I have a problem with dungeon crawls.
As a DM, and running a story driven campaign, i find them boring, rollplaying more than roleplaying, and don't even get me started on traps, whichever way you build them the PCs are going to be paranoid until the end of the dungeon, checking every step and bogging down the session. As a consequence, my dungeons are really simple, comprise less than 5 rooms, and contain a similar number of encounters. And mostly no traps.
But i want to get better at it, because my players seem to enjoy them nonetheless, albeit every once in a while.
Let's discuss ideas to improve the dungeon crawl, how to make monster behave in it, which kind of traps do I put in it, how to prevent PCs paranoia, how to avoid it breaking down to "enter room-slay monster-get treasure-exit room-enter next room"
TL;DR - How do i git gud at running dungeon crawls? How do dungeon crawls git gud at themselves?
Have a powerful but none-too-bright monster chase them around the dungeon. That way there's excitement, pacing and surprises for everyone, including the monster. And no time to check each square inch for traps.
Your attitude, plain and simple, is what stops you from making a good dungeon. Nowadays dungeon crawling is passed as "boring", "repetitive", "old-school", or whatever have you. In reality, it is much harder than a simple roleplaying game if the GM and players are creative. If the GM can't create some unique challenges and prepare ahead of time, and players want to roll for everything and do not suffer from wanderlust, then the group is not fit for this type of game.
When designing a dungeon you have to think about a lot of things. Who created it, why, what inhabits it, why, and at the same time align all these with the setting while simultaneously balancing the game. Players have to be afraid of what lurks behind that corner (not achievable with modern DnD faggotry), what riches could await them in the bottom, what mysteries need solving.
If you want to start easily, head to donjon's page and try the dungeon generator, then build on the random dungeon adding your own stuff and goodies here and there.
Seems like a solution.
So I should make up some kind of structure that keeps track of time spent inside the dungeon itself, measuring the distance of the monster from the party. This should even make sense of the lockpicking checks, each maybe taking up a round the monster is spending getting nearer.
Is that correct?
Any advice you can give on making the enter-kill-loot-exit routine more exciting?
>Any advice you can give on making the enter-kill-loot-exit routine more exciting?
Another group of bandits...err, I mean 'adventurers' enters, and the players know it.
The dungeon is collapsing in an earthquake.
The dungeon is slowly flooding from tidal action.
The dungeon is getting colder, vastly magically colder, as the sun sets...
Use your imagination, there are a million things that can happen inside a dungeon to make it more exciting.
>Your attitude, plain and simple, is what stops you from making a good dungeon
I am aware that my attitude towards dungeon crawls is not the best and most productive one, hence why I started this thread.
In my defence I'm not speaking just from reading around that "dungeons suck", I tried about three times making a proper dungeon crawl, and I wasn't satisfied with either. My player didn't seem to especially mind, but if I can give it a spin that makes it more exciting I guess we're all gaining from it.
>If the GM can't create some unique challenges and prepare ahead of time, and players want to roll for everything and do not suffer from wanderlust, then the group is not fit for this type of game
The GM part I can work on, what about the wanderlust of my players? Can i do something about it? And just to be clear here, what specific kind of player behaviour in rooms and corridors do you consider "wanderlust"?
>Who created it, why, what inhabits it, why
Setting it up and making it fit with the background is not something I find especially difficult, it's mostly the running it in session part that I can't seem to improve. Basic routines of killing, looting and checking for traps start manifesting very soon after the 3rd room, and last time i ran a dungeon crawl i scrapped all the remaining rooms improvising something more cinematic (a battle in an underground cavern between opposing factions), but definitely less dungeon-crawly.
Thanks for this contribution though, it's going to be useful for every DM wanting to try building one up for the first time, and someone had to point it out.
While these are very beautifully crafted premises, they all serve the same purpose, that is giving a reason for the party to hurry up. Same as the monster closing up on them.
Do you think this is a mandatory requirement to be fulfilled while creating a dungeon, same as making it fit inside of the setting, and giving it consistencies as for what is inhabiting it?
To clarify, with "enter-kill-loot-exit routine" I am referring to the rooms, not the whole dungeon. I mean, is it something unavoidable, or is it the dungeoncrawl structure itself that demands this routine?
>The GM part I can work on, what about the wanderlust of my players? Can i do something about it? And just to be clear here, what specific kind of player behaviour in rooms and corridors do you consider "wanderlust"?
Well, there are several ways of presenting something the players find. The difference in wanderlust is made by a simple "bonus" description.
As a player, i would love to find out more about this "rune engraved scimitar with a weird light blue spike coming out of the side of the blade, essentially making it useless in combat", or "the spear which has a long forgotten song (maybe the solution to a future puzzle?) inscribed and circling it in a post-apocalyptic medieval world", but i would be bored if i found "a +2 longsword of deal +2d6 damage". Its all in the wrapping, and both the items described make the interested player more interested to find out, thus continuing playing in the dungeon.
Ah, I see, I was thinking of "wanderlust" as a more spatially related term, thus the question about what did you mean with it. Especially in something like a closed and defined dungeon.
I suppose you are using it as a synonimous with "motivation", that is, how to interest the player and push them forward in the adventure. Which is good, and I thank you for pointing it out, but I think I have it covered already.
My problem lies especially in how to make traps interesting (but i'm working on it, found an article here that seems fitting http://theangrygm.com/ask-angry-traps-suck/ ) and how to not get bored by the routine in each room.
Not talking about anything specific about the content of the room or the room itself, I'm talking exactly about the "enter room-kill-loot-exit room routine", which since is repeating way too often in a dungeon than in a more open adventure, gets boring more quickly. At least, this is my feeling about it.
Well, you know you can literally play a dungeon with few or no combat? I don't usually play horror video games, but a good example of "nothing happens yet i am interested" is the tactic used in the all famous Amnesia. Nothing really happens, and this urges players to keep going, solving puzzles, and give a greater dynamic to any combat that may ensue (once again, do not use DnD for this style of game).
Virtually any style of play can be found in a dungeon (except for vast social interaction of course).
Specifically on traps, what i do when i run dungeon crawls is that i describe the place that is trapped, leaving a few clues that this place may be trapped (of course this will work only if you generally describe a lot, otherwise they will suspect something). Then i ask for a perception roll, and depending on the total points they may have gathered (refer to preferable system) i give them extra clues. Then it is up to the players to tinker with the trap and find a way to avoid it. No stupid "disable device". if there is such a skill, i would allow the players to roll it to "degrade" the trap, making it less lethal, or creating some sort of timer, or something similar.
Serious question: How do you even do maps?
Like do you draw them progressively as your players advance and have a copy in your hand?
Do you have a big copy made without labeled traps and shit and just cover up the parts they haven't been in yet?
As a player and GM who has never really used tactical maps or grids, this part of RPGs has always mystified me since I've never seen it
> once again, do not use DnD for this style of game
I use WFRP, so it should be ok especially for horror subplots ;)
>"nothing happens yet i am interested" is the tactic used in the all famous Amnesia
I played it a bit but discarded a little later due to not being my favourite genre for video games. Was this kind of tactic supported in any way from graphics? If it didn't I should be covered, I have a sourcebook detailing how to run horror adventures in general rpgs, if it did then I'm open to advices about how to substitute graphic horrors with narration.
I'm quite afraid of the
>Nothing really happens, and this urges players to keep going
part, since usually if nothing really happens my players tend to be quite inert. Can you elaborate further maybe?
>Specifically on traps
I think I'll be following the angry gm advice, that is making it more or less obvious that indeed, guys, there is a trap there! And then getting them to learn by clues what kind of trap is there and how to defend from it (eg: burnt oil scent = fire trap). I completely agree with you with the "no disable device skill", it's exactly like having an all purpose "disable trap" wand, and it defeats any purpose, even narrative, the trap might have had.
You make metro-like maps with only nodes and their names (or a way to distinguish them).
