Free Dungeon Design with RPG Elise | Building Tension in your Dungeons


DM's Guild and DriveThruRPG writer
Building Tension in your Dungeons
Dungeon Design with RPG Elise​

I responded to a recent forum post from a new GM trying to figure out what to do about a fire the players unexpectedly started while exploring a building. This immediately had me thinking about building tension and creating obstacles in your TTRPG story to keep the story progressing and the players on their toes. A big part of TTRPGs is telling stories as a group and the GM sets the stage for these stories and provides the twists and turns narratively throughout a game. Stories are boring if there are no obstacles between the players and their goals. If Dorthy and Todo get sucked up into the tornado and the yellow brick road leads straight back home to Kansas, that is not a great story. Figuring out which way to go, evading the hand-slapping, apple throwing trees, and ducking the armies of flying monkies on the way home makes the story worth telling. Same goes with your dungeon design. You have to drop obstacles in the players path so the they aren't kicking down the dungeon front door and walking out with the sunsword that is parked in the umbrella bucket right next to the entrance. In the new GM’s case, the players created their own obstacle, starting the fire. The fire is not only an obstacle, it can be used narratively as a tension builder.

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