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.

Dungeon Design: EAT3 Goblin Dens

 

EAT3 Goblin Den.png

  1. The valley up to the Forbidding Mountains is rocky and barren. Near the end there are a few scrappy looking goblin huts. They are empty except for a few goblin skeletons, badly damaged weapons and old dried mushroom stalks.

The entrance to the dungeon is an old dark stone gate but inside the ceiling has collapsed blocking the old passage. At an angle and slightly uphill is a goblin hole carved by hand. From the end the sound of fighting can be heard.

  1. The crudely dug tunnel terminates in a small cave. Stacks of wood, rotting plant material, and old rags form nest like areas on opposite sides. A dead goblin lies in one recently killed. More long dead goblins and old mushroom stalks litter the floor. Fighting can be heard from the next cavern.

The first two caverns are designed to introduce the Adventurers to the sense that something is wrong. Other people have been up here and the usual state of the dungeon has been disrupted. Then they hear the sound of fighting and rush to help.

  1. Another cave similar to the last, filled with goblin nests, bones, and discarded mushroom stalks. Robert, the young man from town, is trying to fight off a mob of tiny goblin scum and one larger goblin wearing crisscrossed belts.

Killing the goblins frees Robert who tries to distract the party with the old, “look over there!” trick and runs deeper into the dungeon.

There are two small chambers off of the this cave as well as a longer passage with a larger cave in the direction Robert ran off in.

Robert is the greedy younger mastermind behind the looting operation. The idea was to have him be a boss fight character for the human looters. He is a bit stupid but probably has a few tricks up his sleeve. The out of worlders might have given him a gun to defend himself with or other surprising objects.

The side rooms are designed to give the players some clues to prepare them for other dangers in the dungeon. They will be able to learn more about the goblins, and brave the poisoned mushrooms before facing them again deeper in the dungeon.

One of the alcoves is filled with barrels of a foul green liquid that smells very alcoholic. It is also poisonous. One barrel has split open and old partially fermented mushrooms have poured out and have dried up over time.

The other alcove has a few steps down. From the top there are several large green and red spotted mushrooms as well as a large chest. The entire room filled to almost the top of the highest step is a foul looking green gas. Occasionally one of the mushrooms exudes the gas.

The gas is very poisonous and will quickly kill anyone who breathes it in. It is low enough that a human could wade through to get to the chest but they would have to move slowly to not disturb the gas too much.

The chest is trapped with a simple wind spell that will blow the gas in the room around and up filling the whole chamber. It contains an old gold tea kettle. The tea kettle used to be the goblin shamans for his mushroom brew. It talks to whoever picks it up. (May be caused by the hallucinogenic gas that comes out from many brews.

  1. Another goblin cave filled with more bodies and old mushroom stems. It opens onto the old dungeon passage way. It is clear that Robert ran through here. His dusty footprints continue down the stone passage way outside.
  1. The goblin cave opens onto the side of a passage. To the right it turns at a right angle and is cut off immediately by a rock fall. Several portions of the old gray stone blocks have been pulled out and crude holes, dug with tools, have opened pits and holes in the walls.

An important element of the dungeon is the idea of “teaching” the traps. Players should be able to figure out where traps will be and eventually how to stop them. At first this will be easy and the traps won’t be able to do harm. But later on traps will be harder to find or impossible to deactivate.

In the direction of Roberts dusty tracks there is another crudely excavated portion of the wall opposite an ancient torch sconce. Inside the excavated part of the wall several large gears and strange looking tubes extend from the wall. The mechanism seems to extend under the floor with metal levers.

If the floor is stepped on between the excavated parts and the sconce a “click” can be heard and a second later blasts of air come out of the tubes. By examining very closely the sconce it can be discovered that by lighting it the trap doesn’t go off.

  1. Past the old damaged trap is a cross roads. To the left is a passage at an angle, there is a passage straight ahead with extensive excavation and a door on the far end, and to the right is a passage that looks very dark. A cold breeze blows from the right hand passage.
  1. Going straight the passage used to have iron candle holders in parallel rows leading up to an iron door at the far end. However the diggers have dug up the sides of the walls and five feet below the floor level. Several iron gears have been ripped out and lie discarded. If the floor between the candle holders is stepped on mechanisms in the holes click and try to turn but are too ruined to do anything.