Either I ask my players to make the map themselves if they want to, but in some cases it leads to a lot of stupid questions like "how tall is the room" ; or to a lot of complaining. I actually had 1 player that used to draw pretty good and accurate maps, without complaining when they had to start over or to make small adjustments. I would have kept her around but she broke up with me. That bitch.
Anyway second option: I draw the players' map on a whiteboard each time they get a good score on their cartography (intelligence) roll. Considering how useless Intelligence is in D&D5 I think it's fair. I usually set the DC around 10, fairly easy since I draw poorly. If they roll a 15+ I usually try my best to be accurate and detailed.
Plus, if they fail by a lot, I get to draw whatever the fuck I want and that's fun.
OP here. In session, I had a copy drawn in the adventure with all details layed out, and made my players draw one out of my description. I didn't have a battle mat at the time, so knowing a trap was there I arbitrarily decided (rolling dices VS PCs stats) if they stepped on that particular pressure plate or not. And told them they activated the trap.
Rolling on perception, making them see they failed, and then telling "you see nothing" is a dead giveaway for players that there is something there indeed, and they did not see it.
The obvious consequence is rolling secretly, and then I guess you might as well roll for them on prepping time, and tell them you already rolled for it.
It's a matter of trust between players and GM of course, so you need to see if it fits your group.
Anyway, now I bought a battle mat with grids and hexes on it, and an erasable pen, so I won't even need to cover stuff they haven't encountered yet, I'll just draw it as they progress.
Say we have a dungeon with a cluster of rooms each one near the other. Maybe a guard post with other rooms around, all with monsters within them.
Is it logical, if the adventurers attack the monsters in the guard post (or one of the rooms around, it's the same), to have all the monsters within earshot to come and fight, maybe after a round or two?
Is it beneficial for the adventure? Any thoughts about it?
Do your players even want dungeonier dungeons? Have you thought to ask them if they're satisfied with 5-rooms dungeons and going back to roleplaying after short adventures?
I wanted to post this like six hours ago but it failed. Have it anyway.
If you're playing fantasy vietnam and you're sure everyone at the table's agreed then why not? Probably you'd try to avoid starting any alarms, and hopefully that is communicated to the players as well.
I'm having a chat with them over FB right now asking for more feedback on past dungeon crawl sessions we had a while ago.
They know I hate to run dungeon crawls, but it seems they like the concept of the dungeon crawl, and thus I guess the more the merrier and came here. Myself, I think they'd get bored of it if I stress on the more "old school" aspects of it, like traps and wandering monsters, but I won't make the error of thinking in their stead. Let's see how my bet goes.
As a comparison, I improvised a forest sandbox killing beastmen (WFRP) a couple sessions ago, with a loose story behind it which is getting more solid as we are progressing. They seemed to find it somewhat "purposeless", but since they are not yet in the deep of the plot, I tend to blame it instead of the forest environment or the sandbox. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe not. I'll see what happens in the next dungeon crawl.
Thanks for your concern anyway.
See pic related for "monster chases the players" adventure
I will never understand you people, but that's because all of you are theater-of-the-mind, text-only nutjobs who despise the concept of things that are "unfair", which is a code word for "not instantly successful and resulting in a pat on the ass".
>and don't even get me started on traps, whichever way you build them the PCs are going to be paranoid until the end of the dungeon, checking every step and bogging down the session
That's the point. Why would you want to use a trap and then just say "Ok guys, that was the trap, please don't act like there will be more in the dungeon, I promise there aren't. I just wanted to have the one for reasons."? Traps exist to make the party paranoid, to slow them down and to put them in danger that exists outside of a simple room filled with an enemy they can bullrush to death.
If you need your sessions to be a breakneck, one-session-one-dungeon thing where everything MUST be done or it's "too slow", then don't fucking use traps. Give them empty corridors and a few rooms with their own monsters that don't stray, plan, or ambush them.
>As a consequence, my dungeons are really simple, comprise less than 5 rooms, and contain a similar number of encounters. And mostly no traps.
I'm not sure what you're asking for help here? You seem to despise the concept of playing the game. What are you actually trying to accomplish by having dungeons at all if the whole process of being in a dungeon goes against what you want out of the game?
>But i want to get better at it, because my players seem to enjoy them nonetheless, albeit every once in a while.
Get better at what, running dungeons? Have you considered accepting that maybe it's not a bad thing that they spend time on small details, rather than racing through the whole dungeon and high-fiving at the end?
Maybe consider using things that crank the tension up? Spooky, unnerving settings? Collapsing roofs? Ending on cliffhangers? Ever tried any of that?
Here's a test, OP:
You successfully arrive at the Tomb of Horrors, the most legendary adventurer-bait trap of them all, a place few have ever returned from. You dug under the hill, you found the passegeway, and eventually you arrive at a hallway covered in mosaic on the floor, and frescoes on the wall.
You know there are traps. This is a fact
How do you take your first step? Remember, you chose to be here.
Dearest anon, OP here, I'm not sure who you are specifically referring to because setting up "instantly successful" situations is not really my style and indeed my players would completely disagree with you. And I really don't know where you inferred that from, I didn't state it for sure.
>Traps exist to make the party paranoid, to slow them down
Agreed, all fair and right, the problem in fact arises when the player start spamming the setting equivalent to "detect traps" every step, which start to slow down not just the characters, but the whole session, which then devolves in just meaningless dice rolls, and thus gets boring. Indeed, even more boring than "live" enemies because, albeit this depends on your setting, "disable traps" might as well be a magic wand that instantly makes the trap useless. At least, an enemy can be characterized better than a mechanism.
>If you need your sessions to be a breakneck, one-session-one-dungeon thing where everything MUST be done or it's "too slow"
No, just need my session to not bog down in a check-roll-result routine with no narrative whatsoever. There is potentially no problem in making a dungeon go for five sessions for me, as long as it's entertaining for the whole group.
>What are you actually trying to accomplish by having dungeons at all
Caves, mines, underground smuggling complexes, sewers, mounds, catacombs are necessarily going to be a part of the adventures every group everywhere plays, sooner or later. Hell, even a mansion, a castle or any other complex building can be run like a dungeon, even if maybe better characterized than a simple underground lair. So far, I kept it simple to avoid boring routines to get the best part of the game, but since my players seems to like the dungeon crawl, I'm asking for help and advice in getting better at it, instead of saying "no fucking dungeon crawls on my watch!", to have more fun with my players. That's what I'm trying to accomplish.
>Have you considered accepting that maybe it's not a bad thing that they spend time on small details, rather than racing through the whole dungeon and high-fiving at the end?
Again, the problem is not that they are finishing too slow, or "spending time on small details", the problem is not getting bogged down in routines that add nothing to the story, nothing to the fun of the players after the 5th "I check for traps", and nothing to my fun as a DM. I don't mind staying in one setting for more than one session, don't mind describing the environment, don't mind thinking for a reason why every single room is there. I do mind getting bored on routines that do nothing to advance the story or give it any meaning.
>Ever tried any of that?
Yes. All of them work, of course. The problem still arises when the crawl goes on for enough time to make routine actions get the front row, in one session or during the length of five.
I'm looking for a solution to that. But thanks for your contribution.
I've really gotta assume you have no actual experience running games, and only parrot /tg/'s stance that rules-light narrative text games are the only legitimate way to roleplay, because holy fuck do you do EVERYTHING wrong.
>the problem in fact arises when the player start spamming the setting equivalent to "detect traps" every step
First, D&D is based on one simple rule, and that is "Only the DM chooses when dice are rolled, not the players." if you're trying to host a game and your players just start throwing dice and telling you the result and what they're rolling for, you've already lost control, so it's no wonder you spiral downwards into you sobbing in the corner about how you can't keep them in line and can only run multi-room killfests where nothing leaves it's space because you can't handle the mechanics of anything more complex.
