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  1. - Top - End - #1
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RogueGirl

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    Jan 2018

    Default Creating a 1st level "Starter" Dungeonfor D&D 5e together

    Hi everyone

    I thought it maybe would be a fun thing to create together a starter dungeon for four 1st level characters in 5e. The first step would be to decide on a theme: What kind of dungeon should it be? Afterwards we could each build different rooms / encounters with monsters, traps, loot and then finally put them together into one thing, maybe add some ideas etc. (If we get more than 8 encounters we may need to think what to do)

    What do you think?

    And what theme would you like to develop?

    Personally I would like something simple for a starter dungeon for a 1st level party - like the search for a McGuffin in an ancient tomb with undead etc or a bandit/goblin hide out with other fitting monsters sprinkled in.

    Cheers

    Wasp

  2. - Top - End - #2
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    DwarfBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Creating a 1st level "Starter" Dungeonfor D&D 5e together

    Xvarts have stolen an artifact that wards the village against the Brutal Behemoths. Their trail leads to a cavern near the howling canyon where they plan to offer it to their god Raxivort... by tossing it in the canyon as they erroneously believe it is connected to Raxivort's realm on Pandemonium.

    You can start this adventure with a Xvart raid on a village. The players take on a diversion, while another group of Xvarts steal an important magical item.
    The final encounter would feature a bunch of Xvarts and a Xvart Warlock about to sacrifice magic items to Raxivort. The players would have to fight the Xvarts while they are trying to toss magic items into the canyon.
    5 Xvarts and a Xvart Warlock should be a hard encounter for a party of 4 level 2 characters, so you might want to level up the party before the final encounter. (I'm not at all experienced with building 5e encounters so I might be wrong here.)
    Giant Bats, Giant Rats, Rat Swarms and Swarms of Bats are all thematically appropriate monsters. They might also encounter a Brutal Behemoth on their way to the dungeon.

    For a more sandboxy adventure you can add the following options:
    - Players can instead join the town militia to protect against the Brutal Behemoths.
    - Players can help evacuate the children and elderly to the next village and try to procure a new McGuffin there.
    - A Succubus has infiltrated the Xvart tribe to discover a way to reach Raxivort and steal the Infinity Spindle so she can return it to Graz'zt. She escapes as soon as a fight breaks out. (This should lead into a new adventure centered on Graz'zt.)

    Random bit of lore:
    A child warns the heroes that the boogeyman will push them over the edge if they get too close to the howling canyon. It's just a folktale meant to keep kids away from the howling canyon. There's no truth to it. It's a red herring.
    If you can find a fitting monster that would do such a thing please let me know, because I'm stumped. 1 point for a monster from folklore, 1 point for a monster that is statted up in D&D, 1 point for a monster that howls and 1 point for a wind based monster?

  3. - Top - End - #3
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RogueGirl

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    Jan 2018

    Default Re: Creating a 1st level "Starter" Dungeonfor D&D 5e together

    I like the idea with Xvarts! Thank you! It's always fun if a theme delivers already a number of creature types! Anyone else any ideas?

  4. - Top - End - #4
    Orc in the Playground
     
    PaladinGuy

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    Default Re: Creating a 1st level "Starter" Dungeonfor D&D 5e together

    Quote Originally Posted by the_david View Post
    5 Xvarts and a Xvart Warlock should be a hard encounter for a party of 4 level 2 characters, so you might want to level up the party before the final encounter. (I'm not at all experienced with building 5e encounters so I might be wrong here.)
    This may a bit too hard for the players mostly because action economy+expended resources they can't recover (since they're on a time-sensitive mission and can't take rests just in front of the last room) means they would face a very though enemy. I'd drop the normal xvarts to 4 just to be safe.

    Random bit of lore:
    A child warns the heroes that the boogeyman will push them over the edge if they get too close to the howling canyon. It's just a folktale meant to keep kids away from the howling canyon. There's no truth to it. It's a red herring.
    If you can find a fitting monster that would do such a thing please let me know, because I'm stumped. 1 point for a monster from folklore, 1 point for a monster that is statted up in D&D, 1 point for a monster that howls and 1 point for a wind based monster?
    Invisible Stalkers, being invisible creatures of the plane of Air, could fit such a description, but one would have very little reason to push people down a canyon indiscriminately.

    I don't personally recall the name of any folklore monsters that would fit this description, but the idea of a monster pushing people down a cliff was probably noted down by somebody. Perhaps some malicious fae that see this as a "prank".

    On the dungeon/adventure!

    The xvart idea is pretty cool, so I'd build on it by asking ourselves what the region looks like. We have a canyon, a village and a cave. Makes sense for this to be mountainous terrain, right? We can add some mountain creatures to the list of animals and vermin that could be met en route, possibly on a random encounter table.

    One thing that I consider important for "starter" adventures/dungeons is that they should showcase the breadth of the system. While I think 5e doesn't really hold up to its own "Three Pillars" philosophy, I think adding in social and exploration elements is important to demonstrate what a D&D game can offer.

    Thus, we could make the mountain lightly forested as well. Within the forest, which the xvarts will take advantage of to try and reach their cave without being followed, lives a small community of forest gnomes. They're usually indifferent to the local villagers as long as they don't try to cut down more wood than necessary, but long ago it was them that gifted the village with the artifact that wards against Brutal Behemoths attacks. They don't particularly like the xvarts either, and some of the villagers may recall either or both pieces of information, leading the players to try and contact the gnomes for help in tracking the xvarts' hideout.

