Jump to content

  • Log in with Facebook Log in with Twitter Log In with Google      Sign In   
  • Create Account
Photo

Creating a Mega dungeon


  • Please log in to reply
14 replies to this topic

#1 Shade

Shade

    Goblin

  • Members
  • 122 posts
  • Locationthe internet

Posted 23 September 2010 - 07:24 AM

I'm trying to build a mega dungeon for my group of 4~5, any ideas, concepts, traps, vile monsters that i should consider using?
  • 0

#2 Ieqo

Ieqo

    Lantern Archon

  • Members
  • 1,090 posts
  • LocationIts pronounced CHATT-uh-NOO-gah.

Posted 23 September 2010 - 01:37 PM

The best concept I should offer up is "make it make sense!" Old-school megadungeons were (rightly) ciritcized for just throwing stuff in to make it fun and challenging, never even considering the possibility that some player or GM might ask, "But why are the orcs lairing right next to a pack of blink dogs?" or, "The troglodytes share a dungeon level with zombies and skeletons. What do the troggies eat?"

Second bit of advice: be very careful with "theme" areas. While some consider them to be an interesting change as well as an oppurtunity to use rules that don't otherwise come up very often (like underwaters areas or "underground forests"), if you try to go too big with these areas, the novelty wears off quickly and it just becomes a cheap gimmick.

Third bit of advice: allow the story to move outside the dungeon occasionally. This was one of the biggest problems I had with the World's Largest Dungeon: they were stuck in there. Sure, "finding the way out" makes a great motivator for people to explore the dungeon, but it also means they can't properly rest, sell loot to replenish gear, and it makes introducing replacement characters problematic. But building in ways out so they can withdraw every now and then to do these things (and even making it desirable to do so for the purposes of the story), makes it much more...acceptable, I guess to have a group slogging through a 24-level dungeon.

Fourth: Have a plot, or multiple plots to get them into the action. "Side-quests" are a great thing to build in, so that it becomes more than "we're here to kill things and take stuff so we can get better at killing things and taking their stuff."

And finally, fifth, build in "breaks", so that the group can pull back, enjoy some major accomplishments, and gather themselves for the next assult . Castle Whiterock, to use an example that is fresh in my mind at the moment, has a number of "levels" and quest lines that are thematically linked, and that in turn link to other themes and quest lines. Right now, the group is dealing with the threat of some orc slavers and rescuing slaves. This will lead, as they learn more, to their discovery of other threats and bigger things that are afoot (and not coincedentially bigger chances for reward and recognition). This gives an overall continuity to the dungeon as a whole, but more importantly it also gives us (the GM and players) very discreet points where we can say, "Okay, you've ended the slaver menace, and discovered [spoiler redacted]. Let's take a break for a couple weeks while you digest that and decide on how you want to proceed." This is, in my opinion, probably the biggest single area in which CWR completely trounces the WLD in terms of design and playability.
  • 0

#3 Shade

Shade

    Goblin

  • Members
  • 122 posts
  • Locationthe internet

Posted 23 September 2010 - 09:37 PM

sounds good, i was thinking of having the dungeon go into the Underdark and experience the wonders and horrors of what lies within its dark abysmal depths. Revealing beings of good, evil and those monsters looking for an easy meal.

Thanks Ieqo

On an off topic note: I've been listening to the podcasts of CWR and i must say i've been throughly impressed on the creations of it all. Granted the arguments between Scaly and Danny are quite hilarious. They remind me greatly of my players, where two (named Jake and Dan) act exactly like Scaly and Danny.
  • 0

#4 Daniel

Daniel

    Gelatinous Cube

  • Members
  • 2,825 posts
  • LocationYork

Posted 24 September 2010 - 12:20 AM

Castle Whiterock is very well written. In fact I would even go so far as to say its been the best game I've had the honour of playing in. This is coming from somebody with more than a decade of experience in the hobby. Plus Matt's GMing is fun, too (although there needs to be more Big-Ass-Swords, please).

For the record I have nothing against Scaly and while we do bicker a lot In Game (Hells, everybody bickers with Scaly), we all still think he is a good bloke: we wouldn't game with him otherwise.

Now to expand on what Matt has already said: don't make your dungeon combat in every room, either. Unless your group is very combat-orientated this will get very old, very quickly. Instead try to fill some rooms with things like puzzles, elaborate Indiana Jones-style traps, bodies (bodies are always good!), social encounters and oddities; like a malignant throne that does absolutely nothing, except look foreboding.

Things like this break-up the combat and allow for some fun dungeon-delving roleplay that you would otherwise miss out on. :)
  • 0

#5 Ieqo

Ieqo

    Lantern Archon

  • Members
  • 1,090 posts
  • LocationIts pronounced CHATT-uh-NOO-gah.

