Monday, July 9, 2012

D&D in the Car

I went camping for a few days.  My buddy was driving us there and since it was a 2 hour trip he asked if we could play D&D on the way.  I said sure.

Now, I've never played D&D in the car but I knew I would want to minimize my stuff as much as possible-- essentially have everything fit in my lap.  And I'm not a master of improv, I need certain things nailed down to feel comfortable running a dungeon.  So I needed to generate a dungeon and streamline what it would take to run it.  These two processes are interrelated for me because in simplifying to avoid confusion for me as a DM, it also ends up allowing for a low footprint.

I think, for the amount of experience/confidence I'm have now, the absolute minimum I want to run a dungeon is:
  1. a definite map with rooms, corridors, and where things are located in relation to each other
  2. a wandering monster chart weighted for probability and details on the monsters-- mostly HD, AC, and the amount of damage they do
  3. monsters located on the map
  4. treasures located on the map
Pretty much all I needed
I've used dominoes and dice tossing to generate #1 in the past, this time I just used the example from the Dwarven Outpost Kit.  I wanted a little depth to it so I printed it, cut it, and overlapped the two parts to give it two levels.  For #2 I used Jensan's cool web app.  I don't have silhouettes for all the monsters possible, but this time it sort of worked like a creative constraint.  I picked a few mundane images and then tried to imagine a more disturbing monster they might represent.  So the centipede, for example, became a ratipede- little bones moving under its fur, hundreds of pink feet pattering on the stone floor. When my buddy first encountered one he said "That's filthy," which I consider a sign of success on my part.

As for the what monsters to tie down to locations I still use the guidelines here.  Basically one really dangerous encounter a few lesser ones, at least one toy-like trick item and at least one trap.  The dwarven dungeon already has pit traps.  I decided the puzzly thing would be a brass mech thingy that a pc could get into and use like a battle suit.  I also envisioned the forge on the lower level would require some figuring out to get working.  Both of those, the suit and the flame of the forge I put as possible ways to defeat the worst monster in the place, a troll.  I wasn't expecting my friend to use either, but I like to at least have a few things I know players can utilize to their advantage lying around.  I also made sure to do it this time because I figured he'd have a very hard time surviving as a single pc even with his one hireling.

For treasures I decided to put a ring, a wand of detection and a couple potions.  I rolled up which of each randomly using my charts.  As to where the stuff is, I just rolled dice, counted off rooms, and placed.

All I really needed to run this little dungeon then, was the map with annotations, the wandering monster booklet with pre-rolled hit points for all the beasties, and dice.  I also brought a mini-booklet of miracles because my friend's pc is a cleric and some tiny travelling dominoes for him to see if his requests for miracles were answered.  The dice I brought were 3d6, 2d20s, 2d10s, and one of d4, d8, d12, and d30.  To roll the dice in, I brought along part of some fancy watch packaging I found somewhere.  It's only about 4"x5" and has a velvety lining.

It worked great.  The only downside was that after about an hour of playing I started getting car sick.  I never really get car sick, but the combination of imagining the map in my head and the winding mountain roads was enough to start making me nauseous.  We had to put the adventure on hold for a bit and finish it up when we reached the campsite.

Tune in next time to see how I fared when I suddenly had to use this minimal set up to DM six D&D mocking newbies around the camp fire.

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