Sunday, March 21, 2010

Dungeon Design, Metal Earth style

I've been sick (yay! spring break :/), so I'm breaking my private "no drawing, no post pledge." Depending on how you feel about my "art", I either owe you an apology, or you need to thank me.
Also, as an art related aside, I'll mention that I'm supplying Blair with some art for the planet Algol booklet. Whether or not he's desperate enough to make use of it is another matter entirely.
Also, also, nothing about porn stars here today. I will, admit, however to liking boobs. A lot.
So anyway, dungeon design:
Some points:
1. I have to be able to halfway convince myself that the place could be real.
2. I like coming up with convoluted logic for why things that should never be could be. This entire blog is devoted to that enterprise. The entire Metal Earth is made with dungeon/ adventure/monster justification in mind.
3. These crazy rationalizations help me design the dungeon- or whatever.

I have to have something like this written or thought out:

The combined cavern/room complex beneath the tower of the changer was constructed in stages. During the waning epoch of the Minotaur Empire, a disgraced imperial aristocrat and his retinue came to the Crumbled mountains looking to create a new summer labyrinth far from the intrigues at court. Unfortunately, the aristocrat in question, a man whose name has long since been forgotten by history, had in his employ a shae sorcerer, who, not long after the completion of the complex, manifested an unexpected desire for power, coupled with a previously unexpressed talent for necromancy and a rather excessive amount of bloodlust. Anyway, good times ensued, which ultimately resulted in an empty complex- empty of the living, that is.

The next to come were a group of reptarch farmers from Ssaur who were trying to create a utopian colony. Although they installed many grow-vats and laid the foundations for a bitchen’ subterranean ecosystem, they were eventually, after a years long battle driven out or destroyed by the undead. The undead, however, were decreased in number by this conflict, and since that time, as a result, several attempts have been made to re-inhabit the complex; a few groups, as well as many animals (eager to access the food that grows within) have made some headway, but no one controls the space.

There are four basic varieties of Architecture- natural, reptarch, minotaur and lich; although, some other groups and individuals have made modifications as well. Minotaurs like to decorate, so there are a lot of minotaur busts, murals, busts bas-reliefs. Minotaurs also like to bathe, so there are lots of baths, some of which were converted into vats or something else by the reptarchs. Furthermore, the reptarchs planted a lot of food fungus and algae on the walls, they also seeded pools with plankton, algae, fish and other stuff. They constructed mostly with metal and plastic, their machines are everywhere. Strangely, enough they were also fond of murals.

So, any thoughts? Where do you stand? Do you have a stance? Does one even require a stance? Is this even an issue?


  1. Good stuff! I also dig your art and think it's a great fit for Planet Algol.

  2. I agree completely. For the suspension of disbelief to be aintained the GM needs "to be able to halfway convince [him-/herself] that the place could be real. After all, a yarn spun of poor fibre will not hold.

    For my own part, I have always disliked random encounters. I like to know what the band of orcs lying in ambush are up to, or at the very least why they are there. It can be as simple as a roaming war-pack, but in case the players decide to get inquisitive I like to be prepared.

  3. I'm totally up in the air about random encounters. Sometimes I totally feel like you do, others I really dig rolling the dice.

  4. The art is awesome Aos! All of us on Planet Algol love those two pieces!

  5. You are too kind; I'll put away my compliment fishing gear now ;). I wanted to mention the pieces (which are both done, at last, btw) but I didn't want you to feel obligated to use them.

  6. I always do something like this, because it tells me what sort of spaces I need to put in my dungeon, what sort of critters currently occupy it, and what the space can tell my players about the larger world.

    Looks like a good start, but be careful of mazes. They require a bit more work to avoid being more fun than frustrating.

  7. That's good advice- I'll probably avoid full on mazes and just rely on the minotaur legacy to explain (to myself) why there are dead ends and corridors that lead nowhere.