Dungeon Design: FoC The Hub (3/3)

In the final part of designing the Hub dungeon the Slave Galleon I work on the boss fight with the Nun Toad. Part I is here. Part II is here.

The room is 3.1 The Hall and as described previously has to include a boss fight and approximately 200gp of treasure. (I’ll probably include more gold to offset the quantity of treasure hidden in the exploration heavy parts of the dungeon.) The room is a large hall with an altar, pews, and platforms above it.

As explained before the Toad Nun is good at two things, jumping and snatching enemies from afar and keeping them. This leads to a naturally dangerous fight if the Nun can grab someone and then leap to a safer spot. However while she’s eating someone she’s vulnerable. That’s when the urchins should push to distract the players.

I have to be honest that I don’t use CR calculations or any of that. So if this seems to hard or easy by the time I’m done that’s why. My most basic calculation is that the players will have ~15hp by level 2 and assuming a party of five can take around 75 points of damage. With the 4-3 damage output of the urchins and most urchins surviving only 1 or 2 rounds they could take 4 or 5 urchins easily on their own, more with more difficulty. With the Nun Toad mixed in 4 or 5 urchins should work fine. More could be added mid fight if they’re cleaning up.


Entrances

Currently the Adventurer’s have two ways to enter the Hall, both identical small rooms that open onto the raised platforms on opposite sides of the hall. Technically they could also enter by leaping off of the balcony far above the hall.

Starting positions are crucial to setting up an encounter. Where the players are and how powerful they feel will dictate how the fight feels. If they come out surrounded or in a weak position the fight will feel more desperate, if they come out with an advantage they will feel more powerful.

We could make them incredibly close to the Nun Toad and immediately in range of her tongue while the urchins are spread out to pelt them from all sides. This would make the fight pretty desperate.

Or  we could let them sneak out onto the balcony overlooking the hall and take time to plan their approach, with plenty of time to use ranged attacks on the Toad and plan how to take out the urchins.

 

3.1 The Hall

There are two entrances to the hall, both small square rooms that open onto small platforms raised 20ft off the ground in the middle of the room. They are one turn from the Nun Toad crouching at the center of the room. (This is the middle ground, they’ll have the difficulty of the first option, but will still have a moment to think while looking down from above.)

There are similar platforms in each corner of the hall each 20ft above the floor.

The hall is scattered with long pews giving cover to anyone who hides behind them. (Disadvantage for anyone targeting someone in cover.)

Five Urchins are scattered around the hall each a turn and a half away from the entry platforms. They are putting the silver candles, relics, and other temple treasures in sacks.

The Toad has Passive Perception of 15, anyone failing a Stealth check while in the arena is spotted. The Toad will instruct the urchins to use their slings until She has grappled a target. Once she’s grappled a target with her tongue attack the Nun will jump up to whatever platform is furthest from the Adventurers and direct the urchins to charge the others. (If the Adventurers are smart here they can sneak about the arena without auguring the Toad. Otherwise they’ll have to jump down and be in the thick of the fight immediately.)

Each round where there are not 4 or more urchins, the Nun can croak and summon 2 urchins from the rooms surrounding the hall.

Rabid Urchin x4

Small / Humanoids

Someone has cursed these street urchins with a rabid fever and painful growths. The urchins have grown spikes and suppurating sores. They’re hunched over and sport nasty spikes.

AC: 10

HP: 15 (Upon death they trigger their spike attack.)

Speed: 40ft

Damage Immunities: poison

Dagger: Melee weapon attack: +3 to hit, reach 5ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d6+2) piercing damage.

Sling: Ranged weapon attack: +6 to hit, reach 60ft., one target. Hit: 3 (1d4+1) bludgeoning damage.

Urchin Spike: Anyone within 5ft of the urchin is pushed away 5ft as their spikes extend violently. Those pierced must make a CON or DEX save of DC 10 or take 2d8 poison damage. Other urchins hit by the attack take no damage and trigger their own spike attack.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
9 (-1) 10 (0) 9 (-1) 6 (-2) 6 (-2) 6 (-2)

Loot: Loot Bag: 50gp

(I’ve made some changed to the Nun Toad. She’s got 10 more hp, special loot, and instructions for what happens when she dies.)

