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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Help me brainstorm a dungeon!

    This is for a dungeon in my campaign, but you need not know about it. Also, we're using PF materials only, but I'm mostly looking for cool ideas, concept, not hard mechanics (Though those are welcomed as well)

    I'm homebrewing a small dungeon for my campaign. (Wrath of the Righteous Adventure path. There are SPOILERS ahead!). However, while I think I do other stuff fairly well, I absolutely SUCK at creating dungeons.

    Dungeon's goals and specifics
    1) In this dungeon the party is supposed to find the McGuffin of the campaign- The Lexicon of paradox. (Details later). As such it should be a memorable focal point dungeon.
    2) It is supposed to give some flavor to the region as it used to be (The land of Sarkoris- details later)
    3) It is supposed to give some key background info of the villains of the campaign.
    4) It is supposed to tie up some loose ends in the PCs history.
    5) It is supposed to be a different challenge than what the PCs faced so far. The Campaign is heavily themed of "Crusade against the demons", which meant they mostly faced demons, cultists and undead.
    6) The party will be 4 characters of level 10/ mythic tier 3 (Consider it just CR 13). Composition of cleric, sorceress, barbarian and ninja. mild- moderately optimized.
    7) It's not supposed to be very big. Much of it will be flavor (For the goals above), But I'd like 3-6 tough challenges in it.
    8) The dungeon resides near a cliff side, and there might be an old Sarkoris settlement near it. I'm not sure what the dungeon IS, but it must be at least partly underground.

    Dungeon's history and relevant events and flavor
    • The land was initially the land of the Sarkori- a cliche land of barbarians, mostly untamed wilderness, with nature worship (A druidic faith called The Green Faith), and various rising cults of demon lords, due to the "Thinness" between this land and those realms. The Sarkori did not trust arcane casters, which they saw as unbalancing nature and endangering their land by summoning demons and "messing with things they shouldn't mess with". Fairly standard stuff...
    • About a century ago, A main villains of the campaign, the Witch Areelu Vorlesh sought to find a way to open a major rift between her land of Sarkoris, to the Rasping Rifts (An abyssal plane of earthquakes, canyons, and lots of vermin). She tricked two casters (A wizard and a summoner, the latter called Opon, which will be relevant) to aid her locate the artifact called the Lexicon of Paradox.
    • The Lexicon of Paradox is an odd book- a compilation of centuries work of various casters in the land of Sarkoris, about the nature of the planes, of the "thinness" of reality there and more. The book is compiled of pages made of bark, leather, skin, papyrus, and other materials, some more natural, some very much NOT so. The works are incredibly chaotic, bizarre, and baffle the mind, up to inducing madness, as one loses grasp of what is real and what is not.
    • They found the book, and prepared the ritual, but both casters finally realized what Areelu sought to accomplish. Horrified, The wizard tried to battle her, while Opon grabbed the book and escaped. The wizard died. Areelu went along and finished the ritual, which opened a great rift and brought demonic legions into this world. She then turned her attention to hunting down Opon.
    • In the meantime, Opon fled, and decided to hide the Codex somewhere, to the best of his ability, hoping that others might find it one day and use it for the better. THIS IS THE LOCATION OF THE DUNGEON. He trapped the place (Possibly with some affects especially harmful to demons, or that keep the place hidden from them.) Most of all He wanted to keep it hidden from Areelu Vorlesh, who did find him, and visited upon him a most... unpleasant fate.
    • Jump 70 years later. The location hasn't been found yet, but a group of crusaders learned of this location, and a possibility that something of great import is there. They mounted a big expedition (100-200 people). Reaching this place, they started exploring.
    • They weren't alone though, two manipulation shape shifting demons (A succubi and a Glaberzu) were intrigued by this expedition, and infiltrated their ranks.
    • There was trouble though, for other than the dungeon's affects, the book's own powers were corrupting. As they stayed there some of the people of the expedition starting showing demonic signs. It was transforming them. The Glaberzu watched this, and much later on used this kind of magic for experiments that to this day affect two of the NPCs.
    • The books effects, and betrayel by the demons have meant doom for the expedition. The taint was heighten, and many turned to fiendish/ half demons. The expedition failed, and the book remained there.
    • To this day, the mutated half demons (Mental stats reduced greatly) patrol the area (They will form some encounters outside of the dungeon), While the Glaberzu stationed a small flock of Vrocks on the cliffs above (Another encounter)


