You may recall a brief discussion earlier this year about using amusement park visitor maps as inspiration for creating a dungeon map (or even an overland map). This is rather like that. If you have things and relative distances between those things, you have a map, right?
That Christmas tree you're staring at is a map. Each ornament is a room or encounter. Seriously.
Two ways to do this come immediately to mind. The first is to sketch out a conical or ziggurat-style dungeon by using your tree as inspiration. You've got larger (more spread-out) levels at the "bottom", narrowing toward the top. Central axis if you want (the trunk, or in our case, metal pole); that could be a bottomless pit, a massive freight elevator, or you can pretend it isn't there. This whole tree might be an orbital station if you're doing sci-fi.
The other way is to remove the cone aspect and flatten out the surface of the tree to use as the basis for a one-level deal or an overland section. Stand in front of your tree and mentally divide it into thirds, like this:
When I mapped our tree, I had some very common themes, because our tree is done up in blue and silver and penguins and snowflakes. So I quickly realized I needed a set of symbols to annotate my tree-map:
P for Penguin
I for Icicle
S for Snowflake
SM for Snowman
A for Angel
O for plain old round Ornament
and so on. I used 'H' for Heirloom/Handmade as well, encompassing both stuff the Boy had made and things passed down from my Mother. I also had a few ornaments that didn't fit the pattern - the Mouse, Elephant, and Reindeer.
Please forgive me for not trying to add that stuff to the drawing above. I think you get the idea.
Now you can draw connections between the symbols (draw rooms around 'em first if you want). Then map the symbols to contents. Maybe a table for each one, if you're into that and want to generate on the fly.
P (Penguin) = local humanoids of choice
I = trap
S = treasure/valuables
SM = big or unusual monster
A = forgotten temple
O = plain-jane cave
H = ancient paintings
Mouse, Elephant, Reindeer are my 'specials'. Probably the star on top, too.
Plop a couple entrances at the edge of your triple-triangle and make sure to throw some stairs or slopes on some of those connections, and voila. Christmas tree dungeon.
|Obviously this is not our tree.|