Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Room Stuffing

An idea: have your players help you prep.  You probably use charts to help you determine treasures, monsters, and traps that will be in different dungeon locales-- and finding out what the charts say is fun.  Also, if you use more abstract charts to offer more possibilities, charts that require a little interpretation (like this one) it's fun to do that interpretation.  So why not let your players have some of that fun?
  1. OK, get a hold of a bunch of cheap envelopes and some colored paper.  
  2. Determine a color for trap, treasure, monster.  Leave white for details and descriptions.  Cut the paper into slips still big enough to write on.
  3. Now, start with one category (would a particular order be more fun?), let's say traps.  Have a person roll and share those results with the group.  the group can bounce ideas off each other about what a cool or horrible interpretation of that trap might be.
  4. The person who rolled get's to ultimately choose though, and doesn't have to say what they chose.  They write, legibly, that interpretation on the properly colored slip and place it face down on a pile of finished traps.
  5. Everybody gets to do a trap the same way.  Including you.
  6. Switch to monsters and do the same thing.  then treasure etc.  For details, if you don't have a chart, it might be good to offer a theme or flavor-- something it would be weird to find, or funny, remnants of some former adventurer, etc.
  7. After going through all the color types, use whatever method you like to randomly determine what a dungeon room has and then draw secretly from each pile (they've been shuffled) to place in an envelope. 
  8. I think the DM should get a final trump. So, as each item is handed to the DM they need to read them and scribble amendments or revisions. Then place that rooms contents into an envelope and seal it.
I think this could be interesting because the players will have an idea what treasure and monsters exist out in the world.  It might become apparent that some treasures are less interesting than others and some monsters should not be tangled with.  They will probably realize that some rooms have nothing and some have monsters with no treasure.  I think I prefer blind exploration myself, and finding out all these weird and wondrous things that exist through experience,  but you don't have to use this method for every dungeon.  You might want to say "tonight's dungeon is made from the rooms we stuffed," though.

So, when you use the rooms, you just need a map and then draw envelopes randomly.  I think what I'd need to do is open the envelopes then and look at what monsters, traps and details there were.  So when I dm I can use those details when players come close (maybe the monster is sentient and will come toward noise, maybe the trap is on the door.  I might number the envelopes to the room the represent and leave any treasures unlooked at, so they'd be a surprise to me too.

How much detail you need to write on the slips depends on when you have the most juice as a creator.  If you're stuffing rooms with players because you're too tired from work to DM, you might just do the minimal you need to have fun with everyone that night.  If, however, you are doing the room stuffing as a fun and different event to have rooms on hand for a future night that you are too tired to prep for, you'll want to do as much work as you can on room stuffing night and have everything you'll need on the slips when you seal them in.  So, if you are making up new monsters, for example, you'll want to write down AC, HD and determine hit points and # appearing that night, not just special powers and descriptions.

Anyway, I think i'll try this out this Friday.  It's also given me ideas for a better random monster table and a detail table.  I you try it out, let us know how it works.

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