    So, what do I need help with?
    • An idea of what the dungeon was in the past (Before Opon reached it). I think this can help me udnerstand. I'm looking for more than "A forgotten temple). Looking for cool, imagination inspiring ideas. An idea for a general map (Or a suggested map I could refit for my purposes) woudl be great. Doesn't need to be large- 6-12 rooms are enough. (And they need not all be encounters, far from it)
    • Looking for ways to portray some of the history: The Sarkoris before the worldwound, Opon somehow communicating part of this story, And the story of the expedition. (The party knows some of it, but not all.) I'd love to do this without blatant "info dumps" (Such as a vision from Opon or such). Ideally I'd love to have it works out as piecing out a mystery, from many small clues.
    • Some ideas of hazards that the party will still have to face- Traps? Creatures? Riddles? A combination of the above? These can be from the dungeon's original design, from Opon's own "adjustments", from the time of the expedition, or from the Glaberzu's added defenses. I wish to avoid demons, undead and cultists of all sorts.


    I'm drawing blank for now. I'm thinking of some sort of a naturally mythical place or such, but nothing beyond that. Blank. Absolutely blank.

    That's about it. All ideas are welcomed, and I'll freely answer any question. This is a Major site for the campaign, help me make it fun!
    Thanks in advance,
    Kol.

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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Help me brainstorm a dungeon!

    It might be cliche to use a forgotten temple, but what about a current temple?
    Where active members of the Green Faith are hiding out from the demons and cultists and prone to defending their home with force. They might know about the Lexicon, but won't want to have it leave.
    This can lead to a good vs. good moral conflict which is always my favorite of the moral quandaries one can create in a D20 game.
    As for encounters- Druids and barbarians, animals, fey, and plant creatures.
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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Help me brainstorm a dungeon!

    Quote Originally Posted by Judge_Worm View Post
    It might be cliche to use a forgotten temple, but what about a current temple?
    Where active members of the Green Faith are hiding out from the demons and cultists and prone to defending their home with force. They might know about the Lexicon, but won't want to have it leave.
    This can lead to a good vs. good moral conflict which is always my favorite of the moral quandaries one can create in a D20 game.
    As for encounters- Druids and barbarians, animals, fey, and plant creatures.
    Sorry for the delayed response. With real life and so on I missed this post.

    The place was a ruin when the Expedition got there, and since then the Glaberzu demon has had her eye on it. Getting a small druid sect into the place might be a bit problematic. Unless they are trapped there?

    I'm having another idea, of combining 3 encounter areas in the module into one bigger "dungeon" sort to speak. Still thinking of possibilities.

    An idea that I just recently had draws from later on- Apparently the Green Faith used to imprison arcanists in great trees/ towers. What if the dungeon in such a tree, perhaps hollow now? With the Vrock flock living in it's branches instead of cliffs? (I can change the place somewhat), With the depths of the dungeon in it's roots?

    I was thinking of maybe involving a Hamadryad here, as the spirit of the ancient tree, but having suffered so much damage, corruption, that her power somewhat wanes perhaps, and she may focus on keeping the Lexicon bound or such?

    More ideas are welcomed.

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  4. - Top - End - #4
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
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    Default Re: Help me brainstorm a dungeon!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kol Korran View Post
    More ideas are welcomed.
    I really like the haunted mansion in book two of the rise of the rune lords AP. A whole dungeon of no monsters, just visions and spell like effects that tell pieces of a puzzle that the pcs have to/should solve. The haunts are in relation to the 3 generations of families that lived there and are actually really good at telling the story of what happened to them.

    This could be fertile grounds for your ideas, as long as none of the PCs have experienced RoTRL yet. lol.
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    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Help me brainstorm a dungeon!

