Ok, so a bit of a design question here.  I have a dungeon that I made a long time ago (D&D 3.0) that I am going to…

Ok, so a bit of a design question here.  I have a dungeon that I made a long time ago (D&D 3.0) that I am going to…

Ok, so a bit of a design question here.  I have a dungeon that I made a long time ago (D&D 3.0) that I am going to be using.  It has a “Test of the Planes” section.  The dungeon is basically a room for each of the 6 elemental planes (Positive and Negitive, +4 elements) and in each room I had a combat of plane specific monsters.  In Air, I had a Beholder and a couple of smoke elementals as this was a sort of demi-plain where the owner of the dungeon was testing the characters to see if they could adapt and overcome in the differing planer environments.

Short of recreating each monster, how would you run this?  It was a simple test of adaptability.  Can they handle each of the environments and can they find out how to get out?  I had all 6 rooms attached and linked, like on a die.  The way out was on each ceiling, you simply create a shadow or go through your shadow at the proper place and you are in a shadow plane corridor (one at a time) and battle a Shadow on his home plane.  Then you are out.

14 thoughts on “Ok, so a bit of a design question here.  I have a dungeon that I made a long time ago (D&D 3.0) that I am going to…”

  1. Planar Codex. This sort of dungeon could easily fit in the City of Dis. You could create your own location moves for each room, to reflect the hazards of the different planar environments. You probably can already find adaptations of pretty much any monster you used, but it’s not hard at all to recreate to your specific needs.

  2. My suggestion – keep your rooms, but ditch your solutions.

    Make the rooms tough. Fill em with monsters. Ask the players “What do you do?”

    As the players react to what’s in the room, work with them, encourage them, be a fan of their characters. If their questions or actions lead toward a cool solution, then that was the solution all along!

    Basically, don’t get in to a game of making players guess what you want them to say. All of the players, including the GM, are expected to “Play to find out what happens.”

    Finally, as you run DW, keep all of the GM Moves handy. When you get into weird rooms, your Moves can help you accentuate what’s happening. When Monsters enter the scene, be mindful of the Monsters’ Moves, and use these to guide how Monsters react to the presence of the PCs.

  3. Ok, I ended up throwing out most of what I had on that section.  It was poorly written anyway.  So, for those interested the plot was simply that an evil wizard is testing (and watching) the party and wants to test anybody that comes after him to see if they can handle the rigors of various planes.  Basically, “Are you worthy to join me?”  Originally, I had just a blank room, old D&D style with nothing but the creatures to fight.  So creatures of the native planes and the environment.  Not good enough for DW, go fig.  Well, better system anyway.  So here is what I made, didnt make maps.  Rooms are aranged like on a die.  Go left, turn the die left, ect.

    Room 1: Hall of Heavenly Heroes- Positive Planar effect giving extra hit points to the 150% level.  Diseases are cured, if over 150% then roll+con: 7-9 you are at a -1 to next action for having a “rush of Healt”.  On a 6 you blow up and die.  You go to Death and before you finish making the deal to go back, you get yanked back and start regenerating from 1/2 your hit points.  In the Hall (like a viking mead hall or nobel’s feeding hall) are heroic Angels that will laugh and jest and if they wish to fight they will.  Blink Dogs are their pets and begging for table scraps.  There really is no chance for death to be permanent here.  The Angels may seem cruel but they know you don’t belong and can’t die, so might as well have fun.

    Room 2: Water Plane- Sunken Ship and Coral Reefs

    Here they are being hunted by a Hydra-Squid.  tentacles are Eels.  There are also Electric Eels here under command of the Hydra-Squid.  The greatest problem, other than the creatures is drowning. 

    Room 3: Air Castles

    Picture a land of clouds and castle of clouds being defended by cloud giants and arrowhawks.  They are invading and others are attacking.  You don’t need to fly on the elemental plane of air, just think which direction is down.  Talking to the Giants might work, they will be suspicious of the invaders.

