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Friday, December 30, 2011

Improving the World's Largest Dungeon: Random Encounters

One thing I haven't addressed so far in my improvement of the WLD are the random encounter tables. This is probably because I don't tend to use random encounter tables myself. However in an environment like the WLD I can definitely see the value...especially once your group has slaughtered their way through most of the scripted encounters in a region.

So lets see how they do...

First let's take a look at the "Random Encounter Conditions" table. This is used to get a general feel for the situation each encounter takes place in and can determine the initial attitude of the Encounter. Overall, I'd rate this table as "acceptable". You'll probably find yourself ignoring it a good deal of the time but it could still be a good way to mix up the encounters and ensure that they're more interesting than "some goblins come down the hall"

That said I notice that many of the entries on this table are fairly redundant. For instance 5 of the 20 boil down to "the encounter is hostile" and there are several other entries that are either identical or so close as to not make a difference. Many of them are also very circumstantial and would have to be re-rolled or ignored in many situations. So here's a simplified "encounter condition table". As a general rule if the creature encountered is really evil and/or violent (such as demonic outsiders, undead or evil cultists) then subtract 1 from the roll (minimum of 1). If the encounter would normally be benevolent (such as celestials) then add +1 to the roll, maximum of 12.

Roll a d12

1- Hostile. The encounter will attack the party or otherwise attempt to subdue or drive them off, depending on alignment.
2- Hostile. The encounter is completely savage. They will attack immediately and fight to the death regardless of alignment. They are completely non-responsive to attempts at communication.
3- Hostile. The encounter is afraid or cautious and will attempt to escape. They will fight if cornered.
4- Unfriendly. The encounter is wounded or otherwise disadvantaged in some way (1d6 x10% off of their hp, possibly missing prepared spells or limited use powers).
5- Unfriendly. The encounter has something else to do. Perhaps they're chasing someone or something, returning to their home or otherwise engaged.
6- Neutral. The encounter is unresponsive. They may be wandering aimlessly or simply catatonic or magically bound or paralyzed. Usually extreme force, pain or violence will cause them to attack but they may be confused.
7- Neutral. The encounter is not sure what to make of the party and will wait for them to make the first move.
8-Neutral.  Dead. The PCs find evidence or corpses showing that the encounter was killed, destroyed or triggered (in the case of traps).
9- Neutral. The encounter having an encounter of its own. Roll on the random encounter table twice and determine how the two encounters are interacting with each other based on the result.
10- Friendly. The encounter needs the party's help or at least believes they do.
11- Friendly. The encounter would prefer to interact peacefully, although they may still attempt to trick or manipulate the party depending on alignment. Creatures of animal or less intelligence will simply ignore the party.
12- Helpful. The encounter will try and help the PC in some way. Creatures of animal intelligence or less will ignore the party but may inadvertently do something that helps them.


So, lets get to the random encounter tables themselves!

Region A

Okay, well Region A has only a single encounter chart so that makes things easy. The first thing I notice is that it asks you to roll on the table once per hour which seems like it's going to get tedious extremely fast. On top of that I notice that 6 of the 20 possible outcomes is "nothing" (more if you count random sounds and . It seems like it would be easier to roll less often but with a greater likelihood of something happening. I'd say that rolling once every 4 hours seems fine. Honestly though, I'd suggest that you go with something more abstract. Perhaps roll on the table every 2 hours of real-world (rather than game) time. Obviously if a random encounter would be nonsensical (or inconvenient) at that exact moment then it can be delayed.

The table has a few other problems as well. First and foremost the results are too specific. If you stick to the table you'll probably run into many pairs of troglodytes playing cards in all sorts of improbable locations. Also, when creating this table the writers seem to have forgotten about the entire point of the Encounter Condition table. The reason the encounter condition table is a good idea is that it significantly multiplies the number of possible outcomes without creating a single huge table. A 20 entry encounter condition and 20 entry encounter table provide 400 different possibilities without having to figure out how to roll a d400. However this encounter table throws it out the window, pretty much each encounter has very specific conditions to start with. This is going to lead to some very repetitive "random" encounters. So here's a shorter, more generic random table designed to synergize better with the Encounter Condition table. Obviously "event" or trap encounters can ignore the table.

Roll 1d12

  1. Some terrible noise echoes down the hallway or a mighty gust of wind. Echoes 5, 50% chance of Drafty. 
  2. A lone humanoid. roll 1d3: 1-Kobold, 2-Orc, 3-Troglodyte. 
  3. A flock of flying, fiendish animals, 1d6+1 of them. Roll 1d6: 1-Darkmantle, 2-Stirge, 3-Dire Bat, 4-Eagle, 5-Vargouille, 6-bat swarm.
  4. A swarm. Roll 1d3: 1-Spider, 2-bat, 3-rat.
  5. A humaniod patrol. Roll 1d3: 1- 2d6 1st level kobold warriors, 2- 1d8 1st level Orc warriors, 3- 1d6 Troglodytes.
  6. It's a Trap! Roll 1d4. 1- Razor-Wire, 2- Basic Arrow Trap, 3-Deeper Pit Trap, 4-Wall Blade Trap.
  7. Someone important: Choose a named NPC the party has not yet encountered wandering the halls alone. 
  8. Pack of fiendish beasties, 2d4 of them. Roll 1d6: 1-Dire Rat, 2-Wolf, 3-Medium Centipede, 4-Riding Dog, 5-Baboon, 6-Small Spider.
  9. A lone fiendish monster. Roll 1d6: 1-Dire Badger, 2-Black Bear, 3-Monitor Lizard, 4-Boar, 5-Large Viper, 6-Lion.
  10. Minor Tremor. The ground shakes (DC 15 Reflex save or fall), dust swirls (concealment for 1d10 rounds). 
  11. Lone scout from Region B...a 2nd level goblin rogue or a 1st level Bugbear ranger. 
  12. Nothing at all. 
So that looks good. Now on to region B.

Region B

Now Region B is a bigger fish than A, at least when it comes to random encounters. The place is divided into several subsections and each has its own encounter chart. Ultimately though they all share the same problems as region A...they're rolled too often, produce many uninteresting results and its results are too specific. So here are my improved versions. Like Region A I would suggest rolling once every 4 hours or once per two-hours of real-world time (excepting the abandoned halls, see below).

B1-48

The abandoned halls Encounter table has a 50% chance of nothing which makes sense but it makes for an uninteresting table. Instead we'll just roll less often. So roll once per 8 hours or once per game session (or 4 real-world hours if you're into marathon-length gaming).

Roll 1d8
  1. A foul gas pours from a crack at someone's feet. Roll 1d3. 1-Stinking Cloud, 2-Fog Cloud 3-Ungol Dust vapor
  2. Wanderer from Region A, roll on that encounter table instead. 
  3. A humanoid scout, A 1st level Bugbear Rogue or a 3rd level Hobgoblin Ranger.
  4. A lone wolf. A single Worg (40%), Dire Wolf (40%) or Blink Dog (20%). 
  5. Ancient trap. Roll 1d4: 1-Portcullis Trap (cold iron), 2-Bestow Curse Trap, 3-Wall Scythe Trap, 4-Searing Light Trap (5th lvl). 
  6. Former prisoner still lurking about. Roll 1d4: 1-Imp, 2-Quasit, 3-1d6 lemures, 4-1d4 dretches. 
  7. Slimy horror. Roll 1d4. 1-Patch of brown mold, 2-Puddle of green slime, 3-patch of yellow mold, 4-Grey Ooze
  8. Nothing.

B49-B68
In the bugbear settlement itself I strongly recommend avoiding "random" encounters. You should definitely have bugbears wandering the halls or keeping watch but it'll stretch believability to run into random magic, wandering beasts or similar hazards when smack dab in an encampment. For other parts here's a revamped encounter chart.

Roll 1d10

  1. Bugbear patrol. 2d3 Bugbears.
  2. Crude bugbear trap. Roll 1d4: 1-Camouflaged Pit Trap (20 ft), 2-Bricks from Ceiling, 3-Javelin Trap, 4-Poison Dart trap
  3. 2 bugbear scouts (1st level rangers)
  4. Goblin scout. A single 3rd level goblin rogue (75% from the Empire, 25% from the rebels). 
  5. Important NPC. Pick a named NPC, they're here with an appropriate escort. 
  6. Ancient Trap...a Glyph of Warding (Blast, 5th level). 
  7. Blockage. The party encounters a barrier. Either a section of collapsed rock or an abandoned barricade. 
  8. Goblin invaders! A 2nd level hobgoblin fighter leads 2d6 1st level goblin warriors. 
  9. An alarm in the form of a Shrieker Fungus. 
  10. Nothing.

B69-90

Just like the bugbears I'd make sure to avoid making encounters in the empire random....and really that's actually this entire area with the exception of B89 and B90. And I've already suggested that B90 be changed to a "civilian" area for the goblins and it would be pretty ridiculous to just have a table for B90. So my suggestion is to ditch this encounter table entirely.

B92

So, the Maze is kind of unique when it comes to random encounters...since those are in fact the only encounters. As I suggested in the last post it's best to treat the whole area as an abstract puzzle rather than having the PCs simply march through. To recap: Traveling through the Maze involves 30 minutes and a DC 20 survival roll. On a success the PCs have navigated from one end of the maze to the other. On a failure they've lost their way and must spend 30 more minutes and another Survival roll to get through. Roll for an encounter every 30 minutes. Of course if the PCs are checking carefully for traps then they're going slow (taking an hour between each check instead of 30 minutes).

However, I never actually looked over the random encounter tables themselves...and it features some truly bad editing...for instance options 6-9 involve finding a trap...but there's no traps listed at all. So here's a new, improved set of encounters. There's also the Maze-specific encounter condition table.

Roll 1d10 for the encounter then 1d10 for the encounter condition

  1. Annoying Traps. Roll 1d3: 1-Portcullis Trap (Cold Iron), 2-Stone Block Trap, 3-Wall of Thorns. Either way the trap blocks the passage, increasing the Survival DC by 5 unless bypassed. 
  2. Deadly Trap. Roll 1d4: 1-Fussilade of Darts, 2-Lightning Bolt (5th level), 3-Glyph of Warding (5th level), 4-Spiked Pit Trap (40 ft).
  3. Fearsome Trap. Roll 1d4: 1-Fear, 2-Confusion, 3-Phantasmal Killer, 4-Sepia Snake Sigil.
  4. 1d6 Vargoulle. 
  5. 1d3 Shadows
  6. Maze of Illusion. The character navigating (the one making the survival checks) must make a DC 17 Will save or become tricked by illusions, increasing the DC of the next survival check by 10. 
  7. A lone Wight. 
  8. A lost humanoid of your choice. 
  9. A group of goblin rebels navigating the maze. 2d6 1st level goblin warriors. 
  10. Nothing. 

