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Worldbuilding 5 Week Challenge - With Gygax 75 - 12th February to 19th March


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1 hour ago, Jarric said:

 

I'd keep it in the hills - it's more interesting that this city is different, and it gives you a creative challenge to decide why it's different. Maybe it's natural resources? Maybe it's a last safe haven where lots of people stop to trade and resupply before an arduous leg of the journey? Maybe at this point the mode of transport for freight has to change, so this city is where everything is unloaded and reloaded? Maybe the local lord laid down extortionate taxes for goods wagons travelling through the city, so everyone unloads at the city gates, carries everything through the city by hand, and picks up with fresh wagons on the other side?

All good ideas. I am gonna leave it in the hill pass, and use the Blue Ridge mountain town image as my visual inspiration. Might delve into some awareness of the economics of the town's success in time. :)

 

1 hour ago, Jarric said:

I've actually never used this, I was quoting from the Gygax75 book at that point. I am going to check it out though, as well as the Madison Paper link you mentioned.

Haha, makes sense. Glad I could offer commentary on both. Looking forward to trying out Hex Kit tonight! :D

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Current challenge:  to face the trials of this life at my own speed, savoring my accomplishments, and accepting my failures with peace

 

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13 hours ago, MaeradCase said:

All good ideas. I am gonna leave it in the hill pass, and use the Blue Ridge mountain town image as my visual inspiration. Might delve into some awareness of the economics of the town's success in time. :)

 

Haha, makes sense. Glad I could offer commentary on both. Looking forward to trying out Hex Kit tonight! :D

image.png.028527c86c6732646aecea17eb8642bb.png

 

I will say a few things - this is just the terrain, and I have not put the rivers and roads in because this took me a few hours to get this spaced and organized how I wanted. However, I threw in a bunch of stops for the caravan (I have yet to count how many hexes the journey would take, but since it navigates around the (currently unseen) rivers and hills, but weaves through the mountains, so far so good. 

Proud announcement: I gave names to all four of the major towns. As of right now, the whole map is called Heliodor, but that's partly because the caravan considers it to be their home base. Names might change, but at present the four towns are named Heliodor (dwarf city), Nandoah (hill valley), Damodar (river mouth), and Kimana (lake town).

 

Another evening I will add the rivers and roads. I did consider using the pirate map aesthetic (seen below) to be kinder on my eyes, but got started before it was done downloading, so I didn't bother changing tiles. I might apply it in my future adjustments.

image.png.181d6cc532848b7e82b4b20e47e05ef7.png

 

Anyway, it's way past my bedtime. Gotta go. Hope you like it!

 

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Ok, it's about time I shared my pitch for my setting I think:

  • Designed for D&D 5e/Pathfinder 2e
  • Much of the setting will be based on Irish mythology, and on other myths surrounding sidhe/fae realms
  • The starting land is a verdant and wild place, with small towns and villages separated by lush grasslands and dense forests
  • The world is a mutable place, and maps are unreliable here. Hills, lakes, forests, ruins, and sometimes whole cities appear and disappear without warning. Large changes are rare, but you can very easily find your path to the next town blocked by a stand of trees that wasn't there before.
  •  There are no humans (or half-humans) in this world
  • The main species are elves, who largely live on the ground, dwarfs, who largely live below the ground, and orcs, who largely spend their time at sea
  • Other species exist, and I will work with players to define their place in the world if they want to play said species.
  • Elemental and planar species are born of elves/dwarfs/orcs etc. (this is a concept from Pathfinder 2e, where aasimar/tieflings/ifrit/sylphs etc. are a heritage that modifies your ancestry (species)

 

I'm not going to share my whole mood board now, but a lot of my love of Irish mythology comes from my last visit to Ireland, when WW and I stopped at Loch Gur:

 

Views-of-Lough-Gur-copy.jpg

 

That's not my picture - if only the weather was that good that day :lol: . It's a beautiful place though, and they had tapes of the local myths and legends that you could listen to whilst wandering around the lake and stone circles. It was wonderful.

 

Anyway, although that's an inspiration from my real nice, I also need some sources I can actually refer to, and these are:

  • Irish Folk and Fairy Tales, edited by Gordon Jarvic - I've had this for ages so a great excuse to dip into it a bit now
  • Forbidden Lands RPG - I love the feel of this (or at least what I've seen of it shared by @DarK_RaideR), so I want to pick up on it stylistically
  • The Iron Druid series by Kevin Hearne - I can't find this in the local library, but thanks to @sylph's recommendation I think I'm going to be picking this up on payday
  • Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable - this is a goldmine of weirdness that I'll probably dip into from time to time

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On 2/21/2023 at 11:04 PM, MaeradCase said:

Another evening I will add the rivers and roads. I did consider using the pirate map aesthetic (seen below) to be kinder on my eyes, but got started before it was done downloading, so I didn't bother changing tiles. I might apply it in my future adjustments.

image.png.181d6cc532848b7e82b4b20e47e05ef7.png

 

Anyway, it's way past my bedtime. Gotta go. Hope you like it!

