Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Towards a DIY Dungeon

I'd seen PocketMods before, had even played around with putting my houserules on them.  I like what Risus has been doing with them, but Stuart's use of the form as a mini-module blew me away.  And I'm not talking about his particular dungeon but more the way he utilized the form.  It was clean, organized- one map level, one page for a brief key-- and simple.  I know I wished for a comic book dungeon before-- something cheap and cool that non-gamers might pick up.  This seems to head in that direction.  Just one sheet of paper, not too big a deal if you lose it.  You could carry it around in your pocket at school.

Anyway, I was thinking this could be perfect for an OSR version of B1.  You have a 3 level module.  First level is fleshed out.  Second level is mapped, but the learning DM has to pick encounters/treasures from a list in the back. That list is very interesting and evocative in a sentence apiece. Third level is just some graph paper with marks where the stairs come down so they can draw the level themselves.

I was playing around with my EZ-Map dungeon thinking a simple, straight forward map might be good for that purpose.  To make a long story short, I think I'd have to start fresh to make a good 2 level dungeon that fit in the size of the pocket mod pages.  But I figured I'd share what I worked up:

I used Roger's stairs and made a version of his Elvis doors (how can you not use them with a name like that).

I see what I'm guessing are Illustrator brushes on a lot of your maps and geomorphs, so I tried emulating it by copying and pasting a PD texture.  Old school baby. But, it looks pretty busy. 

Another mapping bit, JD Jarvis hepped me to ceiling heights on maps, said he saw them on caver maps.  Since then I saw that some of the Harn mappers have actually used them too:
Hard to see here, but I like the little stalactite symbol they use to indicate this.

By the way, I really recommend checking out the downloads at http://www.lythia.com/.  Especially the 3 Harn Pottage collections and the Fortified Manor by Kerry Mould (scroll down a bit).

That manor is sort of the product I always wanted-- lots of detail cooked in, by nothing that has to impinge on my campaign world-- but the industry just doesn't seem to want to make.

Update: I got a better pic.


  1. I do think it would be really cool if someone wrote a module that became a touchstone for OSR gamers, like B1 was back in the day. Something like this could fit the bill. It'd be free and portable and would teach the referee something too. Great idea!

  2. yeah, I really like the Harn-style of maps. They seem very clean and concise IMHO.

  3. Glad you like the Pocket Module format. :)

    You can actually download the background I'm using for my maps from Drive Thru RPG: Old School Hatching

  4. Ooh. Ceiling heights. Have idea...

  5. Love the idea of a simple DIY module. Time to engage brain I think...

    - Neil.

  6. @Jim: pretty clean design, huh.

    @Stuart: Good work, didn't see your texture, thanks.

    @Roger: I should have posted the Harn indoor ceiling height symbol, it has a little pitched roof.

    @Neil: run with it, run

  7. In Wookie Hole a couple of years ago I was struck by how one chamber felt like a big dome, almost completely filled with rubble. Ceiling height was maybe 10 feet at the highest point, but it tapered off very gradually to nothing. Small shiny objects at the edge of the space would be a challenge to reach - first you'd crawl, then lie right down, then stretch out a pole or a fishing rod... it's very, very simple but it's potentially a challenge. And a great way to get surprised by goblins.

  8. Damn Star Wars: that should be Wookey Hole.