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I saw this article linked from another post and I really liked it and I thought it was good enough for even the designers to read. I have noticed that a lot of dungeons are really "simple" and this article talks about how to make your dungeons more organic and interesting. This is especially true with cave and sewer-type dungeons.

 

http://thealexandria...ing-the-dungeon

 

Anybody else have some good tips and ideas that have made your DMing experiences more fun? Anything you've seen other people do that has made your gaming experiences more fun?

Edited by Hormalakh
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My blog is where I'm keeping a record of all of my suggestions and bug mentions.

http://hormalakh.blogspot.com/  UPDATED 9/26/2014

My DXdiag:

http://hormalakh.blogspot.com/2014/08/beta-begins-v257.html

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I did GM a bit and found using realistic designs (post-apocalypse setting in my case) to work the best. Realistic means, of course, that sometimes linearity is expected.

 

The best approach would be to judge what's "appropriate" for a location, basing on the local culture, technology etc. It makes sense for crazy-person-places, like the Endless Paths, to be endlessly convoluted, just like it makes sense for grand temples to have a simple basic layout, with more complex auxiliary facilities. Followers aren't going to spend an hour traversing a trap-infested dungeon just to get to a service; at the same time, functionaries will need secret passageways, stores, sleeping chambers and treasuries to fulfill their duties.

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[ The Vault ] [ The Wasteland Wiki ] [ Pillars of Eternity Wiki ] [ Tyranny Wiki ]


 


My, that's a whole lot of wikis!


Why, thank you, I love them.

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I did GM a bit and found using realistic designs (post-apocalypse setting in my case) to work the best. Realistic means, of course, that sometimes linearity is expected.

 

The best approach would be to judge what's "appropriate" for a location, basing on the local culture, technology etc. It makes sense for crazy-person-places, like the Endless Paths, to be endlessly convoluted, just like it makes sense for grand temples to have a simple basic layout, with more complex auxiliary facilities. Followers aren't going to spend an hour traversing a trap-infested dungeon just to get to a service; at the same time, functionaries will need secret passageways, stores, sleeping chambers and treasuries to fulfill their duties.

 

The idea of merchants "doing business" at the bottom of a forbidden dungeon where adventurers die before reaching the end is silly. You might as well find some local, generally unknown cave and find your way into some unknown chamber and start hauling junk in without telling anyone and just sit there and wait for the cash to roll in.

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^This. The random merchant in dungeons often ruins the feeling of being in a sacred or very remote place.

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The idea of merchants "doing business" at the bottom of a forbidden dungeon where adventurers die before reaching the end is silly. You might as well find some local, generally unknown cave and find your way into some unknown chamber and start hauling junk in without telling anyone and just sit there and wait for the cash to roll in.

 

I think this can work, if it's treated as the absurdity it is. Like, there's this random merchant wandering a dungeon saying things like,"Man, I am so ****ing lost." or "Hey, do you know how to get to (insert major city here) from here?" or "That is the last time I ask directions from an ogre."

As long as it doesn't happen too often, it could be funny.

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The idea of merchants "doing business" at the bottom of a forbidden dungeon where adventurers die before reaching the end is silly. You might as well find some local, generally unknown cave and find your way into some unknown chamber and start hauling junk in without telling anyone and just sit there and wait for the cash to roll in.

 

I think this can work, if it's treated as the absurdity it is. Like, there's this random merchant wandering a dungeon saying things like,"Man, I am so ****ing lost." or "Hey, do you know how to get to (insert major city here) from here?" or "That is the last time I ask directions from an ogre."

As long as it doesn't happen too often, it could be funny.

 

Lampshading it doesn't really help.

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Merchants in dungeons, deadly monsters every five feet on the road the peasants take to market (without some reason for it) and people somehow getting through all the monsters and traps ahead of you without having affected any of them is all a bit silly, yes.

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I like to see dungeon designs answer the following questions:

  • Why was this built underground rather than on the surface. Secrecy is usually the reason, but how did the builders hide the construction work and keep it secret?
  • How is breathable air circulated through all of the rooms?
  • If it lies below the water table, why isn't it flooded?
  • How is food energy being generated for all of the denizens? Typical residents of a dungeon are predators at the top of the food chain, so they need a lot of game.

Undead dungeons make the most sense in terms of answering these points. For a living dungeon, an underwater river may supply many of the requirements: it hollows out underground spaces, creates a temperature differential that circulates air, supplies food in the form of fish, and implicitly requires a water gradient that thereby clears out any flooding. Other than those, I think you need a non-toxic energy source of some type, or perhaps an active magical portal to provide a conduit for air, food, and water. More than one portal would be better since the two can create a pressure gradient.

 

My 2cp worth. :)

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"It has just been discovered that research causes cancer in rats."

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In a pathfinder game I am running the players are having a blast exploring an abandoned dwarven outpost, trying to figure out what happened and why everybody's dead. </tooting my own horn>

 

Most of what's important has already been discussed - the best dungeons are truly terrifying, but they need explanation and justification - why is this here, who feeds the monsters, etc, but more importantly, why am I here, and why do I care? Challenge dungeons (crazy dude built a maze of death and declares open season on the treasure buried in the middle) aren't nearly as compelling as exploring ancient ruins, if they are well designed and make sense.

 

Just my two cents.

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One thing that hasn't been mentioned and has to do with video game based dungeons is telling the story of the dungeon through the art, loot, enemies. You don't need to hit the players over the head with what the history of the dungeon with a long drawn out exposition given by some guy who knows all there is to know about the dungeon. A lot of times, the way the dungeon is designed and the things that are shown tell a lot of the history of the dungeon, its beginnings, etc. I find that to be much more engaging than a long dialogue from the quest-giver.

 

Generally, this usually isn't a problem for many dungeons, but I have seen a few terrible examples in the past and thought it was worth mentioning.


My blog is where I'm keeping a record of all of my suggestions and bug mentions.

http://hormalakh.blogspot.com/  UPDATED 9/26/2014

My DXdiag:

http://hormalakh.blogspot.com/2014/08/beta-begins-v257.html

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