* First Reported sighting of the Lock Ness Monster (1933) Whom
some say is not a real living creature but is instead a shape shifting phantom
that was released due to the activities of Aleister Crowley at his Scottish
home of Boleskine on the shores of Lock Ness.
* First reported sighting of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood (1967)
Not even the wildest conspiracy buffs say Crowley had anything to do with that.
It’s what Dean taught you to do if you were ever trapped with a monster. In a locked building, or underground, anywhere that you might be that you couldn’t get out of.
“Don’t run, just hide. Sammy and I, we’ll come find you. If you run you’ll make noise, or you could fall, something could get knocked over and give away exactly where you are. You’re better off hiding until you know you’ve got the upper hand.” Dean had given you the same lecture at least a hundred times, you could hear his words echoing in your head as you slowed your breathing down so much you weren’t even sure how your brain was getting enough oxygen.
You were taking every word Dean had taught you and applying it as you hid in the small dark storage closet. You’ve hidden from monsters before, but you never thought you would be hiding from them in your own home, the bunker… safest place in the world. The worst part of is was, the monster you were hiding from was the same person who had shown you how to hide in them first place. Dean.
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
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.
a few weeks ago at work there was a new report on the radio stating that the whole of Britain was worried abt Nessie bc she hadn’t been spotted in a few months and records of sightings skyrocketed last year. There were updates throughout the next couple of weeks abt it before another news reporter said that he was relieved bc there had been sightings of Nessie again. My country sucks but it’s looking after its Cryptids, good job Britain.
Leaning against the locked bathroom door. “Baby let me in, it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. Let me take care of you.”
Despite your protests, he sits right next to you rubbing yourback and holding your hair. Quietly scolding you for drinking so much.
“Yah, why did you drink so much?” He’d ask and pull your hair out of your face, gently. “Go away, Yoongi, please. I don’t want you to see me like this.” You’d say, pushing him away slightly. “For better or worse, right?” He’d say, staying with you.
He would try his best to cheer you up, but if you weren’t having it he’d simply rub your back and take you home. But he’d stay with you until the morning, laying painkillers and a glass of water next to your bed.
He wouldn’t know what to do, so he’d listen to what you tell him. “Please… go away. I don’t want you seeing me like this.” You’d croak and he would stand outside the door waiting for you. He wouldn’t fuss about it to much, not wanting to embarrass you. “Let’s go home now, jagi.”
“Ahh, princess let me help you.” He’d ask and you’d swat his hands away. “Please leave! This is embarrassing!.” You’d say. “Nope, not going anywhere.”
He wouldn’t know what to do and would probably ask Namjoon. “But she doesn’t want me in there!” He’d say. “Doesn’t matter if she doesn’t want you in there! You’re her boyrfriend. GET IN THERE.” Namjoon would say and with that Jungkook would be behind you holding your hair back.
Summary: HYDRA have turned you into a monster and locked you away untouched. Raised by HYDRA against your will since you could remember and separated from a long lost sister who by now you have long forgotten. When the Avengers have rejoined they decide to take down every HYDRA base one step at a time. What happens when that base is yours?
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A:N) Look guys, I got my shit together and started a new series. Please let me know if you would like to be tagged. Feedback or absolute anything is welcomed. Thank you for your patients guys.