Lay down the law, it's your game. Ask your players for a marching order make them give specifics of how they're moving. No one can just "check every wall, floor, and ceiling for traps or hidden things" while walking down a hallway. They pick a specific action, you adjudicate it. And if they are hit by a trap and now want to slam every floor tile in front of them, then you let them, but you choose how to handle it in a non-repetitive way. Have them make one single check, and then don't let them see the result, just give them the narration.
And if they insist on being "paranoid" and checking every square they pass through in every possible investigation method, that's fine. You just need to let them know it's going to take a long-ass time, and the rest of the party isn't just going to get to sit there waiting patiently while the Rogue kicks every floor tile over and over and over.
Apparently I have to cover one issue per post here.
Not sure what are you testing me on, since I'm looking for advice on the DM side and not the player's, but let's roll with you.
I check the frescoes for clues about the path, check the walls, floor and ceiling for holes, not-ordinary architectures, and dust patterns.
I do this every few meters to make sure my immediate surroundings are safe.
If I have a spear or another weapon with a pole or similar length, I check the path in front of me with that before stepping on it. Again, every few meters.
Based on the pic you posted, the safest way should be the red path, since it goes on for all the hallway, it adjusts in the first half to go near the door on the left side of the pic, and keeps going on after the green thing (statue?) at the bottom.
Also, it does not seem to be just a trail of blood, because the red colors on each tile does not go beyond the tile itself.
So, what's the test result?
>"disable traps" might as well be a magic wand that instantly makes the trap useless. At least, an enemy can be characterized better than a mechanism.
So don't make it work that way. Make them have to get creative with that shit.
They find a floor pressure plate? Ok, cool. Now have the "trap disarm guy" inspect it so you can explain the exact mechanism (as he understands it), and have him choose how he wants to go about disarming it. Then, when he has come up with a satisfactory answer, allow him to roll for the attempt, and you can tell him it's successful so he can feel like he accomplished something.
You have a problem with the party having to locate a trap and then stop and spend 5 minutes coming up with a plan as to how to get around it safely, but I don't understand why. What exactly should the pace of a session be to you? Why are you afraid of getting in and roleplaying the details?
What's stopping you from getting close to the Rogue and using a tense voice and explaining how he carefully lifts the pressure plate and finds three chains and one spring, what does he do? He tries to disengage the spring? Oh shit, there's a loud CLANG as a metal weight somewhere beneath the trap hits something! Is it good or bad? How does he react? Apparently the central chain is being pulled, is that the connection? He chooses to cut the other chain?! There's a muffled THUNK and the tension on the plate seems to be gone, this trap successfully disarmed. Does it matter what choices he made? Probably not, unless you want it to. Did he do something, feel a moment of panic or tension that he might fuck up and trigger a trap on himself? Probably. Was it successful while allowing him to roleplay his character? Yes.
Strap in, we're correcting every mistake here.
Not OP, but jesus fuck I hate this board for this reason. The only guy who seems to have some answers necessarily acts like a dick and wastes half his time being ultra-aggressive instead of answering fully and exhaustively the questions the OP is raising.
We get it guys, you're very angry. But everyone will understand you better if you stop being full blown aggrofaggots and actually just answer the questions without being hyperbolic and vindicative. Nobody gives a shit and it only antagonizes the OP 'till there is no further discussion possible.
>just need my session to not bog down in a check-roll-result routine with no narrative whatsoever.
I literally just explained this. A lack of control over what and when players roll and an absence of narrative around actions and events is YOUR FAULT, because you refuse to put in the effort.
>So far, I kept it simple to avoid boring routines to get the best part of the game,
What exactly is the "best part of the game"? Combat? I don't know what this sentence means, because clearly you think your games are lacking something, but you're now telling me they already contain the best parts. So which is it?
> but since my players seems to like the dungeon crawl, I'm asking for help and advice in getting better at it, instead of saying "no fucking dungeon crawls on my watch!", to have more fun with my players. That's what I'm trying to accomplish.
You're asking for me to make you like something you apparently do not like. I can't do that. I can teach you how to not suck as a DM, but I can't make you like the process of running a game.
Dungeons are made of three major things; ATMOSPHERE, logic, and obstacle. I explained how to do obstacles, treat them as events and stop thinking so much about rolls. Speak up, control people, ask "What specifically are you doing", and don't let them walk all over you. You're not using a battlemap or anything, so there's no way you can suffer from people just moving their tokens around a map before you can adjudicate things.
But an important part of making obstacles not boring is involving some sort of tension that describes why the players should feel like they need to get through these places quickly. This tension comes from ATMOSPHERE, and if you can't properly convey it, you can't run a dungeon that is anything more than tacked-together battle arenas.
More coming, holy shit.
ATMOSPHERE is 100% narrative and it's all about how you present details. If you asked your players to describe the hallway or room they're in inside one of your normal dungeons, could they do it? What do they know about it that you have conveyed to them?
Do they get the sense that this is an ancient, crumbling ruin of a forgotten empire, with flickers of powerful residual magic still coursing through the stones? Or is it a creepy haunted prison, with far-off wails of tortured criminals only to reveal nothing but empty cells and bones? Or is it a rancid sewer, who's odor threatens to make them sick every step they take?
I'm guessing you don't bother, and thus why should they care? But that's the point. If claws scratching on the walls just outside of their torchlight or foundations that threaten to collapse every time they take a few steps aren't a part of how you describe EVERY SINGLE SCENE IN THE DUNGEON, then there's not going to be any tension in it, because to the players it's just a featureless gray corridor.
The gist is, you're the DM, so tell a story. Make them scared for their lives, or unnerved out of their skins, and I promise you that they will stop spending 100 hours trying to smack their way down a hallway looking for pit traps, because they can't imagine spending that much time in a place that obviously wants to kill them.
I'm gonna guess this won't ever be your strong suit. Moving on.
So the last point, as >>44751322 mentioned, is that everything has an internal logic to it. That's how we make sense of things. Even if it's all powerful, ancient magic, or weird corrupting demon whatever, every scene needs a train of logic players can follow.
Why does this "dungeon" exist? There's no reason to create a dungeon "just because", because you think that D&D is inherently 50% dungeon crawling, and 50% selling loot back in town. Does it MAKE SENSE for this random barrow out in the moors to have a complex labyrinth under it? Should this graveyard really have winding tunnels leading deep underground beneath the graves? Why? Who made it, and what is it's purpose?
If you know the "what" of a dungeon, you can figure out the rest of the things, but they need to make sense. Who would build a set of 5 perfectly square rooms with an Owlbear and whatever other monster you could dig out of the manual trapped down there, unable to leave? For what purpose?
I'm pretty sure you include dungeons in your game because you think "That's just what I'm supposed to do. I make the dungeon, I put the loot at the end of it, players play it.", but if they're not serving a purpose in the narrative, and the creatures, contents, and rewards follow no logical progression for the players to follow, the only thing they think coming out is "Why did we do that, again?"
The best-designed dungeons are ones that challenge player's ideas about the setting by revealing new information in the form of scenery, while keeping them off-balance and out of the loop for the first 1/2, and then understanding the new information by the end.
I'm skipping a post to keep talking on this subject.
A hidden lever in a small, secret room near the beginning of the dungeon, that creates loud clanging machine noises somewhere above them and deeper down will seem terrifying at first. They'll pull the lever, hear the noise, and scramble to set it back, fearing for what they set for themselves later, and when they trek through they will constantly think back to that lever and why it was there.
When they come to a pit of acid and a very obvious mechanism where the lever operates a bridge allowing them to cross safely, you have no conveyed a logical premise to the players: Everything is linked, everything is there for a reason, and everything they do should help tell the story of what and how this place functions.
The same with traps. Should they be elaborate, mechanical masterpieces? Magical constructions? Or simple, rigged-together primitive traps set by a less sophisticated species? Should there be any at all?
A dungeon that served as an ancient culture's meeting and living quarters wouldn't have traps, obviously, because people live there. But on your way to their vault, where their wealth was kept? Sure, there could be some powerful traps built to keep that safe.
