April 11, 2009

5-step Dungeons

The Chatty DM linked to 5-room dungeons, which is a collection of submissions for some contest. The interesting part, however, is the setup for the contest - the 5-room dungeon. It is a schematic for making short dungeons, are very relevant to my interests.

See, I was thinking of making a small setting with "delves" scattered around it, and that 5-room template looks like a nice guide to making them.

Enough chatter, what's the guide like? It lists five rooms and what purpose they serve in the grand scheme of things. It's very narrativistic, in a way.

The template can be read here, or at the end of that big PDF with all the contest submissions, but allow me to summarize:

  • Room One: Entrance And Guardian sets up the reason why the place isn't already looted and should also set the mood for the dungeon. I note that they also suggest having a non-native creature that's moved in, but wouldn't that conflict with setting the mood?
  • Room Two: Puzzle Or Roleplaying Challenge mixes it up with a puzzle challenge. If the entrance was a puzzle (The gate to Moria, anyone?) put a fight here. Variety is the point of this room.
  • Room Three: Trick or Setback is a classic storytelling technique - shoot down the protagonist in the middle of the story. Now they're motivated to pull themselves up from the floor and take out their frustration on whatever is in room four (and maybe five).
  • Room Four: Climax, Big Battle or Conflict. Level Boss! Make this memorable, of course. Having a fake level boss in room three is kind of a classic.
  • Room Five: Reward, Revelation, Plot Twist will probably often be a hint towards the next adventure. It doesn't have to be a fifth physical room - finding some interesting clue in the Level Boss's lair is a good example.

That's it. I've saved it for further perusal.
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