  1. A zone of complete Silence
  2. A cloud of vile stench. Stagnant Air
  3. Patches of Brown Mold dot the walls. 
  4. Deep Darkness. 
  5. The area is coated in slime. Hazardous Footing 15.
  6. Eldritch evil fills the air. Fear 12. 
  7. Horrific echoes fill the hall. Distracting Noises 3.
  8. Thick layers of moss and slime. Bog. 
  9. Intense cold fills the air. Extreme Cold
  10. An ill wind blows...Drafty. 

 Also, while I'm at it I should try and justify this place's existence. It's a neat area from a challenge/strategy standpoint but it doesn't really have much reason to actually ever be built. Supposedly it's meant to help the celestials in case their prisoners escape...but it's tucked away here on the far side of the WLD and while it is the only way out of the B93 area it still doesn't do the job nearly as well as several solid walls and large heavy doors would. So lets reconsider its purpose. With my re-vamp of the WLD's origin story I claim that the demons/undead/aberrations here were not brought here and imprisoned by the celestials. Rather they are drawn here or actually born from the horrific abomination sealed in the dungeon's heart. The center of the maze here is one area where the concentrated evil wells up and has the potential to spawn demons or create undead. The celestials capped it but the "bleed off" is enough to still spawn lesser horrors. If the place was sealed and walled in it would soon be full to bursting so instead they created a sprawling maze to confuse and delay any new spawn (as well as traps to kill off the weakest and alert the guards) with guards stationed at the mouths of the Maze to slay any who make it through. Obviously such things were long, long ago but the well of evil is still waiting there in the heart of the maze. Fortunately the celestial's seal still holds...for now.

Anyway...enough of that. Back to the tables.

B93-108

Again it just doesn't make sense to have random encounters when wandering through what is essentially someone's home. So really this area shouldn't have random encounters (or more accurately every random encounter should simply be some rebel goblins wandering between rooms or on guard duty).

B109-119

 This place on the other hand is perfectly fine for random encounters:

Roll 1d10
  1.  Zombie beast. Roll 1d4 1-Owlbear, 2-Dire Wolf, 3-Minotaur,  4-Dire Ape. 
  2. Undead warriors, the reanimated corpses of paladins who died battling here. 1d3 ghouls armed with longswords, shields and chain shirts. 
  3. Frightful illusion. Treat this encounter as a Shadow Conjuration spell, pick a random creature from the Summon Monster III list.
  4. Rolling fog moves through the area. Treat it as a Fog Cloud spell that moves slowly (1 foot/round) down the hall. 
  5. 1d4 Howlers.
  6. Unlucky wanderer. Roll on the encounter table for Region F (remember my new map).
  7. Traps. Roll 1d3: 1-Cameoflaged Pit Trap (50 ft), 2-Acid Arrow Trap, 3-Wall Scythe Trap (silver)
  8. Lone goblinoid.
  9. 1d3 Wights. 
  10. Nothing

And that concludes the random encounters for Regions A and B. As I complete more Regions I'll make sure to address their random encounters as well.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Randomly Generated Downtime

So the order had just finished a major job, leaving crushed enemies and smoking wreckage across 3 or so countries in their wake. Magnus is fully engaged with research with House Cannith working to examine the two ancient schema pieces they've examined so far. This will take quite a while and it'll lead to the longest downtime for the Order so far (and with Magnus occupied possibly the quietest).

So other than a few minor personal projects (Nolan hunting through Sharn for great restaurants and exotic recipes and Jack trying to convince Magnus to help construct an Alchemy golem using a Manual they found in the Whitehearth facility) the Order had little plans for the glut of time they were left with and considering the last time they had time to kill they ended up causing labor riots...I needed to find something for them!

So after flipping through the eberron Player's guide I found an option which allows characters to purchase "shares" in an expedition to Xendrik and other exotic locales. In exchange for an initial investment they may roll on a table for a random reward (potentially ending up losing cash on the deal). So with a few modifications I create an alternative system. Instead of purchasing shares in an expedition these would be "mini-adventures" which each character can engage in initially (with the "purchase cost" representing the price of supplies, transportation and information). In addition to the standard table (which is for the most part identical to the one in the player's guide) I included a "risky venture" option requiring a greater investment but with the possibility of greater rewards. I'll include both tables at the end of the post. Each "roll" on the table took about a month of time.

So pretty much everyone in the Order (except Magnus who is otherwise busy) decides to invest in their individual sidequests:

Jack Struck gold, going for the "risky" adventure every time and always managing to make a profit in the form of cash, valuable spell components and ancient artifacts. In fact, after 4 or so months Jack has made enough profit to completely fund the creation of "Nurse" his alchemical golem (modified to medium size rather than large and disguised with a heavy robe to resemble a silent warforged).

Glorin had a tendency to collect cursed antiquities or trudging through diseased swamps. Fortunately his excellent saving throws hold him in good stead and he manages to avoid any serious issues. However he makes little profit until he finally gets a big break. A ship he is sailing on is commandeered by several Brelish soldiers and non-other than King Boranel's brother. They're pursuing a rogue sorcerer and when they finally catch up the sorcerer manages to disable the his pursuers but Glorin manages to overcome his spells and slay him. For saving the king's brother he's rewarded with a hefty cash reward and an honorary membership to the Redcloaks (including his own fancy cloak).

Nolan has mixed luck. He unfortunately has several "bad maps" and at one incident where a noble he was working for was killed by a bullette. Overall he broke even.

Everyone else had almost universally terrible luck. In fact all together the team had so many "bad map" results that we had to make it a plot point...a scummy goblin merchant who set up shop in the Adventurer's district and starting selling faked (or "used") treasure maps. The Order decides that they should pay him a visit and ensure that they get a refund...and that he takes up a new occupation. They show up to find him packing his bags in the company of two heavily armed bugbear bodyguards. After attempting to squirm his way out of a refund he sics the bugbears on the team but an intimidate roll from Glorin and Nolan makes them hesitate...then Nolan asks just how much they're being paid. After offering them twice as much to take a break they're left alone with the merchant...when the true terror strikes.

A high-pitched, reedy voice from outside announces the arrival of Jin Tamlin, bandit extraordinare! and his faithful sidekick, Gimble! Both the Order and the goblin merchant begin panicking.

You see they've run into Jin before and while he was deadly the true danger lies in just how freaking annoying the little bastard was. Jin is a halfling fighter/Master Thrower with a speciality in darts. In fact due to an obscene amount of weapon focus, feats and throwing tricks the little monster was practically a machine-gun...able to toss over a dozen total darts in a single round and accurate enough to penetrate even Glorin and Nolan's defenses. This is combined with the support of Gimble...his gnomish sidekick and "announcer"...a Bard with the perform (bragging) skill to help enhance Jin (usually while hiding behind illusions and invisibility himself). Together they create a perfect storm of deadliness and annoyance.

This time Jin shows up on a flying carpet outside the window while Gimble shouts from the bridge outside, egging him on. The room is soon full of broken glass and flying darts. The Order takes some minor wounds as they dive for cover near the doorway. After a bit of discussion they decide to charge outside. Unfortunately they find Jin hovering overhead and Gimble has multiplied himself with a mirror image. The following battle can be expressed best through Gimble's annoying, high-pitched and repetitive dialogue:

"Come on then you fools! You stand under the eye of Jin Tamlin...master extraordinare!"

"Ho-ho! Tremble with fear and wet your knickers! Look upon the darts of Jin ye fatty and despair!"

*brandishing an apparently empty hand* "Foolish...idiots! Now you shall feel the sting of my invisible blade!"

Unfortunately for Jin, Tayin had a clever idea and whipped out a wand of dispel magic (formerly belonging to peski) and managed with a lucky roll to dispel his flying carpet. The carpet plummets somewhere into the depths of Lower Sharn (probably making an excellent piece find for some poor schlub). Jin is saved by his ring of feather falling and a grappling hook.

Now, before I relate this next part I should mention that as the night goes on it becomes easier and easier to persuade me to do very, very silly things. You see one of Gimble's pieces of equipment is a Bag of Tricks and he got lucky one turn and rolled "rhino". Unfortunately his rhino was no match for Glorin and was in the process of being quickly dispatched. Now...Peski's player had just finished his newest character a (a Shifter barbarian named Pax) and was itching to be introduced into play. His impatience was quickly overcoming any desire for a "reasonable" introduction. So things got...weird.

The rhino began to bulge oddly in the middle and then, in a shower of gore that nearly made the druid faint it burst apart revealing a huge barbarian wielding a greatsword. Pax screams "GIMBLE!" and charges at the gnomish bard.

What follows is blood and screaming and more furry animals being thrown about (this time without barbarians inside). The fight ends with Jin Tamlin dead (eliciting a spontaneous cheer from all nearby buildings...Jin had a reputation) but Gimble escaped, swearing revenge. The goblin merchant gladly hands over a refund, and then some, to the brave men and women who had slain Jin.

Pax introduces himself to the Order and (lacking any knowledge of how he got to Sharn and anywhere to stay) he hangs out with them for a little while...eventually proving his worth and becoming a full team member. We never clearly decided on just how he got inside a magically summoned rhino but I think it involved an accident with a wand of wonder, some sovereign glue and a plate of spaghetti.

That just about covers the Order's downtime. When we return the plot will get back on track. Like I promised here's a copy of the tables I used for random solo-sidequests:


Each venture takes a month’s time and requires an investment of 1000 gp (simple) or 2,000 gp (risky). Each venture earns the player a roll.


1d100 (simple)
1-15: 1,200 gp and a dakhanni antiquity (worth 500 gp) but the idol is cursed and spending it requires a DC 17 will save (bestow curse CL 7) or begin transforming into a goblin until the idol is returned.
16-30: Bad weather and hostile valenar elves force you to return early. 400 gp and one dakhanni antiquity
31-36: You uncover a lost goblin temple but most of your spoils end up stolen. 600 gp, contracts a disease or a spellblight
37: Your lightning rail collides with something on the track, you survive and are given 2 complementary round trip tickets to any destination of your choice.
38-39: Hired to protect a noble on safari, who gets eaten by a bullette. 400 gp but can bring it to 1000 if they sell the story to the Korranberg chronicle.
40-55: 1,100 gp plus 2d10 dragoneye acorns.
56-78: 1,400 gp plus 2d6 pearls (12d12 gp value).
79-80: No clue. You have no memory of the expedition and are found wandering dazedly from the wilderness but your pockets are full of gold. 1,800 gp and a giant antiquity.
81-90: 2,200 gp.
91-95: 2,300 gp and an orcish friendship necklace (+2 to cha rolls with gatekeeper orcs).
96-98: 2,700 gp and you may call in a favor from the Kech Volar for a week’s service from an honor guard (3 4th level hobgoblin fighters, 2 2nd level bugbear barbarians).
99-100: 1,500 gp and a minor wondrous item.


