Thursday, March 27, 2008

How To Host A Dungeon

Recently I stumbled upon this page on Making Dungeons. Which contains rules on How To Host A Dungeon, taking one from the Primordial soup to the Age of Villainy. Since this was such a neat premise I had to play a run through. Any confusion with the rules is probably my own fault, and I know that I made some errors that if I were to have another go at it I would be able to avoid, but it turned out pretty neat. Though one thing that bothered me was that, given how I rolled in the Primordial age, there were no pockets of gold or ore for the latter ages and that really made my dungeon rather wealth poor.

Anyways, here's my notes from the playthrough, along with pictures.

In the beginning were the Drow. The initial set-up had given the dungeon an underground river, a volcano to the left side, and a set of three monster ridden caverns in the center. The caverns contained a slime, a gelatinous cube, and a troll, eventually the troll would end up as the only one alive(the others killing each other off). The Drow expanded, but due to the lack of any real resources(no gold, gems, or mithril had been rolled) there was little actual activity. They reached the surface with little fanfare, only to be wiped out by the human kingdoms, and thus ended the age of Drow. (I wasn't sure if I needed to roll a disaster or not here)

The Age of Monsters

A castle is founded in the west and begin farming, in the east a set of human miners stumble upon the old drow shaft and begin to shore it up. In the old monster caverns an ant colony takes root and begins to breed. Finally, in a natural cavern formed by the underground river a ogre takes up residence, but soon must depart to search for food.

Year two is much the same. More farms for the castle, the miners dig deeper, the ants breed and send out a tunnel to the east. The Ogre eats whatever was left over in the Drow dungeons, and a Xorn arrives in a empty natural cave near the river.

Year three begins with Gnolls taking up residence near the old Drow Statuary hall. The castle inhabitants continue to breed and the miners continue along the old drow shaft. The ants breed, the ogre consumes its own loot, and the Xorn wanders. (It was rather far from any other caverns or rooms so I didn't know if the rules meant for it to be lost in the tunnels or establish another cavern where it ended up as it headed towards food. I assumed it just stayed in the tunnel).

Year four. Things get interesting. A group of 4 Lawful adventurers decide to brave the caverns, of course the only accessible area is the Mining camp.(The rules don't state whether the human miners are lawful or chaotic, but I assumed that they'd be lawful, also, the rules of the adventuring group don't specify how far they can move each turn. Do they go until they run out of people or finish their mission? That's what I assumed for this play. Again, no option for if the group hasn't encountered any others, they can't exactly send the adventurers off on a quest to fight nothing). The adventurers eliminate the fledgling gnoll colony, and fight the ogre to a standstill, unfortunately it seems that the xorn are too much of a challenge, their bones and treasure mark the spot(I created a cavern at the spot to mark their last hurrah, otherwise I don't really know where I would have put the treasure, my earlier decision to leave the xorn just sitting in the tunnel comes back to haunt me.) After the fall of the adventurers, the city builds some dungeons, the minders dig deeper, the ants end up at their maximum breeding capacity, the ogre finds treasure, and the xorn eats some treasure.

Year Five. Another adventure group arrives, this time 4 chaotic adventurers(my die seemed to like 6 this turn). The human miners are all eliminated with the loss of a single adventurer(again, both rolled 6's). But when the ogre is encountered, they're massacred. The castle is also able to send a group of adventurers down into the depths, hurrah! They find nothing and thus return to found a city instead. The Ant colony comes into conflict with the Xorn, since they can't bribe, instead they handily loot its treasure. The Xorn are then pushed back. The Ogre loots the last of the Drow treasures.

Year Six. Wandering monsters arrive! A Giant Spider, a Gelatinous Cube(affectionately labeled as Jelly Cube), and a Roper enter into the fray. The humans breed. The ants breed and steal the roper's loot. The Xorn then kills the Roper and takes over its lair. The ogre then eats the giant spider. Jelly survives deep in the underdark and does nothing.

Year Seven. Three lawful adventurers enter the dungeons. They kill the ogre handily and take its loot. They kill Jelly, it has no loot. They kill the Xorn, it has no loot. Amazingly successful adventuring party, they return to the surface with their loot! Two of the loot disappear into the heroes pockets, and two go to the improvement of the city and castle. The city sends a group to adventure as well....which returns empty handed after clearing the dungeons of rats. But they do found a wizard's tower(pyramid). The ants breed....everything else has been wiped out by adventurers.

Year 8. The Statuary hall and environs have a new special feature. They're now haunted by the ghost of the Ogre that was slain last year...or at least that's what I think. The Castlegoers again send down an expedition....which brings back nothing, but does found a new university, and ushers in the age of villainy.

Age of Villainy

Twisted by researches into things that MAN WAS NOT MEANT TO KNOW(pyramid power?). The occupant of the Wizard's Tower(pyramid) begins to cackle, the Dungeon Master has arrived. Expanding into the depths, he builds himself a nice hall, recruits minions and builds a barracks for them. The ants and humans breed. Adventurers arrive and due to the Dungeon Master's minions being inept and incompetent(rolling 1's does not help the cause, I can only imagine that the DM stepped into his own vat of shark filled acid), quickly dispatch the villain. And thus ends the age of villainy.

All in all, a really interesting and fun little tool. Obviously I made it in a paint program since I don't have any sketching paper, but I think it came out pretty well. It would probably be a lot easier if I did just sketch it out, since the I had to mentally grid it off to imagine where the die 'fell' by rolling to find the grid point. Also, there were some things that I felt were really neat, yet didn't get much of a chance to shine, I almost went through the whole game without a special feature showing up. Another thing was that only certain groups tunneled, others might get stuck in separate areas without access to their prey or loot source, related to this was a comment in the rules to build new rooms as necessary for the colonies, but I couldn't exactly find where it told us when it was necessary. The adventurers from the city had troubles as well since their basement never connected up to any of the main cave complexes, and conversely none of the monster groups were within their range. But as I said, it was quite interesting, just watching the evolution of my dungeon ecology was really neat, and it's definitely giving me ideas for the next cavern complex any stalwart(or stupid) band of adventurers might run through.

Anyways, head over there and check it out, for a fun little solo game or a useful DM's tool, whichever your pick.


Tony said...

Hey, thanks for trying out my game and posting about it! I love your notes. It's very cool to see the dungeon unfold as a story.

I'm still working on the game, tweaking and improving it. The possible lack of gold in the second age is a problem.

Glad you enjoyed it!

Talkos said...

You're welcome, it's a really interesting premise. And if I actually had the correct tools(sketching paper) I'm sure it would have gone even better. Keep up the good work.