Queen Nun Toad

Large / Beasts

A huge toad with alert eyes and a white stripe painted down it in chalk. Preparing potions against acid would aid in this fight. This Nun has made her Urchin salves crown her with a silver candelabra.

AC: 12

HP: 60 (Once killed the toad collapses with a groan to the floor, the urchins freed from their mind control flee into the Galleon.)

Speed: 15ft / leap 50ft

Perception 15

Sticky Tongue: Melee weapon attack: +7 to hit, reach 10ft., one target. Hit: 12 (1d8) bludgeoning damage plus 4 (2d4) acid damage. Once struck a target is grappled requiring a DC of 14 to escape.

Confessional Purification: Once stuck to a nun’s tongue the target is dragged into the air where they begin being coated by thick acidic juices to “cleanse” the spirit. This does 4d8 acid damage. Once dead the nun swallows the target whole. As an action the nun can stop its grapple and throw the target 15ft away from itself. She will throw the target instead of purification if she takes damage. (The fall does 1d10 bludgeoning damage.)

Telepathy: The nun speaks in whispers in the minds of those around it. As an action the nun can launch a mental assault on a target. If they fail a WIS save of DC 12 the nun can issue simple commands.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
9 (-1) 10 (0) 9 (-1) 6 (-2) 6 (-2) 6 (-2)

Loot: Toad Tongue. (25gp) – This reach does 1d4 bludgeoning damage and grapples target when hit. The target must make a DC 10 DEX save to escape.

Candle Crown (100gp) – Lights the area 80ft around you when worn on the head. As an action the wielder can shake their head as a bonus action and scald themselves with hot wax (doing 1d4 fire damage) and the crown casts Turn Undead. All undead within the light of the candles must make a DC 10 Wis Save or are forced to flee away from the crown.


Potential Fight

To test out how this arena will work I’ll perform a little thought experiment.

The Adventurers enter the room. They look out from the platform and see toad front and center and urchins spread out. The party consists of two or more ranged characters, and three or more melee characters.

The rouge likely will creep down and try to back stab urchins.

The fighty/tank character will want to charge the toad.

Support melee characters will likely join the fight against the toad.

The ranged characters will want to rain down damage on the toad and any urchins near enough to hit.

But… the toad’s attacks will change that strategy pretty quickly.

The toad can then seize one of the melee characters and leap to a platform away from the fight. Urchins will swarm the surviving melee character and the rogue, while one or two urchins remain to pelt the ranged characters with their slings. Once the toad has killed her catch she can return to the fight and seize another character.

The ranged fighters will have to chase after the toad and interrupt her Purification attack while the melee fighters keep the urchins away from them.

If the players plan on the toad’s attack (any wisdom checks could let the player know more about how nuns work) the melee fighters could make sure to stay far enough away from the toad while killing the urchins. While the ranged fighters attack the toad. If the toad gets to close to the ranged fighters they would have to flee to a safe distance.


Conclusion

This seems like a solid boss fight to me. After some play testing I’ll know whether the HP is high enough or not. The fight naturally rewards payers who take more risks as the number of urchins increases (by killing only one urchin and letting two more come in each time) they can get more and more loot bags.

Read Part I and Part II.

Advertisements

Dungeon Design: FoC The Hub (1/3)

I thought I would leave my notes and a few bits of my new dungeon project here as I go to let people see how a game might be designed.


First Step: Design Documet

My first step is to usually bash my head against a wall for awhile.

But then I stop myself and sit down and write a “design document” which is really just a list of things I want in the game.

Fields of Carcosa is meant to play like a video game, something like a mix of Diablo, Sunless Sea, and Dark Souls. Here’s my design doc for the entire game:

FoC Design Document:

  • FoC should be very challenging and requires learning to succeed.

  • It should reward exploration and experimentation.

  • It plays like a video game while still gives roleplaying choices and interactions.

  • It contains several distinct zones with central quests, with side quests involving NPCs in that area.

Then I need some ideas for the Hub.

Hub Design Document

  • The Hub should be an introductory section that teaches FoC play style.

  • The Hub should involve a series of areas that introduce the main NPCs and their stories.

  • The NPCs in the Hub will provide essential services, as well as side quests.

  • There are secret areas that can be found with exploration and some problem solving.

  • The Hub will expand over time to reflect the progress of the players.