1d100 (risky)
1-15: 2,500 gp and a ceremonial moderate magical weapon. The ghosts of it’s past wielders will seek and attempt to slay you (spawns 1d4 wraiths which try and kill you).
16-30: Bad treasure map. Nothing of worth.
31-36: The ancient ruin has already been looted. One goblin artifact.
37: Lost in the swamp, you contract 1d3 diseases.
38-39: No treasure but you become romantically involved with a noblewoman after foiling assassins sent after her. She breaks your heart after a few weeks and leaves you with 1,500 gp. You’re hounded by journalists (can earn 3,000 gold through interviews) but giving in will cause 4 assassins to be sent after you (5th level gnome rogues).
40-55: 2,500 gp plus 2d8 Irian crystals
56-78: 3,000 gp plus 2d6 syberis dragonshards but there is a curse or spellblight that attaches.
79-80: 4,000 gp plus Potion of non-detection and an oil of greater magic weapon (+5).
81-90: 3,500 gp and you can memorize an artifact spell or gets a giant artifact.
91-95: 5,000 gp and a favor from a dragonmarked house (a one-shot use of the favored in house feat)
96-98: 6,000 gp and a title/knighthood/etc.
99-100: 3,000 gp and a moderate wondrous item.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

I Thought of it First V: Random Super-Hero Ideas


Just some random concepts that sprung up in my head.

The first was considering exactly what would make a good Superman video game. He's a super-hero I've always enjoyed (my favorite incarnation being his bro-mantic pairing with batman in the Batman/Superman comic series) although I'm not a hardcore comic adept by any means. Some people may find him boring (bah I say, they probably don't like paladins either) but that's never been an issue for me. But with a character like him I could see him being a challenge for a writer. That certainly hasn't stopped many, many writers from making a great story with the Man of Steel. Unfortunately when it comes to video games it's a different story. In fact I don't know if there's a single super-man based game that could be considered universally "good", especially when it comes to capturing his vast array of powers accurately.

Obviously older games can be excused due to limited graphics, technology, etc. But modern gaming certainly should be up for the challenge. However, current super-hero or epic action (DMC or God of War) use RPG elements, buying up new abilities with whatever in-game currency is available. Obviously this doesn't work with Superman, a game where you start with only a few powers and "buy them up" would be an insult to the character. 

So here's an alternate idea. As superman you have access to all your powers right from the start but you're limited by your Focus. Focus being how much you're concentrating on one particular aspect of your powers at once. Focus can be split up among different powers freely and reassigned at will. So just by switching to your character menu you can shift focus from one power aspect to another. 

So for instance you might divide Supe's powers up in the following ways: 
  • Might: Pretty self-explanatory. Putting more Focus in Might gives you the ability to lift heavier objects, strike for more damage, etc. It also affects your invulnerability. Superman obviously is never at risk of being knocked out or killed (excepting special circumstances or powerful enemies) but if your Might isn't boosted then you can more easily be knocked back or stunned.
  • Speed: Investing focus in super-speed gives you much, much faster movement and increased attack rate. Important to note that this only increases the character's actual speed (see below). This also includes flight, completely "nulling" speed Focus may limit you purely to gliding or leaping. 
  • Senses: Enhanced super-senses will give kind of a grab-bag of abilities. Partially it'll probably grant some "map-modding" abilities like showing enemies on your mini-map, and "radar" effects to show the location of danger, victimized civilians, etc. Primarily though it grants bullet-time, slowing the rate at which events occur. This does not increase your movement ability but it does provide more time to think about the situation and react. Obviously combining it with focus in Speed allows for some amazing things. 
Now, you've got other powers that don't scale up or down (heat-vision is a good example), although the slow-down effect of something like Senses will certainly synergize well. Other abilities might be picked up as "stunts" throughout gameplay (for example super-breath as a stunt of Might, becoming more powerful the higher your Might Focus) or through specialized button comboes relying on player skill. Focus may or may not increase throughout play (the game could follow Superman through stages in his career from smallville to metropolis to cosmic level play).

Now the following isn't exactly my idea...I just remember reading it somewhere (honestly I don't remember where...if there's anyone who knows what the heck I'm talking about feel free to mention it in the comments) and thinking it was a terrific idea. Challenges in a super-man game should be more like a complex, multi-solution puzzle rather than a straight up brawler. Say for instance you've got a giant mech trundling down main-street and firing missiles and lasers all around. Your goal is not only to defeat the bot and save civilians in danger but to ensure that you do so in the least amount of time or the minimum number of "moves". The three main powers would grant a variety of different ways to tackle the challenge in potentially hundreds of different ways.

And of course there should be a World of Cardboard bonus level where you can simply cut loose and demolish the scenery at will.


The second part of this is an idea I had a while back. You know the show Deadliest Warrior? Well if you don't it's a show which compares different warriors throughout history in a "who would win" battle. It can be quite fun so long as you don't think too hard about it because some of their assumptions are amazingly terrible.

Well, my thought is why not try this with super-heroes? Comics have been doing this for years with various super-hero misunderstandings and "vs" titles. Of course the answers are rarely consistent from comic to comic and always depend on the writer and the situation. But you could certainly carefully examine the abilities and limitations of each character in a "neutral territory" situation and work out once and for all who would actually (on average of course) win in a fight.

Of course unless the show was actually produced by one of the big-two comic publishers the licensing rights would be obscene. And while the really interesting version would allow cross-overs (such as Thor Vs The Flash) it would be pretty tough to get permission from the publisher to let their character lose the fight. Still, a show like this could become immensely popular if for no other reason than the permanent flame-wars every episode would spark off.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Improving the World's Largest Dungeon: Region B, The Rest

So clearly the first part of Region B was...disappointing to say the least. But I still think that the region as a whole has potential and I'm hoping the quality improves now that we've moved past the nuttiest area. We'll see won't we?

B49

So right off the bat we've got another cartography mistake. Supposedly B49 is a hidden room, connected by a secret door to room B51, which is in no way connected and B49 is in no way hidden. That said, you could easily leave it as-is, although it isn't hidden the lock is DC 35 which would be well beyond the skill of just about anyone in the dungeon, even a rogue PC is probably not going to have a tough time until they're higher level.

The chamber is extremely valuable however, doubling the speed at which PCs can rest and regain spells. In keeping with such an important place I'd give it some interesting features, maybe drop a puzzle or cypher or some other interesting element here...because you can bet the PCs will make this place a base of operations.



B50

There hardly seems to be any point to requiring a Search check to find the secret door considering the description pretty clearly points out the door's location. But hey, they've got an Echoes condition that is actually addressed in the description. That's good.

I would strongly suggest using the strongboxes as a good way to reward the PCs with some extra magic items. The room suggests some 1st level potions, but I'd say a low-charge wand, some magic ammo and some decent wondrous items.



B51

So this is Argliss's original secret lair. First thing, when describing the room make sure to note that the ring is on top of the book on the table. One of the key traps for the room is the fact that disturbing the ring triggers a fire trap, which consumes the book.

Now, make sure not to do what the adventure says with the ring. The ring is apparently a cursed ring that prevents lies, invisibility and prevents the wearer from acting in any way opposed to LG tendencies...DO NOT GIVE THIS TO THE PLAYERS. The big risk isn't danger of the "cursed" object, it's the fact that this is perhaps the most powerful tool they'll ever find in the dungeon. With this ring they'll be able to interrogate any enemy or convert even the most wicked foe to the cause of good (or at least prevent them from doing any evil). Of course it doesn't make sense anyway. After all, if the celestials could create this why aren't rings like this on all of the prisoners in the dungeon?

Also, ignore the identification of Argliss from the journal. There's no reason why the PCs should assume he's a Barghest (or even necessarily know what one is). There are many, many different types of shapechangers and all the PCs should be able to gather is that Argliss clearly somehow manages the trick.

EDIT: Just noticed when doing work on the Bugbear area that B50 is the only way to get access to rooms B52-58...part of the bugbear's primary stomping ground. So logically the bugbears would know about this place...which of course would make it a horrible hiding place for Argliss (even if you consider that they might not have been able to get through the several locked doors).

B52

Ignore the "bonus feats" for the dire wolf, there's no good reason for them. Also ignore the Fearless condition, the designers seem to love giving every animal the Fearless condition for no real reason. One wonders how exactly the dire wolf got into this room in the first place. Since this hallway is pretty much the only direct path from the bugbear's territory to the rest of region B there should be at least one bugbear stationed here on watch, the wolf can be a companion. 

B53

The writers of this region seem to have very specific tastes: pedestals, wells and statues. Oh, and also very obvious traps. Very obvious, poorly designed traps. For instance we've got a trap here that fills the room with water...but does not close or lock the door. Needless to say this is a miserable failure of a room. The room also never addresses the value (or lack thereof) of the gemstones in the sack. The players will certainly want to know!

I'd say keep the basic elements but mix things up. We've got a well here, an incredibly clear, deep well...so deep that the PC's torchlight doesn't reach the bottom but does throw up some sparkles from the depths. PCs might risk drowning to dive into the depths here (say 200-250 ft) to find treasure or trash (I'd say be nice...give them a few mundane gems and perhaps a wondrous item like a gem of elemental summoning?)

B54

In this area there's one major missing element. The bugbears are simply concentrated in a few rooms...there's no bugbears wandering the hallways or sitting around. It should be pretty clear the moment that the PCs enter the area that it's place where a large number of critters live. Moving around here should not simply be a matter of going from room to room kicking down doors...it should be more like walking around a small village or neighborhood.

Ignore the Fearless encounter condition. Also an editing mistake. The bulk of the room's description claims sharpfang has 25 hp, but his stat block has 31 hp. Go with the stat-block, it's closer to the average value for his level.