Posted 24 September 2010 - 05:18 AM

Plus Matt's GMing is fun, too (although there needs to be more Big-Ass-Swords, please).


Compensating for something, are we?

Seriously, definately have some dungeon dwellers who the players don't have to kill. If a few are susceptible to bribes, or can be negotiated with, or need help in some way, then your players will find a use for those social skills.

When you do have them fight it out, and this should have been included in the paragraph on theme levels, be careful of having large blocks of the same type of monster. To use the example of CWR again, sure right now the party is facing orcs. In the next level or two there'll be more orcs than you can shake a big-ass sword at. But the orcs have pets. There's other stuff. And not every orc is a cookie-cutter warrior, either.

The WLD, however, had an entire level of undead. Sure it made some twisted sense to do it that way, but when designing any kind of adventure be in a big dungeon or a small dungeon, or a wilderness quest, you always want to think about how the party will deal with it. Having a fight or two where the party's standard tactics don't work and the cleric gets to be the hero is fine. The rogue finds other ways to contribute. Having a whole level, five or six sessions, where the rogue is on the bench just sucks. Don't believe me? Ask Lindsay.
  • 0

#6 Telemergion

Telemergion

    Lantern Archon

  • Members
  • 1,428 posts

Posted 24 September 2010 - 11:58 AM

Having a whole level, five or six sessions, where the rogue is on the bench just sucks.

Unless you're playing 4th ed where that blessedly doesn't happen any more

The trouble for megadungeons for me is they have to have a very strong motivator. I'm an actor/storyteller type of player and while I love big combats and shiny new loot as much as the next guy there has to be a reason for me to be doing it. In that respect, part of me prefers the WLD style where you're stuck in a hole rather than being able to wander back to the surface because it gives that necesity to keep going and push forward. Unfortunately you also need to hint at the possibility of escape, or have very optimistic characters, so you don't have people sit down and starve to death. My point is megadungeons can be hard.

But overall, I pretty much agree with what Ieqo said and as I too am prepping for an Underdark uber-dungeon I will certainly be interested to hear how yours goes.

Incidentally, mine is going to be very much about getting the hell out of the Underdark.
  • 0

#7 Shade

Shade

    Goblin

  • Members
  • 122 posts
  • Locationthe internet

Posted 24 September 2010 - 12:13 PM

To Illiani: thanks for the ideas. Also, I know you don't have anything against Scaly, its just fun to listen to the bickering, can't wait for the next CWR podcast.

To Ieqo: I also enjoy quite a bit of variety in my monsters :), Also i understand the rogue being on the bench and only being the skill bitch sucks, i was that in my previous group, as they liked to just charge into things. So i know how that feels. So I am trying to create something that will allow them all to shine at some point in time and for the most part have them stay involved in the game.
  • 0

#8 Ieqo

Ieqo

    Lantern Archon

  • Members
  • 1,090 posts
  • LocationIts pronounced CHATT-uh-NOO-gah.

Posted 24 September 2010 - 12:42 PM

Having a whole level, five or six sessions, where the rogue is on the bench just sucks.

Unless you're playing 4th ed where that blessedly doesn't happen any more


Yeah. The thing is: I really like it when something just don't work against some kinds of creatures. I like it when a group needs to be both flexible and specialized. So the whole "Undead? Okay we need a cleric instead of a rogue for this one!", doesn't bother me, it just creates a situation where the designer has to step into the metagame and say, "Yeah it would make sense for everything in this place to be undead, but if I do that the pally and the cleric are going to run the show and the rogue will be cockblocked, so maybe I need to look at something else."

And as I said, "getting out" is a strong motivator, but it takes a lot of freedom of choice away from the players. I like to at least give them the illusion of having a choice in what situations they get in to. :)
  • 0

#9 Shade

Shade

    Goblin

  • Members
  • 122 posts
  • Locationthe internet

Posted 24 September 2010 - 02:18 PM

I like to at least give them the illusion of having a choice in what situations they get in to. :)


speaking of illusions, whats the best way to handle an illusions on the players? particularly the illusionary wall spell in the affects of battles, and just being inhibiting the players progress?
  • 0

#10 Ieqo

Ieqo

    Lantern Archon

  • Members
  • 1,090 posts
  • LocationIts pronounced CHATT-uh-NOO-gah.

Posted 24 September 2010 - 02:51 PM

If the illusions are already there when they enter the field, it is easy, just narrate them being there. For stuff that's cast during combat it gets a bit trickier. Obviously you say "a wall forms here..." and then the players have to fulfill the criteria for "interacting with it" before they get their WIL save.
  • 0

#11 Shade

Shade

    Goblin

  • Members
  • 122 posts
  • Locationthe internet

Posted 24 September 2010 - 08:52 PM

Obviously you say "a wall forms here..." and then the players have to fulfill the criteria for "interacting with it" before they get their WIL save.