Basic Area Design & Central NPCs

Now I know what direction I should take my ideas. I already know what sorts of characters I have in the Hub so I begin working on the areas that will intoduce the NPCs and their services.

The Hub is made up of two parts:

The Midden

As explorers, just like the players, have arrived to help the Queen they have left their vessels stranded in a huge heap underneath the Palace. Made up of slave galleons, temple ships, galleys, frigates, iron clads, and submersibles, the Midden is a hive.

Pirates, magicians, and demons share the space equally. There’s always a bar, shop, or fight around the corner.

The Palace of Three Thousand Pillars

A floating palace of black and white stone looms out of the mist. Its roofs are held aloft by countless (or exactly 3000) pillars. At four corners huge chains strain upwards attached to a iron structure not unlike a slave collar around a large craggy chunk of moon rock. The moon pulses with alien light.

Among the pillars winds Queen Cassilda and her train. Marking her path are the millions of salves, servants, accountants, generals, supplicants, and attendants all clamoring for the silent grieving Queen’s attention. 

These main areas will be where players return in between exploration of the rest of the world to visit shops and get main quests. Throughout the game as they complete quests the palace will be expanded with more services. But at the beginning the hub is only for speaking to the Queen and Priest Noatalba.

There are three main NPCs other than the Queen I want to introduce with a whole area. By making a quest around them that also serves as an introduction to the feeling of FoC’s world hopefully the players will be hooked by their longer term stories, and will remember to return to these NPCs for side quests and supplies.

Zolona

A craggy old witch that runs a potion shop in the more residential part of the Midden. She ages slightly every time the players leave. Zolona knows she will die soon and has sworn that she will use her powers of sight to help people in need across the planet. 

Harrington “Evil Grin” Zell

A part man, part machine harbor master. He looks the part of a sailor/pirate. Peg leg, pipe, ship captain’s hat. But the bottom of his face and one eye has been replaced by crude machinery and he carries a burning boiler on his back belching steam. Harrington wants to convert himself entirely into a machine. He often has a store of items to sell, either washed up in the sea of confiscated from merchants who don’t pay their dues.

Priest Noatalba

A strange priest of the Old Nameless Idiot Gods who seems to have the Queens ear. He whispers that he can help players get an audience with the Queen if only they help him first. He may indeed be the designer of her woe in the end, but for now he seems friendly and pathetic enough not to fear. He will trade for magical items and can revive dead comrades.


Planning

This is an introductory area and the players will be starting at 1st level and ending at 3rd level during this section. I usually award xp per “room” or encounter. This means that if the players manage to skip and encounter they still get that xp. If they talk, fight, or burn their way through they get the xp.

However one of my design goals is to reward exploration and I’m basing this game off the likes of Dark Souls. To create an interesting difference I considered some alternate xp systems.

  1. Make xp gold. Players must work to find gold, or do quests to earn it and spend it on levels, or items. D&D 5e is lacking in economy already so giving the players something to buy could help this problem. I could make life hard for myself and let players buy feats and abilities separately and ignore levels entirely.
  2. Use a “souls” currency where killing enemies or finding dead bodies would reward a special level up currency. However this negates the reward for skipping fights. It could allow for a re-spawn mechanic like Dark Souls but in practice I found players didn’t mind making new characters on death instead of reviving them.

Since I want shops to be important and this is supposed to be video gamey I decided on the xp gold idea. This solves multiple problems. For one 5E’s xp per level is non linear, but I’ve chopped the areas of FoC up into even level blocks. Normally this would mean players zoom through levels and then slog through the rest of the zone on a higher level, or are stuck for longer at a lower level until near the end when they get a sudden boost. It also means that shops are more important.

The Hub will take players from level 1 to level 3. After some figuring level 2 costs 100gp, level 3 costs 200gp. That means 500gp for an average party to get to level 2, and 1000gp to level 3. With a little extra for shopping we can round that up to 650 and 1350 respectively.

The area with the priest is meant to be harder and more appropriate for level 2 players. It should have about 1000gp in it.


Overall Design

I’ll focus on Priest Noatalba first of all. Since the next “zone” of the game will be the Chapel of the palace the Priest doesn’t have somewhere to pray. This gave me the idea of an old ship he has turned into a temple. This also makes a good way to introduce some of FoC’s world religion into the mix. The history of the boat will also help to add some mystery that the players can investigate if they want or leave alone.