    Room 4: Earth Caverns

    This is a set of caves and caverns that is gem encrusted. There are Earth Centipedes the size of large dogs that I call Gemipedes that eat gems.  A Gem Troll hunting them but will eat anything.  Gravity is heavy here and empty areas will fill up.  So things could be interesting finding your way out.

    Room 5: Fire Room

    This is a Efreet’s Bottle.  the inside is a imprisoned efreeti and he wants out, he has 3 small fire elemental pets to sick on them.  Talking might work but He is very bad tempered and takes a superior attitude, you are nothing to him.  Think Brass City type area.  It’s hot and things brought in tend to burst into flame.

    Room 6: Death’s game room: Negative Plane

    Death is Bored.  He wants a game.  Do the player’s play along?  If so, how long can they last in this soul sucking place that is draining their very life.  If they panic or are uncooperative he has 2 wraiths as pets that can suck their life and play a game with them.  He is neutral and doesn’t really care.

    Lastly, there is a “Shadow Realm” that is an exit out of any of the rooms.  Only one person can cross at a time and there is a Living Shadow to confront them. It is basically a long corridor that they must pass through to pass the test.

    That’s the basics.

    Thanks for the replies.

  4. Sounds neat. My big question though is – how did the evil wizard capture all these things? Especially Death itself. I’d go through and turn these things into Dangers as opposed to just puzzles. Make it all part of one Front headed up by the Evil Wizard. The Dungeon needs to make sense outside of your heroes. Do the monsters in the room have ambitions to get out? To fight each other? Are they there by agreement? In cahoots with the wizard? Is the wizard just a pawn? And what is the wizard’s goal in people joining him/her? And why are angels working with him/her?

  5. He didn’t capture them, he made a slice of dimension go to it.  He created a sort of Portal (the doors) to those dimensions.  Like little pocket areas in the dimensions that he has accessed, go outside of the proscribed pocket (Like through the doors) and you are in another slice.  The “Test” can even be meant to be false but seeming like the real thing by emulating the dimensions.  So by the perspective of the creatures in the room, they are not trapped but in their home dimension.  Fire Room: inside the Efreeti Bottle, Yes he wants out.  Water: Creatures want food and the PCs are it.  Air: Cloud Giants of the Air Plain are repelling intruders, Earth: Troll and Gemipede are enemies, Troll is hunting to eat and Gemipedes are creatures just attempting to not get eaten by the Troll and the Troll is always hungry so will eat the PCs too.  Positive Plain: Hall of Heroes, Angel’s suprised that Mortals got there and are happy to help or have fun with a “battle” knowing that you can’t really get hurt in heaven.  Negative Plane: Death is Bored, He may have been attracted there by the magic that created the slice.  He is neutral but would like a game.  The 2 Wraiths hanging about want souls to live again.  And finally Shadow Plain Slice: Living Shadows like attacking the Living, creature base self motivation.  So each “Slice of Reality” has it’s own motivation.  The residents of the “rooms” are unwitting pawns or unaware what the Evil Wizard has done. 

  6. I have depicted the Wizard as a Conquer of dimensions. He is in a “weakened state” meaning he is merely a mortal wizard at this time and therefor not too much for the PCs to handle.  He is ultimately interested in ruling dimensions as a Emperor would rule city-states under his domain.  His chosen dimension is “the Modern World” at this time.  The PCs are going to follow him to a portal where his is working on building up his power base by taking over a corporation and usurping the CPO.  He has found a way to create a magical field around a glass marble (magic item) and hence power his magic in “the Modern World” cerca 1990s or so as that is when I originally wrote the one shot game.  But if adventurers want to join him, he could use minions.  Smarter than his pet Maintenance Monkeys that he is able to summon and use for cleaning and repair of devices.  So, for them to be a helpful minion (the PCs) he would need to test them to see how smart and resourceful that they are.  If they are acceptable then on with the brainwashing and enchanting to enslave them to his will.  If not, best that they die.  Unknown to the PCs, he is watching them when they enter his “tower” a renovated business sky scraper.