The door at the end is locked but shows evidence of someone trying to batter it open with a log. The log lies discarded beside it. The lock is just barely intact enough to be picked or opened magically.

  1. Along the passage at an angle with their entrance is a long excavated portion that looks like the diggers were looking for something. At the furthest end just before another torch sconce two gears were revealed. A large rock has been placed there to stop them moving.

If the floor next to the sconce is stepped on without the sconce being lit the gears try to turn. There is a 50/50 chance the rock will pop out. If it does several darts shoot out of the wall opposite the sconce. If the sconce is lit the trap will not trigger.

  1. A small burial chamber with a large stone coffin in the center. The looters excavated the back wall which reveals a tiny stone chamber. The coffin contains an old withered skeleton of an elf. There is one gold coin lodged in the rubble of the excavated section.

Dungeon Design: EAT3 Area Design

Determined to design a dungeon, having decided on a rule set and setting, and listing what I wanted out of the game, next I had to design the areas the adventurers would interact with.


The Concept

I knew I wanted a sensible ecosystem where multiple types of creatures interacted with each other. I also wanted the humans living near by to be accidentally disrupting this ecosystem with their looting. This already defines some of the areas, there has to be a village near by, and there have to be areas for the different creatures living there. Looting also means there has to be something to loot, so it can’t just be monster dens.

First I described the village, adding a few details about its surroundings. Since EATs has a dimensional travel twist on it I decided the reason the village was looting the nearby dungeon was to sell the items to thugs from the other dimension. I wrote a quick list:

The village

  1. Several small houses with a peasant population
  2. Wooded environs near the foot hills of the “Forbidding Mountains”
  3. Hidden over one of the hills is a secret portal used by the men with cars
  4. At the end of a valley between the hills up against the mountains is the entrance to an old dungeon.

I wanted the dungeon to begin with an easy threat where the Adventurers could start discovering the mayhem caused by humans. The goblin dens were a good choice.

The goblin dens

  1. Small scraped passages and caves clearly used by goblins
  2. bones from hunted deer and sheep as well as the dried up stems of mushrooms litter many of the rooms
  3. There is a looter being attacked by a small posse of goblins.
    1. The looter if he survives the attack runs into the caverns to warn his friends about the adventurers
  4. Small looter traps hidden in the darker passages leading further in.
    1. The escaping looter may have triggered one of these and killed himself or the players can track him through the trapped hallways to get past

Then the adventurers could start exploring the dungeon proper and see the looting. I played around with whether the traps were from the old dungeon or if the looters were leaving them to scare off other potential grave diggers. I ended up changing it so that the looting had uncovered old traps. In later sections the adventurers could use what they’ve learned from looking at the looting holes to bypass traps that haven’t been dug up.

Excavated dungeon areas

  1. Crumbled areas where they’ve been digging
    1. Several of the broken walls can reveal mechanical trap elements inside the walls
    2. Teach players where secret treasure might be hidden
    3. May have murder holes or other ways for the lotters to attempt to scare or kill off dangerous adventurers
  2. Untouched areas that looters want to return to
    1. They would want to leave traps here
    2. Too dangerous for looters to go into
  3. New excavations
    1. Looters if warned will wait to ambush and attack adventurers
    2. If not warned they are digging away and are unprepared

Looter’s Hidden Camp

  1. A secret area where the looters are staying
    1. Lots of weapons
    2. Stash of magical items
    3. Supplies
    4. A battle with looters
    5. Gas masks aplenty

 

Once the adventurers are in the dungeon they should have plenty of chances to run into the bigger and badder monsters inside that are being riled up by the looting, the Ogres! While the players travel through the dungeon they can choose to use magic items taken from the tombs. This would make it easier to fight the harder ogres as well as facing the looters.

Ogre den

  1. The dungeon connects with the large tunnels of the ogres who have been getting braver and braver while hunting for food.
  2. They should be big and bad and hard to kill.
  3. Use of mushrooms to defeat them would be cool.
  4. Having this in between the mushroom and the looted bit would be more fun.
    1. Too hard of an enemy to face normally in the excavated bits
    2. Easier to defeat when using mushrooms to blow them up

 

Following the advice of The Angry GM I wanted to build “gating” into the dungeon. In short, areas that are available early on but are sealed off until the players get to a certain point. In this case I combined the ecosystem with the gating. The goblins used to eat mushrooms that create a very poisonous gas.