I imagined Noatalba would choose something grim and forbidding for his temple, like a fort like slave galleon. Something black with metal columns up along the hull. The priest is also meant to seem a little pathetic so his problem should be rather self pitying.

First Sight

As the players climb the ramps towards the palace they rise onto a flat area leading to a black galleon set into the Midden at an angle. The ship’s hull has been plated with crude iron with raised towers making it appear like a fortified wall. Short broken masts stab upwards barely scraping the bottom of the palace.

A small man stands near the hull fidgeting. He wears a robe of green and gold with a long trail and many frills. His hood is up and only two bright pinpricks of eyes can be seen. This is Priest Noatalba. 

This is the players introduction to the galleon and the priest. Approaching him they will hear his problem: some street urchins robbed him of his key and broke into the galleon. He can’t get in himself and he fears the urchins would have released the “nuns” from their cells.

The nuns will be an introduction to an enemy the players face in the next zone. Since players of this section will only be 2nd level the nuns will be a challenge that should be used sparingly. The urchins on the other hand should be easy to kill, even if it is slightly morally wrong to do so. With this in mind I can design the monsters that players will face in the galleon.

I do monster design before actually writing out each room because how a monster fights will be crucial to what sorts of spaces I put them in. The nuns are a intelligent giant frog like creature so a space where they can leap and use their sticky tongues will give them an advantage. An enclosed space will put the nuns at a disadvantage. Likewise urchins probably use traps and tricky fighting techniques that will have to be figured out before I put them anywhere.


Monster Design

I use a monster template to speed up the process of creating 5e monsters. I’ve already customized this to fit with what types of monsters exist in FoC. At the bottom of the monster I include a chart of ability modifiers and damage types.

Monster Name Here

Tiny, Small, Medium, Large, Huge, Gargantuan / Aberrations, Beasts, Constructs, Dragons, Giants, Humanoids, Monstrosities, Plants, Undead

AC: 20-10

HP: 10 (The monster’s death action goes here)

Speed: 30ft-120ft

Damage Weaknesses: various damage types go here

Damage Resistance: various damage types go here

Damage Immunities: various damage types go here

Special Weakness: special ways of defeating the monster go here

Attack Name Here: Melee weapon attack: +# to hit, reach 5-20ft., one target. Hit: 6 (2d6+3) type damage.

Attack Name Here: Ranged weapon attack: +# to hit, reach 20-120ft., one target. Hit: 6 (2d6+3) type damage.

Special Attack Here: Description of special types of attack go here.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
17 (+3) 9 (-1) 10 (+0) 10 (+0) 12 (+1) 12 (+1)
1 -5 16 to 17 3
2 to 3 -4 18 to 19 4
4 to 5 -3 20 to 21 5
6 to 7 -2 22 to 23 6
8 to 9 -1 24 to 25 7
10 to 11 0 26 to 27 8
12 to 13 1 28 to 29 9
14 to 15 2 30 10

Acid, bludgeoning, cold, fire, force, lightning, necrotic, piercing, poison, psychic, radiant, slashing, thunder

We can now create monsters for the Slave Galleon.

In a first play-test my players fought urchins. Some were less incentivized to kill children with no discernible monstrous traits. Later when I changed them to “rabid urchins” with sea urchin spikes the players had no problem. This will play in nicely to another side quest that will give the players the option of curing the urchins. Suddenly their slaughter will seem heartless again.

Rabid Urchin

Small / Humanoids

Someone has cursed these street urchins with a rabid fever and painful growths. The urchins have grown spikes and suppurating sores. They’re hunched over and sport nasty spikes.

AC: 10

HP: 15 (Upon death they trigger their spike attack.)

Speed: 40ft

Damage Immunities: poison

Dagger: Melee weapon attack: +3 to hit, reach 5ft., one target. Hit: 4 (1d6+2) piercing damage.

Sling: Ranged weapon attack: +6 to hit, reach 60ft., one target. Hit: 3 (1d4+1) bludgeoning damage.