B55

Oh dear...another pedestal. Oh and look, they think they're being clever. This one isn't trapped! Honestly I say just delete this room entirely. It is going to be pretty much impossible to find at this level (DC 40 search check to locate). Of course there's no explanation for why this fairly simple and mundane magic item is hidden behind what is possibly the most well-concealed secret door in the entire dungeon. If for some reason you do decide it needs to exist the first thing you should do is drop the DC to 30 (the normal DC for a well-hidden secret door) and put something more useful inside such as a magic weapon or shield.

B56

This is a good example of the issue I mentioned in B54. Assuming the PCs didn't head into B54 they could simply stumble right into the bugbear's workshop with no one the wiser. Someone should be either in this room (even if it's a couple of goblin slaves or prisoners sharpening arrowheads) or out in the hallways.

The cartography here is a bit odd. On the map there's a clear gap that looks like a very narrow hallway between B56 and B57. Since the text pretty clearly states that the only entrance between the the two is the secret door. Speaking of the secret door, I'd say either make it a normal door or have it propped open. It doesn't make much sense for the bugbears to close themselves into this back area when they're working and it's not like the PCs aren't going to figure it out once they hear the noises from next door.

Initially I assumed that the Echoes condition was due to the sound of the bugbears working in the next room, but following the rules would actually cause the sound to make it harder to hear the bugbears in the next room. It's not otherwise addressed, so simply ignore the Echoes condition.


B59

Ok, now this is confusing. So rooms B54-B58 are the bugbear's war-room, armory, supply chamber (and b53 is a logical source of fresh water). B59 is the bugbear's sleeping chamber....which is in no way connected to the rest of the chambers. To get to B59 and take a nap the bugbears working in the armory would need to head out through room B52 (which originally contained a hostile dire wolf), through B50 (passing through 2 secret doors, one of which is jammed), past B45-46 and through another secret door before they reach their territory again...so clearly we've got some craptastic cartography going on here. In fact...taking a look at the bugbear's territory it's clear that the general design is simply terrible. I'll address specifics later on but this just doesn't work as-is.

But as far as B59 goes it clearly needs a more direct connection to the other parts of Bugbear territory. I'd suggest placing the door on the eastern wall of the hallway outside of the door to B58.

B60

The map really needs to indicate where traps are. Unless they're specifically attached to a room feature like a door (or a pedestal...ugh) there's rarely much indication of where exactly the trap and trigger are. Presumably the stone block trap here is located immediately inside the doorway, but it's certainly not clear.

Also "based on the contents, it is safe to assume that this is a store room..." but it never actually indicates what the hell these contents are. I'd suggest including some basic supplies/gear (rope, food, water, torches, etc). Considering this is where the bugbear's sleep and is the home of both their greatest warrior and healer it would be insane not to have at least a token guard of a couple of bugbears stationed here to alert everyone should the place be attacked. If you think your party might be amenable to a diplomatic situation I would have either Aughkin or the Healer out here rather than sitting in their rooms so that they can keep violence from breaking out if the players don't immediately start swinging.

B62

Aughkin is a decent encounter but ignore all their modifications. The writers of this adventure love to throw around free bonuses. Apparently being a 5th level bugbear fighter isn't enough...on top of that he'll get the benefits of barbarian rage, improved grappling, and he's fearless. If you want to make him tougher give him a level of barbarian so that the CR is at least accurate.

B63-4

Although the ideas here aren't utterly ridiculous, the location is. The bugbears shouldn't be setting traps that rely on the goblins wandering around freely in their territory...they should be preventing this from happening at all. If a goblin can get to B63 there's nothing to stop a large force from simply surrounding B66 or stumbling across the hidden entrance to their leaders. These rooms might simply not be used (they have no doors or other security) but if you like the goblin traps then I'd suggest putting them elsewhere in the dungeon.

B65

Despite the fact that this claims to be a storage room and the room description claims it is full of gear and polearms there's no indication of what is actually in here. I'd say remove the whole "storage room" aspect (who stores corpses alongside their equipment?) and just make this a place where the bugbears have stuck a pile of goblin corpses, perhaps they were in a hurry and that's why the corpses still have a lot of valuables.

B66-68

These areas are a good indication of one big problem the bugbears have. They are right next to their goblin enemies. I mean, right next door, right down the hall. There's no barricade, no guards, no nothing to stop the goblins from simply marching down the hall to one of the major bugbear camps. Now the lair of Aughkin and the Healer are concealed behind a secret door but B66 is where the bulk of the tribe seems to be staying and it's only defense is a locked door. Strategically this is a joke.

Even worse is 67 and 68. The idea is that these rooms are the bugbear's last line of defense...if the goblins manage to overrun their position then they'll retreat to these areas and make a last stand. However this retreat would actually require that the bugbears retreat towards the goblins. Rather than falling back they would somehow have to fight their way through the goblin forces to reach these rooms. Obviously this is suicidely dumb. The only purpose of room 67 seems to be to make it hard for PCs to enter this part of the Region from Region A and channel them either to the heavily trapped first section or directly to the goblin "empire".

My suggestion would be to simply make rooms 67 and 68 sites of previous battles between the bugbear and goblins. The goblins managed to trap the bugbears in this room and slaughtered them. (there are no traps). As of right now this area is something of a no-mans-land for the goblin and bugbear forces and neither side has recovered their dead.

Alternatively if you like the traps (this is another room where it would have been quite nice to at least generally mark the location of the traps) then perhaps this was a trap set by the bugbears, luring the goblins into the chamber and slipping out (perhaps looping through region A). 

B69

As addressed above it's kind of ridiculous how easy it is to simply walk between goblin and bugbear territory. There should be a barricade at the very least, probably for both sides with a no-man's-land hallway between. The goblin's barricade is probably right where B69 is marked on the map, with the bugbear's being further up the hall, somewhere north of the entrance to B67.

The encounter has the Cover condition which might make sense if there was a barricade here in the first place, but there's no mention of such. I'd remove it anyway because an immovable barricade won't necessarily provide cover to everything.

Also remember to look Here for my suggestions on how best to ignore their goblin modifications. Ignore the suggested tactics and extra feats and use the corrected stats I provided. The goblins should have the barricade set up maybe 10 feet from the 3-way intersection. The floor 20 feet in front of the barricade is covered in caltrops and the barricade itself is made of spears, wood and stone. The barricade provides cover, has Hardness 6 and 60 hp per 5-foot section. It can be climbed over with a DC 10 climb check (but spikes inflict 1d4 damage to anyone climbing it). It can be jumped with a DC 16 check, but anyone "landing" directly on the barricade falls to one side or the other (prone) and takes 2d6 damage from the spikes. The goblins will remain at the barricade if they spot the PCs, but they'll send one back as a messenger to B70 for reinforcements. If the PCs are hostile they'll initially rely on javelins or slings to drive them off. If the PCs charge the barricade the goblins will retreat to the intersection and split into two forces, allowing the PCs to come forward and be caught between them.

B70

Ignore the "soft cover" condition.



B71

Ignore the Concealment (there's no source of concealment in the room), Echoes and Fearless conditions.

Haglar's stats are problematic. First and foremost they give him improved disarm without him meeting any of the prerequisites, and they chose for some reason to give him Alertness but to invest only a single skill point in both spot and listen, making it pretty much pointless. Also an "elite warrior" who relies on a whip rather than his sword certainly doesn't deserve the name. Here's a better feat selection: Weapon Focus (Scimitar), Weapon Specialization (Scimitar), Improved Initiative, Quick Draw and either give him Iron Will or keep Alertness, but shift his skill points from his other skills to boost his Spot/Listen. Also make sure to make his scimitar +1 and not his dumb whip (so his scimitar his +9 to hit, 1d6+5 damage. Ignore the suggestion of fighting 2-handed).

B72-B73

This is a terrible place for a prison considering it's got a door that leads straight to region A. That means if the prisoner escapes then all they have to do is run that way and they've totally escaped from the empire. If you want the prison to make sense then seal this exit.

B74

Remember to ignore the Fearless encounter condition and the suggested tactics. Also replace Hammerfist's Greatclub with a Maul (identical to a greataxe but bashing rather than slashing).

B76

I don't care how well locked it is (all it takes is a knock spell) It's insanely poor security to have the king's bedchambers open directly into an unguarded hallway straight to region A. Instead conceal the entrance to this passage (in Region A) with a secret door, DC 20 to locate.

B83-84

Ignore the Fearless condition and remember to ignore the tactics.

B85

Ignore the negative energy effect (and especially ignore hammerfist's un-explained immunity). Also ignore his free, area of effect intimidate. And on top of that keep in mind that most of the suggested tactics either make no sense, have no rules (breaking hands and fingers) or are just stupid (using coup de grace attacks during the middle of combat).


B86-88

Ignore the Fearless condition and the goblin's tactics.

It's amusing to note that although the goblins supposedly learned their discipline and tactics from the hobgoblins pretty much none of the hobgoblins encountered shows any hint of discipline or military thinking.

B89

This whole area is pretty dull. First and foremost the instructions given are practically gibberish. It tells you to drop a few "command, cause fear, and suggestion" spells but no indication of where, why or what the purpose of the spells are (the suggestion especially) and tells you to give a "allip-like" moan. Overall I wouldn't worry about this region too much...after all the odds of the PCs actually cracking the bizarrely specific techniques needed to open any of the tombs is pretty low.

That said the place is hardly interesting and you might want to replace it with living areas for goblin "civilians" (commoners rather than warriors). I know the dungeon isn't exactly going for verisimilitude but there's got to be at least a few non-combatants to keep the empire going and this is a perfect place to stick them.

B90

Some terrible traps here. Not overpowered, just terribly used. First and foremost, if you've got traps in the hallway then put the note for them in the hallway and when the "hallway leading to this room" is actually three hallways at least 90 feet long that all intersect directly outside the door it would be great if you could provide some hints as to where those will be. I say get rid of the traps altogether. If you really like traps then stick one in B90, placed by bugbears to skewer goblins coming to try and reestablish the barracks here. The encounter conditions can be ignored (considering there's no one actually here they hardly matter).

B91

Some hilariously bad room description "This....room smells of charcoal and smoke. The blackened walls and burned furniture indicate only one culprit-fire." Because there's so many other potential sources of smoke. The explanation behind this room is pretty crazed as well...apparently the bugbears set the room on fire...then left an urn here that they trapped on the assumption that goblins will believe an important bugbear was killed...so they'll grab the urn? Whatever. It's all nuts, but maybe the bugbears are actually pretty dumb. So go with it if you like, otherwise perhaps this was a site where the goblin "god" used his fireballs to wipe out a crew of bugbears as a show of strength, then the goblins left traps here to kill bugbears trying to reclaim the area.