 

image.png.2b328f516585ed9f69ba2e106fd22b41.png

I have returned with the pirate Hex Kit tiles! Firstly, I like the fact that you can control a couple different features (and could probably mix terrains together with a bit of effort, but I don't mind mine being a bit simplistic. I spent most of my evening making the coastal bits so that the rivers' main pathways extended inland, in generally about the same direction I had intended... I don't feel like the river squiggles designed for continuing the stream path quite has the same effect, so I don't know how I'll handle the smaller streams, or if I won't bother with them... not sure yet.

 

I also have all the camp sites, hamlets, villages, small towns, and four major towns all marked without any of them hidden now that I have water ways plotted out to weave around and cross occasionally. I'd have to recount to know for sure, but at my last count there were 120 stops (which is significantly better than the 70-ish I had before). It's been fun making a map! I am looking forward to also putting in the caravan route so I can hide all the little notations of camping sites again. 😅 I will say Hex Kit is an excellent means of map-making, and that buying a color scheme per personal preference is recommendable in contrast to the basic black-and-white scheme that comes with the software. 😉

 

Gonna head to bed! Hope to see the maps you guys come up with! :D

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On 2/22/2023 at 5:55 PM, Jarric said:
  • Much of the setting will be based on Irish mythology, and on other myths surrounding sidhe/fae realms
  • The world is a mutable place, and maps are unreliable here. Hills, lakes, forests, ruins, and sometimes whole cities appear and disappear without warning. Large changes are rare, but you can very easily find your path to the next town blocked by a stand of trees that wasn't there before.

I'm no expert in Irish mythology, but a changing landscape that renders maps unusable sounds like a very Irish mythology thing.

 

On 2/22/2023 at 5:55 PM, Jarric said:

and orcs, who largely spend their time at sea

Above or under water? We talking pirate orcs or mermaid orcs here? :D

 

On 2/22/2023 at 5:55 PM, Jarric said:

a lot of my love of Irish mythology comes from my last visit to Ireland

It's hard not to love that island.

 

On 2/22/2023 at 5:55 PM, Jarric said:

Forbidden Lands RPG - I love the feel of this (or at least what I've seen of it shared by @DarK_RaideR), so I want to pick up on it stylistically

I'd say we need to do a one-shot or something some day, but I'm pretty sure we're both hard pressed for more gaming time. :(

 

6 hours ago, MaeradCase said:

I have returned with the pirate Hex Kit tiles!

Really liking the visuals on that map!

 

 

I've had a few curveballs thrown my way, but with the long weekend ahead, I'm hoping to do and post my Week 2 stuff as well.

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So I've started my map, and plotted a coastline and a couple of settlements. Need to spend the time filling in the rest of the very large open spaces I have now.

 

21 hours ago, DarK_RaideR said:

Above or under water? We talking pirate orcs or mermaid orcs here? :D

 

Above water - seafaring orcs rather than aquatic orcs. Not necessarily pirates, though it's a good chance to play on some stereotypes about sailors.

 

On that note, another image from the mood board:

 

03705e36147da0bd3ed5211514d4482a.png

 

21 hours ago, DarK_RaideR said:

I'd say we need to do a one-shot or something some day, but I'm pretty sure we're both hard pressed for more gaming time. :(

 

It's not so much gaming timing as learning a new system time for me - I can often claw out 3 hours on a weekend with a few weeks notice, but investing time in a new ruleset is difficult. Also, this feels like a game that runs better as a campaign than a one-shot, from what little I've seen of it?

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Don't say "I don't have enough time", say instead "that's not a priority right now" and see how that makes you feel.

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5 hours ago, Jarric said:

So I've started my map, and plotted a coastline and a couple of settlements. Need to spend the time filling in the rest of the very large open spaces I have now.

Depending on who the map is for, you could justify not having everything on it. Mine is a caravan's map, so it doesn't need cities that aren't on the route even though there is plenty of space for other towns to develop.

 

5 hours ago, Jarric said:

Above water - seafaring orcs rather than aquatic orcs. Not necessarily pirates, though it's a good chance to play on some stereotypes about sailors.

Darn, but also that's your call, so no biggie. :) Sailors are an excellent subject material! :D

 

5 hours ago, Jarric said:

On that note, another image from the mood board:

 

03705e36147da0bd3ed5211514d4482a.png

Yeeeeessssss

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Current challenge:  to face the trials of this life at my own speed, savoring my accomplishments, and accepting my failures with peace

 

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9 hours ago, Jarric said:

Above water - seafaring orcs rather than aquatic orcs. Not necessarily pirates, though it's a good chance to play on some stereotypes about sailors.

ORRRRRRRGHS!

 

UVJg3SN.png

 

Apologies for all the yellow assaulting your eyes, but it is a desert setting after all. The big city is in the center, with a primitive railway connecting it to the nearby mines. The latter are a recent project, not dug too deep and serving as a dungeon, in case the player characters wish to explore them. Up left is the spaceship megadungeon, with a rocky patch to represent the skidmarks left from when it landed. Next to it is the settlement of those that have turned it into a religious site. On the upper right side is the major settlement of the local nomads, conveniently next to the only big oasis of the wider region. The volcanoes on the bottom right side are a wildcard natural landmark, there's more than just lava around. Unusual minerals, toxic fumes and radiation have made this into a patch of valuable resources but also dangerous inhabitants. So far it's pretty bare-bones, but that's by design: it's a new, unknown place for the characters and even locals haven't fully explored most of it. To that end, I've made it a bit more dynamic by adding some stuff on the random encounter table that can be added onto the map, once the players discover them.

 

Random encounter table (2d6)

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2 - A group of 2d6 tribalistic, dreadlocked pygmy humanoids feasting on the flesh of 1d4 humanoid corpses. Besides the cannibalism part, they're cautious at first but rather friendly once their trust is gained. Their clan lives nearby. If their village is found, add it to the map as a settlement.
3 - A hard-shelled crustacean the size of a truck. It's peaceful if left alone. If not, it also hits like a truck.
4 - A party of 1d6 humans on their religious pilgrimage through the desert.
5 - 2d6 eel-like creatures crawling in the sand.
6 - In the distance, 1d6 humanoid creatures are hunting what looks like a cross between a zebra, antilope and gazelle. They have unnaturally long limbs, move twice as fast as a human and barely touch the ground, almost as if they're walking on water.
7 - A pack of 4d6 bandits in patchwork gear.
8 - The broken remains of a caravan. They might include valuable supplies, but whatever destroyed the caravan might also be near.
9 - Quicksand!
10 - A treasure map. Roll to randomly determine what hex of the map it refers to.
11 - A geyser. Its waters are hot, but if cooled down they're just as good as regular water. With a slight smell of nutmeg. Add it to the map as a landmark.
12 - The upper torso of a vaguely humanoid robot, lacking its head and one arm, mostly buried in the sand. It is twice the size of a human and made of some mysterious metal. There's a blinking red light on it.

 

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On 2/25/2023 at 2:17 PM, MaeradCase said:

Depending on who the map is for, you could justify not having everything on it. Mine is a caravan's map, so it doesn't need cities that aren't on the route even though there is plenty of space for other towns to develop.

 

I was starting to come to this conclusion actually - I've got all of the main features so maybe I just don't need to fill in all of the area that is basically open plains. Maybe if I colour the map that would be a better time to do that anyway.

 

On 2/25/2023 at 6:57 PM, DarK_RaideR said:

So far it's pretty bare-bones, but that's by design: it's a new, unknown place for the characters and even locals haven't fully explored most of it. To that end, I've made it a bit more dynamic by adding some stuff on the random encounter table that can be added onto the map, once the players discover them.

 

I am also going to steal this as a great justification to leave some spaces in my map (not that I've done my random encounter table yet, but that will come.

 

On that basis I think my map is done, complete with

  • The main city - Béal Gloine, on the mouth of the river Gloine
  • A small farming village - Ilyathyr over Vertom - so named because it's an elven village above and a dwarfish village below
  • A fishing village - Nalsera
  • A fae gate in a large woodland - my main dungeon entrance
  • An entrance to an abandoned tunnel - my secondary dungeon entrace
  • A ruined town sat in a giant crater, as though it just fell out of the sky
  • A huge, mysterious lake, surrounded by trees
  • Some mountains, forests, cliffs, and hills

 

I won't share the map because it's pencil on paper, though if I ever decide to make it prettier I will definitely share it then.

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Don't say "I don't have enough time", say instead "that's not a priority right now" and see how that makes you feel.

Current Challenge: Jarric embraces brevity

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Well I'm late sharing the week 3 prompts, but here we go (looks like a lot to do this week!):

 

Week 3: The Dungeon

Draw and stock three levels of your dungeon.

 

“Step 3 [...] is very difficult and time consuming. Each level should have a central theme and some distinguishing feature, i.e. a level with large open areas swarming with goblins, one where the basic pattern of corridors seems to repeat endlessly, one inhabited by nothing but fire-dwelling or fire-using monsters, etc. As each level is finished the various means of getting to lower levels must be keyed and noted on the appropriate lower levels [...] A careful plan of what monsters and treasures will be found where on each level is also most necessary, and it can take as long to prepare as the level itself.” – EGG

 

Tasks

  • Describe the entrance to the dungeon in 7-10 words. You can tell a lot about a place by looking at its doors.
  • Create a point-to-point map. This is a simple map with circles (rooms, caves, etc.) that are connected to each other by lines (passages, tunnels, halls, stairs, slides...). Don’t worry about visuals just yet, this map will help you create a good flow for the dungeon. You can add scale and detail later.
  • You will draw three levels. For each level, include at least d6+6 rooms/areas and connect them. Make sure they aren’t connected like a string of pearls (all in a line). At least half the rooms should have more than one way in/out. Add more rooms if you need ‘em!
  • Include several (say d3+1) ways up and/or down per level. These exits may double-count, e.g. a stairs down on level 1 is also the stairs up on level 2 and/or level 3. Remember that it doesn’t have to be stairs: you can use slides, shafts, elevators, rivers, etc.
  • Come up with 1 theme per level. Try rolling d3+2 for each theme to generate a sort of budget. This will help you remember to reinforce the themes multiple times each level. (Unlike a real budget, it’s okay to over-spend!) Example themes: tomb raiders, spiders, machines, fountains and pools, or fungi. As you stock the dungeon you will spend your budget to incorporate references to your themes via ornamentation, creatures, sensory details, etc. It is okay for a theme to “spill over” into the level above or below.
  • Make a list of about a dozen iconic monsters and place them in rooms/areas. You can put them in rooms or passages, and on any level. Generally, the more dangerous the creature the lower it will be found. If any of the monsters help sell one of your themes, remember to reduce the budget accordingly. Your monsters could also be arranged in a 2d6 wandering monster table. Put the ones most likely to roam around in the middle of the table.
  • Spread d6 major features throughout the dungeon. Features should be interactive: traps, puzzles, talking doors, magic fountains… If any of them reinforce a theme, reduce its budget. These are features that are unique or notable. Fill in around these features with general “dungeon dressing” as needed. If you roll a small number, make each feature really impactful!
  • For each room/area, note any treasure. Roll a d6 for each area. If it contains a creature or feature, there is treasure on a 1-4. Otherwise, there is treasure only on a 1. If you have random treasure tables, you can go ahead and roll up each of these piles of treasure now to save time later.
  • Name three wondrous items and locate them in the dungeon. Pull them from your source material or make them up. Again, if they reinforce a theme, you can reduce that theme’s budget. These are probably in addition to any magic items that get rolled up as part of placed treasure, unless you rolled some really good ones.
  • Spend any remaining theme budget adding detail. Note unusual smells, weird lighting, odd stonework, statues or other decorative elements, disturbing noises, messages written on the wall, corpses of previous adventurers…

 

Extra Credit

  • Map out all three levels on graph paper. Gygax would say this is an imperative, but in “theater of the mind” style games it may not be necessary. The old school scale for maps is 1:10’ (ten foot squares), which will allow you to fit a lot more dungeon on a page, but you can go 1:5’ if you like or if you plan on running a more tactical game. If you don’t map it out on graph paper, make some notes on your bubbles and lines about ceiling height, lengths of corridors, sizes and shapes of rooms, etc. Enough for a good description.
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Don't say "I don't have enough time", say instead "that's not a priority right now" and see how that makes you feel.

Current Challenge: Jarric embraces brevity

External: Epic Quest - Instagram - Strava

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Still don't have my map done, although I have all the notes I need, I think, it's just a matter of plotting them onto paper. And I don't have my hex paper with me right now, so I've skipped ahead to describing the entrance to my dungeon, which is an abandoned Necromancer's Tower. Due to the nature of magic in my world, the surrounding landscape is drained of life, like the Pride Lands when Scar is king.

 

Image - Scar Pridelands.jpg | Disney Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia

 

"Obsidian black doors are set into the base of a thick stone tower. Time and neglect have done what invaders could not, leaving the doors cracked and crooked on their hinges. The tower rises three stories before breaking off abruptly, jagged stone standing in stark contrast against the blue sky, shining down so incongruously on the wrecked landscape that surrounds the tower." 

 

Much more than 7-10 words, but what can I say, I'm an overachiever. Also, the Necromancer's Tower did not exist in my story until this challenge made me think about adding a "dungeon" and I think it's going to be a very strong addition to the story. Win!

 

I'm a bit confused by the "theme budget" though. Say I roll a 4 for a level, is that just a reminder to put 4 things that relate to the theme on that level? 

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On 2/28/2023 at 4:03 AM, Jarric said:
  • Describe the entrance to the dungeon in 7-10 words. You can tell a lot about a place by looking at its doors.