Ah, that makes sense, i assume interacting is trying to touch it, go through it or affect it in any way, am i correct in that?
  • 0

#12 Ieqo

Ieqo

    Lantern Archon

  • Members
  • 1,090 posts
  • LocationIts pronounced CHATT-uh-NOO-gah.

Posted 24 September 2010 - 09:41 PM

In general that is correct, but make sure to look at the description for the specific spell used to create the effect for the actual requirements (sometimes they are different).
  • 0

#13 Shade

Shade

    Goblin

  • Members
  • 122 posts
  • Locationthe internet

Posted 29 September 2010 - 06:59 PM

I'm thinking of an Orc tribe raiding the countryside, obtaining goods and gear to outfit an invasion of the towns in the valley below. They do take prisoners more as prizes or merchandise. Is it too much for a party starting out to face a raid of orcs which consists of 4 lvl1 orc warriors and 1 lvl1 half orc werewolf (natural) ranger.
I'm not thinking this one to be the very first fight but near the beginning of the campaign.

What do you think?
  • 0

#14 Ieqo

Ieqo

    Lantern Archon

  • Members
  • 1,090 posts
  • LocationIts pronounced CHATT-uh-NOO-gah.

Posted 29 September 2010 - 08:11 PM

The werewolf would be a tough nut for a beginning group to crack, even if they did have a sufficient quantity of silver weapons. Work it by Challenge Rating (if you're using 3.5) or level (if you're using 4ed); try not to have the party face anything more than three or four levels higher than themselves unless (a) they have a particularly large group or (b) they have special means for defeating it.
  • 0

#15 Phneri

Phneri

    Goblin

  • Members
  • 100 posts

Posted 01 October 2010 - 08:25 AM

LTTP, but my 0.02

When I'm putting together encounters/dungeons I start with what makes sense. In a previous campaign I had an evil cleric (an old standby) summoning demons and such to wreak havoc on the countryside and gather materials for a still more horrifying act. Pretty straightforward.

Now, by the time the party arrived the cleric had some beefy goons, and had been holed up in a natural cave system for weeks with his henchmen and multiple uses of stoneshape, so a well-designed, trap-ridden dungeon made sense. However something you need to consider are what orcs without access to magic are going to do trapwise. They clearly can set all kinds of nasty stuff, but it's all going to be mechanical and fairly basic. This means you're layering several basic traps rather than creating the one single powerful trap.

The nice thing about about every fantasy setting (3.5, Pathfinder, 4th ed) is that they're all fairly post-apocalyptic. There are always ruins out to be found and repurposed by terrible evil creatures. I like architectural plans or even mirroring old building designs from modules to make dungeons in stuff like this. I've even been known to rip off PC RPG maps.

When I'm putting together encounter plans I always think about how the bad guys started out here, where they are in their own story arc, and what the conclusion of that arc will be (if the baddies aren't murdered by adventurers). This helps me put together something organic rather than a series of CRs on the road.

For example, recently the party had to go into a dread swamp. Their survivalists worked to keep them out of the way of most things (carnivorous plants, dire crocodiles, etc). I dropped 3 factions into the swamp that they'll likely encounter.

1: Cyclops. These guys are reasonably neutral and peaceful, but react to hostility with violence, and there's a fair number of them. They want to be rid of the other giants in the area and keep their ancestral home.

2: Other giants: A marsh giant has rousted a couple ettins and hill giants in with his clan to take eventual control over the cyclops. With that power base he can establish himself and eventually move out of the swamp to take further territory. Right now they're conducting raids on the cyclops hunting and gathering parties to try and starve them out before a larger attack.

3: Hags. A coven of night hags has been living in the area for quite a while, generally ambivalent towards the cyclops and giants, occasionally amusing themselves by preying on their large, clumsy dreams while plotting grander evils. However, one of their number was ambushed and destroyed by the giants, who then took her hag's eye. The hags want all the giants killed for this. If they recover the eye they'll focus their schemings locally, using its power and their circle to bring the dead sister back as an undead spirit and turning the swamp into a font of unlife in their vengeance, creating an army of zombified animals (and giants) that will prove problematic for all the surrounding settlements.

That, a map and stat blocks are all I started with. From then on it was how the PC interactions effected the outcome.


Regarding the orcs and the werewolf, I'd go with it. It's a tough encounter, but that doesn't mean the PCs have to fight it fairly, or that the leader won't flee if his minions are all dead (to come back later with more levels and cohorts). Driving off an opponent the PCs realize they really don't have the stuff to defeat is a pretty awesome sense of accomplishment, and an early recurring villain can also be the most memorable.


TL:DR version, pay attention to your players and the internal logic of your world. Much of the rest will sort itself out after that.
  • 0




0 user(s) are reading this topic

0 members, 0 guests, 0 anonymous users

Gravityscan Badge