    What's good at killing demons? Celestials and devils. Summoner could have bound the extraplanar forces of law to protect against demons and chaos. This could be one of those good vs good scenarios or a chance to bring in some Blood War type action into the mix.

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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Help me brainstorm a dungeon!

    Quote Originally Posted by Nibbens View Post
    I really like the haunted mansion in book two of the rise of the rune lords AP. A whole dungeon of no monsters, just visions and spell like effects that tell pieces of a puzzle that the pcs have to/should solve. The haunts are in relation to the 3 generations of families that lived there and are actually really good at telling the story of what happened to them.

    This could be fertile grounds for your ideas, as long as none of the PCs have experienced RoTRL yet. lol.
    We haven't played that module. Can you please explain more? I love a well built mystery. I'm less intrigued in the adventure specific details, buy I am interested in the structure, and the key points to the mystery. I think I could probably build something similar based on the place' history.

    Quote Originally Posted by kalasulmar View Post
    What's good at killing demons? Celestials and devils. Summoner could have bound the extraplanar forces of law to protect against demons and chaos. This could be one of those good vs good scenarios or a chance to bring in some Blood War type action into the mix.
    An idea I did have is that Opon or the expedition bound some sort of a powerful celestial to guard the lexicon, which is why the glaberzu didn't get it yet. It has been trying to wilt down the celestial defenses. Devils? Interesting...

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    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    AssassinGuy

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    Default Re: Help me brainstorm a dungeon!

    The dungeon in a tree bit sounded cool. And you could still have the celestial bound within. How about a devil in disguise as a good outsider shows up to help combat the glabrezu and minions and then turns on the party when they come face to face with the true celestial in an attempt to win the book for itself. Then you get a mexican standoff situation with all three or four(if the demons still survive) groups trying to control the book's future.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Goblin

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    Default Re: Help me brainstorm a dungeon!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kol Korran View Post
    We haven't played that module. Can you please explain more? I love a well built mystery. I'm less intrigued in the adventure specific details, buy I am interested in the structure, and the key points to the mystery. I think I could probably build something similar based on the place' history.
    Okay, so here we go: The Misgivings "lite" lol.

    Spoiler: Sorry for this
    Show


    So, I hear you on the "less intrigued, by the adventure specific details" but I do have to start off with just a few to get to the meat of the mechanics... So allow me to begin:

    Okay, so In RoTR there's a mansion which was lived in by 3 generations of this family. The first generation - the husband was a practiced necromancer who's marriage disintegrated around him as he delved deeper and deeper into becoming a lich. When his wife found out (which happened to be on the day of his ascension) she interrupted the ritual, and the arcane backlash fried everyone in the mansion as they were consumed with disease. The man who failed to become a lich instead became trapped - as his mansion became his phylactery, but the lich was never able to form.

    Okay, now that the "adventure specific" stuff is out the way - everyone who's lived there after him has been "slowly driven insane" or "slowly taken over" by the 'house itself' and even when others figure it out or they try to burn the house down or whatever the "quasi-lich" issues a "Dominate Person" haunt to get them to stop - or to disrupt the attempt etc etc.

    Now, each family member who lived in the house committed murder and/or tried to complete some objective the lich was never able to complete in life (haunted/possessed by the spirit trapped in the house). Nearly every room in the mansion has a haunting associated with it - each haunting containing a "snapshot" of a vision from the POV of one of the individuals in the house detailing some events that happened at the time.

    Now, the key here is to affix certain typed of hauntings to certain types of characters backstories/attitudes in game. So, for example the "Vengeful Haunt" which is connected to a woman being betrayed by her maddened husband - this haunt may only manifest itself to a PC who has suffered betrayal in his/her past, or has betrayed someone in the party or anywhere else for that matter.

    So, the PCs become personally connected to these hauntings as they received visions of horrible things happening to "themselves" as they "become" these characters. (For example - the Vengeful Haunt was a woman strangled by her husband - so the PC may experience a vision of being a woman, and her husband walks into the room, they exchange words (critical to solving the mystery of what is going on in the mansion) and then the husband flies into a rage - only to strangle the wife. The PC makes a will save to resist the haunting - failure X happens, success X 1/2 happens. Etc etc.

