungeon routine with the party expected to hold off one or more waves of aggressors while taking advantage of the dungeon’s built in defenses. It’s fairly under utilized, but it’s a great way to make use of all those haunted towers and crumbling forts that are a mainstay of early level play. The areas around the central defense point should contain multiple opportunities for the party to stem the tide of their assailants,  Likewise, the challenge in defense missions comes in the form of enemies seeking ways around the party’s defenses, and so the group must be vigilant to plug these gaps before they start leaking. 
  • Sneak: perhaps one of the simplest missions that you can build a dungeon around. When the players are wanting to sneak, build in a few challenges where they might be spotted and the dungeon’s denizens alerted, as well as a few undetectable pathways so the party can get their ninja on. 
  • Hunt: the party is perusing a particular creature above all, likely stronger than the average dungeon denizen. In addition to actually finding the creature, the party needs to draw the creature out of hiding, neutralize it’s escape routs, and deal with terrain features it’s shaped to it’s advantage.  
  • Loot: The party is looking to obtain some kind of valuable object and get out. challenges that either impede the party getting to the loot ( locks, other traps) or getting the loot out, like a difficult climb or some kind of time limit
  • Sabotage: the party is in the dungeon to stop X from happening before Y. Occult ritual, activation of a doomsday device, political gala. The challenge comes in when the party gets sloppy and their target is either removed or placed under heavier guard. 

If your dungeon is made up of a single level/cluster of rooms, you’ll generally only need one overriding mission. However, if your dungeon is segmented in multiple ways, like I talked about HERE, you’re going to want to give each section it’s own mission or unique twist on the mission parameters. 

Say you’re running a rescue mission: Sneaking into the cells beneath a tyrannical baron’s keep provides it’s own challenges of evasion, circumnavigation and trickery where as escaping with the prisoner across the countryside with the baron’s troops in pursuit is a matter of pathfinding, wilderness survival and laying traps. All in all more exciting then fighting one group of monsters/npcs after another with different backdrops. 

Quest knight by River flow Shore

Getting out again

this was going to be part of the dungeon mission section, but I think it deserves it’s own heading. Far too often we end our dungeons when the final boss is killed, the princess is saved and our players have stuffed their pockets full of treasure. 

this is wasting an opportunity as forcing players to retrace their steps/ fight their way back out not only halves the amount of dungeon you need to make, it indulges the player’s nostalgia and reinforces all the great memories they made while they were pushing through. 

have a sub-boss and a few patrols that the party skipped? have them mount one last vengeful offensive at a particular choke point. The party busted in doors and generally made a nuisance of themselves? Now the dungeon is descending on them enmasse and their brute force attitude has left them outnumbered and with lots of holes in their defenses.  

In my very first post I talked about “ tempo” and how changing it could benefit your session to modulate between high excitement and a more leisurely exploration focus. This is a perfect time to do that as new challenges are likely to present themselves, as jumping down a collapsing temple balcony to get into a sunken chapel might be easy for a low level group, but trying to lug a number of treasure chests up a 30ft vertical gap might be a challenge, especially when that treasure’s owner has just discovered the theft and is rampaging around the grounds looking for intruders. 

Gargoyle Temple by Byung-ju Bong

Environmental hazards 

Short rests taking all the tension out of your high stakes dungeon crawl? Is the party deciding to break for a snack after every encounter ? Are you a Tolkien fan who REALLY liked the parts about camping?

The solution I’ve found is to play up the pervasive danger that runs through many delves but is seldom addressed. Sickness in the swers, a creeping feeling of dread in a tomb, frigid wind that saps the heat from your bones…  while all of this can be highlighted by making players roll against them specifically, I find it useful to have these as a fallback measure to keep players on their toes. 

When your party takes a short rest outside of a safe campsite (dry caves on stormwracked beaches, chapels in otherwise haunted castles, peaceful glades in otherwise savage wilderness) have everyone roll an appropriate check. Those that fail get a minor debuff for the next hour or so, or until they next spend hitdie when resting. This ensures that your players meter out their short rests between encounters and lets you modulate the difficulty without punishing them severely.  

Light up the darkness by Gabrielwigren

Avoiding the coinflip 

When running through your dungeon as a player, you’re liable to have encountered the following “The hallway branches off to the left and to the right, what do you do?”. This is an immersion killer as it forces a player to devote brainpower to weighing the cost/benefit analysis of a completely empty choice. The dungeon master knows where each door leads, which will be fun, which will be totally devastating, but it means NOTHING to your players in the moment. Instead, you foreshadow  a little, giving the players enticing hints at what could be beyond each junction. 

“ The floor of this chamber has fallen away, leaving only a vine choked pit that gives way to the ruin’s subterranean warrens. Beyond the fissure a doorway still stands empty,it’s ornate stone frame marred with dozens of clawmarks.” 

See how Both of those options give the players something to think about when deciding their next course of action? If they’re still hurting form their last fight they might avoid the clawmarks which could mean trouble, where as descending down the pit poses the risk of not being easily able to return again.

The last of the kings by Vladimir Manyukhin

Loops 2.0 : Over the hill, through the pass. 

This leads to a trick I’ve developed that not only applies to dungeons, but to mapmaking in general: 

When players are under stress ( time, resource shortage, pursuit) you can give them a simple fork in the road: A short and dangerous path or a long path that’s comparatively safe but brings their deadline closer. A party being chased by an assassin could either choose to take a chance on an infamous shortcut through the mountains, risking harpies, rockslides and giants, or they could take the long way round, knowing that their pursuer may catch up to them. 

The situation simply reverses itself when the players are at ease: a short, sure route or a winding detour that indulges their curiosity. The PCs have been traveling for six days when they crest a hill and see across the valley the ruins of some great fortress, tattered banners blowing in the autumn breeze. Town is still three days off, but the temptation to explore is great, for the fortress in abstract contains any number of wonderful secrets and rewards to divulge. Skyrim is very good at this initially, always pointing you towards a new dungeon or distraction, but it looses it’s luster about four hours in after you’ve already explored most dungeon types backwards and forwards. 

likewise, if you create a roadblock ( high level monster, sturdily locked door, wall of fire) that needs something in particular to be bypassed  ( flute of sleep, a runic key, the miniboss’s water staff) and then put them in different sections of the dungeon you’ve created a tacit reward for exploration. Groups that find the roadblock will want to explore/backtrack to find a way through, where as groups who obtain the bypass ahead of schedule will feel smart for having found it in the first place. Use this trick when you need to block off sections of the dungeon without having it feel like just an elaborate hallway. 

Wight by Artstuffing 

I’ll be working on a few more tips and tricks over the next little while, hopefully expanding out into giving advice on some non-dungeon related martial. 

As always feel free to share this or hit me up to talk about your own dungeon ideas. 

Happy Delving!

Part 1

Part 3