Tuesday, October 20, 2015

How I made a Dungeon Part I

On October 3rd I ran a Fantasy Age adventure for my friends Tim, and Dan. Another friend unfortunately wasn't able to make it due to being sick. The general idea is that we get together about once a month to play RPGs and board games face to face. This time it was my turn and after talking about it, I agreed to run a Fantasy Age adventure.

Fantasy Age is intriguing to use as we are looking at an alternative to GURPS. Because Fantasy Age uses a 3d6 roll high system and has a moderate level of detail for combat and character, we have been giving it and Dragon Age a whirl. One nice thing about Fantasy Age/Dragon Age is how they handle "criticals". When you roll you use two dice of one color and one dice of another color. That third dice is called a stunt dice. If you roll a success and two of the three dice numbers match, then you are eligable for stunts. Stunts can do extra damage, allow for increase effects, and a number of other benefits. Stunts are prices in stunt points. The number of stunt points you get is based on the number rolled on the stunt die.

Outside of this the system has a lot of similarity with playing with 3.X/d20/Pathfinder with 3d6 and starting at 3rd level. But where d20 provides options through feats, in Fantasy Age it is the stunts that mixes things up. After playing it a couple of times, I find myself liking it. The cost in game play is limited to looking up costs on a short table. It adds a lot of unpredictability and tactics without complicating the rest of the system.

So now I have to prepare an adventure. I elect to keep it simple and run a dungeon underneath the City State of the Invincible Overlord. The hook as such is that during a recent revolt an entrance to a forgotten sanctum of a powerful mage was uncovered by the crash of a blue dragon. The plan is to start out the players at the famous Seahawk Tavern on Regal Street, subject them to a riot/tavern brawl, discover a map clue to the sanctum, have the dragon crash, and they find the entrance. A bit heavy handed but I felt since this was a one-shot, for now, it was a decent way to get the party to the entrance of the dungeon.

This series of posts is about my efforts to create the dungeon.

First off the concept. My view is that dungeons are like any other locales in having a history and a reason for being. In this case, the dungeon was the sanctum of a mage (think 16th level) from two centuries ago. That it has been looted in the past but not completely. What left is the equivalent of a 1st level dungeon for Fantasy Age.

The mage, Aldrous was a member of the Guild of Arcane Lord in City-State and an opponent of the Guild leader Salm-Lorin who eventually became an Overlord of the City-State. Salm-Lorin is known to history as the Tyrant and his reign was looked on as a dark period in City-State's history. The consequence for the dungeon that part of Aldrous' preparations for his final confrontation, which he lost, was sealing the entrance so it couldn't be found except by him.

However I decided the dungeon would have a second entrance to the sewers which was the reason it was able to be looted in the intervening years. The sewers always been a big part of my City-State campaigns so I figured they should be incorporated.

With that in mind I decided the Dungeon will be in two parts. One would be an abandoned barracks area connected to the basement entrance and that it would be mostly stocked with vermin. The back half with the sewer entrance was the actual sanctum of the mage.

Next Post will be on how I designed and drew the map.

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