  5. - Top - End - #5
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    HalflingPirate

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    Nov 2011

    Default Re: Creating a 1st level "Starter" Dungeonfor D&D 5e together

    The thing is, the "artifact" the xvarts steal is a fake. The real object is hn the hands of an evil monk who is impersonating a good monk. The party cleric may notice something odd because the monk is not well versed in lore. The party rogue may see suspicious activity as the monk helps the xvarts succeed.

    The twist leads the PCs to recover the real artifact and expose the evil monk. The villagers will resist the idea that the monk is behind the whole thing, so they will have to have proof or risk the villagers' wrath.

  6. - Top - End - #6
    Barbarian in the Playground
     
    RogueGirl

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    Jan 2018

    Default Re: Creating a 1st level "Starter" Dungeonfor D&D 5e together

    Quote Originally Posted by Silly Name View Post
    On the dungeon/adventure!

    The xvart idea is pretty cool, so I'd build on it by asking ourselves what the region looks like. We have a canyon, a village and a cave. Makes sense for this to be mountainous terrain, right? We can add some mountain creatures to the list of animals and vermin that could be met en route, possibly on a random encounter table.

    One thing that I consider important for "starter" adventures/dungeons is that they should showcase the breadth of the system. While I think 5e doesn't really hold up to its own "Three Pillars" philosophy, I think adding in social and exploration elements is important to demonstrate what a D&D game can offer.

    Thus, we could make the mountain lightly forested as well. Within the forest, which the xvarts will take advantage of to try and reach their cave without being followed, lives a small community of forest gnomes. They're usually indifferent to the local villagers as long as they don't try to cut down more wood than necessary, but long ago it was them that gifted the village with the artifact that wards against Brutal Behemoths attacks. They don't particularly like the xvarts either, and some of the villagers may recall either or both pieces of information, leading the players to try and contact the gnomes for help in tracking the xvarts' hideout.
    I like this! If the players fail to save the artifact, the gnomes could send them on another mission for an alternative artifact of protection.

    Quote Originally Posted by brian 333 View Post
    The thing is, the "artifact" the xvarts steal is a fake. The real object is hn the hands of an evil monk who is impersonating a good monk. The party cleric may notice something odd because the monk is not well versed in lore. The party rogue may see suspicious activity as the monk helps the xvarts succeed.

    The twist leads the PCs to recover the real artifact and expose the evil monk. The villagers will resist the idea that the monk is behind the whole thing, so they will have to have proof or risk the villagers' wrath.
    Interesting, but I feel this may be a little much twisting for a starter adventure. They will be suspicious of all NPCs soon enough, so I wouldn't start with traitors early. I like the idea more that there's a big bad behind the Xvart attack like the succubus mentioned.

    If we want to add some more social encounters maybe it would be cool if the party arrives for some kind of celebration (maybe in honor of the artifact?) with different games they could enter (like a drinking competition or tossing the taber). And then later in the night the Xvarts try to steal the artifact.

    PS: What are Brutal Behemoths?
    Last edited by Wasp; 2020-10-07 at 04:17 AM.

  7. - Top - End - #7
    Bugbear in the Playground
     
    DwarfBarbarianGuy

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    Default Re: Creating a 1st level "Starter" Dungeonfor D&D 5e together

    Brutal Behemoths can be anything. In 4e Behemoths were dinosaurs, and I liked the alliteration.

    I also may have stolen the plot from Dinotopia.

    Edit: But if we stick with the whole Graz'zt versus Raxivort theme, demons? Kinda epic for a first level campaign. Then again, so are dinosaurs. Is this a points of light setting?
    Last edited by the_david; 2020-10-09 at 04:30 PM.

  8. - Top - End - #8
    Ogre in the Playground
     
    HalflingPirate

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    Nov 2011

    Default Re: Creating a 1st level "Starter" Dungeonfor D&D 5e together

    The Big Bad could be a person who is defeated not by fighting and killing, but by exposure. This leaves open the opportunity to have a recurring character or nemesis.

    For example:
    The succubus is not physically present, but appears in a cursed Magic Mirror. Instead of simply being a scrying tool, this mirror appears to be sentient. The sucubus, appearing as a beautiful image, will talk to the wielder like the mirror in Snow White, but she will distort what the mirror shows and she will lie to achieve her goals. Smashing the mirror will release any victims from the sucubus' charm, and grant the smasher seven years good luck! (+1 universal save)

    This will enrage the sucubus who will later come into the PCs life to get revenge while furthering the demon-plot.
    Last edited by brian 333; 2020-10-17 at 07:36 AM.

  9. - Top - End - #9
    Dwarf in the Playground
     
    DwarfBarbarianGuy

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    Emerald City, Oz
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    Default Re: Creating a 1st level "Starter" Dungeonfor D&D 5e together

    I like to use undead...a lot.

    One of the village children comes screaming into town, yelling about skeletons and zombies killing all the miners up at the nearby copper mine. The mine owner, aghast at such a happening, hires the party to cleanse his mine. Leading to a bunch of average encounters, leading to the "boss battle" where a zombie umber hulk or zombie giant worm or something is digging around the bottom of the mine. Yay, victory. Party gets paid, life goes on...but where did the undead come from? (The mine owner secretly owns an amulet that lets him raise and control a couple of dozen hd of undead, he uses them for cheap labour)
    "There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter."
    ~ Ernest Hemingway

  10. - Top - End - #10
    Pixie in the Playground
     
    ElfRangerGuy

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    Nov 2020

    Default Re: Creating a 1st level "Starter" Dungeonfor D&D 5e together

    I like occasionally throwing in a Gelatinous Cube in the starter dungeon.

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