Sunday, February 24, 2013

Eating Bisquick With A Spoon

Last night Jason was kind enough to quell the whining of some gamers who wanted a game by running - at the last minute - a dungeon delve using a random dungeon from Donjon.

It was...a mixed bag.  Donjon is a cool site with neat stuff, and the dungeon generator does pretty keen maps.  What it doesn't do so well is stock those dungeons, and that's only to be expected.  No basic script can replace the human brain for this kind of thing.  The dungeon we explored, The Sanctum of Mighty Horror, was full of magically-locked and stuck doors, empty rooms, and the occasional really nasty trap.  Jason made the best of it, tweaking on the fly, but we all got some good chuckles about the sadistic dungeon-builder who must've invested a considerable amount of gold designing this place.

No random dungeon generator is going to be a satisfying substitute for an actual, designed dungeon.   It's all raw material, arranged higgledy-piggledy, and you shouldn't expect to be able to run the damn thing as-written.  It's like trying to eat Bisquick with a spoon and being upset that it tastes like powdery crap.  Of course it does!  You're supposed to make something with it.

Following this, as an experiment, I took another random dungeon output from Donjon and tried to reskin and spice it up a tad (for coherence? maybe?) within a limited time-frame of about an hour.  The result is the dungeon below (map is also in the doc, at the end).

The Ostentatious Crypt of Solomon Crabb

The first thing I did was look at the monster output, and start streamlining so I didn't have fifty different monsters in this one level.  All the Berserkers and Bandits became one thing; all the Goblins and Kobolds another, and all the Hobgoblins and Orcs a third.  Knowing my general groups, I knocked out a short intro to the whole scenario and descriptions of the "factions" on the level.  Then it was time to go room by room, editing here and there, adding toybox stuff and snarky comments.  There's still a crazy fifty-foot pit trap (5d6 damage) and an unexplained teleporter trap in there, but...

Would it have been faster just to take the map and populate it myself?  Maybe, maybe not.

We had a good time with Jason's Sanctum, and it was fun to see him get even more frustrated than we were ("Another stuck door, yay...").  There was an NPC party we ended up tussling with, and they had some nice magic items, so it was all totally worth it.

1 comment:

  1. for the part that i was in Jason did a great job of trying to get it to flow.

    balcony's with no stairs and all