I totally forgot this bit, focusing on a point-to-point map, which I did make. 😃 But I want to make this description, too, so let's do it!

 

The doors to Heliodor are in two sides of the mountain. A great gate of daunting dimension and intricate carving has been fashioned in the wall of the mountain. In its immediate vicinity are guard rooms with windows and slits that permit defense of the gate.

Beyond those are balconies and windows that belong to residents of the mountain city who prefer to have access to fresh air - they can be reached by precarious foot paths on the mountain face, and are artfully decorated by the mountain foliage tended carefully by those with green thumbs and clumsily by those who don't mind getting a little dirty digging in the rocky terrain.

 

On 2/28/2023 at 4:03 AM, Jarric said:
  • Create a point-to-point map. This is a simple map with circles (rooms, caves, etc.) that are connected to each other by lines (passages, tunnels, halls, stairs, slides...). Don’t worry about visuals just yet, this map will help you create a good flow for the dungeon. You can add scale and detail later.

I made this earlier in the week using an Excel file to map out the Dwarf city Heliodor. In doing so I determined which side they started their development on, where their oldest chambers are, what sorts of craftsmen and merchants can be found in the inner city, where their most recent residential chambers have been designed, where minerals and gems are currently being mined and how the two mines are distinguished from each other. Very excited to have a place feel explorable. :D

 

On 2/28/2023 at 4:03 AM, Jarric said:
  • You will draw three levels. For each level, include at least d6+6 rooms/areas and connect them. Make sure they aren’t connected like a string of pearls (all in a line). At least half the rooms should have more than one way in/out. Add more rooms if you need ‘em!
  • Include several (say d3+1) ways up and/or down per level. These exits may double-count, e.g. a stairs down on level 1 is also the stairs up on level 2 and/or level 3. Remember that it doesn’t have to be stairs: you can use slides, shafts, elevators, rivers, etc.
  • Come up with 1 theme per level. Try rolling d3+2 for each theme to generate a sort of budget. This will help you remember to reinforce the themes multiple times each level. (Unlike a real budget, it’s okay to over-spend!) Example themes: tomb raiders, spiders, machines, fountains and pools, or fungi. As you stock the dungeon you will spend your budget to incorporate references to your themes via ornamentation, creatures, sensory details, etc. It is okay for a theme to “spill over” into the level above or below.
  • Make a list of about a dozen iconic monsters and place them in rooms/areas. You can put them in rooms or passages, and on any level. Generally, the more dangerous the creature the lower it will be found. If any of the monsters help sell one of your themes, remember to reduce the budget accordingly. Your monsters could also be arranged in a 2d6 wandering monster table. Put the ones most likely to roam around in the middle of the table.
  • Spread d6 major features throughout the dungeon. Features should be interactive: traps, puzzles, talking doors, magic fountains… If any of them reinforce a theme, reduce its budget. These are features that are unique or notable. Fill in around these features with general “dungeon dressing” as needed. If you roll a small number, make each feature really impactful!
  • For each room/area, note any treasure. Roll a d6 for each area. If it contains a creature or feature, there is treasure on a 1-4. Otherwise, there is treasure only on a 1. If you have random treasure tables, you can go ahead and roll up each of these piles of treasure now to save time later.
  • Name three wondrous items and locate them in the dungeon. Pull them from your source material or make them up. Again, if they reinforce a theme, you can reduce that theme’s budget. These are probably in addition to any magic items that get rolled up as part of placed treasure, unless you rolled some really good ones.
  • Spend any remaining theme budget adding detail. Note unusual smells, weird lighting, odd stonework, statues or other decorative elements, disturbing noises, messages written on the wall, corpses of previous adventurers…

 

Extra Credit

  • Map out all three levels on graph paper. Gygax would say this is an imperative, but in “theater of the mind” style games it may not be necessary. The old school scale for maps is 1:10’ (ten foot squares), which will allow you to fit a lot more dungeon on a page, but you can go 1:5’ if you like or if you plan on running a more tactical game. If you don’t map it out on graph paper, make some notes on your bubbles and lines about ceiling height, lengths of corridors, sizes and shapes of rooms, etc. Enough for a good description.

Haven't done any of these, but I can imagine how the areas can be developed with encounters for an urban D&D setting. 😍

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Fell behind on this one, courtesy of a minor health scare and its aftermath. Week 3 is where I struggled (and abandoned) this challenge last time, so I'm trying to power through. Gonna complete this thing, just not in its exact timeframe intended. Which is fine, not like I have a deadline and a group impatiently waiting to play.

 

On 3/8/2023 at 4:44 PM, Artemis Prime said:

I'm a bit confused by the "theme budget" though. Say I roll a 4 for a level, is that just a reminder to put 4 things that relate to the theme on that level? 