Urchin Spike: Anyone within 5ft of the urchin is pushed away 5ft as their spikes extend violently. Those pierced must make a CON or DEX save of DC 10 or take 2d8 poison damage. Other urchins hit by the attack take no damage and trigger their own spike attack.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
9 (-1) 10 (0) 9 (-1) 6 (-2) 6 (-2) 6 (-2)

Loot: 1gp

The urchins should be an easy opponent, with only the danger of their spikes. In a group they might really mess with the Adventurers as they push them around.

The original toads in my notes are from the main rules. Since I’ve added the detail that the toads are intelligent and nuns they should probably have different powers. Remember they’re supposed to appear in a later section, so their use here should be almost like a boss fight. The text in bold explains my reasons for powers and features.

Nun Toad

Large / Beasts

A huge toad with alert eyes, and a white stripe painted down it in chalk. Preparing potions against acid would aid in this fight. (In this description I’ve noted that potions or gear that helps against acid would help. I’ll make sure to hint about this in the Priest’s quest description as well.)

AC: 12

HP: 50

Speed: 15ft / leap 50ft (I never liked the fact that the giant toads can only leap the same distance they an walk.)

Sticky Tongue: Melee weapon attack: +7 to hit, reach 10ft., one target. Hit: 12 (1d8) bludgeoning damage plus 4 (2d4) acid damage. Once struck a target is grappled requiring a DC of 14 to escape.

Confessional Purification: Once stuck to a nun’s tongue the target is dragged into the air where they begin being coated by thick acidic juices to “cleanse” the spirit. This does 4d8 acid damage (The toad has no attacks while doing this, so tactically they should retreat once they’ve stuck an enemy. It’s also a good time to have a wave of different enemies.)

Telepathy: The nun speaks in whispers in the minds of those around it. As an action the nun can launch a mental assault on a target. If they fail a WIS save of DC 12 the nun can issue simple commands. (This was added after beginning the room descriptions.)

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
9 (-1) 10 (0) 9 (-1) 6 (-2) 6 (-2) 6 (-2)

Loot: Toad Tongue. (25gp) This reach does 1d4 bludgeoning damage and grapples target when hit. The target must make a DC 10 DEX save to escape. (This item should be fun to let players grapple targets from a distance.)

With these enemies designed we can begin thinking about how to lay out the galleon. First lets sum up the information we want to use:

  1. The nun is a semi-boss fight that should challenge the players.
  2. The toad can leap, and can use its tongue to grapple targets from a distance.
  3. The urchins are pretty easy to kill, but on their deaths they trigger their spike attack, and this can cause a chain reaction with other urchins. The spike attack pushes targets away from the urchin.

Next time: Area Design

 

 

A Witchy Encounter

The Wood Witch

The players are tracking through the woods when they spot a little girl.

The little girl is dressed plainly and:

  1. is dangling a doll by the arm. It has a dress as ragged as the girl’s, but it is wearing a sparkling tiara made with real diamonds.
  2. has been crying so much the mud on her face has turned into two streaks.
  3. holds her side to stop the blood from coming out. Only there’s no wound there. She complains of thorny bushes.
  4. wears a flower crown woven from rare mountain flowers. They seem to still be covered in dew.

The girl hums to herself and lets out a hiccuping gasp when startled. She is lost and lonely. She claims that her step mother led her into the woods after she broke the woman’s favorite pot. Said the faeries might take her and swap her for a new one.

When her step mother took her out her papa told her to drop glass beads on the ground so she could follow the trail back home. Lo and behold there are beads shining in the dirt along a path.

The beads lead to a little cottage. The cottage roof has partially fallen in, a wild elm has grown through the disappearing thatch and shades the clearing. The walls are covered with ivy and the creepers threaten the tree.

Inside the cottage are two areas separated by a half wall and a damp moss covered cloth hanging.

The door opens into a main room, the elm’s trunk grows from the corner of the room, its roots cradling a man’s body, he appears to be sleeping, though investigation proves he is dead. Dispelling illusions reveals he is in fact a skeleton. Under his body is hidden a:

  1. small bag of bone dice, each from the knuckle of a different creature. If they roll all 1s they produce a curse.
  2. iron thorn. It is poisonous to the witch and if she is stabbed with it any other weapons do double damage.
  3. pendant with a drawing of a young woman and a small cutting of hair matching the color of the little girl.
  4. letter from an ancient lord offering a reward for the destruction of a beast haunting the woods.

