See What They Find

See What They Find

See What They Find

I’ve been using the random dungeon generation to great effect in my campaign. However, one thing stumps me: unthemed areas. When such an area is discovered, do you simply give it a bland description? Or maybe do you treat it the same as the theme currently in effect, using an outcome of themed area to switch themes? But then, how to tick down the clock?

Curious how this has played out and how Jason Lutes intended.

18 thoughts on “See What They Find”

  1. Unthemed areas are more just the filler rooms to pad out the dungeon, it can follow your general theme, but big revelations related to the theme are saved for the themed rooms. Themed rooms are the only ones that tick down the clock.

    Now, I would say, if something good comes to mind or you feel like moving things along, go on ahead. What matters most is that everyone’s having fun and you’re putting together a good dungeon.

  2. Matthew G., that chapter certainly could use some more clarity and explanation. An “unthemed area” can certainly be interesting in its own right, it just doesn’t need to fit an established theme. The intent is to incorporate more general dungeon areas that help the themed areas stand out by contrast, and perhaps give the GM some breathing room. They certainly don’t need to have bland descriptions, although they might naturally have less detail.

    And Jason Abdin’s advice is good. The procedures are there to give you some structure, but you should feel free to shape the results and adapt to whatever form the dungeon seems to be taking.

  3. Also, Matthew G., if you’re ever inclined, I’d love to hear about some of the dungeons you’ve come up with and what parts of the generation work for you in play.

  4. Jason Lutes: I’m slowly working my group through a loose conversion of Keep on the Borderlands. Four of us play once a year for 3 solid days locked in a condo in Palm Springs. Most recently, the party explored kobold mines, heavily influenced by your entry in Perilous Deeps as well as the Labyrinth move by Jason Cordova to unfurl the abandoned green dragon lair deep within the mines.

    Designing this most recent dungeon I found it challenging to consider dungeon areas versus connectors. Which is to say, how many exits are there from each area and what is the nature of the connection between areas – corridor, intersection, etc.?

    My solution has been to explicitly add connections to the common and unique area lists and assume simple connections between areas when rolls fail to indicate otherwise. Without these entries, it becomes very easy for me to slip into linear dungeon generation as the party simply moves forward (as happened in an earlier session with the hobgoblin lair). But still, I need to build consideration for one-or-many exits from each area.

    With long sessions like ours, anything that unloads cognitive burden is appreciated.

  5. Thanks for the rundown! That condo retreat sounds awesome.

    I hear you on the exit question, and I wrestled with a few half-baked ideas that I chose not to include beyond the brief mention to “keep the need for connections to other areas in mind.” Next time around connections will be more explicitly integrated. My current house rule when I’m winging dungeons is 1d4-1 exits in addition to the way the party entered.

  6. 1 Rough hewn opening

    2 cave in fissure

    3-5 cut stone passageway

    6 stone door – locked

    7 stone door unlocked

    8 wooden door, broken

    9 wooden door – reinforced and locked

    10 wooden door, magically locked

    11 shimmering force field, solve puzzle to open

    12 secret door

  7. I could probably come up with 20+ of these. And decorations of the exits, as well as stairways, which wall it’s in etc etc. Lots of opportunity with exits and random tables…

  8. I wouldn’t mind seeing an entire document made up of lists or random tables of common and unique rooms/connections for a variety of dungeon types. I only use Perilous Wilds on the fly, so I don’t take time to make the lists beforehand.

  9. Jason Abdin curious – in what way do those not meet your needs? Is it because they aren’t directly related to the way rooms and dungeons are built in PW?

  10. Speaking for myself here — I’ve got both those books (and cite the Tome as an inspiration in The Perilous Wilds) and they’re great resources, but pretty impossible to use at the table. One of my goals with The Perilous Wilds was to make something similar that relied more on suggestion than detail, so that you could use it during play.

  11. Jason Lutes has it right. I’ve been collecting tools that best help with on-the-fly creation at the table. I like those books, but they’re better for pre-game inspiration. Perilous Wilds, on the other hand, always finds its way to my table during the game.

  12. Hey Matthew G. — this is the only place I was able to get your name to show up in the G+ drop-down which is why I’m contacting youhere. It looks like you’ll be taking Oli’s place in our Freebooters game on Sunday? Welcome aboard! If you get a chance before game time, please roll up a character using the rules in the “Basic Rules playtest” document, here: – Playtesting

    If you don’t get a chance beforehand, we’ll just try to do it quick-like at the start of the session. Looking forward to it!

  13. Jason Lutes: yeah, I can’t figure out private messaging either. So… my home internet went down last night! Sorry to say, but please give my spot to next on the list.

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