Friday, April 15, 2011

L is for Lairs

I never get these out on time.

Lairs- this would more accurately describe dungeons, but I already used the 'd' post.

I recently had a revelation about dungeon design. Now, previously pretty much every so called dungeon I've run has been a ruined underground structure, that's cool I guess, but most creatures and traps and thing were pretty much random. Its hard sometimes to come up with a reason why the various creatures living in the dungeon are even there, never mind trying to explain why they haven't killed each other.

My idea was to make living, functional dungeons, instead of always just random ruins type dungeons.  My idea calls for a dungeon like Minas Morgul - the "Tower of Black Sorcery" where the Witch King dwells.  Here it isn't abandoned, there are hundreds of orcs or more living in it at any time. The orcs are fairly disorganized though, and dwell only on the mid levels and guarding the battlements. the depths are home to to fearsome forgotten beasts and shadows, and in the tallest towers the Nazgul work their dark magic.

A stealthy band could slip in through a drain pipe and move carefully through the lower levels without drawing too much attention, perhaps even sneaking all the way up to the tallest towers without the alarm being sounded.

So thats kinda the example I thought of, but on a smaller scale it could work with any number of things. Dungeons can actually represent real dungeons beneath the evil overloard's keep and not be dungeons in name alone. Monsters could actually make sense in their placement, and heroes would be wise to actually try being stealthy and fast for once so as to not alert the entire castle. Finding hidden enterences suddenly becomes super important, and so does the crazy drunk in town who is always raving about how he escaped from the Dark Keep. I bet most people already play like this and I'm preaching to the choir, but it was a pretty mind blowing idea for me.  I'm going to include more evil overlords and their strongholds from now on in my games.

1 comment:

  1. I would say more of my D&D time in real world years (if not number of game sessions) has been spent dealing with lairs or fortresses more than dungeons. These appear more in fiction, and have the added elements of time constraints or needing to be stealthy.