I see this more as a reminder to note down a couple of things and make sure you always include something that reinforces that theme. Allow me to demonstrate:

 

The dungeon I'm mapping is the recently dug (and underfunctioning or abandoned, we'll see) mines near the big settlement in the centre of my map.

Entrance: A cave dug on the side of a rocky cliff in the desert. There's rails that lead inside. It's all been hastily put together, with practicality, not safety or beauty, in mind

Theme: I've already decided this first level will be the more tame one, largely looking like a regular mine but gradually showing signs something's wrong. Rolled a 1 on my dice, so 4 theme touchstones; machinery because this is a sci-fi-esque setting and I don't want it to feel like a cookie cutter dwarven mine, so the weirder and more high tech the better, slavery as a catch-all term, the workers don't have to actually be slaves but the living and working conditions are quite akin to it, horror hints like splattered blood or weird ichor, basically signs of whatever caused the mines to stop functioning without showing or defining it just yet and finally, crystals because I ran out of inspiration and it makes sense with all the desert, sand, heat... glass!

Point-to-point map

1. Entrance: Kind of a main reception area. Might be a minor train station where the rails end, with a bit of machinery to do the load/unload part. I also want it to serve as a semi-safe space where players can return for a quick rest without having to camp outside in the desert. Also, because people in this world don't travel much, there's not a lot players can learn about this place and what to expect before they actually come here, so I can have an NPC here that will give them a bit of info what to expect. In keeping with the slavery theme, it could be a worker that survived or a nasty foreman. Might have them talk about something scary they saw and ran away, dropping the first of the horror hints. Connected to the Main Shaft.

2. Main Shaft: Basically a long wide tunnel leading further inside. It's what was initially dug out, with everything else branching out from it, especially as the miners followed the veins that twist and turn. I want it to be more than just a wide corridor connecting rooms, plus since it's considered the high traffic area, many of the random encounters could happen here (I might even mess with the odds a bit to increase random encounters here). Therefore, it'll be littered with (mostly abandoned and/or broken down) machinery as well as clusters of non-precious crystals, giving monsters places to hide and pop out from, as well as players locations to take cover in order to spice up any combat encounters.

3. Equipment Storage: A small room used to store equipment. Might have a weapon for the players to grab, but I'd rather be more indirect and give them minor utility items that might come in handy during the exploration, so I'm making a note to come up with some techy items, in line with the machinery theme. Connected to the Main Shaft.

4. St-ore-age: Get it? Because here's where miners would put the ore until they'd load it onto the... Nevermind. Can't think of much to reinforce my theme here, it's basically a large empty area, but considering how it was used to store valuable stuff, I'm probably giving it a fancy door that's hard to bypass. Maybe a trap or some sort of automated defence. Which takes care of the machinery bit. Connected to the Main Shaft.

5. Elevator down: What the miners would use to descend to lower levels and bring up the ore they dug out beneath. Basically a way for the PCs to go down to the lower level of the dungeon. More weird machinery at work here, plus I might throw in a few crystal formations in the shaft for players to stare at during the descent. Connected to the Main Shaft.

6. Makeshift prison: Basically a small empty room troublemakers would be thrown in, until they'd settle down, get carried back to the city or die. That's the slavery theme taken care of, but I'm also adding huge blood splatters on the wall and large claw marks on the wall along with a crack that, if explored, opens up into a minor tunnel. Something bad happened here, enter another horror hint. Connected to the Main Shaft, but there's also the tunnel leading out of and into...

7. The tunneler's "pickle room": I've decided something tunneled into the makeshift prison initially, then the main shaft, so this room connects to both via tunnels. I also decided whatever this thing is, it doesn't immediately eat its prey, but rather traps it and lets it simmer first, in some coccoon perhaps, much like a spider. This is where I drop more horror hints, likely with half eaten or still stewing captives (poorly dressed and clearly malnourished because slavery), will decide later if any of them is still alive and can be rescued. This also doubles as a first look into what the group is up against, its nature and its habits. I'm also making a note to emphasize the rough nature of this place, hastily dug out by some hungry monster, as opposed to the previous rooms that featured more angular architecture, straight lines and machinery. The point here is to emphasize the whole man-made, tech heavy bits early on, in order to the contrast it with the monster's tunnels and what lies in the lower levels, hopefully creating a sense of disconnect and unease.

8. Pit: Basically a vertical-esque tunnel the monster dug to get here, probably where it left off from as well. In essence, an alternative way of descending to the dungeon's lower levels. Whoever in their right mind would take this instead of the elevator though? Fair point, so I'm gonna rule the elevator is not currently functional but can be repaired with the right machinery to later on provide an easy, safe way for players that have explored a fair bit of the dungeon to quicly move up and down. There's your side quest and "scroll of town portal" scenarios taken care of.

