So, here's the deal. I'm DMing this campaign for a long time using the Brazilian scenario called Tormenta. They have 20 superior gods for the world of Arton. My players are about to get to the epic tier in D&D 4e and I decided to make it as epic as possible for their level. So I'm rewriting an adventure that has a nice theme, but is a brainless hack'n slash in the original.

The idea of the adventure is, they're going to free Valkaria, the godess of ambition and humanity, who was trapped in a half Km tall statue for her crimes against the pantheon until a group of adventurers could free her. The gods got together and decided this challenge would be a massive dungeon. 1 for each god.

Now... I've built interesting dungeons. But never a dungeon that is that long (20 in 1) and I'm running out of ideas.

The first god is Alihanna, godess of nature. Her "dungeon" is a pocket plane with skill challenges and some combats tied to her concept. Cool. The second god is Ragnar, the god of death (or slaughter). And here my problem starts.

Ragnar's Dungeon is supposed to be filled with his creation (goblins, hobgoblins, bugbears, orcs and ogres). It makes sense, because his goal is to kill the whole world, but it makes the dungeon a hack'n slash (except for the ocasional trap). If I make it too short, it doesn't feel like a challenge made by a god, but if it's too long... Well... A too long hack'n slash dungeon gets old real fast. So, I don't know how to make it interesting a dungeon that has as objective to kill the party.

The thing is: how to make a good, interesting, engaging Dungeon that exists to kill the players? It's not supposed to have much treasure except equipment from the creatures they kill (because the dungeon is a test and Ragnar doesn't care about gold) and it is supposed to have all those creatures and traps. Also, it should feel like a challenge from a god.


What are your tips, advises or guidelines for that to happen?

It's a lot of work. For a good dungeon that doesn't feel like the last one with a different skin, you need creative energy and time. Most of us lack enough of both next to our normal ongoing lives, that's why writers can actually make a living out of it.

Outsource it

No, not to Asia. To your players. Your gods are almighty and powerful. They should not bother with pesky mortals by crafting tests and making sure the adventurers don't cheat. They aren't school teachers. Want to impress a god? Fine. Go ahead. Better start doing stuff. He won't give you a test. Go out and do something impressive. Don't call a god. A god will call you (if sufficiently impressed).

Let your players find out how to impress a god and prove worthy. Line out your pantheon and let them figure it out.

Give them a slight head start to motivate them. With 14+ levels of adventuring, I'm sure they have the attention of the gods of thievery, pillaging, combat and murder.

Be prepared that they go ways you did not think of. Maybe they want to negotiate peace between the raiders and townsfolk. There goes your best source of random encounters. But go with their ideas. Generating another source of random encounters is way easier than your original idea of dungeons for each god.

Be prepared that they'd want to "cheat". Like killing all raiders, so the townsfolk has "peace". Just don't let them. You don't need to stop them, just mention that this slaughter won't impress the goddess of peace.

Some will come up with ideas satisfying multiple conditions. Founding a family might please both the gods of love and life. If that happens, it's up to you to decide. I'd say it's fine, as long as it does not get into optimizing territory (how to please as much gods as possible with one deed is not a question I feel is appropriate. But your table may differ).

With the creative power of your whole table, this should be a lot easier and a lot more fun.

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    \$\begingroup\$ See comment under my question. In op's story gods actually are ones challenging mortals for fun. \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Apr 27 '16 at 7:17
  • \$\begingroup\$ In this case, it's not for fun. Since Valkaria is also worshiped by adventurer's (or at least, she loves them), she was sentence to be a statue until saved by adventurers. That's why the challenges are dungeons. But they're supposed to have their creator's identity all over it. \$\endgroup\$ – Davi Braid Apr 27 '16 at 7:35

The god of prophecy and resurrection is pretty cool. Make them lost in prophecies, various "if then" bits. And create impassable wall on their way. Once they are all dead, get them resurrected on the other side.

The goddess of life created creatures that can never die... Maybe they should stop fighting once heroes start to try to heal them instead of killing? Make them figuring that out.

For the goddess of peace, I don't see "no encounter" as a good way. Make it a huge encounter. Just not between party and monsters, but between two other sides. Once your party figures a way to stop the fight and make peace, her test is passed. Of course fight should turn out to be god-level illusion, performance by automata or something like that.

For the god of death, it's not only his creations. There are many ways to die, and most of them should be represented. Like a vision of an old man in his bed, and his family visiting him?..

But your approach seems a bit wrong from the start

Gods and goddesses does not know "encounters" or "skill challenges". They didn't make no such thing!

They made series of test. Or even intentionally "synthetic adventures". Ones that challenges characters. Bid gods are as much ideas as they are persons. So, to stay true to their nature, they will challenge at things they value. Because things they value is what they are, in a subtle way.

Think of the stories first, not encounters or skill challenges. Stories are interesting, rest is just a bookkeeping.

What is a story with death god? What was bad blood between him and valkiria? Not general issue? What he thiks was her personal insult against who and what he is? Figuring that out during fights night make a story all right. Especially if there is some use at the end.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thank you for your answer, but I'll create posts based on the gods that are giving me a hard time. Besides, the gods create those "dungeons" because it ties up to the scenario and to Valkaria's backstory. The godess used to enjoy adventuring herself. Her own plane is pretty much endless exploration, dungeons and castles to be explored. So the challenges are somewhat tied to the punshed godess. Valkaria's own Avatar is supposed to be the final challenge, because she won't allow weak adventurers to save her. I actually find it pretty cool. \$\endgroup\$ – Davi Braid Apr 27 '16 at 6:46
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DaviBraid even so, my main point seems to stay true. It's not encounters and skill challenges that make things interesting for players. It's the story they are able to co-create. \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Apr 27 '16 at 6:51
  • \$\begingroup\$ @DaviBraid answers updated \$\endgroup\$ – Mołot Apr 27 '16 at 7:01

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