Since the humans have killed most of the goblins the mushrooms have grown rampant and filled areas with gas. The looters use dimensional imported gas masks to explore these sections but the players will have to overcome the looters elsewhere to get the masks before they can explore those sections.

Mushroom filled dungeon

  1. Only accessible with gasmasks
  2. Mushrooms blow gas that is poisonous. The mushrooms also violently explode into spores if something collides with it at high speed.
    1. Can be cut carefully which will stop the reaction.
    2. This can create interesting reactions/extra dangers in fights.
  3. Of course the old dungeon traps are still around here.
    1. With enough time to see the ruined versions in the excavated areas they know what to be suspicious of
  4. More looter fights
  5. Ogre fights

Next time I will start describing the actual details of each section.

Dungeon Design: EAT3 Concept

Hi! If you have read my game notes from Flames Engulf you may have realized I’m rotten at designing fights. So to challenge myself I wanted to create a classic dungeon crawl.

Setting and Mechanics

The first thing I did was figure out what setting and system I would use for the game. I typically play in a semi-parody setting called “Epic Adventure Tales.” Inspired by the Dianna Wynne Jones book Dark Lord of Derkholm. 

The idea is a world a lot like ours has found a way to travel between alternate realities. Capitalizing on this technology the world begin turning alternate dimensions into prime tourism spots and so was born Epic Adventure Tours. EAT markets several tours but their “Fantastivia” tours are the most popular and hundreds of tourists per year pay through the nose to go on fake adventures there. Fantastivia, called Earth by the people who live there, is a magic filled world with all the classic fantasy elements.

Since I wanted an adventure game that isn’t too crunchy, would be fun and tactical I picked 13th Age which has been described as D&D but only the fun bits. The classes all have great powers, work well together, and there are some interesting mechanics added onto the normal D&D stuff. The book is a bit confusingly played out in places but otherwise it seems fun.


Concept

Next I needed to figure out what my game was going to be about. At the moment I am taking a fairly depressing class on Looting and Destruction in the Middle East. The antiquities trade is fraught with crime and danger, perfect for a fantasy world laced with real world themes. I had already added the following idea to my list of game ideas:

Antiquities Trade

Dungeons are filled with old loot and amazing items. While most players play the adventurers raiding these treasure troves it is the real masterminds who control the vast trade of items across kingdoms from dungeon to collector.

Instead of having the players play looters I decided a dungeon crawl with adventurers finding out about a small villages looting of an old dungeon would fit what I was looking for better. So I wrote the next bit:

A small town on the edge of the fantasy world of EAT has a burgeoning loot trade that exports many of its magical or fantastical items out to the rich world of the Real World.

The dungeon has its own ecosystem and looting the easiest areas has become overused by other adventurers so the party must delve deep to export the treasure and best items from the many endangered creatures of the Below.


What I Want

Next I listed the elements I wanted to include in the dungeon. The first bullet points were the original things I wanted and the inset points are the things I thought of to answer those points.

  • Elements of mystery
    • A “dragon” has been terrorizing the village. Several of the men of the village saw it in the hills and have warned everyone to stay inside if they hear it roaring.
      • It really is a recording played by men in black cars who secretly use the dragons roar to scare off everyone but the villagers in on the looting.
      • Strange people in large magical powered carts are buying magical items being taken from the dungeon.
    • Village people have begun looting the caverns throwing off the ecosystem.
    • Ogres are attacking the livestock of the village.
  • A viable dungeon ecosystem
    • Magic mushrooms <- Goblins <- Ogres
    • Since looters have killed off most of the goblins the ogres have nothing to eat and are driven to attack the towns people instead.
    • The decline in goblin population has also let the magic mushrooms grow rampant. These are highly poisonous and prevent anyone without gas masks from going deeper.
    • The looting allows for interesting mixes of goblin and ogre dens, excavated areas, and old dungeon.
  • Interesting traps
    • The looters likely will have left traps for other looters.
    • Old goblin traps may still exist.
    • The old dungeon would have interesting magical traps that no longer work like they used to.
  • Interesting combats with a variety of enemies

Player’s Goals

  • Hired by the King to go and find out why magical items from the dungeon (a well known ancient site of magic) are being trafficked around the kingdom.
  • A magical sword is shown as evidence of this.

Next time I will describe how I designed the different areas of my dungeon.