9. Caved in tunnel: Branching off the main shaft, this used to be one of the first tunnels to be dug out. The machinery among the rubble clearly wasn't up to the task, like trying to use a lighter to melt an iceberg. There's also a bunch of human remains, as many lives ended here (see:slavery). These two tell the tale of trying to achieve too much with little to no investment in equipment or safety (again, slavery). For those in charge, it was a learning experience of how far they could push it. For everyone else involved, it was where they died. A rather mundane scene that still tells a tale and enforces the slavery theme, in juxtaposition to the horror hints; it's not like this place was ideal and went to hell when the monsters showed up.

 

Hope that helps!

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On 3/8/2023 at 2:44 PM, Artemis Prime said:

 

I'm a bit confused by the "theme budget" though. Say I roll a 4 for a level, is that just a reminder to put 4 things that relate to the theme on that level? 

 

Yeah, that's how I read it - I think the idea is to avoid filling a load of rooms with traps and monsters but forgetting what the theme of your dungeon is.

 

Love the broken necromancer's tower idea, very cool, and very foreboding.

 

1 hour ago, DarK_RaideR said:

Fell behind on this one, courtesy of a minor health scare and its aftermath. Week 3 is where I struggled (and abandoned) this challenge last time, so I'm trying to power through. Gonna complete this thing, just not in its exact timeframe intended. Which is fine, not like I have a deadline and a group impatiently waiting to play.

 

Though not for the same reason, I'm in a very similar position. Gonna try and jump back on this from next week!

 

1 hour ago, DarK_RaideR said:

The tunneler's "pickle room"

 

Loving the horror vibes here - very, very creepy.

 

On 3/8/2023 at 5:38 PM, MaeradCase said:

The doors to Heliodor are in two sides of the mountain. A great gate of daunting dimension and intricate carving has been fashioned in the wall of the mountain. In its immediate vicinity are guard rooms with windows and slits that permit defense of the gate.

Beyond those are balconies and windows that belong to residents of the mountain city who prefer to have access to fresh air - they can be reached by precarious foot paths on the mountain face, and are artfully decorated by the mountain foliage tended carefully by those with green thumbs and clumsily by those who don't mind getting a little dirty digging in the rocky terrain.

 

This sounds beautiful - I'd like to live here!

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5 hours ago, DarK_RaideR said:

Hope that helps!

It does, thanks! I think calling it a budget threw me off because when writers talk about a budget we're usually referring to an audience's ability to assimilate and retain information and making sure that we're not overwhelming them with too many new terms or characters at once. 

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45 minutes ago, Artemis Prime said:

It does, thanks! I think calling it a budget threw me off because when writers talk about a budget we're usually referring to an audience's ability to assimilate and retain information and making sure that we're not overwhelming them with too many new terms or characters at once. 

Ironic, because it's actually the opposite, a few things that work as a reminder to sprinkle on top and tie everything together via a common theme. That's why the directions say it's okay to overspend.

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6 hours ago, DarK_RaideR said:

Whoever in their right mind would take this instead of the elevator though? Fair point, so I'm gonna rule the elevator is not currently functional but can be repaired with the right machinery to later on provide an easy, safe way for players that have explored a fair bit of the dungeon to quickly move up and down. There's your side quest and "scroll of town portal" scenarios taken care of.

An excellent question, though I'm sure there are oddball players that would take the pit. However, making it the path of least resistance is an excellent DM choice. "Oh, you try the elevator? It's not working at the moment. You'd have to successfully fix it." *group immediately pulls MacGuyver out of their pocket* 😅 If you want it to be a future easy-mode, I'd put some of the problem in the upstairs portion, but have the user manual point out that a particular issue can only be resolved by getting down to the elevator. (They might still choose the elevator shaft instead of the pit, especially since it'd be manufactured and accessible... But didn't you say the tunnels have a few access points? Maybe they'd discover the tunnel into the elevator shaft by climbing down slowly rather than riding the elevator up and down.)

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5 hours ago, Jarric said:
On 3/8/2023 at 11:38 AM, MaeradCase said:

The doors to Heliodor are in two sides of the mountain. A great gate of daunting dimension and intricate carving has been fashioned in the wall of the mountain. In its immediate vicinity are guard rooms with windows and slits that permit defense of the gate.

Beyond those are balconies and windows that belong to residents of the mountain city who prefer to have access to fresh air - they can be reached by precarious foot paths on the mountain face, and are artfully decorated by the mountain foliage tended carefully by those with green thumbs and clumsily by those who don't mind getting a little dirty digging in the rocky terrain.

 

This sounds beautiful - I'd like to live here!

Thanks! I wanted it to feel like home!