Or maybe it's a bear cave? Bears don't make traps. But the Orcs who moved in here might. Their traps would be near the entrance, to keep invaders out, not near where they live and work.
Everything should tell a story. YOU should tell a story. And this is a detail you seem to have completely missed when you started DMing. You're asking all the wrong questions.
And then there's this faggot.
Cry me a river, dickface. Who gives a shit if my tone is sarcastic or angry? Why the fuck do you care?
Am I supposed to be here typing happy, friendly ass-pats for OP like "You did a good job! You're not a failure! I love you!"? Fuck off.
I wrote a shit-ton more about the subject than he is likely to read (he may hugbox-up about 1/3 of the way through), but if you can't tolerate some "mean words" and parse them out to get to the actual information, I think it's time for you to grow a pair.
Fucking christ, what is with you "muh feelies!" oversensitive fucknuggets?
As a DM, my go-to 'dungeons' (when I run a crawl) are either:
The Sewers beneath a town/city, where a noble/adventurer has made a supply cache/ base/lair/hideout. Oozes, critters and Hobos make great encounters.
A burial cairn/mortuarium, where the dead are stored, along with the remains of the (presumed) dead King... despite the decay and dust build up, the dead still patrol the halls.
The little details matter!
I remember 1e, where you actually had to be creative with your means of disarming 'traps'...
My DM hated how I had 4 10' poles and would always be sweeping the ground ahead of us to disarm/reveal any pitfalls...
Another way to disarm/defend yourself from traps is to pick up the halfling, and bowl him down a hallway ahead of the party... We ended up going through 8 'Timmys' in one session...
Sewers and crypts are shit-tier, and if they're your "go to", then your games are pretty god damned bad.
Normally I'd say you are allowed 1 use of a sewer every 5 levels, but then I remember that the way you and most of /tg/ plays D&D, one level is one, maybe two sessions.
That's why I prefaced it with "when I run a crawl".
In reality, I'm far better at creating political intrigue, and allowing the adventurers 'free-roam' in the short term.
Last week for example, the party got absolutely wasted, and the entire session was 'Dude, where's our cart!" where they tried to retrace their steps to find their cart. (Turns out that they finally got around to getting the Cart repainted while drunk.)
The rules of Dungeon Building:
The ideal Dungoen is a Labyrinth, linear but with the appearance of a maze.
The ideal Dungeon is short; This is the rule of "Keep It Simple, Stupid".
The Ideal Dungeon does not have two rooms the same.
But, the Ideal Dungeon often reuses a gimmick in one room, to cue players into a thing that, when it comes up in another room *that puts it into a different circumstance* the players can exploit the gimmick for their own use; This is the principle of "making your Players feel smarter than they are"
>I have a problem with dungeon crawls.
There is a OSR thread which basically consists of people, like myself, that love dungeon crawlers. I would love to help an-
>As a DM, and running a story driven campaign, i find them boring, rollplaying more than roleplaying
>and don't even get me started on traps, whichever way you build them the PCs are going to be paranoid until the end of the dungeon, checking every step and bogging down the session. As a consequence, my dungeons are really simple, comprise less than 5 rooms, and contain a similar number of encounters. And mostly no traps.
What in the name of f-
My suggestion is just make your dungeon settings interesting. Provide lore to them and make the players feel like they're both exploring and trying to seek some objective. The "The City Sewers", "Troll Cave" and "Blackguard's Castle" aren't any fun. I'll use a few of my examples of 'dungeons' that players really enjoyed.
One was a vast swamp where a massive ancient city had sunk into after their massive irrigation and damming systems were destroyed by an invading army to drown them all. It was basically a series of connected locations that functioned a lot like a typical dungeon would. Instead of hallways connecting rooms you had paths; bridges; trails of rubble. I tried to make each area unique with a fun encounter. It turns a simple dungeon into a much more memorable adventure.
Yeah, he's a fucking idiot.
I like OSR in concept, but I don't have the time to put it on my list of things I play (I am a ForeverDM and haven't been a player in years), but I try and keep elements of it alive in my games.
Personally, Tomb of Horrors is probably my favorite adventure ever, because it's a masterclass in how to completely destroy a party's sense of confidence in themselves and their actions, which in turn makes them so much more observant of what is going on around them.
It's a shame there's no one left to play it, because everyone has adopted OP's idea of "Nope! Traps are bad! Game has to be fast, simple, and anything that trips us up is the DM's fault for being unfair!"
>Yeah, he's a fucking idiot.
>I like OSR in concept, but I don't have the time to put it on my list of things I play (I am a ForeverDM and haven't been a player in years), but I try and keep elements of it alive in my games.
Great to hear it. I have been a DM for years as well and is basically in the same situation, foreverdm that is. You should be "foreverdming" OSR though.
>Personally, Tomb of Horrors is probably my favorite adventure ever, because it's a masterclass in how to completely destroy a party's sense of confidence in themselves and their actions, which in turn makes them so much more observant of what is going on around them.
And I would agree. You have to keep the party on their toes.
>It's a shame there's no one left to play it, because everyone has adopted OP's idea of "Nope! Traps are bad! Game has to be fast, simple, and anything that trips us up is the DM's fault for being unfair!"
You are welcome at my table anytime!
OP here. I'm just going to ignore the ass pulled assumptions on your part, limit myself to regret your wasting of good text space by answering questions you are posing yourself, and try to address the parts relevant to my case of an otherwise well written guide. All the time mourning the slaughtered potential of the space you chose to waste.
Anyway, back on topic.
>You just need to let them know [checking for traps] it's going to take a long-ass time / an absence of narrative around actions and events is YOUR FAULT
This I already stated, multiple times. I just thought some more far ahead, and considered not wasting actual game time on boring everyone because I already realized it's gonna get boring and already told my players so. They agreed, their characters are not going to do it, and I came here looking for alternatives to that routine when dealing with traps.
As for the traps themselves, I have no trouble whatsoever describing the result of positive checks for traps, as long as the trap is there. I have problems describing fifty more shades of "there's fucking nothing there" when the player start to get paranoid and check every tile.
Which brings me to the device that makes the party hurry up, be it a monster closing in, the dungeon flooding up or other shit.
You then can have fun answering this question, the ONLY ONE I'm posing to you for real, and with a politeness it's completely out of place right now, after I posed it to the other anon having no answer back.
Do you think this is a mandatory requirement to be fulfilled while creating a dungeon, same as making it fit inside of the setting, and giving it consistencies as for what is inhabiting it? Do you have any alternatives to this kind of narrative device?
This is all assuming the first motivation they entered the dungeon for is not strong enough to make them move their asses, of course, and thus the dungeon NEEDS a countdown which is NOT the main reason they entered there.
>OP here. I'm just going to make excuses for why I didn't read anything you wrote and won't ever consider your instruction or criticism because I don't like your tone.
Sounds about right. Why make a thread at all?
>So don't make it work that way. Make them have to get creative with that shit.
I already am. This is precisely why I wrote "this depends on your setting" just before the bit you quoted. In my setting, disable trap is not a magic wand, it gets you a bonus on understanding how that specific trap works, and THEN I describe the bits of the trap they can see or percieve, and let the player's brain work out a way to disable the trap. I'm thanking you for the detailed description though, you prove to be useful when you want to be, and this is just the source for more regret.
>clearly you think your games are lacking something, but you're now telling me they already contain the best parts.
They lack long/interestingly run dungeon crawls, and we're having this lovely conversation because I want to learn, despite there's people here who evidently is not able to socially function, and I want to learn just because then my player can enjoy a higher variety of games. You may have noticed I didn't came here asking question about fleshing out NPCs or campaign building, even if you desperately wanted to answer them.
The best parts are when the party is not rolling dices mindlessly trying to spot traps that are not there. See the previous post.
