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68

Your options are sort of limited here. You're asking: "In an age where people have not built any large above-ground structures, what sort of large above-ground structures are there?" You need to either reach out to fantasy or think outside the box. Natural, mazelike terrain Open-air passageways through an icy tundra, or cracks in its ice. Effectively a ...


37

The traditional dungeon is really a literal 'node-path'. There are encounter locations represented by rooms connected by linear hallways. Really, the rooms are just physical places where combat, plot-points, or background color / descriptive bits can be handed out. The hallways are just the way you get the players from one node to the next. With this ...


33

Break it up. A gem that large is literally priceless. As in, it's worth so much that no one will be willing to buy it for more than a tiny fraction of its value. Imagine that happened on earth. Its value would be several hundreds of billions of dollars. Who would pay that much? Now think about trying to sell chunks of it. You could much more easily sell a ...


31

The main trick is to not have the players feel like they have to obsessively search every part of every room. Over time, this is dictated by your actions as the GM. (Obviously there's some switchover time if you're shifting styles.) If you hide a critical clue or tasty treasure requiring a DC 20 Perception check under the bunk of barracks room #57/100, or ...


24

The way I understand your question: you want the atmosphere to be different when exploring a dark place. I do not think it's something you can solve by tweaking the rules (especially with D&D, which is not exactly an ambiance game - personal opinion). Here are some tricks I would try: Switch off the light; it seems stupid, but fear of the dark is ...


24

The biggest difference between fantasy and sci-fi notions of value is that: ideas have value Therefore, besides the standard stuff players receive, they can also discover what amounts to IP. One of the oddest forms of IP is actually Real Estate, as it's a purely symbolic agreement that X owns area Y, even though X may not sit on Y with guns. (Note how this ...


22

Some ideas: I built a city in a ravine. The ravine was about 300m across and twice as deep. A town had been cobbled together inside the ravine. It was a maze of stairways, catwalks, multi-level plazas, rooftops, and arcades. A river flowed through the bottom of the ravine providing food, water and sewerage disposal. Two cranes at the top of the ravine ...


20

There is Dizzy Dragon's generator which has a variety of layouts and is oriented to Moldavy B/x D&D. There is Donjon's generator which has D&D 3.5 and D&D 4.0 options. But the layout are strictly room and corridor. Both create the encounters for you. Of the two Dizzy Dragon is the best.


18

To get a handle on how big this gem could be: quartz, a relatively light semi-precious gemstone, is about 160 lbs per cubic foot. That means your one-ton rock is probably under 12 cubic feet, or under 3x3x3 feet in dimension. So your primary concern is weight, not size. Some options, which may need to be combined depending on what you have available: Hire ...


17

Here are some suggestions that would be different enough that they might make things interesting: Swamps. This works best if they are bog-like and have islands of solid ground linked by pathways that are surrounded by quicksand/mud/water. This also allows for unexpected surprises if they get too close to the edges. Rooftops of a city. Say, for whatever ...


17

The book Castle by David Macauley is my go-to, along with pulling up floor plans of whatever various real castles I find. The book goes into details about the construction -- which will be important for describing the state of decay accurately, as well as informing what the players will need to find/do to repair/rebuild it -- as well as describing in great ...


16

An important difference between a torch and a flashlight, which you noted, is a torch is omnidirectional. What other omnidirectional sources of light are people familiar with? Campfires. Ever sit at a campfire on a dark night and look into the woods? What can you see? That's right... squat. A torch, unlike a flashlight, is always in your eyes. It's ...


15

They are defined on p97 of the Dungeon Master's Guide Concealed doors are doors hidden in some way: Behind a curtain Covered with plaster Trap door under a rug A PC can normally find a concealed door just by checking his surroundings well. Secret doors are portals that look like a normal wall to the naked eye. Typically it takes more effort to ...


14

You might want Dizzy Dragon's generator. It does encounters and treasure, although no random encounters. The dungeons are generated from geomorphs, so the maps are more complex and interesting than the fully random versions. Each map will have some three dimensionality, with stairs up to some sections and so forth.


