View Full Version : [3.5]Working on prepping for a dungeon

2008-09-04, 04:08 PM
Heya, folks. I've got my first DMing session of this fall semester coming up this Friday night, and while I did a BIT of prep-work over the summer, I never finalized the nuts-and-bolts of everything. I'm working on prepping a dungeon for the party to run through, very loosely based on the concept of a dungeon I read about somewhere, where there's a big prize in the center of a giant circular dungeon, and each “slice of the pie” is self-contained, with each slice containing an adventuring party. So it's kind of like a giant rat maze, and occasionally the slices open up, allowing for rival parties to compete or cooperate in order to get to the goal in the center.

Outline so far:

Players start at 5th level in a town. Party consists of a Human Rogue2/Swashbuckler3, Human Cleric5, and Human Monk5.

The King of the nation is holding a contest open to all comers. Contestants must survive a gigantic dungeon while fighting off monsters, traps, and other adventuring parties. At the end of the dungeon lies a magnificent treasure.

What the players don't know is that once they get to the center of the dungeon (guarded by a boss that I'll probably model after Screaming Mantis from MGS4), the King greets them with a smile and congratulates them, but then an assassin teleports in and kills him. The treasure is disposed of in some manner (it might not be, I haven't decided), and the players must escape the dungeon alive.

Once they surface, they find that the King's assassination has sparked an attack from a rival country, and then they are thrown into a mercenary-commando-styled war zone (inspired by the “Fantasy Warfare” chapter in Complete Warrior). After maybe one or two missions (tops, due to time constraints) the enemy army wins the war and the PCs are forced to flee into the countryside. At that point, an NPC will come along and say “yo, the BBEG's castle is that way!”

The PCs journey to the castle, go through it, defeat the BBEG, save the world, The End.

So anyway, right now I'm trying to put the big circular dungeon together, and I've never been very good at dungeon-building, especially with layouts and things. Anyone know of any good published 5th-level dungeons that I might be able to steal? At least the floor plans or something?

2008-09-04, 05:08 PM
First, thats a bit railroady. Don't expect the players to cooperate. Secondly, as for the dungeon: here is a triangle maze maker, make 4 of them and attach them. Works for other mazes too. (http://blackdog4kids.com/games/maze/create/index.html) Add doors, monsters, whatever.

2008-09-04, 05:23 PM
If this is your first adventure, I'd recommend something simpler and more straightforward. I'd rather play a simple dungeon executed well than a complex idea that falls flat.

Given that, Dungeon Crawl Classics: Vault of the Iron Overlord (#50) has a circular dungeon, somewhat different than yours in that it consists of concentric circles that rotate relative to one another. Otherwise, fairly similar. (Higher level, though, but if you just want the maps it shouldn't matter.)

2008-09-04, 07:21 PM
I once heard of a dungeon called "The Great Race" that I got the idea of the contest from, but I can't find The Great Race anywhere on the Intertubes. It's a giant circular dungeon in which players start at the outer edge and must race against other adventuring parties to reach the treasure goal in the center. :smallfrown: Anyone know where it is?

2008-09-04, 07:49 PM
Like others have said, I don't know that you can really expect all to go according to plan after events like that.

I suggest that if you are going to have assassins come, than make some of the assassin's escaping with the loot and others of the assassin's trying to kill the PCs or at the very least, herd them out. That way, if the PCs want to flex some chest hairs they can go after the other group of assassins, stand their ground with the assassin's sent against them, or run away. Rather than have random assassin's spring out of the dungeon, I suggest having one of the other adventuring parties be there for the sole purpose of stealing it. Maybe the players get their second (or at the same time as another group) and the assassin's take the king and his loot or maybe they are the third and watch the evil group kill the first group.

Typical dungeons have: a puzzle, traps, roaming monsters, a maze, doors with locks (and keys, somewhere if you have the time), hidden passages, ordinary things, and things that are broken in an advantageous or disadvantageous way (such as a wall with a crack that can be broken through or a cave in that blocks a pass). Keep in mind that you don't have to calculate the passage of the NPCs or most of the rest of the map. It might be helpful to draw the maze, or maybe have a couple of extra events that can be sprinkled in if they take an unconventional path, but don't plan what they aren't likely to use.

Riddles and puzzles can be found here (http://www.ocf.berkeley.edu/~wwu/riddles/intro.shtml), here (http://www.thievesguild.cc/riddles/), and here (http://www.technozen.com/exeter/) (okay, not everyone does riddles but I'm a fan). Traps are in the DMG guide (and are pretty standard to think of) but also be tempted to include ones with bait (i.e. pieces of treasure standing near the trigger, on a clear path right before the treasure, on the very first door to enter the dungeon, etc). Monsters are interesting encounters but for a maze-race it is better if they aren't always necessary to fight- maybe the monster is slow and will follow them if they take a different path, maybe it is big or aquatic and guards a passage but cannot leave, or maybe you can sneak past it. Hidden passages should provide short-cuts or extra treasure. Don't forget to describe things like columns, tables, irregular stonework, murals etc so they really get a sense that his dungeon is bigger than they are. Often times the PCs interact with the dungeon in ways you don't expect (rolling up the mural and taking it for loot, barricading a door to keep out monsters or another group, hiding behind a column, double-checking the stonework for secrets).

2008-09-05, 04:11 PM
Still can't find The Great Race. Maybe it's called something else...Race to the Finish? Something to do with racing...

Bah, since the dungeon isn't complete this week, I'll throw a FedEx quest out to stall them, and keep working for next session.

2008-09-05, 05:03 PM
Watchers Keep in Baldur's gate two had something similar in it's second level Eight sections on the outside and then the center.

Try color coding the sections on your copy of the map, the one you keep hidden in the open DMG. Thus you get something like:

Red: Lots of traps, a handful of strong enemies.
Green: Lots of weak foes, a few nasty traps.
Blue: Groups of enemies.
Yellow: Magic wielding enemies, largely immune to weapons.
Brown: Melee enemies, largely immune to magic.

By largely immune, I mean that they should only be vulnerable to the most powerful weapon/spell. If you have a single +3 weapon, nothing else they have harms it. If you can cast a level 3 spell, that's all that will hurt them.