Schedim's Blog

RPG meandering and stuff

The Propagation of Dungeons

This is a tricky one, I have been wrestling with this conceptually for literally years now, but Just now I had an revelation. I have been working from the wrong end!

I was seeing the Dungeon as a growing thing, like a plant. You put a seed down and a sprout turns into a plant that grows into a tree. But as all dungeons are a part of the DungeonGod this allegory don’t work well. 

Instead I have to work the other way around, something calls upon DungeonGod and a tendril sprouts forth and begin to manifest a Dungeon. These manifests as Lairs of Mosters. Contary to what I thought before Lairs do not grow into dungeons by adding levels underneath it. Instead it contains clues to an dungeon entrance.

So how do Lairs get created? Well, now we run into a hen and egg problem so I have to go back to another idea, namely the “traps as the flowers of dungeons” concept. Traps are “grown” by Dungeons and always contains a magical item, like the honey of flowers. The Dungeon rewards the conflict participant (either being victim of or trying to disarm the trap) with a magical item. Well these items griws (scales) with the hero but at one point or another they will certainly be stored somewhere due to the hero retiring or abandoning the item in favor of another magical thing (I plan to enforce the no more than seven magical item rule or something similar). When the magical items stays to long in one place they begin to summon Lairs.

When the Lairs get raided they in turn summons Dungeons of Level 1. After enough conflicts there will open entrances to deeper levels, this could be sink holes opens, secret doors found or just mining creatures opening up new ways.

The structure of a Dungeon should always be like a stair with each new depth having an unexplored back entrance for the heroes to find and giving them a faster rout to the deeper Dungeon. The DungeonGod wants to facilitate stronger Heroes meeting stronger opponents to have the conflicts drawn out and thus power generating as possible.



The procedurally generated first level dungeons can be further and further apart as the dungeons isn’t actually a part of the world but  “inside” Dungeon’God and could span any distance, even to other worlds if it suits the story. I would have the distance grow with each deeper level and in the deeper end bring in other worlds just to keep it interesting.

Also these new dungeons should appear where there are lairs…. And grow their own deeper levels. Making a never ending network of dungeons.

The question is .. What awaits in the deepest level … Level 20?




  … Don’t know how much sense this make, but it is finally a structure to build on. 


Standard Patterns in Choice-Based Games


Thoughts on the structure of adventures, this is important to have in the back of the mind when you asseble a RPG session.
And also a souce of inspiration.

Originally posted on These Heterogenous Tasks:

When I was analysing the structures of CYOA works a few years back, I began to recognise some strong recurring design patterns. I came up with some home-brewed terminology, but didn’t ever lay it out in a nice clear way. This is a non-exhaustive look at some of the more common approaches, somewhat-updated (a lot has changed since then).

I should stress that these aren’t discrete categories: while a lot of works will fall very straightforwardly into a single pattern, many will involve elements of multiple patterns. (And yes, I’m aware that you can often simulate one using the mechanics of another. That’s mostly beside the point.) Also, the example diagrams I’m using are smaller and simpler than would be likely in actual works.

Time Cave. A heavily-branching sequence. All choices are of roughly equal significance; there is little or no re-merging, and therefore no need for state-tracking. There are many…

View original 1,473 more words

OOTS, OSR and Anti-Hammerspace

As some of you don’t know, well actually I would be amazed if any of did know, I have started a little OSR campaign with my best friends kids. Or rather a OSR/indie campaign, as I add quite a few indie moments to the system and I want it to be in a indish/asianish world inspired of fantastic Yoon-Suin and (I hate to say it, because I feel a intense dislike for the pugnacious author) inspiring and well written Arrows of Indra

Aaaanyway, for figures I’m using paper standups from Rich Burlews amazing OOTS kickstarter, two sets published so far. I really want the next one, but have begun to play with drawing my own, and thus we finally arrives at my point. 

I made a trial Anti-Hammerspace (here there are some references) sheet for the campaign and the figure in the background is drawn by yours truly. Now I just have to make som equipment tokens also….

<edit: The picture below is linked to a PDF which is updated with some additions>

Necromancing an idea for a game

Quite a while ago I was mumbling about an idea for a game about small creatures living in a kind of twisted mirror dimension of a garden.

From nowhere a flash of inspiration hit me earlier today. It is perhaps a bit out of the blue to put it up here, but perhaps the idea will develop next week while in London and actually turn into something interesting.

Anyway, one of the problems with the idea concept is of course humans, and humanactivites. In “The Borrowers” there is a bit to much absence of humans to feel real, and the reason is of course that the appereance of an giant interrupts the story. Once or twice these intrerruption may serve the story and the plot, but soon they will become tentious and disruptive.

That was the reason I moved my campaign world to the a mirror dimension (a bit like Robert Jordans Tel’aran’rhiod) but I still had some problems with how to incorporate human activites in a useful and still easy to handle way.

The inspirational flash this morning was to twist the time also, lets each day in the the “real” world become a year in the mirror dimension. A dark season, a light season with two twilight seasons in between. The yearly cycle of the real world would correspond to ages in the mirror world, with winter being someting of a ice age several generation long.

Most human activities will “spill over” in abstract and twisted form (here there will be a opportunity for major creativity and surrealism). For example I see the parking spot in at the house as a area where mechanised monster golems lurk, spewing poisonus oil and stench. 

Hmmm … There is potential here I think….

System Service Message (or something)

After a fling with OSR and fiddling with homebrew I have had a moment of Insight. I will use Pathfinder as the base system for my DungeonGod world, heavily modified yes, but still Pathfinder.

And Why?