>The best-designed dungeons
I already knew and applied everything you wrote in this comment and >>44761907 , down to the "set the traps at the entrance and not in the fucking dormroom" bit, because let's be honest, it's obvious and while I didn't feel the need to brag about it, I clearly said before that setting up the dungeon was not the main issue. Thanks for taking the time to write it all down, I guess, since it may not be always obvious for everyone, but I'm quite sure there already are guides for not fucking up basic matters like that.
Thanks again for the descriptions though, I liked the one with the pit of acid. Still, just a shame about the wasted space.
Holy fuck. Your question was literally, word for word "How do I get good at running dungeon crawls" and then you proceeded to either gloss over or cherry pick EVERY SINGLE BULLET POINT, and say "Yeah I already do this".
Well fucking obviously you don't, because there's not some magic 10th step to making everything flow seamlessly and perfectly and everyone having bright, cheerful smiles on their faces that somehow was not included in the fucking thread.
So clearly, what's happening is you're SAYING "yeah I do all that", but the truth is you're not. Fuck, you even said your dungeons are simple 5-room monster romps.
>Do you think this is a mandatory requirement to be fulfilled while creating a dungeon, same as making it fit inside of the setting, and giving it consistencies as for what is inhabiting it?
>Do you have any alternatives to this kind of narrative device?
Wat? To WHAT kind of narrative device? A dungeon that fits the setting and follows through logically? Yeah, the alternative is "find a way to solve this plot problem without fucking sending players to a dungeon".
>This is all assuming the first motivation they entered the dungeon for is not strong enough to make them move their asses
It's apparently not, or you wouldn't be making this thread, now would you? Do you really think you'd be complaining about players spending too long throwing dice around if they felt any urgency to complete their task?
>and thus the dungeon NEEDS a countdown which is NOT the main reason they entered there.
It doesn't need one, that just happens to be an easy method to get players moving, something you seem to not know how to do.
However, I specifically gave you examples you didn't read that WEREN'T a "countdown", when I talked about setting an atmosphere.
Jesus, man, you are the stupidest fucking person I've ever met in my entire life. No exaggeration. Fuck, man.
>As a comparison, I improvised a forest sandbox killing beastmen (WFRP) a couple sessions ago, with a loose story behind it which is getting more solid as we are progressing. They seemed to find it somewhat "purposeless", but since they are not yet in the deep of the plot, I tend to blame it instead of the forest environment or the sandbox. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe not. I'll see what happens in the next dungeon crawl.
You're almost on spot here. I'll preface this by saying this is my speculative opinion, but I think it's because of how stereotypical and traditional 'dungeon' is for D&D. You say 'dungeon' and the players have all these associative terms and connotations. They already know some of the structure that exists within. There's going to be rooms, hostile encounters, probably traps, probably some bigger, badder hostile encounter (boss?), and probably some phat lewt.
When you say 'forest', there doesn't seem to be any of these connotations. Personally, I would attempt to enliven the forest, give it a name, describe the denizens, how hostile they are to outsiders, how deep and wild the forest really goes. You want to hit the key parts of why the party wants to go dungeoneering in the first place. Of course, that'll differ from group to group, but if they like those aforementioned connotations, try to answer them as if posed as questions; Are there unique and recognizable places in the forest that can be described as an encounter room, like in a dungeon? (it's not just "trees for miles m8" is it?) Are there hostile (and neutral) encounters in there? Are there probably traps from the denizens? Is there anything that would want to build a home, a bunker, or a safe little treasure pile within a particular part of the forest? Some lore or maybe just local knowledge about a figure who inhabits this particular part of the forest who may pose a bigger threat if you advance (boss?).
You have it, but get narrative down FIRST, so they HAVE those connotations.
I won't bother trying to figure out which post to respond to precisely OP, cuz it's getting kinda messy with back n forth arguments.
IMO I think the countdown is great, and doesn't need to be extreme either. Perhaps find a reason beforehand to help the party understand that, I don't know, half the kobolds of this burrow are out on a hunting expedition for the day and won't be back until sun down. Helps to make the players understand they can't just fuck around "forever" trying to detect trap every 3 feet, while also giving them quite a bit of time to just think out a way to move forward without rushing, or perhaps they understand this and accept it, and deliberately take their time so THEY can set a trap for the returning kobold group, perhaps even using their own defenses against them.
As for your narrative concern, I think just trying to nail down how you describe each part of the dungeon will be most effective. Another anon posted something like this already, but it comes down to describing said rooms as, say, 'living quarters' so there's no real reason to have a bunch of traps right underneath the natives, is there? Also giving narrative clues to obvious-but-not-visible traps in a habitual nature can teach players to respond to your cues and not just 'check-move'. (read: smell of burnt oil or whatever it was)
> simple, direct question
> answering "YES" in a proper way to a directly asked question and not to a self posed one.
Aw yeah! Now that was not that difficult was it? Thanks for trying to be useful again. I really appreciate your effort. Christ I'm not even being sarcastic now.
>ranting about how I read and how I answer to what you write
The "yeah I do all that" is because you were answering questions you asked yourself. While I appreciate artistic solipsism if done well, I was trying to improve over running (and not setting up) very specific parts of dungeon crawl features, and not going to see a performance, and you simply said a bunch of stuff I already knew. What kind of answer did you expect? Also, the discussion was already going on, evolved, and the only question I asked after the OP was already there without the need for you to invent more. I am sorry you aimed your guide to the TLDR in the OP, but it's not like I could have forced you to read everything that was said, could I?
Write a guide and publish it, it's obvious you can do it, it's gonna be useful to lots of people more grateful than I can be, but there is absolutely no need for all this fucking bitterness you have, seriously.
>It doesn't need one, that just happens to be an easy method to get players moving, something you seem to not know how to do.
Good, I know and that's why I asked for one, and already got that answer from another anon. Thanks for repeating that for me.
>However, I specifically gave you examples you didn't read that WEREN'T a "countdown", when I talked about setting an atmosphere.
I know, I read them, and they are descriptions, not narrative devices. I thank you for that because I know you put effort in writing those, I already said to another anon that I have a sourcebook on how to convey horror settings/atmospheres, and that I planned to take advice there. You confirmed that for me, if you may find it relieving.
>Guis I need help running dungeons!
>No, I don't need help designing them, setting them up, telling the story, conveying the atmosphere, or providing a sense of urgency.
>I just need help RUNNING them.
There is a prepping time, and there is a time where you meet your friends, or other people, that you can call time at the game table.
Here, you RUN the shit you prepared in the prepping time.
Also, I did need advice providing a sense of urgency because i didn't want to waste time with PCs checking for traps at every step, and a solution was "give them urgency". Already got that one, thanks for coming.
You're still not actually asking a question.
>Guys how do I make food?
>I know how to sautee vegetables, how to bake bread and how to cook meat.
>You're not telling me how to MAKE THE FOOD.
Have you tried, you know, providing a specific example of a scenario where you failed at doing something and that you wish had gone better? You know, like an actual god damned question?
And maybe try making less excuses?
Oh yeah, now the creative juices are beginning to flow. Try unconventional traps. Start gravitating away from 'you notice another spike trap in the floor', and face the party against traps that can't be disarmed, but can be avoided. Traps that can't be disarmed or avoided, but aren't strictly lethal (think home creature wanting only to wound visitors for him to decide to kill or not when he meets them). Have the dungeon denizens use traps in a clever fashion. He can see the patch of magical ice on the floor. You can see the patch of magical ice on the floor. He knows you have to advance upon it in order to proceed. He waits for an opportune attack, like a clever bastard.
Traps that simply involve some kind of inert creature (maybe sleeping) that act as hounds or guarddogs in respect, opening up multiple ways to 'trigger', to 'avoid', and to 'disarm' loosely.
If they never find the stereotypical spike trap again, I think they may stop trying to check-move for them. I think I'm just trying to get across the idea that traps shouldn't be small, hidden devices that could exist on literally any stone slab the party moves across. They should be understandably deliberate and even stand out in most cases. Though I can understand how that might be difficult to get across to players.