    Now, the haunts aren't all murders attempts, but also events connected to the families and murders in question (take the first family - the arcane backlash ripping through the house) maybe, someone in the servant quarters looked into a mirror and saw his/her face being eaten alive with disease right there - so they start to scratch at it - Que the will save and hopefully the PC resists tearing at their own face.

    The idea is that each PC experiencing a few haunts just for themselves would have a fully formed piece of the puzzle - and each member of the party should be able to put these puzzle pieces together to get a whole picture.

    All this leads down to a secret sub-sub-basement where the "Spirit of the house" resides and admist visions of what could have been and what should have been - the PCs combat something that cannot be tangibly be killed... or can it? :)


    Now, I've left out as many of the adventure specific details as I could and explained the mechanics - so, this particular story does have a bit of a horror theme to go along with it and leaves the PCs feeling helpless (besides, there are no monsters to slay) and unable to combat the haunts any traditional way.

    So, while your setting and background isn't ripe for a "haunted mansion" but a "Haunted Subterranean ruin" could work just the same - and maybe it isn't a lich, but whatever power is keeping the mcguffin in check has slain hundreds before the PCs get there - and those visions allow them to gain access to/ give them clues to defeat the powers which keep the mcguffin. etc etc.
    Last edited by Nibbens; 2015-02-16 at 03:37 PM.
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  9. - Top - End - #9
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Help me brainstorm a dungeon!

    Hmmmm... I like what you described Nibbens! That sounds like a great adventure. However, The party just conquered an old fort, which was haunted by the ghost of the person who betrayed it, and later became a tormented puppet/ commander to the demons who ruled it, till one killed him in a great ritual in order to have him haunt the place. As the party explored the place, they were met with visions and memories of the betrayer's past, as well as of someone else locked in the place, till they find a way into the spirit's sanctum, where they defeated it and broke the curse...

    Hmmmm... The idea sounds great, but I think if I'll use too similar concepts/ design, it will not be welcomed that well. Bummer...

    However! Your idea plus kalasulmar's idea sparked something else. Oddly enough, it was the mention of the lich, and this invoking the memory of that druid lich antagonist in the Red Hand of Doom module.

    A druid lich... A celestial which may also be demonic... And the Lexicon of Paradox.
    What if, The Lexicon was the work of people who tried to make things that... couldn't be- paradoxes. And what if it's influence exhudes around it? So those who come to explore it, must face it's influence, or turn into their own little paradoxes.

    The ancient druids of old who guarded this place... What if their leading member became a sort of a lich? Something between nature and undeath, but both of them ate once? And the angel summoned by the expedition (Perhaps in order to "reduce the paradox", became some sort of an entity between the normal nature of celestials? And the expedition which was turned to half demons, yet still retain some of their crusading beliefs/ habits/ powers?

    This can tie up nicely since a main quest in this module is to find the "Demon's Heresy"- a succubus which is turning good, the first of her kind. A paradox in itself. (The same succubus I mentioned that explored the place with the Glaberzu). I think that by finding various other paradoxes to put into the dungeon, (A water elemental that burns and such) things could become interesting.

    And last of all- to put the party before their own paradoxes, but that will take some thinking.

    I think that the paradoxes/ remains of various protectors/ assaulters/ survivors of the place could nicely tell it's story. Not directly with visions, but perhaps with tlks, games, riddles, nd yeah, perhaps even visions as well. So instead of visions, I have living (Or semi living, not quite sure) people who tell of the place effects.

    It's a rough idea currently, but what do you think?
    Last edited by Kol Korran; 2015-02-17 at 02:53 PM.

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    Default Re: Help me brainstorm a dungeon!

    Introduction of fluff into combat is one of my favorite themes. I suppose the Lexicon erodes the barrier between dimensions by purely being there. You could give the enemy vast numbers of demons while their mental stats are reduced (and they fight dumber as they usually would) and position summoning NPCs that can conjure up twice the amount of creatures per casting (don't overdo it though). Eidola can be summoned within one round, summon monster makes double the creatures (with my idea of spells being able to be cast twice before being expended) and any spell concerning the planes (Plane Shift, but even stuff like Blink or Shadowwalk) aren't expended when being cast once but twice.

