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Old 02-24-2018, 07:11 PM   #21
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Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Wellington, NZ
Default Re: What Do You Want In A Dungeon?

Originally Posted by DouglasCole View Post
I think a evocative description, written with the most noticeable stuff first1], is important and useful. I can also see where folks want to do their own thing, but if I'm writing something for folks to buy, I guess I see it as my job to bring as much color to the board as possible.

[1] The walls have tapestries on them filled with scenes of battle, and an overturned stool in front of a broken table seems to be made of alternating woods, maple and oak. Oh, and there's a minotaur named Bruno trying to impale you with her horns.
I've found that "most noticeable stuff first, but things the Players will want to react instantly too need to be after things their character will notice regardless" works best. Yous example is right on, with Bruno being mentioned after the dressing. If Bruno was mentioned first, the players would jump right into combat mode, and then complain that you didn't mention the well that they just fell down.
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Old 02-24-2018, 10:02 PM   #22
Join Date: Aug 2004
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Default Re: What Do You Want In A Dungeon?

One thing I found useful in Castle of Horrors was to standardize room descriptions:

* Immediately obvious things of great importance (the floor is on fire)
* Other threats
* Other major and minor details
* Visible exits, always listed clockwise from the center of the north wall

It was useful for me when writing the dungeon, because I could easily check if I had missed anything important. It was also useful for the players, because we were gaming online and I could put little info markers with a persistent description of the room so people could go back and check if they missed the narration.

One of the things the earlier D&D3e adventures did but that seems to have dropped from later adventures was to have a breakout box describing common features of a dungeon level: the ceiling is X high, the walls are made from Y material, all doors are ironbound wood and open into hallways with hinges on left side, and so on. It was a really useful little feature.

As far as DF dungeons go, things I would like to see:
* Plentiful and useful rumors and research - stuff that if the PCs find out, they can use to prepare better. "there is a mana dead chasm half-way in, so bring ropes" and such.
* Wilderness encounters on the way to the dungeon.
* A variety of physical obstacles in the dungeon, with places to perform acrobatics or climb to get to the better loot. At least some of which should be in no-mana zones, so the acrobatic types don't get upstaged by a wizard with Air-Walk.
* Limited magic zones in general, so the non-magic types have an advantage.
* Traps, tricks, and riddles. Hidden doors and cursed objects. Every skill on every template should be useful at some point, even if it just gives better loot than a party without.
* Similarly, a variety of foes. There's rarely a reason to not to stock a dungeon with mundane foes, undead, demons, some faeries, dire animals, and a slime or two. At least some encounters should involve weird terrain, which can be anything from concealed pit traps to an anti-gravity room.
* Encounters of varying difficulty. Nothing needs to be an effortless walk-over, but it's okay to just fight 2N of giant rats some times, in between dealing with 4 sword-armor golems guarding the stairs to the brainwarper that's going to blast the delvers to oblivion.
* Treasure comeasurate with the difficulty.
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Old 03-02-2018, 08:42 PM   #23
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Default Re: What Do You Want In A Dungeon?

Learned from experience: Players want to have a list of "loot" from every combat encounter or dangerous event, even if they don't want any of the things[1]. It's worth listing the possible loot in its own paragraph, including the equipment from the monsters.

[1] "The goblins had four rusty hatchets and some smelly loincloths, and some polished pretty pebbles." gives them the choice to not take or take. I've seen players get attached to the strangest of items for various wild schemes, but they need props to come up with them.
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Old 03-03-2018, 09:24 AM   #24
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Austin, TX
Default Re: What Do You Want In A Dungeon?

I second Bruno's recommendation.

As a value add web appendix, it would be nice to see a list of all the loot in the module along with the encounter, value, weight, and value per weight. That would give a GM an easy way to judge the overall value of the adventure and adjust it for her campaign.
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