He did, anon. He mentioned an example where he tried a forest setting, but his players found it lackluster and "purposeless", even though he had more interesting stuff lined up for it later.
Stop with the useless 'he said, she said' crap and get to the point. Nobody really cares if he made a dumb question.
Many thanks for your contribution. I indeed ran into some problems sandboxing because WFRP is very good at urban settings, and less so at outdoors. There is no system for sandbox like in D&D for example, and so I had to made up shit like hunger and orientation right on the spot.
More problems lied in enliven the forest indeed: while thankfully it has a detailed background so I could improvise what could be there and how with some consistency, I needed more variety for encounters and interesting locations.
I think I have a hold on that now, both the rules system and the waypoints for the campaign are clearly set up and i need less improvisation over the backstory, but I'm always open for advice.
So thank you for yours, I'll make sure to try and consider using the dungeon mindset for outdoors too.
>but his players found it lackluster and "purposeless", even though he had more interesting stuff lined up for it later.
Yeah, because he threw them in a "sandbox" with no concept of what that means, expecting that they would find the concept of wandering around the woods doing nothing to be somehow engaging and he expected to just be able to string them along with randomly rolled encounters until the "real plot" started. That's dumb.
Just dropping players into a location and hoping they find their own things to do, especially when they have no context for how to do that, is a terrible move. Why go into the forest at all? If there was no direct, overarching goal, what did he expect them to do? Wander around fighting random monster table encounters until he felt enough time had passed until he could have them stumble onto a clue for something they didn't know existed?
I see the fingerprints of someone who doesn't get the concept of DMing, yet seems to be going through the motions anyway. He's just shoving "dungeons" and "traps" and "sandbox" at players without any reason why or any understanding of what makes those things work. They're just things he thinks a DM is supposed to do, so he does them.
Shit in Theory VS shit in Practice
I needed the fucking practice.
Like "I already read about how to cook the bread, I know the yeast goes in the bread, but how and when do i fucking put it in when I need to?"
Clearer now? I'm not good at examples and especially I can't cook for shit.
> providing a specific example of a scenario where you failed at doing something and that you wish had gone better?
You may have noticed, if you bothered reading a bit, that I mentioned problems with boring routines about traps and room encounters. It should be easy to spot, I remember repeating it all the fucking time.
Not relevant how dumb it was, that wasn't the information he was looking for.
Dropping them into a sandbox scenario for them to find their own things to do was the PERFECT option to take. Consider the following: DM is not so great with 'crawl' concept. Players admit on several occasions they really enjoy 'crawl' concept. Even if the scenario was horribly flawed, it made the players elicit a very specific response that the DM can build upon to get better at crawling.
As for the 'DM does these things, so he just slaps them in'. You're onto to useless slander at this point. Being a 'good DM' isn't tied to your specific definition of the concept of DMing. Personally, I think he's making a great effort. He's reaching for outside help, he's getting feedback from players, he's going outside his comfort zone to see what the players like, and most of all he's pointedly trying to improve so he can deliver a better experience to his players. He IS a good DM. His encounters just aren't up to scratch yet.
Fuck you and your pointless depreciation. Fucking debate hangups in this thread galore.
>but how and when do i fucking put it in when I need to?"
You follow the fuckin' recipe.
You use a dungeon to tell a story, not because "Hey guys, it's our weekly game session! Time for a new dungeon!". You construct something that is designed specifically to confer a very specific set of information on the players. A dungeon is an exposition tool as well as an encounter to overcome.
And that means you include things within that dungeon if they serve the purpose of telling that story. If nothing is gained by constructing a dungeon full of traps, because all you need is for the players to descend into the king's tomb and find that the king's ancient rival is an undead skeleton-lord and broke in to steal the old king's amulet, then there may not be a purpose served by filling it with pit traps and random monsters, because there's no reason to have the tomb be an elaborate and confusing labyrinth.
I don't know why I'm saying this, you're going to tell me you know it already, which means I still don't understand your question.
>that I mentioned problems with boring routines about traps and room encounters.
How am I supposed to give you help on creating interesting encounters? You find out the type of enemy that makes sense for the location, and you build groups of them that make sense to be found therein, with interesting synergies or challeges that the party will have to overcome.
No one can offer suggestions for this without having very specific information about exactly what type of dungeon you're trying to populate. Which is a detail you refuse to understand. And again, you claim you already know.
I had no time to prepare for that particular session because I had to work the most part of the day, and the rest of it I was busy with family and health issues. Since it's difficult to find the time to schedule plays in my group, I didn't want to cancel the session, and opted for a mostly freeform one-time I managed to better flesh out later. Turns out they had fun, I managed to have fun, everything was allright, but still I wanted to get better.
You can go masturbate with your friends at the fort of dungeon crawling experts now, maybe it helps you get your bitterness away. And bring your fingerprints with you, it's useless if you have NO IDEA how to deal with people, even when you want to teach them stuff.
I don't really consider these things to be good references, because everything about them exists in such a vaccuum that they offer no insight into how to design dungeons for actual campaigns.
Yeah, they're interesting challenge-fests, requiring complex solutions and deliberately created to require a range of different skills to overcome each floor, but they don't give you any insight into why any of those things were done, other than "We thought up this cool puzzle".
>I had no time to prepare for that particular session because I had to work the most part of the day, and the rest of it I was busy with family and health issues
Everything is excuses with you, isn't it?
I disagree, I think some of the examples of traps in there are pretty good. Even without context, traps like the acid+fire tiles don't specifically need any context beyond that it's magic and might be more suitable for magic environments. Could be alchemical/mechanical, I suppose.
In any case, these traps aren't simply things you either spot and disarm or not-spot and get insta-gibbed. Even knowing where the trap is, you have to play it out smartly. There is no 'check-move' in that scenario. All of their motivation will then be on how to proceed or how to best the trap, or both. Like I said before, more unconventional traps, throw away spike traps!
Fair enough. Still taking the time to find, look through, and examine a few popular dungeons may provide you with some kind of insight.
For me one of the best parts of making a dungeon crawl is making the setting of why this dungeon actually exists. Be it the gnolls strong hold, Sewers beneath a city, a vault left behind by an ancient Shaitan merchant Miles under ground, or maybe a cursed ruin that recently has been reveled from beneath the sands of a great desert.
A great way to add roleplay options into a dungeon is to make another adventuring party be there as well. For example take the desert ruin scenario. It makes total sense for another adventuring party to have arrived before them and laid traps behind them. Then the party can see what the dungeon has in store for them.
to be honest though I suck mad ass at coming up with rolelpay shit
>How am I supposed to give you help on creating interesting encounters?
My problem is not the encounter itself. My problem is:
given that i built up a dungeon
given that every single fucking room has a coherent purpose and a thorough description
given that the dungeon is populated by, let's say, skaven, with proper statblocks and loot
given that the skaven dungeon is perfectly fitting in the setting
given that the players have a common reason to get the fuck in there
given that I even managed to cram some believable skaven NPCs in there
given that unluckily the majority are nonetheless going to be Skaven #1, #2, #50, #1568, that is, "mobs"
These, I already can do.
How do I avoid the feeling that the encounter vs Skaven #5, Skaven #62 and Skaven #1403 are going to be the same, albeit with surface differencies?
And more tangentially, how can I avoid that the players lose the sense of surprise after another fucking Skaven encounter in a dungeon full of Skavens?
A dungeon that is more than 5 rooms, of course.
Can I EVEN avoid that, or I am just asking for something unattainable?
Yeah, trying to explain how it really went, private stuff included, to people who already set in stone that they are disgustingly awful.
I really have no excuses.
Now, get back to the ivory tower.