I also just realized I described only one side's gate. 😅 The other one very much has the aesthetic of Petra, as seen in Last Crusade - a magnificent entrance built in red stone towering beyond reasonable heights for impressing folks coming southward through the foothills from the dry lands. 

The structure of the gate is reinforced with Dwarven skill to endure time and to serve the mountain. It is also highly decorated with reliefs which portray the history of Heliodor, the trade skills it boasts, and the relations it has with its neighbors - including other dwarves, humans, and elves.

Spotted throughout the north face of the mountain are numerous smaller windows tunneled to the surface for light to enter chambers, with clever design to prevent unwanted elements from coming inside. The patchwork of greenery is what naturally grows resistant to dry winds from the north and the little rain that comes past the mountain from the south.

 

Despite my feelings of inadequacy (for it not having quite the elaboration or theming that seems to have been the assignment, and for it being the city and not a dungeon crawl), I'm gonna share the image of my point-to-point map.

Outside this mood, I do feel like I did a good job considering what elements would be in such a town, and developing the history of when certain areas began developing. 

 

image001.jpg.50f17a4bf91afb2fed0e17f6ec01a25d.jpg

 

Anyway, I'm excited to hear what the next bit is (though I guess I could go back to the instruction handbook to find out) for this week. It's fun seeing what you guys are making, and I'm glad to have random ideas formulating into solid concepts for my story. 😃

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Current challenge:  to face the trials of this life at my own speed, savoring my accomplishments, and accepting my failures with peace

 

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On 3/12/2023 at 12:33 PM, Artemis Prime said:

It does, thanks! I think calling it a budget threw me off because when writers talk about a budget we're usually referring to an audience's ability to assimilate and retain information and making sure that we're not overwhelming them with too many new terms or characters at once. 

 

23 hours ago, DarK_RaideR said:

Ironic, because it's actually the opposite, a few things that work as a reminder to sprinkle on top and tie everything together via a common theme. That's why the directions say it's okay to overspend.

 

Yeah, I think the difference in approach here relates to how the different mediums work. In a novel, you get to decide all of the information that is provided to your audience, so you can provide exactly the right amount. In an RPG your players might decide to entirely circumvent the room where you put all of your clever foreshadowing and thematic ideas. Generally it's better to have too many reminders/clues/thematic points than too few, because your players will always miss or misinterpret some of them.

 

22 hours ago, MaeradCase said:

An excellent question, though I'm sure there are oddball players that would take the pit. However, making it the path of least resistance is an excellent DM choice. "Oh, you try the elevator? It's not working at the moment. You'd have to successfully fix it." *group immediately pulls MacGuyver out of their pocket* 😅 If you want it to be a future easy-mode, I'd put some of the problem in the upstairs portion, but have the user manual point out that a particular issue can only be resolved by getting down to the elevator. (They might still choose the elevator shaft instead of the pit, especially since it'd be manufactured and accessible... But didn't you say the tunnels have a few access points? Maybe they'd discover the tunnel into the elevator shaft by climbing down slowly rather than riding the elevator up and down.)

 

I might take the pit - might be treasure down there :lol:

 

I don't think it's a problem if a player has spent all of their skill point in crafting and is able to fix the elevator straight off though - it validates a character choice and lets them be centre-stage for a bit. As long as it's not easy for just anyone to fix.

 

22 hours ago, MaeradCase said:

Despite my feelings of inadequacy (for it not having quite the elaboration or theming that seems to have been the assignment, and for it being the city and not a dungeon crawl), I'm gonna share the image of my point-to-point map.

 

I think this is great - I had never thought about mapping towns in this way, but it works really well!

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Level 21 Wood Elf Ranger

STR: 16  -  CON: 22  -  CHA: 9  -  SAN: 19 -  INT: 17

IAgreeWithTank™

"Shit is going down, but I am not." - iatetheyeti

Don't say "I don't have enough time", say instead "that's not a priority right now" and see how that makes you feel.

Current Challenge: Jarric embraces brevity

External: Epic Quest - Instagram - Strava

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Previous Challenges: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 67 68 69 70

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41 minutes ago, Jarric said:

I might take the pit - might be treasure down there :lol:

True. Letting players pick their path can be fun. :)

 

41 minutes ago, Jarric said:

I don't think it's a problem if a player has spent all of their skill point in crafting and is able to fix the elevator straight off though - it validates a character choice and lets them be centre-stage for a bit. As long as it's not easy for just anyone to fix.

That's also fair. I would set DC according to how I intend the scene to play, but if they are particularly clever or successful, I might slide the scale in their favor for narrative rather than to hold to what I intended.

 

41 minutes ago, Jarric said:

I think this is great - I had never thought about mapping towns in this way, but it works really well!

 Thank you. :)

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Current challenge:  to face the trials of this life at my own speed, savoring my accomplishments, and accepting my failures with peace

 

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