The room also has an old wooden bed, an old empty barrel, and a decomposed sack of grain.

The second part of the house is much darker. Moving the cloth covering causes it to fall. It all stinks of rot, damp, and swamp gas. The space appears dark, even to those species who can see in the dark. The dark seems to burrow into the space.

A hole has been burrowed into the dirt floor and lined with moss, fungus and slime. Indented into the bak corner at the holes deepest part is another body, a woman’s skeleton clothed and in a torn red skirt. She is curled up in intense pain, each limb askew, her bones are broken.

Upon discovering the body the girl becomes agitated, for she is the witch. She begins to squirm and strange bumps begin growing under her skirt. Her head grows larger, her jaw distending until it could swallow a person whole, and her face appears to grow old and haggard. Her feet grow scaly and claws sprout until she has chicken feet.

The Forest Witch

Chicken footed, as short as dwarf with a large old head and a jaw big enough to swallow a person whole. The witch has gained her powers through her hatred of her step mother, its has burrowed into the hut like a tick. The witch can be appeased with child sacrifice, or by burning the step mother’s body. The witch is very intelligent and ultimately wants closure. It will bargain for aid, and if appeased will give curses or spells in exchange for ingredients or food.

The witch has several powers:

  1. Child’s curse. The witch channels the fear of a child into her target. Everything grows in size compared to the target, the world darkens and every doubt and fear of abandonment slowly becomes true.
  2. Mother’s Back. The witch stamps her feet on the cracks of the dirt. With a snap the backs of all around her begin to twist and churn as if trying to snap. It hurts.
  3. Witch smarts. The witch knows a few cures. She can cure a few wounds, and will sow up the odd cut.

Dungeon Design: EAT3 Ogre Den

Ogre Den.png

1.A large cavern filled with stalagmites rising from the floor. The south and east sides of the cavern are choked with the stalagmites requiring anyone trying to get past them to squirm and wiggle past them. The east side opens into a tall chamber. The south side has a hidden passage that leads to a ledge in another cavern. The west side opens into another cave down a slope of loose rubble.

Ogres throw their kills up here, at least five partially eaten villagers, three horses, and two sheep lie rotting up here. A magical bow has been deposited here as well.

Special Rules:

Gas: The gas is a green substance that is heavier than air. It is poisonous to breath and fire will not burn in it. Gas masks and flashlights are necessary to travel through it.

Poison: reroll attack whenever not poisoned in a poisoned area.

Mushrooms: If the mushrooms are hit with enough force, say by an attack with a weapon or a firing dart trap they explode violently into spores. The spores then root themselves and will grow into giant mushrooms in the future. The explosion is dangerous enough to do damage.

Anyone with spores attached to them may find mushrooms growing on them if left in armor or touching skin for too long.

2.A huge cavern with an eastern slope of rubble that raises to another cave, to the south are two different huge passages. The western one leads outside into a steep valley. The eastern one opens into another large cave. Green mushrooms with red spots grow around the cave.

Two ogres sleep here. If a fight goes on too long a third ogre shows up from the exit. The chamber is filled with poisonous gas.

3.A large cavern with a small rim on the north side. The rim can be accessed by a small passage from a cavern above. There is a tiny cave in the rim with a goblin cache with several magical items.

An ogre shaman has an altar in this cave grown around with mushrooms. The room is filled with poisonous gas. The rim is just high enough to be outside the gas.

4.A long cavernous tunnel. Half way it intersects a dungeon cavern. The north side passage has a flight of stairs. The south passage ends in a “T” but both sides are filled in with fallen rubble. The tunnel connects to a large cave on the west end and the east end breaks into a dungeon passage.

The floor is curved inwards and several green red spotted mushrooms.

Dungeon Design: EAT3 Mushroom Filled Dungeon

Mushroom FIlled Dungeon.png

Special Rules:

Gas: The gas is a green substance that is heavier than air. It is poisonous to breath and fire will not burn in it. Gas masks and flashlights are necessary to travel through it.

 

Mushrooms: If the mushrooms are hit with enough force, say by an attack with a weapon or a firing dart trap they explode violently into spores. The spores then root themselves and will grow into giant mushrooms in the future. The explosion is dangerous enough to do damage.

 

Anyone with spores attached to them may find mushrooms growing on them if left in armor or touching skin for too long.