Not sure what a skaven is, but having the same monster is never an issue if you can give them class levels. Have them fight in raddically different ways. Have some cast spells, have others try and push adventurers into obvious traps, have a pair of brother monsters that flank and set each other up for deadly combo hits
dude acting this buttmad over a /tg/ thread doesn't make you the House M.D. of ttrpgs you know that right
Perhaps you shouldn't tunnel vision on surprise. If it's a skaven place, I wouldn't try to make every skaven encounter a surprise at all (maybe the first one). Instead, make the surprises something not-skaven. Strictly speaking, would skavens keep pets, or other-creature friends/allies? Also as >>44765943 says.
I generally like trying to perfect a sense of losing control for the players, so they don't have time to settle after a fight and start getting bored in the first place. So, if it isn't surprise, make it control, make it puzzles, make it traps, define another impetus to build upon in the dungeon. Throw in baby skavens and see how the party reacts. Throw in skavens that even try to surrender (falsely or otherwise). Set up weaker skaven who got cut off from the main sections and are trying to build pithy defenses because they know the party is approaching, have them shake in their rat-shaped boots and see what the party reacts. Are they here for loot or to exterminate the skaven? Comes back to enlivenment.
>How do I avoid the feeling that the encounter vs Skaven #5, Skaven #62 and Skaven #1403 are going to be the same, albeit with surface differencies?
Dude, this is incredibly easy to answer and should have just been your question to begin with.
Take ANY dungeon from a well-written adventure module, and you'll find one key thing: Very, very few of them ever actually use the same type of monster over and over.
Remember what we said about using your dungeon decoration, atmosphere, and obstacles to tell a story? This applies to the encounters too. This should be so obvious, but apparently it isn't.
Take the first real "dungeon" from Rise of the Runelords: You have an entrance with some Sinspawn (nasty, ugly abberations) in the first and second room. Not many, there's 3 total. First one is the "watch", second two are "reserves". travel farther in, you have a mutated goblin (a callback to exposition an NPC dumped earlier) who has pits full of zombies he tries to push the players into. And finally, you have the last room with an insane quasit who can summon more Sinspawn out of a magical pool.
It's simple, it's direct, it tells everything you need to know about the place and what the players should learn about the events therein right in the encounters. No "Goblin #1, Goblin #10, etc."
Not every room NEEDS an encounter. And not every detail you want to convey needs an encounter to tell it. An empty room can tell just as much as a full one.
But always make sure you're using your encounters EFFECTIVELY. Filling 20 rooms with Skaven tells the players nothing. Filling 3 rooms of a 20-room dungeon with very specific Skaven might tell an actual story about who they are and why they're relevant.
I don't know how I can break that down any more.
Yeah this is probably pretty important. Even traps and random monsters in rooms need "motivations" so to speak. Why they're there, what they want to do. A trap would probably be there to guard an important room, and it's "motivation" is to guard the room by triggering. But maybe it's a trap made to keep people from running around, so it only triggers when two pressure plates are pressed in consecutive order? Stuff like that.
OP here, I knew that you can be helpful when you're not a dick. I'm going to assume you just had a bad day so we can start over, and carry on being productive.
I'll find this module you say and try to learn from it, I'm not used to D&D nor to modules, since I prefer writing story driven scenarios like I said before, and I use a different system. Thanks for pointing it out to me anyway.
I can understand that not every room needs to be filled with "live" encounters, especially combat ones, to not bloat out the adventure.
But let's take an extreme case. Say I want the party to assault an important and heavily populated, military oriented lair, for whatever reason the story demands. It's going to be logical the crawl will be combat heavy: do you think it's feasible, or should I necessarily make up a justification for toning down the combat part, and making it more characterized instead of "waves of enemies"?
Like, I don't know, most of the army stationed there went fighting far outside and just some reserves are there?
Good dungeons some kind of timer. Simple as that. You also need a time-tracking structure. The biggest resource in the dungeon crawl as time, dick around too long and that timer should fuck the party up.
Personally, I don't think it's feasible in the sense that you could make it properly immersive. Heavily populated + military training immediately tells me the moment some conflict sparks, the rest of the army is going to come running to overwhelm you. All military forces are trained to call to arms and rally.
It might be workable as an army vs. army module instead of a party of 5 vs. army concept, though. Then again, this is me personally, maybe other people are okay with it as much as they are okay with high flying dragons.
It's already a stretch for me to believe internal consistency when lairs and caves of creatures don't come running when the scuffles start, anyway. You could experiment with much more dispersed room conditions, I suppose. Getting the drop on a single barracks unit inside their off-duty room sounds like a cool feat to pull off, then moving onto the next barracks, et cetera.
You may even like to experiment with a Nethack approach, where number of adjacent tiles is extremely important for attack of opportunity/flanking, and it makes no difference if additional enemies know of your presence, though it prolongs the combat unless you have a reliable way to break combat. In a narrow corridor, you have better advantage than twenty soldiers and their captain. Then again, in Nethack, you are the horseman of war, so I can't really say it's a fair fight.
I like this idea, you could all run in one door and come out another and then AND THEN the monster was really the groundkeeper all along.
Bonus points if there is a trap at the beginning that polymorphs someone in to a dog.
As an afterthought, I would really love to see someone do a really good session(s) by utilizing hit and run tactics that involve infiltrating a dungeon/base of operations, crippling certain parts of the inner workings in various ways, then retreating under stealth only to come back later as a full charge assault that leads to a successful routing of the enemy.
chuckle/10, god damnit
> the rest of the army is going to come running
Yeah, this is some kind of unsolvable problem I guess, if I want to keep being believable and populating rooms each one next to the other.
The stealth approach is going to be much more likely, but if it fails is going to fail hard, because if one monster manages to sound the alarm the party gets overwhelmed soon. I'll keep that in mind.
>army vs. army
An interesting concept to explore, but of course we're not talking "classical rpg" anymore here, nor dungeon crawl. It should be good for a different flavour session though, and an epic note in the campaign.
Thank you, I'm going to get information about it, it's new to me. I already have a combat system that gives bonuses for flanking position and attacking from the rear though, so the players should already be able to take advantage of narrow corridors if needed, or tactical positioning on the battlemap.
Currently I'm making sure to be very descriptive in these kind of combat encounters to not let it degrade into a pure board game mindset.
>I'll find this module you say and try to learn from it
It's one dungeon from one part of an entire campaign. Unfortunately, I get the feeling you might find the book and reference that and nothing else, which is just as bad.
>I'm not used to D&D nor to modules, since I prefer writing story driven scenarios like I said before
What exactly do you think modules are? They're pre-written adventures of varying length, tone, and style designed to tell a self-contained story, in a format that the DM can pick up and use with minimal preparation.
Do some reading. You keep saying "Yeah I know all that", but I don't think you do because you have never had of any sort of reference material, and this is exactly where you failed yourself. A good DM, who knows how to run a game effectively and with diverse challenges, tones, and concepts, is someone who is always reading and always learning new things. It doesn't matter what the system is, what the context is, you need to read everything. How can you construct interesting encounters if the only resource you ever look at is a monster manual? How can you build interesting traps and obstacles if you only ever use the one or two you know of because they're obvious?
Read. Read everything. There's like, 40 years of D&D shit out there, go find some and read it.
>But let's take an extreme case. Say I want the party to assault an important and heavily populated, military oriented lair, for whatever reason the story demands.
It probably will suffer from the problem of being very same-y and monotone, but because of this, you need to find a way to keep it interesting. Do this by emphasizing other things, like the atmosphere or the urgency. Use big, exciting scenes or give the players some sort of tool they can use to mix things up.
Yeah, fighting a bunch of Generic Soldier would be boring. But if those soldiers retread and dump boiling oil into the room while they regroup with allies in a more defensive location? Who knows.
I first went into rpgs fifteen years ago, played for about five years and tried published adventures for WFRP and a bunch of those you find online. While there are adventures I remember fondly, I was not particularly amazed or found truly groundbreaking masterpieces at that time, so since I restarted playing after another six years break I tried a different approach, and built adventures over the background of my PCs.