B92

Amusingly the first sentence of this section tells you that there are no random encounters in or near the Maze...then the encounter condition ends with a random encounter table. But that said a series of random encounters and conditions isn't a half-bad way to run a complicated maze. However the problem is that although it plays fast and loose with traps and encounters the maze itself is very specifically laid out and can only be navigated square-by-square and hall-by-hall. In fact, it's extremely easy to navigate overall...with the right path choices you could easily move from B88 to B93-95 (pretty much the only places the maze connects) in less than 10 minutes, never mind the half-hour you're meant to roll encounters. Even if you do head deep into the maze I doubt very much that any PCs will spend more than an hour in the Maze.

Here's a good abstract way to handle it. Once the PCs enter the Maze they become lost in the shifting rooms and twists and turns. Attempting to get through the maze requires a half-hour and a DC 20 Survival roll. Failure means they have to spend a second half-hour wandering the Maze. Success means they've successfully traveled from one end of the maze to the other.

B93

"Heathen Goblin Rebels" is a great name for a heavy metal band.

While I mentioned that spears are terrible equipment for the highly trained, "elite" goblin empire you might consider keeping them for these goblins to emphasize their relatively primitive tactics and lack of resources.

B94

The room descriptions throughout this whole region have a real problem with both assuming the PCs actions and knowledge. It's generally bad writing but it's safe to say most DMs know well enough to simply ignore those descriptions that would be completely meaningless to their PCs. Still, bad writing.


B95
Speaking of bad writing...apparently B94 has a secret door which is the only entrance to the rebel goblin's home. So despite the fact that they've got very large series of chambers sealed behind both a locked door and a secret door they decide to hang out in B95, which is not even locked, let alone concealed. Without even a guard at the doorway. Perhaps I can come up with some kind of justification...this room is ridiculously large in the first place, so big it's got almost no reason to exist. Perhaps though it was a meeting place for the celestials. Thus the floor has a massive mosaic tile containing the only full and complete map of the Region (you might even considering giving some map info on region A and C as well), perhaps even including the celestial-built traps and secret rooms. This is the only advantage the rebels have so they make sure to do their planning in this room so they can consult the map (they lack any writing materials to make copies).

Also, ignore the fearless condition. Apparently pretty much all goblins are completely immune to fear. Who knew?

B96

I'm assuming the writers meant for the unmarked door to the north of B96 to be an identical storeroom. I'd suggest that the "alarm rushes" (wait...where did goblins who've lived in the dungeon for centuries get rushes? replace it with mouse-skulls or rat bones or something) fill the hallway as well...otherwise there's not much point.

B97

Again, ignore the Fearless status. Also decide for yourself whether or not the goblins will immediately attack or not, because the description here is contradictory. I'd suggest that they immediately attack...they can't afford to talk things out when strangers wander into their home.

B98

Keep in mind that a goblin longspear will be size Small, although you might allow that to function as a Medium sized spear. Why not make it magical at this point too? The PCs could really use a good magic item...perhaps a +1 Flaming?

B99

This should be Unhallowed, the goblin rebels are still Evil aligned.

B100

More terrible descriptive. "...a lone goblin...he doesn't appear to notice you but maybe he does". Seriously? Otherwise the room is fine.

B101

There's no reason these goblins should get +2 to Will saves, so ignore that as well as the Fearless condition.

B102

So wait...the room generates supernatural Fear...so why do the goblins not realize why their worgs don't like it here? (oh wait, of course because they're all apparently fearless). In fact, you know what's better...this room has both the Fear and Fearless condition. The worg's are being driven mad by a fear effect that they're immune to. Wonderful!

So, obviously that's stupid. Instead these are captured Worgs, taken during a raid on the Empire goblins and the goblins are hoping to "tame" them. These worgs have been kept near-starving hoping to convince them to serve the rebel goblins.

B107

So rather than staying behind the secret doors and locked chambers with the rest of his people apparently Guk chooses to stay here...meaning he can be reached easily by anyone who makes it through the Maze and he's completely cut off from reinforcements should he be in danger. I'd say relocate him to the room directly across from B101 which is otherwise completely empty.

B108

This room is only inhabited because of bad cartography. The description claims that the goblins are here to guard from possible attack from the north and occasionally hunting monsters that inhabit the northern tunnels...but there is no connection to the northern tunnels. Do not treat them as Enraged or give them an initiative bonus.

B111 (Balance)

Most of this region is pretty good as far as balance goes. There are some tough encounters but they're mostly avoidable or solvable through means other than brute force. This room however is terribly dangerous. Even if we assume that all the PCs are level 5 by now it's pretty insane.

First the encounter conditions. Although they're certainly justified you'll notice that the PCs will have to resist fear (DC 14)...but it's also cursed making the DC 19, all undead have +6 turn resistance, while all clerics are at -4 to turning rolls...and just in case the PCs wanted to run it's got Hazardous Footing. And on top of that apparently provides concealment. I'd say drop Fear (it's justified but too powerful), Cursed, Desecration and Hazardous Footing. And of course drop Concealment because there's no explanation of the source.

Now...secondly the critters. First if you don't listen to my advice on the encounter conditions it's more ridiculous. For example the ghouls have an Aura of Fear which, with the Curse effect is DC...actually they never give a DC for the aura of fear or any information on it at all. So ignore it (it's hardly a balanced reversal).

In fact the stats for these guys are all crap. First they're apparently corrupted paladins and they have the abilities of paladins...but reversed...and of unclear level. They've got 2 extra HD so one would assume they're 2nd level...but they've got spellcasting abilities which paladins don't get till 6th. They've also got SR 14 and +4 natural armor...but they're only CR 3. They're also equipped with Unholy Longswords and Unholy Chain Shirst (despite the fact that there is no such thing). And of course just to be a jerk their powerful magic items (+3 equivalent) turn to dust when they die.

So this is a massively terrible room. First, ditch the paladin levels, second ditch the super equipment. If you want you can give them regular +1 longswords that remain when they die. Also ditch the AC bonus and Sr. That means they're perfectly ordinary ghouls but in armor (AC 18) and carrying longswords. This should be more than enough of a challenge. If your party is especially tough then throw in a Ghast leader.

Since this is apparently the site where a powerful demon was killed by the paladins it should be marked more significantly...perhaps a large twisted skeleton or perhaps an outline of the monster's corpse seared into the stone floor. 

B112

So...this prison door was designed to open the moment someone read the symbol on it...that's just so stupid...and on top of that they apparently decided to put a suit of magical armor in the same room as one of their prisoners.

Instead just make this chamber broken open already. Perhaps in the battle one of the paladin warriors was thrown bodily through the door by the demon they fought. His body was simply too demolished to rise as a ghoul. However his suit of armor (not unholy because the PCs don't need to be teased with useless magic items) is still intact. +1 Ghost touch splint mail.

B113

Again we have the term "allip-like moan" which is a terrible piece of description. Also apparently the writers have become so used to assigning the Fearless condition to everyone in the Region that they've begun assigning it to beings that are already immune to fear. The celestials also continue their tradition of locking their prisoners up with powerful magic weapons for no apparent reason. Since it's just another piece of trash "fake treasure" I'd say just ditch the +1 unholy mace.

B114

"The Hell on Every Earth"...what does that even mean? Ignore the concealment effect since there's no clear source of concealment, and again we've got a fearless undead. don't give him a bonus to bull rush...in fact don't bull rush. Just have the ghast attack and attempt to paralyze his target since that's actually an effective tactic.

Take a careful look at the Ghast's stats because they've added a lot of extra stuff (additional HD, a dex drain and fast healing). Depending on your PC's levels you might want to ditch a few of it's add-ons. It's stat block claims it's CR 3 (obviously not) but presumably the EL represents the correct CR of 6.

B115

One wonders at this point why the celestials didn't just kille their prisoners. Also whether or not the writer of this section knows what "severed" means.

Ignore the concealment (it's already got deep darkness).

B116

So...somehow these goblins made it through the Maze and snuck right past their mortal enemies and wandered into this dangerous, unclaimed territory full of undead out of boredom. Unless you plan on making these goblins master ninjas (which I wouldn't necessarily discourage) then I'd suggest revising their backstory. A better explanation is that these goblins are Empire-aligned and were patrolling this area hoping to find a way to reach the rebels without passing through the Maze. Needless to say they're in over their head.

B120

Supposedly the bugbears use this area as a trap-field to slaughter goblins...despite the fact that the bugbears are literally located on the opposite side of the dungeon and neither the goblins nor the bugbears could reach this area without passing through the room of death and a closed portcullis that can only be opened from the opposite side. Obviously insane.

Instead this chamber is full of corpses (and the symbols on the walls are unholy script) of goblins and bugbears dragged here by the ghoul paladins or other monstrous inhabitants of this region. Their flesh has been gnawed from their bones and if the PCs approach they'll be attacked by a collection of goblinoid skeletons (lets say 6 goblins, 4 hobgoblins and 3 bugbears).

B121

Perhaps the bugbears here are a trapped patrol that somehow survived this far...but as I pointed out that's pretty insane to start with. Instead lets put something here that I've never seen before...and undead demon. One of the demonic beings that was imprisoned down here was destroyed but it's unholy spirit continues to animate it's bones (perhaps it is the corpse of the beast slain by the paladins).

How about a skeletal Hezrou, that should be suitably impressive.

B122
Somehow I missed this room. It's quite weird and very nasty. The combined effects of Fear and Confusion would be devastating if it weren't for the fact that the PCs will almost certainly never step foot inside the room itself, given that they'll be confused 30 feet before they arrive. Overall, you can leave this room as-is if you like, just be aware that if all the PCs manage to make it into the room they'll probably slaughter each other in confusion.

B123

Ignore the Visions, Noises and Echoes since their source is never explained. I'd suggest that the bottom of the pit be a prison, now exposed, that originally held a powerful demon. Now of course it's free.

B124
Another forgotten room. What's a "slag of cloth"? Another case where the dungeon designer doesn't seem to know where anything is in relation to anything else (also another revered statue!). Apparently this is a "crypt of hobgoblin kings", but is used by the bugbears to burn their dead. And of course, remember that the only way to get here is to pass through the incredibly lethal, undead-filled chambers that separate these halls from the goblinoids. Still, this could be a ruined celestial storeroom, the PCs will probably be very happy for the opportunity to find these magic items.

B125
Another room I missed. This one seems pretty unoffensive, so you can keep it as-is.

B126

Ignore the hold monster trap, since it's pointless.