Ogre Mage: The sound of fighting attracts the Ogre Mage from the ogre caverns, it will arrive at 5 and attack as soon as it sees humans.


1. A crossways with three passages. To the north there is a corner leading to a staircase. To the east there is a short passage ending in a corner and another staircase and to the south the passage intersects a large ogre dug cave.

There are two giant green mushrooms with red spots growing in the center of the area and the hallway is filled with green colored gas  that is poisonous to anyone without a gasmask.

Here the dungeon is filled with poisonous gas keeping adventurers from going in without gas masks. They can still see into the area from several areas but will die if they enter, forcing them to progress to other areas first. At the same time the explosive mushrooms add an extra element to combat.

2. A short passage that bends about halfway along to the north east. The westerly direction ends with a corner and some stairs. There is a locked iron door on the south wall where it bends.

Down the hall in both directions from the door are sets of torch sconces. They can not be lit because of the green gas. If the floor between the sconces is stepped on dart traps dire across the corridor.

A bright red “X” has been painted at the bottom of the stairs on the west side. A large mushroom on that side is directly in the way of the dart trap and will explode violently into spores if hit.

Here players have a clue that they shouldn’t activate any traps that might hit mushrooms. The gas doesn’t allow fire to burn inside it so the traps can’t be disabled.

3. A small burial chamber with no door. A huge quantity of the mushrooms have rooted around and on the coffin. The coffin contains a dead Elvish prince and his magical crown.

If the wall at the back of the burial chamber is removed there is a small chamber with a chest. Inside is a magical scimitar used by the dead elf, and two magical rings.

4. Another burial chamber. It contains a coffin in the center with an old corpse of a female elf. There is a hidden chamber on the left of the burial room. Inside is a chest with several magical items.

5. A passage with a dead end to the south. A little farther north there is an entrance to a tall vaulted room. Opposite the entrance is a large hole that leads into the ogre dens. There are several big mushrooms growing around the hall.

6. A tall vaulted chamber with entrances on the east and west. The North wall has been excavated revealing a collection of pots, several of which have been smashed by the digging. The south side has a raised platform with a flight of stairs leading up to it. Another portion of the wall has been excavated.

Another small group of looters is here. If looters from other parts of the dungeon have moved down into the gas filled areas they will join the men here.

7. A passage leading from a tall west side chamber and ending on the east end in a burial chamber. In the middle the north wall is broken up with a locked iron door. On the west side of the door is a candle stand standing in the middle of the room. If anyone walks around the candle stand dart traps fire at angles down the corridor. There are a couple of mushrooms  in the way of the darts.

Dungeon Design: EAT3 Excavated Dungeon

Excavated Dungeon.png

Part of this dungeon came about as I was taking an archaeology class on Looting in the Middle East. Fascinated by the dynamics of looters, the long chain of people involved in smuggling artifacts and the destruction of important heritage I wanted to find a way to involve these ideas with gaming.

EAT has always been a fantasy world sense of the real world. Not only blending the real world greed that bleeds into the fantasy world through the portals and tour groups but also in the real world interests of the fantasy denizens.

In this dungeon poor villagers forced to live on the edge of an inhospitable mountain range have brokered a deal with rich other worlders who will pay good money for elven artifacts. Using technology given to them by the otherworlders they can enter the dangerous and gas filled dungeon and dig out precious magical items. 

1. A large vaulted chamber with pillars down the middle. A raised platform is accessible along the south side by a flight of stairs. The north side has had the floor torn out and excavated. Two coffins have been uncovered and stripped of useful contents. The far side of the room is open into a cavern but is chocked with stalagmites and is tricky to enter.

A posse of human looters are working here. If they have been warned by Robert they have grabbed weapons. Several have swords and clubs and two have bows and have climbed up on the ledge.

While only a small dungeon I wanted to create some verticality and interesting combats into the construction of the dungeon. I liked the idea of raised up platforms around the edges of some rooms. This also fits in with the gas that fills later chambers. The gas is heavier than air and won’t raise beyond a certain point. This means certain areas can be accessed from a non gassed area or from a gassed area.

2. A crossways with a passage into a large vaulted chamber and a passage running north-south. To the South there is a torch sconce. If the torch sconce is not lit and if someone walks across the floor in front of it dart traps fire from the opposite wall.

