D&D General (+) What Should Go in a D&D Book About Dungeons?


Victoria Rules
Yeah I should have written "not necessarily counting torches". I know management of supplies is considered, by some, a necessary component of true dungeon delving, and it may be necessary to full replicate the original D&D experience, but I don't think it's necessary to provide tension and suspense.

@Manbearcat said, I think in the other thread, that "load out" was a requisite or important component. I get the sentiment, but I don't think the level of granularity that requires specifying how many iron spikes and how much chalk dust and a million other things is needed. I kind of like the system in Five Torches Deep, in which you specify how many "load" units of various categories you are bringing, without having to specify each individual item.

I've toyed around with designing some rules where you just specify what weight/encumbrance of additional supplies you are bringing, and the higher the number the higher the probability that you have any one particular item, that also factors in how rare/unusual the item is (as determined by the DM). You are more likely to have a bit of rope than you are to have a sausage grinder, but the guy who brought 50 pounds of supplies is twice as likely to have either as the guy who brought 25 pounds of supplies.
I haven't looked at that other thread at all so I've no idea what's gone on there. :)
Maybe with a whole list of ideas about dungeons that were built for purpose A but is now being used for purpose B, and how some features might have been repurposed.
And-or how some of the current occupants might not know some features or places within the dungeon even exist!

I recently wrote and ran an adventure where the bad guys (Yuan-Ti) had taken over an abandoned castle/dungeon built into a mountainside, vaguely based on the keep in The Gauntlet (UK3?). The castle was originally built as a border fortress and customs/toll post; the Yuan-Ti had repurposed various parts of the place and closed off some other parts, while never finding a few secret passages and boltholes.

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Victoria Rules
Chapter 1: What are Dungeons?
Chapter 2: How to weave a dungeon into a good storyline.
Chapter 3: Dungeons that make sense - how to make your dungeon seem realistic instead of just a series of random rooms.
Chapter 4: Traps and Features - Ideas on ways to make different areas of a dungeon interesting
Chapter 5: Dungeon Access - How to allow PCs to access the deeper parts of the dungeon without walking through it over and over and over and over ...
Chapter 6: Dungeon Ecology - How to populate your dungeon in a way that explains how creatures survive there.
Chapter 7: Dungeroneering Spells and Magic Items
Chapter 8: Henchmen - hiring NPCs to support your dungeon exploration
Chapter 9: Sample dungeon - An abandoned Dwarven Settlement with surface and subterranean areas. The PCs will find gates to the Feywild, the Shadowfell (a Raveloft domain) and the Ethereal Plane - all of which feature alternative versions of the location that need to be explored to solve the mystery of the place. The Shadowfell Ravenloft Domain constantly relives the fall of the Settlement providing historical clues, the Feywild features beings that have taken much of the older artifacts of the place, and the Ethereal houses many threats that are trying to make their way back to the Prime Material Plane again - all overlapping the original monster filled dungeon.
Good start, but I think you missed an important chapter:

Chapter 9: Designing a Dungeon - tips and tricks on how to design a dungeon to be interesting and-or replayable e.g. non-linear layout, best use of three-dimensionality, loops and bypasses, and so forth.

The sample then becomes Chapter 10. :)


New Publisher
I'll say it again..... This is a fantasy game, and not everything needs to make sense, and not everything has to reflect earth reality.

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
You can't always use a ticking clock. Not everything is a "fate of the world lies in the balance" (or whatever) situation.

That’s a pretty narrow definition of ticking clock.

You are in the dungeon to save somebody from being sacrificed and you think you only have until midnight.

Something is chasing you.

The caves flood at high tide.

You have to return with the McGuffin by a certain time to succeed (all sorts of variants of this one)

Rivals are trying to beat you to the prize.

The monster always usually sleeps for X hours

There’s poison gas in the dungeon (Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan)


I think this is over rated. Dungeons don't need to make ecological sense. That's not what they are for.
If you want a video game hack and slash style game - agreed, to an extent. But if you want a dungeon to feel 'real' to the players, it has to make sense.

Why bother making it feel 'real' (and yes, I know it is a fantasy game, but you know what I mean so let's not play that game)? Because it encourages players to treat it real which facilitates a lot of options.

Two groups of PCs enter two dungeons. The first group is in a dungeon where things are just raondomly thrown together. Each challenge is fun. However, nothing make sense. The second is in a dungeon that has a storyline behind it and where the DM has made efforts to make sure that the placement of everything works to support that story, and in the ecology of the dungeon.

In each dunegon the PCs encounter a room that has stairs rising up into the air that end in the middle of the room. Some aggressive orcs are in the room and they immediately attack the PCs. What are the reactions of the two groups?

The first group, from the random dungeon will look at that room, kill the orcs, loot and move on to the next area.

The second group will likely also kill the orcs and loot - but then they'll stop to ask why there is a staircase in the center of the room that goes nowhere. These PCs have a reason to explore and challenge the environment. They get a chance to have more in depth stories with more tools to build the story and build challenges around - because there are more ways to give significance to the elements put into the dungeon.

Bill Zebub

“It’s probably Matt Mercer’s fault.”
And I’m with the people who don’t really care if a dungeon makes total sense. It’s cool when you discover an interesting way that it does make sense, especially when you can use that knowledge to your advantage. (E.g. Bilbo, barrels, trap door. Although honestly I’ve always been a little skeptical about the practical functionality of that particular example.)

But not necessary.

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