B127
Wow, I missed out on a lot of rooms. If anyone noticing me skipping rooms in the future let me know. A dire-wolf den seems a bit out of place, but perhaps they've come here from Region K, an entrance isn't far away. Ignore the Concealment and Ambush encounter conditions, there's no sign that this is magical darkness in the room and the PCs are likely to have light and/or darkvision.

B128
It seems surprising that no-one has made this area their home. Perhaps this would be a good place for a Blink Dog lair, or just a dire wolf or two sleeping here. The wolves are unusually calm and placid in this room and act like happy, domesticated hounds.

B129
"The last stand against the final option"! Such a dramatic but meaningless title. It's also friggin' impossible to get into. A DC 26 Strength check and a DC 35 open lock roll? One wonders how the hell the gobliniods managed to set up such incredible security on this one, single passage from B to C (out of 5). Feel free to stick a trap here, but don't bother with the super-doors and needlessly complicated disarming rules.

B130

Somehow a group of 6 goblins is supposed to have made it all this way alive? How's that meant to work?

Obviously that's crazy...but perhaps some goblins did try and make it only to be turned to undead after being slaughtered. A collection of goblin zombies perhaps? Or small-sized ghouls.

B131

So wait...the celestials trap a collection of minor demons and decide...just for kicks...to make the room 60 feet high and put near the roof a collection of heavily trapped containers on a set of shelves containing minor magic items. That...makes no sense at all.

So instead the vargoulles here are the result of a group of previous adventurers who made it here only to get trapped and killed by the cold and negative energy. Their corpses litter the floor (now headless) their weapons are mostly shattered from attempting to smash the door. The magic items are scattered among their remains (and are not trapped).

B132

So not only have these goblins and hobgoblins made it past the locked portcullis and the ghouls, they've also set their secret base right next door to a bugbear murder-room? Logic train zooms off the tracks, hundreds killed.

This location is a storehouse of weapons and equipment brought here by the paladins as part of their last stand against the demon they battled. If you want an encounter then I suggest some undead wolves.

B133-136

As previously stated the whole idea of there being a goblin shrine here is ridiculous. Instead I'd say that room 134 is a shrine set up by the paladins and 133 is a crypt where they planned to inter their dead should any survive. Both areas are Hallowed 5 and have Positive Energy conditions.

135-136 are small barracks and guard stations and are now inhabited by the animated remains of those paladins who survived the battle. They attempted to make it back to their shrine but succumbed to their wounds or other monsters of the dungeon before they could. However, unlike their brethern they were not completely tainted by evil and instead wait here hoping to fulfill their duty.

They have the stats of mummy's but wield longswords. They stand guard outside of the shrine (unable to enter themselves and complete their duty to bury their dead) and will not attack unless attacked or unless someone attempts to enter the shrine. If the PCs display a symbol of the paladin's order or a LG symbol then they will allow them to pass. Enshrining the remains of the corrupted paladins from B111 will put them to rest and cause them to dissolve to dust.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Amazing...

I don't know if any of these guys play RPGs, but if they do then you know they have the best damn minis.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2bsXC-uhXQ&feature=player_embedded

The effects are simply incredible and it's great to see that not only has the art of physical special effects not been lost, but it's doing just fine at keeping up with CGI. In fact I can honestly say this exceeds pretty much any CG art I've seen and I'm sure it provides a richer experience for the actors.

While I'm on the subject of model-making, calvin and hobbes fans should also check this out:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pq8iyhMFLYE&feature=share

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Improving The World's Largest Dungeon: Region B, the terrible part

This is the room-by-room evaluation of the first section of Region B (1-48). While I tried to maintain some objectivity and professionalism when handling Region A this one got the better of me. The whole place is just entirely awful in this "wants-to-be-Gygaxian-but-isn't-creative" way. It's full of entirely random trapped rooms, "tests" of character that don't make sense and it just generally ignores the entire backstory of the WLD in favor of utter randomness. I'll do my best to rip it apart and build something better.

B1:
As I suggested earlier I'd suggest making the pit spikes and swinging axe-blade silver or cold iron.

B3
This is a good place to put some magic items. Scrolls are a good option but it's not a bad place to drop a minor wand or even a ring or wondrous item.

B5

The first description actually refers to the area outside of the room marked B5. Also there's no excuse to use the word "circumambulate" in casual description.

Now...B5 is a good example of a very dumb trap given the history of the dungeon. Supposedly the trap is designed to test the intelligence of prisoners. First and foremost there's no "test of intellect" involved in the traps. The first is a simple trapped doorway and the third is a golden idol resting upon a pedestal that is (shockingly) trapped with a pressure plate if the idol is picked up. The second trap is the only one moderately complex. But there's no real "clue" or "puzzle" involved. Simply check for traps and bam...you find the trap.

What's more there's no reason for the existence of this room at all. The description claims that this chamber is designed to test the intellect of prisoners. First and foremost...why? But even assuming there's a reason the trap will only work if the "prisoner" is simply wandering the dungeon freely. Shouldn't the prisoners be, you know, imprisoned? Second the final trap (poison darts) would be useless against the creatures the prison was designed to contain (demons, devils and undead). Finally, why would these creatures try and grab the idol anyway? What reason would an escaped demon have for trying to grab a bit of art, even valuable art? Who are they going to sell it to?

It doesn't help that the traps here are pretty deadly to PCs and they get nothing at all for it. My suggestion is to simply delete this room. Perhaps the large "block" in the center of this circular hallway contains several minor demons who have been petrified and fused with the walls. If you want to keep the room I'd suggest making the room a celestial armory with a few useful minor magical items on a wide pedestal. Replace the third trap with a Holy Smite effect spell-trap. Also, more importantly the PCs get to keep the loot.

B6
So this room is supposedly a giant mirror chamber with 4 doors but the room marked B6 on the map actually has a large open hallway leading to 3 additional doors. It is also a huge room when you consider the only way out is to find a small crack in the floor in one corner. Really the whole thing is extremely dull...The PCs become trapped in the room...until they find the way out. That's really the only way for this to end. There's no actual danger beyond the PCs getting frustrated or bored.

I say there's no trap at all. This is simply a large chamber with many mirrors set in the walls. The celestials often led their prisoners through this chamber so they could see how horrible and twisted they are when compared to the glory of the celestials. The mirrors are magical and dispel any magical disguise or shapechanging effects. Argliss knows of this room and avoids it if he can.

B7
 There's not even an attempt to explain the purpose of this room. It's just a big room with some wobbly stones which floods if you step off the stones. Why does this room exist? See B8 for suggestions.

B8
This is another room without a purpose. Presumably it's some sort of punishment for greed...but again it seems to assume that the victims (presumably the prisoners in the dungeon) are simply wandering around and upon spotting anything valuable they will attempt to snatch it up. It also forgets the dungeon's intended prisoners are immune to poison. I say simply delete B7 and B8 from the dungeon entirely. They serve no redeeming purpose. If you'd like to keep them in then here's my suggestion. B7 is a simple, standard room but the far door leading to B8 is covered in goblin scrawls. Those who speak goblin can tell they are warning signs of danger. If they choose to go ahead to B8 they find the room dug up with several rotted goblin remains scattered about. It seems like the goblins were trying to mine their way through the walls and perhaps out of the dungeon. However they hit a gas pocket which has filled the room and has effects identical to Burnt Othar Fumes. Ignore the secret door mentioned here.

B9
For some reason the critters in here are Fearless? Ignore this. It also has both Deep Darkness and Concealment. There's no explanation for this but it's at least addressed in the room description. However your level 3-4 characters are already fighting 2 dire-wolves in a room that causes them to possibly lose several rounds of action in a row (due to stagnant air). Most non-fighters will probably be useless here. I say get rid of at least one of those two encounter conditions. Supposedly the Stagnant Air is "conditional" but there's no sign of what triggers it.

B10
I know that the critters in the dungeon supposedly don't need food or drink...but these guys have been trapped for 2 weeks? and the dire wolves too? seriously? That's pretty ridiculous.

This room supposedly has the Ambush and Cover encounter conditions (both conditional...but there's nothing that makes either make sense).  Ignore them. The wand of light here is a good example of just how stingy the dungeon is with magic items. Make it at least a wand of Daylight. But really it would be better if it were a more useful spell. Magic missile, Acid arrow, magic weapon, etc.

B11
 This region sure loves to close doors on you. I've already suggested you ignore most of those and I'm going to do it again here. Heck, by this time it would be pretty criminal if the PCs didn't notice a pattern and start taking steps to prevent it. This is another painfully boring "puzzle trap". There's no cleverness or thought involved. It's just a skill check. That's it. You get trapped in a room, make a skill check, you're not trapped anymore. This is bad, bad design. Ignore it. Instead this room is perpetually cold and icy, cold iron chains run into the floor binding demonic prisoners beneath the ice. The PCs might be able to break several links to make raw materials but this weakens the prison. In a matter of days or weeks the ice here will melt away revealing a small group of demons now free to wreak havoc.

B12
 We have a great example here of how not to write a room description: "The floor of the room drops off..into an unknown emptiness below" immediately followed by "The floor writhes as dozens of snakes twist among the darkened metal spikes."

So first and foremost...where did the snakes come from? It's not like a snake trap is going to bother a demon at all. And why is this room so freaking complex? I say ditch the bridge, ditch all the balancing and various skill checks required. We've just got a huge broken pit trap here that the PCs have to figure out how to get around or across. I'd say don't use snakes but if you want something extra dangerous lurking around at the bottom of the pit then perhaps some minor undead from the goblins who have fallen down here (skeletons are good or perhaps something like a Shadow)

B13

The more I read this the more I'm convinced that no one actually bothered to look at this map when this region was designed. The first description provided for this room doesn't make any sense. It describes 4 doors of various shapes and materials when the room has only a single doorway (plus the secret doorway, unmarked on the map, from B8 which I removed). It's apparently the description for the small chamber that forms the intersection between B12-14.

B13 itself is a room so pointless that the designers couldn't even come up with a BS explanation for it. There's no explanation for the Stagnant Air condition here but presumably it comes from the well. The well itself apparently has an Alarm spell which shows a complete lack of understanding for both the rules of the game as well as both time and space. First and foremost of course is the fact that there's an alarm spell here apparently meant to catch bugs and rats (neither of which would actually set off an alarm spell) which, once activated could alert the goblins in B70. The standard alarm spell alerts those within 180 feet at most which would (even in a straight line) not even be halfway to room B70. And if it was able to reach that far it would presumably alert many, many more dungeon inhabitants. Now I suppose it's possible this is some kind of special alarm that triggers the sound at a different location from the trigger (although this is ignoring the fact that the goblins don't even have an arcane spellcaster to cast the spell in the first place) but if that's the case it's pretty important to tell us in the description so that it's clear whether or not the PCs hear the alarm when they trigger it.

However even if we assume that there's some logic to the alarm then there's still none to the reaction to it. The description claims that after the alarm is triggered goblins from B70 arrive in 4d4 rounds. The thing is B70 is nowhere near B13. Taking the most efficient path is still 1600+ feet and involves passing through several doors (including a secret door). Even if they could run in just a straight line we'd be looking at about 18 rounds to arrive. Since they certainly can't (it's a very twisty path) then it should take at least 30 or more. Somehow they're supposed to arrive in an average of 10 rounds. If you happen to roll the minimum amount of time that means the goblins were actually traveling at around 50 mph or more.

So, needless to say that's dumb. My suggestion is just to have a deep crack in the ground here (caused by the earthquake) which has filled with water from an underground spring. There's signs someone set up a crude bucket-and-rope well but there's no other signs of habitation. The water is toxic (arsenic) unless purified (A DC 20 Knowledge (nature) check is required to realize the water is poisonous). There is no alarm magic.

B14

Again we get a little description here on the small square room between these chambers. Wouldn't it have been easier (and less confusing) to just provide the description separately rather than reprinting it for each room?

Of course again we've got a self-sealing room. The only "test" these rooms seem to be designed to perform is how many times will someone walk into obviously trapped rooms before they simply sit down and do nothing. Just like B6 this room isn't a puzzle at all, it's just a DC. I don't even think I understand exactly how the shapes are moving (or how one is supposedly "jammed") do the carvings actually move across the stone? Are they on different layers of spinning stone circles set atop one another. Are they like rubik's blocks? And how are the PCs meant to manipulate them at all if they are whirling at a "phenomenal rate"?

These rooms are becoming so pointless it's actually difficult to improve them because there's simply nothing good to work with. This room contains literally nothing worthwhile or interesting. It would be better off empty. Here's my attempt:

The room contains a large cylinder that resembles a prayer wheel with a wide variety of runic patterns. It radiates strong abjuration magic and attempts to magically identify it reveal that it was designed as an elaborate kind of "locking" mechanism. Different combinations of symbols would lock and unlock different doorways within the complex. This analysis is correct but the earthquake has badly damaged the device and it is non-functional. No combination of symbols appears to produce any result. However, every time the PCs mess with it there is a 1% chance that the wheel manages to close and lock the door to this room (as if with the Arcane Lock spell).

B15

Apparently the door here is jammed (keep in mind this is the door the goblins would have to go through to get to B13) which is a good example of why it's important to stick this info in the area before the door. Also apparently there is "little of note" in this room other than some remains from a previous battle except it's also apparently filled with loud noises and random visual illusions (Echoes and Distracting Visions). Ignore these encounter conditions.

B16

As I mentioned in the last post I'm switching some of the content from B16 and B45. Also worth noting that the map notations have been switched. The area on the map marked B16 is actually B17 and vice versa.

B45 is, impressively, actually a fairly decently put together room. You've got a golden idol (trapped of course) with a pair of perfectly reasonable encounter conditions (also quite helpful ones. A place that accelerates healing is going to be very helpeful). My biggest concern is that a party of LG PCs might abuse the nature of the trap here to set up a killing field they can lure enemies into...but then again I suppose that's not a bad way to reward creative thinking. I say leave this as-is. It's sad that it seems like of the few rooms that gets that treatment.

B17

The descriptive text for this room is terrible, but I'm not going to bother sprucing that up. At least the consequences of the encounter condition are mentioned here.

B18

This is an extremely random and pointless room, but at least there's nothing actively wrong about it. Until you realize that it's just designed as a waste of time, resources and hp and it's not subtle about it at all. This is a room that'll just piss off the PCs. My suggestion would be to improve the quality of the spells in the scroll or at least make the contents plot-relevant. Maybe it has a partial list of prisoners originally confined to this region or a map or something helpful! A map would work best I think, something obviously ancient and marked with sigils in Infernal (demonic names) but annotations in celestial. By this time the WLD has probably taken several weeks of sessions to get this far, the PCs deserve at least a taste of the larger plot.

B19

At the very least I've got to say it's good that the last few rooms have sensible and properly addressed encounter conditions. This isn't really a compliment since this is something that should have been true for the entire dungeon. The room is just as random as B18 though, there's absolutely no reason for it's existence. I'd say replace the scroll with the rotting corpse of a demon held in iron chains. It's almost totally bare bones that have been covered in rot. The demon's heart is still intact in it's chest and radiates magic (and evil). It can be used as a grenade-like weapon, creating an Extended stinking cloud spell-effect. However attempting to remove it will trigger a spray of poison spores (as Ungol Dust) unless it is carefully removed (detect and disable DCs 20/16).

B20

"...almost floating on the water, resting on a stone, is a gem is set into the wall..." That sentence is an offense against descriptive language. They've somehow managed to write a description that includes 3 completely contradictory elements.  We're also told that the water is crystal clear but apparently light doesn't penetrate (even though it's only 4 feet deep).
   Linguistic tragedies aside this is another pointlessly trapped room. It's also exceptionally dangerous considering the likely level of the PCs (3-4...meaning that the trap's average of 45 damage is going to be more than most character's HP). I'd say remove the trap but the biggest issue is giving this room an actual reason to exist....and honestly it's hard to think of one. This area of the dungeon is just so damn dull and pointless it's draining my creativity.
  How about a ritual purification room. The water comes from a natural spring and flows along carvings in the stone and pools on the floor of the room. Stone steps here are completely stable and there's no problem with secure footing. There is no trap (although there are crystals that shed light here). Instead the water has two effects...first it is holy water. Secondly if a magical item is placed in the water it is targeted by both Dispel Magic and Remove Curse (CL 10). If the magic is Evil in nature then the effective caster level increases by 5. This chamber was used as a secure place to store captured items of evil magic until they could be destroyed...items submerged and dispelled will not regain their powers until removed.

B21

More terrible room description. Apparently the PCs can identify bugbear hand-writing on sight, even though they may very well have encountered none so far. The goblins also apparently love graffitti so much they were willing to commit suicide to scrawl on these columns. And while it's quite possible that the PCs either read Celestial or have access to Comprehend Languages there's absolutely no description of what is written on the columns.

My suggestion is first to ditch the graffitti. It's pointless and is utterly confusing given the trap. As far as the purpose of the original carving I'd say it's a great place to include some info on the dungeon. It could also be a really interesting source of unusual treasure in the form of "scrolls" carved into the stone. Stick a few potent divine scrolls here (healing spells especially like Cure Serious Wounds or Cure Disease, Neutralize Poison, Restoration, etc) and the PCs have a place where they can access some potent miracles. Of course the room is still unstable (not trapped) and if the players attempt to break the columns apart to transport them elsewhere then the ceiling will still collapse.

B22

I wish they would provide some information on the why of these rooms of darkness but whatever. Ignore their statement that the wolves cannot be affected by the the animal empathy ability of rangers/druids. There are so few animals in the dungeon that those guys will need all the opportunity to shine they can and there's no justification for ignoring their ability.

The encounter itself is extremely dangerous. Unless you've got a large party or they've already hit 4th level then I'd say make it only 2 dire wolves.

B23

This room actually gets approval. It seems pretty good (other than the fact that they forget to mention that the axe is glowing in the room description). Feel free to make the sword magical or alter the weapons to better suit your party's preferred weaponry.

B24

The description here is nonsensical...but that doesn't matter since I'm assuming that there are no northern exits from this region.

B25

This room is very odd. It's got a secret door with a very specific trigger...but the back of the room is simply an open hallway. There's simply no reason for the secret door at all simply because the room is already completely open via a different entrance. This also causes problems...since the room is easily accessible and the door to b26 is unlocked there's simply no reason for the goblinoids to have left the place alone. They would especially have taken the very valuable map of the region or triggered the flame trap in b26 and burnt everything to ashes. Seal both entrances to the room with either locked or secret doors. Also, I'm all for giving the PCs a map of region B but if you want to make it interesting you can print out a map, tatter it up a bit and tear out some interesting sections to make it incomplete.

Ignore the contact poison. It's a trap that would provide no protection against the dungeon's original inhabitants and there's no reason for the goblinoids to trap the room. If you want a trap then I say something like a Glyph of Warding or Wall Scythe trap.

B26

The trap in the room here is incredibly dumb and again seems to rely on the idea that the prisoners of this place will automatically grab for anything shiny they see (of course adventurers will do just that but that's not the purpose of the dungeon). I'd suggest a more logical trap that simply triggers if the PCs move more than 5 feet into the room without speaking the appropriate password (a helpful lantern archon might be able to tell them) or locating and disarming the trap.

B27

Again we've got a room that makes no sense at all. This room is the only passage between this area and the rest of region B...so it can't logically be a prison area...but the gemstone and spell inscribed on the walls imply that it's more than just an entryway to the rest of the region...but the door isn't locked or anything so it's not just a storeroom (and the "valuables" are hardly that impressive...a gem and a 3rd level spell written on a wall). It just seems like another pointless trap where attempts to get the obvious treasure will trigger punishment. Which again makes no sense given the concept of the dungeon.

Lets say originally this chamber was intended as a "chokepoint" meant to make it difficult for potential escaped prisoners to move easily towards Region A. Give the place the Hallowed and Positive Energy encounter conditions. It also has a Protection From Evil effect that fills the room. However the rampant plant-growth is an unintended side effect of the positive energy. Replace the trap with a pair of hidden Assasin Vines.

B28

This room is an example of horrible cartographer...there's no way to get to B28 from B27 without passing through B29 but they felt that apparently this one needed to be handled first. Other than that the room is fairly uninteresting but serviceable. Assuming you plan to keep Bartleby as part of the story this place is as good as any for finding him. By the way if you plan on making Bartleby a challenging encounter or a significant threat I'd suggest increasing his level to 7...a 5th level rogue by himself is going to be a hell of an anticlimatic fight against a group of level 3+ PCs.

B29

This room is just plain stupid. It might work in a place like the Tomb of Horrors or Undermountain...a room created by a deranged or evil wizard with no purpose other than being an elaborate douchebag. This place is a prison created by friggin' angels as a prison for demons. If you want to make this make sense then you might explain the room as some kind of "wand armory" with the majority of them depleted over the years or damaged and decayed (get rid of the trap). Alternatively simply make it a room covered in art created by the celestials and use the bestow curse trap as a punishment on those that attempt to deface it.

