View Full Version : Help with Dungeon Concepts [3.5]

2010-04-18, 08:34 PM
I'm running a 3.5 game with copious player customization and a suitably involved metaplot. The basic idea is a cycling series of small runs though differently themed dungeons broken up by stays at a relatively civilized location. So the party goes through the fire dungeon, completes a quest for the Mcguffin of truth, and then is warped back to town for a night at the inn, figuring out what's going on, healing, and trading in whatever they could loot for better killy stuff.

These dungeons are a loose microcosm of the old planescape Dnd cosmology, making ideals more powerful as one moves away from the prime materium. So each dungeon has certain thematic elements, and a basic question that should give some kind of role playing oppertunities.

Some of these dungeons write themselves; there is a world composed of clockwork and mechanical precision, where the highest virtue is fitting in precisely as needed. The party can be chased around by 'reprocessors' in whatever stats are needed to keep the game interesting, try to foster independant thought, or just kill stuff and take their things. Another is a giant forest dominated by plant creatures and untouched by fire, where the strong survive and the only question asked how to best define strength.

The problem pieces are more esoteric; one world is composed of Cyclopian chains in orbit around a titanic figure engulfed in fire. It's theme is sacrifice, to the point where it's 'god' is the self destructive figure in the flames. Another has an overall idea that over-specialization is the bestus thing ever, to the extreme of making characters into items, but I'm kinda stuck on how to make that work, much less establish even an idea on what the place looks like.

So, I think this is a great idea, but I don't know how to make it work. Any ideas or tips on general adventure design?

2010-04-19, 11:23 AM
Well, it sounds like you've got some fantastic ideas. I'll throw in what I'm thinking, I guess.
Firstly, for your plane about specialisation, cut all the flak. If it's not important, don't have it. So, no carpets, no aesthetics, no comfy chairs. If your job is to pick locks, you're a floating lockpick. If it's to make pies, you ARE a pie-making machine. If it's to hunt down and kill intruders trying to spoil the precise effectiveness of your world, well... Think blade barriers, but moving.
As for just making other things work, it sounds like what you need to do is write a detailed descriptive script for each plane, to get your ideas across. Other than that, it depends what your players want. If they love RPing, maybe it's a good idea for them to have specific missions on each plane made easier by blending in? If they just want fights, give them themed monsters and themed scenery.
Other than that, I might start with more "material" planes at the beginning, then as you expand out through your adventures, have more elemental, chaotic ones. Almost like: Law -> Neutral -> Chaos. Start with places like your clockwork plane, where everything more or less obeys natural order, even if it is technologically advanced. As you move out, maybe your sacrifice plane, stable but tied to a maddening core (maybe make it literally maddening to look at? It sounds fairly horrific :smallbiggrin:). Then get to planes of elemental fire, water, air etc. where the slightest whim of the plane's controller sends the whole place into a spin, reshaping what safe ground there is and causing the PCs great danger (I particularly like the idea of them trying to pick their way over an enormous pool of fire and lava, with only a constantly shifting pathway of giant stepping stones to stand on).
Don't know if that's any use, but might be a bit of a thought provoker if nothing else.