14

Forget about floors and levels, and think in sections. Split the map into manageable sections. Each section could be a large room with several entries, a corridor with some rooms and two exits, etc. Give each section a name and each exit/entrance a number. While the players explore the complex, you just handle them the relevant map section, and make ...


12

Several come to mind without violating the Fantasy level of tech. Forest platforms (ala the Ewok City on Endor in Return of the Jedi, or the Wookie cities in Christmas in the Stars). Maze-like canyons and cave systems with open ceilings in parts. island-cities like Venice or pre-conquistador Tenochtitlan. Hanging cities like some of the abandoned Anasazi ...


12

Dungeons are often man-made, so why not try something with a more natural feel, like an overgrown forest, jungle or swamp? If it's sufficiently wild and untamed there'll be more than enough vast thickets and fallen trees that effectively block off routes and reduce the connectivity. Mist or fog can be used to reduce visibility and it can be very easy to ...


12

Even if the dungeon is huge I feel you do not need to talk about all parts of the dungeon. Zoom in to map only for the interesting rooms. So guys you're about to enter the abandoned castle left behind after Baron von Badass died 350 years ago. How do you approach it? Do you spread out or go in a group? Are you taking your time to search all the rooms, ...


11

I've been a GM for a long time, and a few things I've learned are that dungeons should feel authentic, be hand-crafted with a purpose in mind, and ferry between encounters. Make Dungeons Authentic Dungeons aren't usually built by bad guys for bad guys to lurk in and then raid the surroundings from, and even if they are you've got some things to consider. ...


11

If one of your spellcasters can learn Shadow Bridge, you can march your two str-20 characters across the summoned shadow bridge, pick up the gem, and carry it across to the other side. I forget the rules for carrying weight, and especially the rules for sharing weight between two users. If you cannot carry the weight by yourself, Shrink (ritual) may help. ...


10

We can't enumerate every possibility, but I can show you how to find such things. You want to use the search engine query creative commons dungeon tiles and variations thereon to find images you can use under a Creative Commons license, which will work for your purpose in most cases. CC licensing is the overwhelmingly most common license for art assets that ...


10

Well, most actual medieval castles were pretty small, so you're finding reasonable stuff. For very large floor plans you need to go much later in time. You can find full floor plans of Neuschwanstein and other larger, later castles (Castle Loma, Castle Peles) on Randwulf's site. Even this huge, 1800's castle is smaller than a lot of fantasy castle floor ...


10

Have a look at a map of any city subway system: the London Underground is the classic for this but any will do. These are not accurate tactical maps, they don't show distances and they don't relate directly to the overlying geography. This is perfectly fine because for their purpose none of that matters! Their purpose is to show that to get from point A to ...


9

One of the enemies of fire is water. Sure, your party may have stacked up on torches, but do they have waterproof bags? Put in an underground river or lake they have to swim through, or a waterfall they have to go through. The torches may be soaked afterwards, and take a few hours of drying before they can be relit. Distance may also work in your favour. ...


9

How about a high-altitude mountaineering adventure? Maybe the heroes need to find a lost city, or rescue someone from mountain bandits, or simply find a route from point A to point B (for trade, or scouting for a military maneuver). Once they're on their way, they'll be naturally constrained in which directions they can go because of the nature of the ...


9

So here's some things to think about with a torchlit party. There is a limited distance to the light. So you can have creatures outside it with, say, missile weapons shooting in with impunity (this requires large spaces of course). Though not necessarily that large; in Pathfinder for example a torch lights a 20 ft radius and dimly illuminates out to 40'; ...


9

Focus on the interesting bits "Dungeons" are an awkward subject, since many "dungeons" I've seen have poor excuses for existing or for being as complicated as they are. Published material can be your friend here. I think studying highly-rated published dungeon adventures for what makes them successful can help you in your own creative work. Looking at ...


9

For me, there are 2 main questions that you should ask yourself. The first one is "what will I, the GM, find interesting?" The second is "what will interest my players?" These are the most important questions and from them we are going to build the dungeon. After we do that, there's one thing that should be made clear: "Where the main action in this dungeon ...



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