    I also love some not-so easy to deceipher enemies. Like the fire elemental that is VULNERABLE to fire. Use a bit of "reverse psychology" there but play around with it. Make the final boss revert the flow of logic every once in a while (with a visible yet subtle hint).

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    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    Goblin

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    Default Re: Help me brainstorm a dungeon!

    Quote Originally Posted by Kol Korran View Post
    Hmmmm... I like what you described Nibbens! That sounds like a great adventure. However, The party just conquered an old fort, which was haunted by the ghost of the person who betrayed it, and later became a tormented puppet/ commander to the demons who ruled it, till one killed him in a great ritual in order to have him haunt the place. As the party explored the place, they were met with visions and memories of the betrayer's past, as well as of someone else locked in the place, till they find a way into the spirit's sanctum, where they defeated it and broke the curse...
    ... I know that feels bro. That moment when you come up with a great idea only to realize that you just did something thematically similar. lol.


    And last of all- to put the party before their own paradoxes, but that will take some thinking.
    This would be really fun to do! There's always that thing that the PC wants to do, but he knows its out of reach (or the DM says so), but you allow him to do it for just a while. Could be an interesting meta-game concept.

    Also, I foresee the need for detailed back-stories from the PCs in order to make this work really well.

    It's a rough idea currently, but what do you think?
    I like it, and I think with a little work it could be fairly successful!
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  12. - Top - End - #12
    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Help me brainstorm a dungeon!

    Druids, nature, paradoxes, a giant tree...I might be misreading the situation, but it sounds like the appropriate guardians of this place aren't Celestials. What's called for here are the Fey.

    Creatures of deception and trickery, clever enough to tangle with the more deceptive types of demons and utterly confound these dumb brute half-demon crusaders. Fey already exist in a sort of halfway point - both creatures of nature, and yet decidedly unnatural, beings of beauty whose insides are ugly, bound by the word of their promise but always striving to twist the spirit of those promises. Whether that would make them less susceptible to the Lexicon's manipulations (They're already paradoxes, what more can the book do to them?) or more (Answer: Turns out being paradoxes already gives the book a sympathetic connection to them, making the changes subtler but more dangerous.) is unclear to me, but the Fey seem more likely allies in a land that was once connected strongly to nature than the Celestial Courts. Elementals and plant creatures would make good bruiser type enemies if you were looking for some. I also recall the existence of a Blighted Fey template in Pathfinder - if you go with Fey guardians who might be corrupted, that may be useful. Also blighting the entire tree could be interesting, with the Lexicon causing a spiritual rot in its prison, turning nature against itself.
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    Ogre in the Playground
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    Default Re: Help me brainstorm a dungeon!

    Due to a lack of time, (Game session is today and I've been quite busy) I've used previous materials and hashed it in together. I agree with fey protectors, and I'm using a sort of maddned/ defiled/ partly undead Hamadryad within the tree, who casts various partly druidic, partly necromatic spells on the party and their foes. There are a few other "distortd nature" themes in the small dungeon. I hope it will work. The whole complex is a mixture of things. As it has several influences: The druidic faith of old, making the place into a sort of magical vault, the expedition (Which DID reach the Lexicon, which means quite a few of the tests/ guardians/ defenses have been overcome), and the latest demonic occupation/ interest/ research

    Nibbens, the party is 10th level (Started from level 1), so there is some background and history to the party. Unfortunately, 2 of the players have invested in making their characters more round and complex, while two others have fairly bland "fighting characters", so finding paradoxes for them will be hard, if not impossible.

    I put a unique half angel/ half demon/ special guardian of the paradox at the end, which will challenge the party philosophically (Not a riddle, an open conversation, though it may deteriorate into battle). He will have a few unique "Paradoxial" abilities if it comes to that. We'll see then.

    The Hamadryad, cutlists and the angel will give enough background.

    Thanks all! I will link to the session when they come to it.

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