Thursday, June 30, 2011

Let's Build Us a Dungeon

With Resolute published, I’ve been struggling to decide what to do with this blog… it’s primarily a blog about game design, but the game itself is now designed… however, it’s time to add the next layer. For a fantasy RPG, that is dungeons. I’ve tried dozens of times to develop a ‘mega dungeon’, and have met with little (if any) success. I think I have about a dozen starts at trying this; I always get frustrated by the slow pace of design, or I get distracted by something pretty, and I give up or wander off. I’ve been relatively good about sticking to things here on the blog, so if I make this the center point of my design efforts, maybe it’ll bear more fruit.

I’m going to design the dungeon as I go, working out the lore, function, and individual areas of it as my group of heroes moves through. I’ll start with a team, and then take them in.

The first need is for a trap master extraordinaire. I don’t even necessarily care if he/she is good at combat; this character is all about locks, traps and burglary. Going with the scout archetype, and picking up some stealth to make up for lower abilities in attack, will keep him viable. I’m thinking of going with a gnome here, who simply loves puzzles, traps and other gadgets. This might end up being the POV character (since I’ll be working with journals here).

Dran Ficklefinger the Forge Gnome Scout (10 CPs) Soak physical +1
Arms +1; Burglary +2; Evade +3 (2 CPs; +1 racial shift); Intuition +1; Precision +2; Stealth +2
Leather armor +1; darts +1 (attack +2; damage +1; range 3)

Okay, I’ve got a guy who doesn’t really fight very well… so, I need someone who does!

A human warrior. His name is Runyon, and he was the son of a noble family who, when he was five, saw his family slaughtered by a tribe of trolls who attacked his caravan. Because of his moxy – Runyon challenged the troll chieftain to personal combat – Runyon was adopted into the family and raised as a troll.

Runyon the Human Fighter (10 CPs) Soak physical +2
Arms +2; Might +3; Resolve +3 (2 CPs; +1 racial shift); Weapon Specialization (axes) +2
Hide armor +2; battle axe +2 (attack +3/damage +4)

I need a caster.

Xeric the Moon Elf Magician (10 CPs)
Arcane Bolt (eldritch) +3; Aspect +2; Evade +1; Lore +2; Intuition +1 (from racial shift +1); Resolve +1
Wand of eldritch +2 (attack +3/damage +2/range 3)
Carries a dog-eared edition of Heldack’s Arcanum; wears cloak of warding +2

Xeric was not destined to serve as a wizard. He was born into a family of wine makers, and spent nearly 100 years making wine with his family, always driven by wanderlust and a general dislike of mundane city life. When his distant uncle left him a tattered copy of Heldack’s Arcanum, he found his true calling.

With three heroes done, I ended up with no dwarf, and also no disciple- hmmm. I suppose that I need a dwarven disciple! I can see him being the type of dwarf that would worship Thor (if dwarves worshipped any gods in this world, and if Thor was around). He is part of a dwarf pseudo-religious order that pays reverence to storm energy itself; they see this primal force as integral in their efforts to escape from bondage (since it was), and they see their ability to connect with it as a way to become one with an elder power… there may be a god that shapes it, but they don’t really care- attaining communion with storm itself is the objective.

This dwarven order ties this magic to Resolve; so in addition to picking up auras, these dwarves (stormcallers?) also purchase spells linked to Resolve. I’d see the ideal dwarf stormcaller picking up an aura of might, an aura of healing, high resolve, a spell that deals heavy magical damage (an aoe attack spell) and a spell that allows them to use lightning itself as a thrown weapon (linked to might).

Throw Lightning (Application linked to Resolve; dwarf only). You may use lightning as a thrown weapon; attack with might, roll damage with resolve. Targets soak as magical damage.

For now, since he’s a starting hero, he can’t take this spell yet (and he won’t have room for it in his build), but I put it on the back burner as something to aspire to.

Garth Thunderheart, Dwarf Disciple (10 CPs) Soak magic +1/physical +2
Arms +2; Aura of Might +2; Aura of Healing +1; Aspect +1; Intuition +1; Might +3 (2 CPs, +1 racial shift); Resolve +1
Studded armor +2; cloak of warding +1; war hammer +2 (attack +3/damage +2)

I don’t like that I don’t have a female hero in the group, although I suspect that sometimes my wife will drop in and play as well, and at those times I can plug her hero (a scout with a bow) into the group to round things out.

At first, I was thinking I could have one POV hero… but, it would probably be better to have multiple narrators, depending on what’s going on. If they encounter a trap, then Dran is center stage. If they encounter an ancient tome or magical device, then suddenly we crack open Xeric’s journals and take a look.