I meant to say character driven scenario, not story driven, my bad.
I still use something pre-published once in a while now, but I mostly use it as a basis for the story I want to tell, and it happens that we stray from the original course, sometimes even wildly.
Instead, I downloaded and nearly read all of the general guides that I found in the pdf sharing thread, and other similar titles I found online, read blogs talking about the subject, read fantasy narrative and consume a lot of other non-reading-related media such as videogames or movies where I try to find some inspiration.
I never found an answer to the problem I was talking about before, because as I was trying to say, it's a matter of practice and field experience. Which I am aware I have not, and that's why I came here in the first place, otherwise I wouldn't have bothered.
>Do this by emphasizing other things, like the atmosphere or the urgency. Use big, exciting scenes or give the players some sort of tool they can use to mix things up.
Thanks again, I'll try.
Yes, it's pretty much run of the mill for all OSR-style games/dungeons, with LotFP just cranking the violence and "no good ending" part up to 11.
It's not modern D&D in any sense of the word.
Does anyone have a good castle/keep map on hand that they can clear and eventually use for themselves a la Walking Dead Prison Arc?
So I'm going to gift my players a Keep, but they're gonna have to work for it. Monster suggestions / theme suggestions welcome. Place is called Half-Moon Hallow.
I really need to find many more maps like this, my uncle's AD&D DM Guide was no where this pretty with its example maps.
Then again I'm rather new to trpg, so I could just be utterly ignorant, as you said most OSR dungeons look this way.
I didn't remotely say "most OSR dungeons look this way". That picture isn't a map, it's a paid illustration that was created to tell the story of a party (probably fake at this point, but his originals might be real) playing through the adventure. What I said was the story is an accurate summation of how LotFP and other OSR adventures generally play out, as that's how they are designed.
Apparently "new to RPG" means unable to google things.
Make unique dungeons, zelda style ones even
Dungeons inside creatures, towers, inside of trees, sunken sandstone ruins, smashed together fortress of shipwrecks, a magitek version of the Matrix, etc.
Oh I'm just retarded then.
My first post was intended to be regarding the actual on-page layout, not the flow of the game presented in the image, so I assumed you were telling me there were plenty of visually similar dungeons.
The OSR generals can probably give you more advice, but the issue you have is that dungeon crawls will be inherently boring if you are using them as a one-time throwaway setpiece. For both you and the PCs, it will just remain background scenery.
When exploring the dungeon itself becomes the object of the PCs interest, and PCs have a vested interested in the dungeon itself, then story can emerge. Dungeon crawl style play assumes that the PCs will revisit the location multiple times, with the dungeon possibly changing with every revisit in response. For example, the PCs might decide to clear out the goblins on level 1 during their first incursion, which causes giant spiders to move up from the lower levels; if the PCs visit some time later they will find the goblin corpses gone and giant webs everywhere.
This establishes the "dungeon world" as a sort of sandbox where the PCs can see the visible impact of their actions - no different from any surface urban adventure, just with different stakes. Players generally like seeing that their decisions have meaningful impact on the campaign world, and a dungeon should be no different regardless of form.
More importantly, this keeps the dungeon from getting stale. Elements of the dungeon (usually the layout) will remain familiar, but other elements will change on subsequent visits.
This calls for a *big* dungeon, most of the time. This doesn't all have to planned in one go, but having a good idea of the form/function of the dungeon helps (you already note this isn't a big problem for you so won't continue with this)
The final important thing is something different DMs have different attitudes towards - never fudging the dice. I personally think that if you're running a dungeon crawl, especially one that attempts to capture a "classic" feeling, you should never fudge the dice, or try to insulate the PCs from bad decisions with retcons.
Dungeon delves feel rewarding because the players perceive them as merciless areas which pull no punches.That doesn't mean every encounter should be a TPK waiting to happen - rather, I mean to say that as a GM you shouldn't try to retcon failures or what you perceive as failure.
Sometimes the party won't discover the secret room full of treasure, or fail to interact with various hooks or miss entire rooms or wings of the structure. As a DM it's important to be a "referee" and let those places go undiscovered.
Remember, it's still possible for players to discover them on return, and those failures can be taken into account for later visits.
Doesn't keeping stuff like secret rooms and things people can miss as just bullet points and sketches mitigate the feeling that you spent time on something unused?
That is, until something becomes reality in the game it's probably something best kept as a spring board for improv rather than a whole elaborate prepped thing.
Sure - but the key thing is to *not* repurpose those notes for something else since they went unused.
I think avoiding the sort of quantum catbox bullshittery is important in a dungeon crawl; because you want to communicate a real sense of location - fuzzy narrative layouts IMO are to be avoided, because then players can then actually think about the spatial layout and say "hey, it makes sense for a room to be here".
This is an ideal, of course, but you do not want to actively work against any part of your player's brains - you want to fire up that imagination and spatial thinking, because that too contributes to the feeling of immersion. In an old-school dungeon crawl there is less of a divide between player cleverness and character cleverness.
Part of creating tension and immersion in a dungeon crawl is also the use of organization and tracking resources.
Time management is incredibly important - the reason for wandering monster tables in the old books are meant as a "clock" to put time pressure on the players - you would roll them every X hours or X units of time. This creates a real tension in the tradeoffs that PCs take, because all their resources - spells, HP, consumables, and so forth - will get burned up by wandering encounters if they take it slow, but doing things fast might entail more risk.
A lot of the engagement of crawls comes from immersing players in that sort of immediacy of tactical decision-making, and many of the older rulesets are written in ways to encourage that immersion. Not "tactical choices" in the statistics way either; you are not choosing between different special attacks.
Rather, these are tactical choices in the broader sense - do we rush this section or go slow? The layout of this hall suggests a secret room, but will our torches last long enough to thoroughly check things through? These sorts of decisions draw the players in and provide venues for emergent roleplaying.
I believe a big part of why crawls have fallen out of favour is that it's possible to recreate some of the experience with automation - you'll notice many popular computer and console video games are able to recreate that sort of tactical immediacy, for example; but that doesn't mean a crawl-focused game is any less fulfilling today, and it offers a greater freedom of choice.
> a "clock" to put time pressure on the players
Would a "basic needs" system like tracking hunger thirst and sleep be ok for this, assuming the crawl lasts more than one day story-wise?
No, because it's too arbitrary. Unless your players absolutely agreed beforehand that this was a useful addition to the game, and you've been using it the entire time, it would just end up being one of those things players would choose to handwave by via just buying enough rations in town beforehand.
By "timer", it means there's some sort of pressure on the players forcing them forwards, not allowing them to feel safe standing in the same place for long periods of time. Hunger doesn't do this, you can stand in the same place and eat beef jerky.
We already use it for simulating resource erosion during long trips in the wilderness: where in cities we erode coins, in the wilderness we track basic needs.
Anyway, I think I understand that you mean something more short term to keep the party on their toes.
I agree with you, but my point was just that those location specific secrets don't have to be more than a sentence. "Behind the wall in the storage room there's a hidden study with notes about making a strength potion". Boom, enough. You could whip out a bunch of those in a lunch break, yeah?
The problem is that in most RPGs hunger and thirst are not major concerns. PCs simply pack more rations or just return to buy food and water. The key thing about the wandering monster clocks is that they pressure PCs in ways that can actually get them killed - they drain HP, potions/scrolls, and spells. This reinforces the idea of the dungeon as a really dangerous place, compared to say the wilderness.
If there's never any reason to revisit a dungeon, then dungeons will forever remain sort of bland and uninteresting.
Cities and towns are often interesting because PCs revisit them, there's characters in them to interact meaningfully with, and changes tend to happen in them.
The same logic can apply to dungeons. Make full use of the ability to parley with intelligent foes, include different factions, and give PCs a chance to make changes.
Yes - like I said, your prep does not need to be intensely detailed; just avoid the temptation to recycle.