Wednesday 10 May 2017

Making a Dungeon, Part 2

I found a biology diagram and plan to turn it into a dungeon. I am going to document the process of turning the original diagram into a runnable/playable PDF and possibly/hopefully create a guide of sorts as I go. 

Part 1. 

Step 2: Ideas.

I like to get some broad ideas of what the dungeon is about before I start stocking it/begin thinking about specific details. I use random tables to help me get these ideas. Having some overall theme/motifs ahead of creating the details hopefully ensures that all the disparate dungeon elements seem  organically/logically related.

I prefer tables that give vague rather than specific results. Additionally, I prefer tables that combine more than one vague result. I think that gives your imagination the strongest, least restrictive springboard. I believe vague and broad table entries allow for deeper/more varied idea peculation, but obviously require you to work a bit harder to get there. For example: "Abandoned seat of power" allows a broader set of potential ideas than "A castle with no king".

For this dungeon I am going to lump together different results from a few separate tables and allocate them to the specific "zones" I identified in the previous post. I am also going to do the same for the overall theme of the dungeon. Hopefully some interesting ideas bubble up. Often in getting your mind to make really weird and seemingly impossible combinations work, you get the most interesting stuff.

Before I show the results, I'll discuss the tables I am going to use.

The first is my "Aspect table". I've been using this for a couple of years to modify/make things more interesting/get ideas when I need them. Generally I roll on the table twice and try to smoosh the ideas together then apply that to an aspect of the game (organisation, npc, monster, etc) to make it weirder. You roll a d4 and a d10 to get a result. I am going to that twice for each dungeon zone and for the overall theme.

Good, peaceful, kind
Holy, ordered, right
Light, illumination, enlightenment
Floating, peace, meditation
Air, empty, vacuum
Ethereal, wispy, ghostly
Wind, blowing, unseen mover
Storm,  rapid movement, speed
Tiny, shrinking, wasting away
Invisible, translucent, clear
Intangible, non corporeal, fading
Life, regrowth, rejuvenation
Value, gems, gold
Thought, philosophy, intellect
Internal organs, viscera, blood
Reflection, mirror, stillness
Water, cycles, karma
Equalization, law, justice
Cleansing, alkalizing, evaporation
Procrustean, rigidity, incarceration
Wildness, out of place, overgrown
Bestial, savageness, feeding
Nature, grove, peace
Chaos, disorder, mutation
Fire, explosions, heat
Destruction, rubble, ruin
Limbs, appendages, grasping locomotion
External action, destiny, prophecy
Monstrous, terrifying, abomination
Gargantuan, giant, enormous
Enveloping, enclosed, soft embrace
Straining, breaking, cracks
Deep, below, underground
Earth, soil, stone
Solid, mass, black holes
Time, dust, history
Evil, hate, pain
Profane, cruelty, desecration
Darkness, shadows, loss
Death, rot, decay

The second "table" is a brilliant resource that I've never actually used before. It's a "Magic: The Gathering" random card generator. You refresh the page and get a random magic card from the 23 year history of the game. You could really apply this to anything to get a constant stream of game ideas. I think you could even use it on the fly a random encounter table. I'm going to use it to get a nice meaty slab of idea for each zone in the dungeon!

The final table is my own "City Visual Generator". I am going to use it to get a little spark of visual idea for the dungeon zones, hopefully a hint of the architecture there. Currently the visual guide is focused on creating places in the a fantasy city, but maybe one day i'll make a purely dungeon visual generator...

I will generate the "ideas" and lump the results into the different dungeon zones. The dungeon zones I identified were:

  • A caverny, cavey, cliffy section to the south. 
  • Stone square dwellings mined into the the southern natural rock section.
  • Grander mined stone dwellings/palace section taking up the west side of the map. 
  • A central gauntlet of grave danger leading to "The Altar of the Nephron". 
  • Tunnels and secret entrances that linked up to this central gauntlet. 
  • The altar itself is fed from somewhere deeper/external. 
  • There is probably a throne room somewhere and some group is doing rituals and slipping in and out of the altar room.

Here's an updated, coloured version of the dungeon map grouping the different zones: 

Now for the results and initial thoughts: 

Very interesting results, clearly the central "altar" is used to control magic in some way (I'm imagining a random magical effect table whenever PC's enter the dungeon), Also very odd how the text and the image on the card seem to match up. The "altar" is the imprisoned biology of some larger (giant) entity. This magical control device is reaching out into the surrounding areas, adhering to the will of some important NPC. 

Hot baths and water ways, old and abandoned house in ornately carved natural stone. Natural hot springs gone to rot. Heating mechanics/water transportation is broke/malfunction leading to explosions of searing filth water. Slimy things swirling along the water ways. The slimy things are very old and know a great deal (maybe they listened and remembered the conversations of the ancient patrons of the baths, holding the knowledge of long dead patricians). 

 The random generator gods clearly liked the idea of the "central gauntlet of grave danger", bestowing it with the power of assassins. Rotting, decaying stone and brick comes up in both images - the poisons/acids in the gauntlet are so strong they are crumbling the rock (The words shrinking and wasting away re-enforce this). It is a silent, peaceful place - a cathedral of rock and death. 

Robed priests servicing the deadly gauntlet and storing scrolls in elaborate receptacles that are part of the architecture. Wealth scurried away in hidey holes. Wealth begotten by pain and hate - the recovered belongings of those that perish attempting the gauntlet. Priests are bound by some oath where they cannot directly attack interlopers, only arm traps and tricks.

The grand priestess appears! The palace church is clearly made of some magically woven biological material - the flesh of the giant being imprisoned. Very interesting that the architecture of the random visual generator seems to match the architecture behind "Saheeli Rai". The grand priestess can make copies of all those that enter her domain, perhaps replicate magic used near the altar. Her palace church is shifting, warping, constantly weaving itself to bend to her will. 

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