Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Before You Take Down Your Christmas Tree...

Who am I kidding, ours will be up at least another week; we don't even consider taking it down til after Epiphany, and usually laziness kicks in.  Regardless, if you have a Christmas tree up, when you're bored later, walk over to it with pencil and paper and take a good look at the's time for today's stupid/clever idea.

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:

Start jotting down the relative positions of your ornaments on each 'face'.  If you're a garland household, consider using the garland as some sort of flow - a river, a subway, whatever.  Don't worry too much about what's what yet, just note what the ornaments are.  You'll probably want to use a symbol for very common ornaments (in our case, silver spheres).

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment