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41

My very first time as a GM, I showed up to the session with a great pile of notes and plot. Half an hour later I threw it out and started improvising because they'd gone in a totally different direction. Over the years most of my players have been willing to follow a railroad if I ask them to, but I've developed a totally different kind of session prep which ...


27

The Difference between Magic and Non-Magic is Usually Fluff In plenty of settings and games, magic is objective, such as in D&D and Ars Magica. You can easily refluff "magic" to be clear "science" instead; after all, it's only the way reality works. Use Warped Dimensional Spaces/Basement Universes as an Explanation The hints that a dungeon works in a ...


16

It's not your job to come up with solutions, or even methods of solving. It's just your job to provide conflict. Here's an example. The party wants to obtain the ancient golden scepter of Kobora from the Frothy Crypt. The entrance to the scepter's chamber is locked, and the only key is held by Angry Kurt, the one-eyed grave digger who hates all humans and ...


14

The geometry of the surface of a sphere is non-euclidean. Its hard to tell that on sufficiently large spheres, but quite obvious on fairly small ones. So, in a sci-fi type setting you could have the dungeon occur on an asteroid. It sounds like you are wanting something more Escher-esque than relistically non-euclidean, but if you mostly want ...


11

It sounds like your problem is that your adventure's plot requires your players to have a specific set of encounters in a specific order. This kind of required linear progression is, as you have realised, a railroad. The way to avoid a railroad is not to require any or all of the encounters, and to not require them to play out in a specific order. Have you ...


9

Three-dimensional dungeons are so boring. The Dragon Compendium had an excellent pair of reprinted articles (from issues 17 and 38) about the use of four-dimensional spaces (specifically, tesseracts, a.k.a. hypercubes) as dungeons. You'd have a heck of a time being subtle about it, obviously... but it'd be worth the effort just to see the look on the party ...


9

It somewhat depends on how much mapping the players are doing. If they are going old school, and drawing what you describe "you are in a 50' long corridor with a door at the end and doors on either side 20' from the end" your challenge is much greater than if you are being less specific in your descriptions, and they are not drawing a map. "You are in a ...


7

A fast running underground river/stream that they have to float/swim/dive down would do the trick. That would give you a one-way entrance to a section of the dungeon (barring magic use that can get them back up the stream), and prevent the characters (and thus players) from actually mapping since they are in the water. If you want a more contrived method, ...


7

What I'd do is have all natural formations. Don't have any right angles. If there's continually slopes going up and down, everything twisting and turning it'll be harder to keep track of. You could also throw in a purple worm to create new passage ways and throw in a quake to collapse some of the passageways they've gone through.


6

If I'm playing a character and I (the player) know that the point of the dungeon is to get lost for purposes of a plot device, I'll let slide MUCH more than if I thought the DM was playing square; so you may want to let the players know that you will use a few dirty tricks to "help" them get lost in the dungeon. If they throw a fit, you may want to table ...


6

A big fight where there are fireballs and earthquake spells or explosive flasks flying about could collapse an entry tunnel. I think the big fight is not as cheesy as a collapsing tunnel trap, but you could use that too. If you want to prewarn them you can tell them the tunnel ceiling looks weak and the reinforcing timber is rotting, worn or shows signs of ...


6

Looking back at the mapping exploits of CRPG Addict, a naturalistic dungeon (thanks @migo) "enhanced" with a few magical features could be extremely frustrating to map. You need to have an excellent reason to sabotage your players like this, though. If they enjoy mapping, there's a difference between challenging them and frustrating their fun. Challenge: ...


6

I planned, but never ran, a sci-fi based game on the inside of a spaceship which was a rotating cylinder. It could be relatively small - perhaps 1 or 2 km across, and only need to rotate at a slow number of revolutions per minute to generate 1 G on the inside surface. The "sky" would be the opposite side of the cylinder, and you could walk there in a couple ...


6

You should try and envision as many possible ways to bypass the obstacle as you can think of, yourself, and use this as a measure whether the obstacle is too "one solution". I personally envision MacGyver in the traps I think of and think of all the ways he'd get off the sticky situation. Usually, a single solution can be expanded with these: Don't forget ...


6

4E has rules for this So, you know how you can give Quests and Quests can result in XP? Make that your primary way players get XP rather than combat. Structuring your Adventures/Dungeons "We need to get the Ruby Cloak to heal the King!" "So, you need to find out where it is, travel to get there, and acquire it. You can make deals, negotiate, sneak ...


6

Generate a random and empty dungeon. Roll some dice for page numbers and get monsters from those pages, then place them in the rooms. Now think about what makes all of this monsters live together in the same place. This is my recipe for making and/or creating random dungeons. I used it a few times back then, and we all really enjoyed it, but being 3 years ...


5

A lateral suggestion, inspired by Numenera — whose books I've recently thumbed through — just don't explain things that closely. This is appropriate for settings where a baseline level of strangeness is expected, and which exact weird things that happen are part of the content you as a GM provide. Keeping an air of mystery is what you go for. So, focus on ...


5

I think the most important thing to understand when you draw your own dungeon is: You don't need to be an artist. A dungeon map is meant for reference to help yourself remember and understand what's about to happen. Create yourself a code of symbols or icons. A big S inside a bold line might indicate a secret passage. Put a letter or a number and put the ...


5

There's a fundamental assumption error here. High level D&D parties, especially ones with access to 9th level spells don't need to ever enter dungeons unless it is for their own amusement. We begin by articulating strategies of 18th level casters faced with an imposing dungeon: Their central strategy is to force the "defenders" to emerge from behind ...


5

OK, the most straight forward way I know doesn't involve any trick rooms or doors. Simply make a really big dungeon and at some point take away their map. If they have no writing materials and no paper left in the party then I always rule there is no map making. They can try dungeoneering but make sure that there are plenty of things that force them to ...


5

You're right that Savage Worlds itself gives very little material to construct a dungeon-exploration game. There is no guidance for treasure, opponent challenge and frequency, no material for adjudicating how long torches last, and etc. Take advantage of Savage World's strengths To fill that in, you can lean on one of Savage World's greatest strengths: it ...


4

Did you ever play one of those old adventure games, like Monkey Island, where there was a maze where the whole thing wrapped around in impossible ways unless you knew the right path? The trick here is that you can go down one path, enter a room, turn right back around and go back down the path you just came... and end up in some third room. Shifting walls ...


4

The short answer is to think in terms of problems and not in terms of solutions. This means that you should think about how to present a problem and not about how one should solve it. The longer answer is about utilizing the tools of the improve theater in order to make the problems that you've set solvable. "Yes, and" Probably the most important tool ...


4

There's a useful perspective shift I find that works for me. I think of hazards, not puzzles. Take your dungeon, for example - it's falling apart. The problems you get from a hazard are things like "a hole in the floor", "A collapsed wall", "A broken bridge" etc. Hazards are great because they also don't lead to "one solution only" thinking on the part of ...


4

How about a dungeon containing shifting or spinning rooms and corridors via giant wheels and levers? After the player characters exit a room or corridor & close the door behind, a switch is flipped and the rooms and passages outside of the PCs current location are shuffled around. Since the PC's current location isn't being moved, they won't feel the ...


4

How much is too much depends on your group How much is too much depends entirely on your group. Some groups are mostly in there for the tactics and everything else is there too add a bit of flavor, some reason why to fight, and give them a structured way to handle the resupply. Some groups are mostly there for the story and can go for sessions without a ...


4

While improvising is always the way to go in my opinion, it seems like you're using a system (Roll20) that encourages a more planning-heavy approach. With that in mind, here's what I suggest: Players feel railroaded when it seems like their decisions don't matter. In order to keep them from feeling railroaded, you need to 1) make them feel as if they had ...


4

Imagine the parasite boring through the tree slowly, like a wig or a cicada over years (or decades or even centuries). It would have left a perfectly rounded tunnel that spirals gently down. The tunnel would have gotten larger over time as the parasite grew. For rooms you could add offshoots that are roughly spherical and represent either spots where the ...


4

I'm pretty much the same way. I'm a very lazy DM. The only sollution I have found that works for me is to purchase a pre-built dungeon. In your case, you might want to use the Dead In Thay module, it's a 107 room dungeon. With D&D Next playtest I have been running 3e and 2e adventures that have been sitting on shelves or that I bought in bargain bins. ...


4

Two possibilities that come to mind are an article from a series by "The Architect DM" and the AD&D book "Dungeon Builder's Guidebook" by Bruce Cordell. The first of those two is a series of articles you can find on the Critical Hits blog with the specific article being found here. The other I bought many years ago, but Amazon appears to have links to ...



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