Friday, April 30, 2010

A Month of Dungeons

I haven't followed Year of the Dungeon closely, I've stumbled across it a few times in my blogoramblings. But a recent compilation of Tony Dowler's microdungeons is really something worth looking at.

These dungeons are small and uncomplicated. In the past some of them have seemed more like puns or more lighthearted than is to my taste. But the dungeon above, The Old Crypt, caught my eye.

First, the way each room has a word or two as a description fits the One Page Dungeon philosophy to a T. Only what needs to be said is said: screams here, this is sealed, candles here. That makes sense and I'm sure you have maps that have similar notations to remind yourself.

I think the "Here" and "There" above is a wonderful example of this. I imagine it means the doorway at "There" leads to the isolated room at "Here." But it's such a clean way to note it. How would I have done it? Numbers, letters, matching symbols if I was particularly thoughtful. So these dungeons have this efficient evocativeness about them.

But what led me to write this post was something more. Do you see the word "brittle" in the Old Crypt? Maybe Tony has a clear sense of what that means. Maybe in the terseness of the notes it just doesn't get translated to me, the reader. But whatever caused it I don't know what the hell "brittle" means here, and I love it.

Maybe this is all pretty obvious, but I think it might be a great spur to me as a DM to have that kind of brief abstract note about dungeon chambers to help me generate or improvise. Maybe what that would look like wouldn't be much different than the dungeon dressing tables in the 1e DMG appendix I.

But in those, each table was for a specific subset of descriptors (sounds, container contents, clothes). I'm thinking of more general adjective; "brittle" in my mind could apply to scrolls in the room, to a crust or ice over a pool characters have to walk across, or even to the tension in the air.

How about:
  1. bitter
  2. strong
  3. faint
  4. sticks
  5. cracks
  6. teeth
  7. pick
  8. bark
  9. stalks
  10. broad
  11. early
  12. fair
  13. light
  14. open
  15. crook
  16. rasp
  17. ripe
  18. ill
  19. calm
  20. weak
I tried to pick words with multiple meanings and words that can functions as more than one part of speech. If you get stumped on a particular dungeon room you could roll on this table. If you have any suggestions of good words put them in the comments and we'll compile a bigger list.

Anyway enough of that, go check out Tony's microdungeons. Here's the compilation of a month of them.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting. This is sort of the same thing I thought of when I made this map:
    I did it from the idea that my character Snikle had drawn the map and then added the text to help himself remember, but the idea is the same. One GM might look at it and think one thing, another something else. Great points, I love the list of words to use!