Sunday, June 24, 2018

Better Random Dungeons

Whenever you're afraid, don't forget everything is random.
Inspirobot can soothe your fears.  Now with Mindfulness Mode.
Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with the material presented in the Miniatures Handbook.  One thing, though, is that we don't always use cards, and in fact I've kind of grown to despise them as necessities for a game.  An aid, sure / fine.  As a necessity, it gets silly when they are always sold separately.  It was never an issue for me until the effects of prolonged exposure to the edition grinds of various wargames really began to set in.  Now I'm allergic to superfluity.

For D&D, we'll most likely use notebooks, post-its, index cards and ancient scrolls rather than fiddly cards we might not be able to track down anyway.  Also, we'll probably use a lot of different miniatures and other stuff that don't correspond to anything anyway.  Honestly, it has the widest customization potential of any wargame on the table these days.

In most of the scenarios for the campaigns we'll be using D&D Miniatures for, a lot of specifics will be noted in the entry.  There will be a DM for most of those battles, but it is also possible to do a co-op game.  What follows is a setup guide for a DM-less, random cooperative battle more tailored to our proclivities and collection.

Random Dungeons (or:  Don't Die Together)
  1. Layout the Dungeon
  2. Select Party
  3. Arrange Dungeon Table
  4. Determine Objective
  5. Determine Complications
Dungeon Layout

We have a myriad of ways to setup a 3d dungeon, and in truth you could setup a dungeon using various terrain features as "rooms".  The basic D&D dungeon calls for a number of rooms, and other than basic wargames terrain we have a few methods that could be used by the players to setup an agreeable layout.

Using D&D Dungeon Tiles and a Chessex map, setup a dungeon using the tiles as rooms.  We also have some old home-made dungeon tiles that could be used to create corridor and room layouts in a similar manner.  D&D Adventure Game tiles could also be used, such as those from Castle Ravenloft or the Temple of Elemental Evil.

Select Party

Players build a party whose total levels add up to the required Total Party Levels for the level of the dungeon.  Generally, any combination of creatures is fine.  Use the DDM Database and you can modify models fairly easily.  The players will have to use common sense and try to be reasonable to create a game they both enjoy.

Arrange Dungeon Table

Instead of cards, we'll be using good ol' dice.  In standard games, we'll start with a d20 and 20 slots.  This array is filled in just as if they were cards, e.g. with monsters and special encounters as the players like.

At the beginning of encounters, a d20 is rolled for each character in the party (usually 4 per turn). The rolled results comprise the encounter, as normal.  As each entry is encountered, it is removed from the list.  Once the list begins to dwindle, switch dice types as necessary to eliminate repetition of results.  In addition, if the players like, the dungeon table can 'evolve' as normal simply by replacing entries by rolling for them on the evolution's dungeon table as if it were the deck.

To make dungeon tables larger, each list entry may have multiple possibilities.  Dice for which sub-options are available randomly.  When an individual result is rolled, ONLY that possibility is encountered and thus removed from the sub-option list.

For instance, an entry labeled [Orcs] may include sub-options, such as Orc Warrior, Orc Shaman, or Orc Lurker.  Rolling D3, the Lurker is found to be the encounter.  The Lurker is removed from the table.  The parent entry will not be removed until all the [Orcs] have been removed.

To reduce the amount of rolling required when determining encounters, when a result is empty on the table, move sub-options to the empty slots.  For instance, entry 15 is an [Orc] with three sub-options, entry 12 has a [Barbarian] entry with no sub-options.  If the [Barbarian] option is used before the [Orc] entry is down to one sub-option, move one of the [Orc] sub-options at entry 15 to the empty entry at 12.

Where bosses are used, it's best to have one entry for that boss alone.  Bosses can escape once or twice as normal.

The standard spread we will start with is:
  • 15 creature / trap entries adding up to AT LEAST the Total Target CR for the dungeon level (including a boss if warranted).  Use the appropriate CR Range; the number noted after the semi-colon is an appropriate boss level.
  • 1 Roll Twice Result
  • 4 Special Card Results
    • Statue or other Objective
    • Feature Encounter (Such as Healing Fountains)
    • Friend, Enemy or other Special Card
Determine Objective

There are three possible objectives for a random co-op dungeon.  Roll 1d3 to determine randomly.
  1. Defeat the Monsters
    • Destroy monsters equal to the Total Target CR for the Dungeon Level
  2. Find the Statues
    • Special Card Results must have four Statue Options.  Find all four statues.
  3. Rescue the Friends
    • Special Card Results must have four Friends Options.  Find all four friends and make sure at least 3 escape the dungeon.
Dungeon Level Total Party Levels # of Rooms CR Range Total Target CR Complications
1 4 5 1/4 to 1; 2 8 1d2-1
2 8 5 1/2 to 2; 3 16 1d2
3 12 6 1/2 to 3; 4 24 1d3
4 16 6 1 to 4; 5 32 1d4
5 20 8 1 to 5; 7 40 1d4

When arranging encounters, be advised they may be difficult.  All monsters are by default in the same group.  Each encounter drops one treasure as normal.

Determine Complications

Using the table above, determine the number of complications that will harangue the adventurers.  Then roll 1d10 for each complication and apply the results.
  1. Wandering Monsters in effect (use a 1d10 table).
  2. Upgrading Wandering Monsters in effect (1d10 table, 1d6 upgrade table).
  3. Lurkers.  Add a Lurker entry to each dungeon and wandering monster table.
  4. Twin.  Add two Twin results to the dungeon table and determine the Twinned monsters.
  5. Multiples are in effect.  Roll 1d6:  1-2 add two "x2" results to the dungeon table, 3-4 add two "x2" and one "x3" results to the dungeon table; 5-6 add two "x3" and one "x4" results to the table.
  6. Time is of the essence.  Add "Draw +1" to the dungeon table.
  7. Lock & Key.  Add one Lock and one Key to the dungeon table.
  8. Habitual monsters.  Select 1d4+1 monster entries and apply random habits, rolling 1d6 for each entry.
    1. Bloodthirsty
    2. Distracted
    3. Greedy
    4. Hateful
    5. Mindless
    6. Calculating:  Creatures in this group receive +4 to their initiative scores.
  9. Special Terrain.  Select (1d4 + Dungeon Level) appropriate special effects and assign them to appropriate areas of the dungeon.
  10. Enemy Mine.  Add a number of Enemies to the dungeon table equal to the dungeon level.
This is the system we will use where a 'random' dungeon is called for while on campaign.  It will be a full experience setting up the dungeon, and will require a little more time for setup than a normal wargame.  However, the amount of options we have using the 3rd Edition ruleset is parallel to none.

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