  7. Cool. That’s very imaginative. So, if I was a PC, why would I go through the wizard’s tests instead of just directly finding a way to get into this modern portal and take him out?

  8. Ok, so two things.  The PCs don’t know it is a test.  There are 2 major paths.  1. Is where the PCs were approached by an intermediary to join him, if they accept then they need to prove themselves or go through an exam or what ever.  2.  If they are not approached then they don’t find out it was a test until later, when he attempts to trick them into joining him.  Initially the PCs are “hired out” by an inter-dimensional organization that polices such dimensional take overs.  They want him captured as killing him will only get him to reincarnate with his memories and powers in a random dimension.

  9. Matrix Forby – You’ve got a well thought-out story going on here. If it was a short story, i’d totally read it.

    And what you’re describing might work well in many other systems. Some games reward, and even require a highly-prepared GM. But for a Dungeon World session, i don’t think i’d enjoy it much.

    Dungeon World provides specific GM principles and agendas that compel the GM NOT to know all the backstory. Within the GM Agenda – “Play to find out what happens.” Within the Principles – “Draw maps, leave blanks.”

    One thing this does is to provide all of the Players, including the GM, (but not ONLY the GM) with authorial control of the fiction. All of the Players are expected to have a conversation, and the game comes out of that conversation. This is NOT simply the character-players asking the GM for information, and the GM doling out the appropriate bit of scripted narrative.

    If you’re interested in GMing in Dungeon World, i’d highly recommend you spend some time looking at Front development, and give it a shot.

    When you develop Fronts and Dangers, you are encouraged to put down just the most basic sketch of what the NPCs/factions are up to, what they want, and what they would do if the PCs didn’t interfere. Then, the GM is asked to write stakes – questions about how the various elements will interact with/affect the PCs. These stakes are legitimately questions – the GM should seriously WANT to find out the answers, through play, by putting PCs in relevant situations and seeing how the Players respond, and how the dice roll.

    It took me a long time to break my over-prepping habits. In previous systems, i always worked to build balanced encounters, where i could provide adequate, dangerous challenges without being too dangerous.

    In Dungeon World, i’ve learned to simply throw the PCs at some insurmountable issue, and then enjoy watching them come up with interesting fiction that entertains me, and challenges me to improvise appropriate responses to the directions they head off in.

  10. I still have trouble understanding Fronts.  Yes, I was converting an old one-shot adventure.  I changed the rooms and changed things around a bit.  I am mostly dealing with people from D&D, Savage Worlds, & those types of games.  They expect a bit more structure from an adventure.  While, I am flexible enough to change things, I am used to a certain amount of prep and a certain amount of knowing the world around them.  Yes, the PCs are coming up with stuff.  But most of the players don’t get the DW style yet.  I am even having some flow issues with my descriptions, and accidentally skipping people and not giving an equal spotlight to all the players.  So, I am working on it.  The “Fiction First” concept is a bit hard for some old school RPGs to swallow, especially one game designer that has published multiple times that doesn’t get it.  So, yes, I am struggling a bit.  Last night I had a player that was trying to rules lawyer me on it, dealing with tags.  He seemed to not understand that I wouldn’t let him damage an iron golem with a normal axe, with no extra magic or tags on the axe.  Metal to smack metal= Bong (no trigger of Hack&Slash, but with is description he managed to lower the armor rating with an attack, not a hack&slash but a prying apart with an axe some of the layers of armor)  so he didn’t understand why I said that he didn’t damage and shouldn’t have even rolled damage: Rolled 2d6 and his damage dice with out being asked.  So, yes a bit frustrated.  But trying to work it out.

  11. Matrix Forby Keep at it. It’s a big change, but very rewarding once you get into the groove. That said, it’s not for everyone, so some players may never develop a preference for this style of play.

    One tip for spotlighting and pacing – offload some of the work! In most games i played prior to DW, there was a taboo about talking “out of character” but in DW, it’s specifically required.

    In some Moves, the Players speak to one another, in others, the Players speak to the characters in the fiction, and in others, the Characters speak to each other.