B30

There's no explanation for the Cover encounter condition, so ignore it. Also ignore the statement that the Vargouille's get an unexplained +10 to spot and listen (apparently PCs who attempt anything other than a stand-up fight get punished). It's dumb (even dumber if you consider the room was supposed to be full of cover).

B31

This room is...confusing to say the least. At first it seems like another dumb punishment trap. But reading the description of the room seems to indicate it might be some kind of decoration or tribute? Also apparently it's easier for druids and rangers to pull the staff out...okaaaay. There's no history or explanation at all to tell us why any of this is the case. Lets say that this is the tomb of a mortal druid who aided the celestials in the dungeon's history. They've created his tomb here which appears to be raw, natural stone and earth with flowers and grass growing here despite the lack of light. The staff was the druid's personal possession (explaining why it's so weak compared to a celestial's possessions). Some of the druid's life story is written in Druidic glyphs Stone-Shaped onto the walls. The "dart swarm" trap is actually plant-based as thorns and spears of wood fly from the ground to strike those who might try and defile the tomb. Good-aligned rangers and druids will not trigger the tap and may take the staff without consequence.

B32

A decent encounter but it should clearly be a "hollow" stone, not a "hallowed" stone.

B33

Also decent.

B34

The "Hallowed 2" Encounter condition should certainly be changed to "Unhallowed" considering the evil alignment of the hobgoblins. It also makes the whole concept of the goblins switching worship to a perfectly mundane statue even more ridiculous considering there's already this (much more impressive and actually supernaturally active) statue being revered.

B35

The celestial must have some kind of obsession with pedestals. This room is yet another "pointless trapped pedestal" chamber...except it's even more pointless because there's nothing in the room other than a pedestal and trap. There is a layer of invisible script  that apparently has a riddle. Of course the writers of this section were apparently unable to come up with anything creative or interesting and choose instead to simply reduce it to an intelligence check. The result? Apparently you learn how to open the secret door to room B55...of course it doesn't provide the location for room B55 so how exactly will they know it when they find it? Also there's no method or trick to opening B55...it's not locked in anyway. The only trick is to actually find it. So this room is triply pointless.

My suggestion? Keep the serpentine design on the floor and ditch the pedestal and the riddle. Instead the design was the focus for a protection and binding circle...however the floor is clearly scorched and burned and several tiles have been ripped from the floor destroying the circle's integrity. Perhaps an examination of the circle and some knowledge (arcana and/or planes) might reveal the True Name of some mid-to-high level demon encountered in a later dungeon.

B36

This room is just bad. First and foremost it's the exact same as so many other rooms we've already run into. It also made me realize something...this room and pretty much all the other "door closes when you enter room" have room descriptions that take control away from the player. The room descriptions declare that the players enter and the door closes. That's terrible adventure writing because it assumes the actions that players will take (which is exceptionally bad in this area because players would almost certainly avoid simply walking into rooms after the first time a chamber closes on them). This one is even worse because not only does it assume you automatically enter the room...it assumes you automatically head for the obviously trapped big-sack-o-gold and trigger the room's trap.

The room is also incredibly poorly thought out on many levels. As I said too many times already this chamber makes no sense in the dungeon's context (celestials have no reason to make it, demons would have no interest in a sack of gold and the actual trap itself is just a waste of time). On top of that...why have the goblinoids infesting this region not tried for the big sack of gold? They've certainly been to this region and so presumably at some point they would have tried to get ahold of the money which would result in either them falling victim and never escaping (meaning there would be corpses in the room) or they would have managed to free themselves (in which case they would certainly have taken the sack with them). Also the sack is apparently only full of holy water...so were the gold coins fake? Were they an illusion? It never says one way or another.

B37

Ignore the Wisdom damage talked about here. Howlers can only inflict damage if you're exposed for at least an hour. Also ignore the "improved" quills these howlers apparently have. A DC20 Heal check isn't exactly easy for a 3rd level character to hit in the first place...there's no reason to up the DC to 24 or increase their damage. It's already a perfectly decent challenge.

B38

Make sure to make it clear that the Ethereal Maurader in this room is not just a "strange looking lizard with a triangular head"...it's a 7 foot long, 200 lb monstrosity that looks like this:



B39

Ignore what it says about ruining tools. Why is this apparently the only lock so far that could ruin tools? It's also my principle to ignore conditions like Distracting Visions unless the room actually provides some explanation, or at least a description of what form they take. Otherwise this room can be basically left as is.

B40

This area has a bizarre description...one where you are instructed apparently not to read it. Why not just write a description that can be read then? At least they do address the "echoes" although there's not really an explanation for the source (perhaps it's the Howlers in the next room...but they certainly wouldn't produce a "dull, roaring sound").

B41

Wait...how do the howlers get in and out of this area if there's a "wide-mouthed pit trap" in the hallway? Especially a pit trap that does not automatically reset. There's apparently no thought put into any of this. It also has some of the most unnecessary bit of "history" for a single, non-magical ring. Otherwise it can be left as-is...but I'd suggest either a separate doorway for the howlers to enter or leave or getting rid of the pit trap in B40.

B42

This is another stupid, pointless room...why build a huge room...with a well...that drops blocks on anyone trying to retract the bucket? And despite the fact that the blocks apparently drop on everyone (including the person retracting the bucket) how does the well itself avoid being damaged? Oh and the trap doesn't reset itself automatically...so why (despite the fact that it's obviously been triggered already) is it still functional? On top of that the description claims that this is a great place to store things...when in fact it's the worst place to store anything because it's the only place that has a random chance of anything stored there disappearing. This whole room is terrible.

I'd say just have this room be full of rubble from a cave in...no indication of it's original function (and no well) but someone has stashed some healing potions under some rubble if they search hard enough (DC 20).

B43

I can't imagine the supposed design that went into this room. The celestials apparently built a gigantic trap here...a mechanism that causes the entire northern wall to begin to slide south while extruding giant, poison spikes (again...poison is useless against the dungeon's prisoners). Then the wall keeps moving until...it stabs everyone for about 1d8+4 damage...then retracts. Not only is this a needlessly elaborate and complex trap, it's probably the wussiest crushing wall trap I've ever seen. I mean c'mon! if you're going to trap the PCs in a crushing wall then at least make it dangerous! Talk about anti-climax. Also the trap is easy as hell to avoid. It triggers when you open the door inside the room and locks the door you entered the chamber from...so why not just step into the adjoining room and wait until the trap is done? Of course the trap will supposedly not reset itself (it's got a manual reset)...but then how did it reset itself after the elves (or goblins or any other curious dungeon inhabitants) get through? Obviously not a lot of thought went into this place.


That said, I don't suggest that you actually smush your PCs here, especially when you consider there's absolutely nothing in the next room except a couple of skeletons (unless you choose to add some valuables yourself). Perhaps the small room was originally the prison of some kind of dangerous demon...a demon dangerous enough that a massive, crushing machine was a reasonable line of defense. However the elaborate machine failed...the prison's doorway is blasted apart and the sliding walls have been torn asunder and wrecked beyond repair.

B44

This room is Massive about 90'x90'. And the only feature is a few canine corpses and a trap 6' from the door. The rest of the room has no description or features whatsoever. Hell, why aren't any goblins making use of this huge open space for living or storage? Surely they're pretty cramped so why not expand here?

Well, since I mentioned I've moved the object of the goblin's worship to B45, this will be the chamber where the elite goblins who guard the shrine remain. The Holy Guard from B136 are here instead of B136. The hallways between B44 and B45 are heavily decorated with trophies and religious paintings on the stone. About 4 of the Holy Guard are in this chamber at all times (this is also a secondary armory and a gathering place when the goblins come to praise their god) and about 4 others are on patrol in the hallways around B44 and 45.

B45

This is the room where the goblins worship their new deity. 4 columns are all decorated with tanned hides and skins (both beasts and bugbear) tatooed with various savage art. The center of the room is dominated by a massive golden statue of a vaguely bestial humanoid. Despite the animalistic features it has an undeniably regal bearing. It is constructed of pure white marble and one hand holds a large spear and over the statue's head is a large tribal mask. Any non-good aligned characters who come close (past the columns) are stricken by the effects of the Fear spell (DC 16, CL 10). Around the perimeter formed by the columns are piles of offerings: coins, interesting stones, rotting meat and the broken weapons and fangs of bugbears.

Searching the base of the south-east column (DC 20) reveals a movable stone block. Beneath is a slightly smaller version of the statue's mask and spear (a masterwork spear) as well as few strips of fur-trimmed cloth that is used for Argliss' divine disguise. There are also 5 incense-scented smokesticks that he uses to make his entrances more spectacular.

The statue also has the same script as the one in B16 and the +1 Axiomatic Spear.

B46

So close to the goblin god it wouldn't make sense for this to be a bugbear stronghold. Instead this is one of the military outposts for the holy guard. Feel free to keep the map intact but replace the bugbears with Holy Guards. Ignore the Echoes as it's senseless.

B47

Well, well a place that actually addresses the Echoes and Distracting Noises effect. The fact that it's apparently a focal point for noises throughout the dungeon provides a chance for you to have some interesting chances for foreshadowing.

However beyond that the room's pretty nuts...a rusty sword hanging from a rope that paralyzes someone who takes it...? Why? What is the point? It's not even dangerous, merely slightly annoying. I suggest remove that...perhaps instead this room was created as an actual listening post...hundreds of brass tubes are imbedded in the walls that channel the noises. Of course damage to the dungeon's structure and the magic that enchanted the tubes is causing all sorts of warping and instability.

B48

A place called the "riddle room", I shudder to think how this will turn out...

...yep it's terrible. So the riddle is...crap. I'm not going to bother summing up exactly the terrible design behind this room. Suffice it to say that it's horrible. If you've got the dungeon you can read it for yourself. Topping it off is that the reward you get at the end...a permanent, non-removable +2 breastplate. Which means for any character who doesn't want a breastplate (i.e. wizards, rogues, druids, bards, sorcerers, monks, or anyone who just prefers light or heavy armor) they get screwed until they can access a Break Enchantment spell. This...this is just awful and a fitting way to end this terrible, terrible subsection. To whoever designed this room...you suck.

My suggestion is ditch the riddle, ditch the tiles, ditch the tapestries. In fact this room is so terrible you should just get rid of it. Fill it in, put a worg stable here for the holy guard or perhaps a trashpit.


Anyway, that ends the first subsection of Region B. Hopefully the rest of the region is less annoying and lives up to some of it's potential.