3. Another crossways connected the north-south passage to the north. A staircase goes down into a gas filled passageway. The west side opens into a large pillared chamber and the east side opens into a long hallway.

4. A long hallway with crossways on each end. The south wall has been heavily excavated but it unclear for what purpose, on the north side there is an excavated tunnel leading into a small closed off chamber with a looted coffin inside. The elvish corpse has been pulled out and left deteriorating on the floor.

If the looters have been alerted to the adventurer’s presence a few archers will be firing from the far room. They have excellent cover and can shoot the length of the corridor easily.

The looters can be deadly through these corridors. This incentivizes adventurers to look for better approaches or to think up a clever plan.

5. A crossways with three intersecting corridors and a small artificial entrance to a room at the far end. The northern passage slants at an angle that terminates in a locked iron door. To the south is a corner with a staircase descending into gas filled chambers.

To the west is a long corridor. To the east the wall has been demolished so there is a narrow entrance into a large tall chamber.

6. A large tall chamber with a large raised platform accessible from a short passage above and a flight of stairs. The passage has a locked iron door blocking it. Twin staircases descend from the main room on the south side to gas filled rooms below. A small entrance has been created in the west wall by the looters.

In the center of the room is a small camp with a small fire in the center. There are several crates of food stacked against the wall and two crates partially filled with valuable grave goods. A weapon rack holds swords, clubs and bows. There is a small metal case with a half dozen gas masks and flashlights.

A large posse of looters are staying here. If they have not been alerted yet half of them are in the lower gas filled areas excavating areas. If they are alerted they will try to shoot anyone approaching the room. Then the archers will try to retreat to the platform to fire down on anyone entering the room as the others hold them off. If they feel outmatched they will try to escape into the gas filled chambers with gas masks.

It’s important that the looters are only local men who are desperate to make a little money. They will not wait to be slaughtered but will run into the gas filled areas where they think the adventurers can’t get them.

Dungeon Design: EAT3 Locked Dungeon

EAT Locked Dungeon.png

  1. Behind the locked iron door is a crossroads. To the left is a passage that ends in a corner up ahead, a corridor straight ahead is at an angle from the corridor, and to the right is another passage that ends in another cross passage.

This area was not originally locked off. However when thinking about what paths the players took through the dungeon the more I wanted a more challenging path to follow. The players could go straight ahead from the passages in the prior section but they will have to come up with a clever solution to the bent doors. Then they may get the drop on the looters inside the lower sections. If they take the open route they will face the looters head on.

2. This corridor is lined with small alcoves with jars filled with different types of leaves left by the Elves. About half way down there are two torch sconces facing each other. If they are not lit and someone walks between them dart shooters fire into the corridor from the far end. The passage ends in a corner and intersects with passage.

Somewhere along the way I decided that this dungeon was a tomb for elves. Part of the Epic Adventure Tour theme is that the fantasy land does not conform to the cliches, it has been forced to to satisfy the whims of the tourists traveling through it. 

At this point the traps have become real but avoidable threats. They are obvious in location, anywhere torch sconces are, and if the torches are lit the trap won’t go off. I describe them all as dart traps to keep it simple, but a meaner GM might improvise different effects. 

3. A broader passage at an angle with two parallel lines of candle holders. If they are not lit and the floor between them is walked on dart traps fire across the corridor.

4. A large chamber with an open entrance on the north side and closed with an iron door on the south side. Two pillars hold the ceiling up and a small stone chest is behind one of the pillar. Inside are three magical items.

13th Age is the system I was going to use with this dungeon. Part of the game is that all magical items have a personality of sorts, a cloak of stealth might sneeze every now and then, a magical great sword might have a superiority complex.

5. The passage continues down an angled path. It is intersected by the entrance to a larger vaulted chamber. At the end of the passage is another locked iron door.

The locked iron door is another part of challenging the players while giving them a good way to sneak up on the looters. It also is why the looters haven’t been able to get into the locked off area yet.

6. A large vaulted chamber with pillars down the middle. On the south side of the room a flight of stairs climbs up to a raised platform with a locked door. On the far end is a wide passage to a locked door with twin torch sconces on either side. If they are not lit and someone walks between them dart traps fire from behind towards the door.