    When it comes to turn-less, initiative-less play like DW, you can ask the players to help you keep everyone engaged. As players, we’re coming together to have a good time, don’t be afraid to ask the bold players to incorporate the shy players within their actions.

    Even when i’m not the GM, i can help engage other players when appropriate. Maybe i want to go smack the dragon with this magic sword i found. But if i notice that Frank hasn’t acted recently, i can ask him to distract the dragon’s allies while i run in! I have found that being at a table of players talking with eachother is a lot more fun than players waiting their turn to talk to the GM.

    And it sounds like you handled the golem well, and the player was actually on a neat track too.

    GM: “Yeah, you smack it with your axe. The golem doesn’t seem concerns, makes no effort to defend itself, and you realize why as your axe lightly dents the hard chunk of living metal, but clearly doesn’t injure it. Don’t roll Hack & Slash, you clearly can’t hurt it that way. But now that you’re within it’s reach, it’s swinging a fist! What do you do?!?”

    Player: “Hmmm.. my axe swing didn’t hurt it… but i’m The Fighter.. i am tougher than this thing, and i trust my axe. I’m going to wedge it into the golem’s shoulder and pry its arm free, before it punches!”

    GM: “Sounds like you’re trying to Defy Danger by prying its arm off, using your axe as leverage. Works for me, roll 2d6 + STR!”

    If and when the things arm pops off, note that there is no HP damage; Defy Danger doesn’t inherently inflict damage. That said, the arm totally comes off on a success. So now there’s a one-armed golem, and who knows what opportunities that gives the party? Perhaps the open socket isn’t as well armored, and strikes against that location can trigger Hack & Slash. Or perhaps the PCs will decide to dismember the golem, and leave it alive but disassembled in their wake.

    Learning to separate HP damage from fiction damage took me some time as well. But as a GM, fictional damage is often way more interesting than HP damage against PCs, and against monsters.

    Good luck with future adventures!

  12. I think you’re doing the right amount of planning in terms of coming up with the world and motivations. Just don’t plan how the PCs are going to react. Think of Fronts like Bad Guys Master Plans or Things Which Will Befall Us. Imagine YOU are this evil wizard and write down how you think things will go presuming those Meddling Kids don’t get in your way. You can also write out Dangers for each ‘portal.’ I think that DW does benefit from planning, it’s just a different kind of planning from what you’re use to. Your creating the stage for the PCs to act on, and like a real stage, you don’t need every detail, you just need a few walls up to give the idea.

    Here are some fronts I’ve written fro my blog to give you an idea: https://herethestorybegins.com/category/fronts/ I’ve given a bit more background here than you might personally want or need to write, but it should give you an idea

  13. I was miscommunicating with the Player.  He asked a few questions about Piercing tag that I didn’t understand and he wanted to know that will Piercing hurt it.  He was min/maxing and said that he wanted to know if the tags stack.  I tried to tell him that Piercing tag was just a tag, It had it’s use in going past armor.  It was the WEAPON itself that couldn’t hurt it as it was like wacking a metal bar on a wall, no “damage”.  But He was still not getting it, I went ahead and had him roll+Str and did not define it as a hack&slash but described it as that he pried off some of the armor, 2 points of it’s 4 armor, BUT at the same roll of 2d6 he rolled a d10 (his class damage) and then said, ok, so I did 6 points of damage.  It divulged into a bit of an argument where I tried to explain for him NOT to roll until I say, that his type of attack was not doing damage but prying off armor to expose a metal manikin, still a golem though. He replied with “Oh, if you told me I did not damage, then ok.”    No, no, no.  It is not that your roll did no damage, your method did not produce a damaging result, it does not generate damage.  I tried to further explain the difference, that if I allowed a roll for damage that implys that it is capable of being damaged by his weapon.    He ended up being a player none of the other players want in a game again.  I think that it was the insistence of the argument at the table and that he was distracted by his computer that he was trying to look up rules on to prove his points.  As I said, rules lawyering DW, not good, wrong type of player for the game.

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