Well, I found the tinkering factor in OSR to low, so I begun to load more and more options and stuff into it (by tinkering I mean rules to support stuff, as OSR it much dependent on DM fiat, you can tinker along without those rules, but I LIKE rules). Anyway, it turned into my own homebrew system (which had some neat stuff), but I tealised it would demad a lot of work for me to make that accessible for players (and those who eventualky find it on the net).

So when I finally studied the Nythic rules for Pathfinder, I realised that that system actually have most of the tools I need and want for Dungeon’God.

… and with Pathfinder Unchained coming up in April, I would be suprised if I couldn’t find the last tweaks I want.

A note on Ice

it should be noted that what is called Ice in Nifelhel is more like dry ice than ordinary water ice (actually it is neither, but it is the best analogue). It yields little or no water when it melts, it actually sublimes with a thin white vapor.

It covers the land like a thick glacial like shell, that cracks and reveals a badland consisting of gravel and sand. This “melting” happens mostly around, habitated places, and most importantly, around Dungeon’God intrusions (which do becomes places of habitations sooner or later).

Reconsidering the manifestations of Dungeon’God in Nifelhel

After the revelation that the concept of Plasm and Gnosm I had a inspiration flow (a bit unusual these days). In the end it come to a synthesis of a couple of parallel tracks in my Gnosm. I had instantly bought the excellent Beyond the Wall – Further Afield when it arrived at RPGnow, and been reading it avidly. I have already decided to be inspired by the Character generation of BtW; extremely simple lifepath system combined with a light nesting of characters, and this expansion adress how to apply the same methodology to campaign building.

These two tracks joined and melded with a third bubble rising from the depth, namely the beautiful simplicity and inspiring products from Sine Nomine Publications. This mix of inspiration and ideas made me realise that the way I had imagine Dungeon’Gods manifestations in Nifelhel wasn’t fully using the settings potentials.

Here is a world that is a literal map of whitespace, everything is covered in glacial ice and snow, that has through magic and effort is melted and recovered. What is the classical wilderness campaign but a extermination of the white spaces on a map. In the world of Yggdrasil it made sense with just the dungeon entrances penetrating the world as parasitic galls, with focused raids to gain energy tokens and spend conflict to Dungeon’Gods’ betterment. But here there was an even greater potential, letting Dungeon’God drag the forgotten depths of lost memories and pushing that back in the world filled with whatever twisted horrors that made much more  sense, also from the local gods perspective. The world would fill up faster with (mostly) resources and inhabitants. The latter may need a bit of working on, but sometimes you need to take the grit with the grain.

This would also make the world building a bit more inclusive and dependent on the players actions. Depending on how they interact with the different denizens they will strengthen or weaken different aspects, icons and archetypes in their world. 

As an example, if the adventurers always attack these gangs of ugly primitives and wipe them to last creature, there will perhaps be no Orcish species in Nifelhel at Dawn, but will instead strengthen a Lawful Evil aspect in some way. But is they don’t wipe the poor brutes, just drive them away and Humiliate them, the world probably would gain the stereotypical savage orc tribes, hateful and vengeance seeking.

On the other hand, if the party trades with the wretches and use them as guides and so on, perhaps they will manifest in the world as something like the Eberrons’ nature bonded primitives.

Thus the world and the future adventures of the players characters rest in the hands of their choices. Sometimes those hands will be forced (it is difficult to act peacefully when a dragon eats your friends)… But most times they have to deal with the consequences of their actions (sometimes surprising such).

There may be some level headed meta gamer out there that tries to “game the system” to create something unsuitable and/or boring, I’m pretty sure much hilarity will be created ….

Remember everything should be framed by actions and cascading reactions, in twisted and convoluted ways. That forms the world into something interesting and entertaining for all at the table.

Lastly (closing in on the TL;DR limit) the adventuring will bring more and more stuff (surprisingly(NOT!) at a increasing difficulty) , Preferably founded in the adventurers findings and what gets the players attention. Maps or hints. In books they finds, rumours that they buy or coerce from the poor dungeon denizens.

I envision a mighty glacier landscape with the gamers village at the bottom of a chasm, a strange green and colourful patch among the whites. As the adventurers are gallivanting around the local area this village will grow and push the Ice away, and out on the glacier will open cracks and chasms spewing steam from the sublimating Ice and invite to exploring and having; sites, treasures and challenges at the bottom.

Sooo what have this to do with Gnosm and Plasm, and why is it this way. Well that has to wait for another blog post.

About the astral construct called soul

What to lesser mind is known as the soul is actually a complex astral construct animating a body. By doing this (reaching out and aminating a body) it gains a impregnable astral shell. It is the content of that shell, or actually two parts of the tangled mess I want to expand upon. Namely the esoteric Plasm and the ominous Gnosm. They are related and in the same time totally different, like opposit sides of a coin. The Plasm could be said to be the source (or rather one of them) of the animated body. From the Plasm heralds the bodily and physical expressions in the physical world. You could say that Plasm is a pattern description of the body. Gnosm on the other hand is a empty bag slowly filled with experiences and knowledges gained during the existence of the astral construct. At the death of the body the astral construct fall apart, the Plasm is the sturdies part and soon are reformed into a new construct by a new creature being born, the Gnosm  together with the other detritus of the construct are soon consumed by the varous astral scavengers that roams the astral dimension.

So why is this of interest then? Well it so happens that by using certain secrets and techniques you can plunder an another creatures Plasm and gain some of their magic. There are some prerequisites for this, the Plasm must be substantially stronger than your own in order to imprint correctly, you must have a physical hand in it’s demise to create an astral link. 

Usually these changes only settle in the Gnosm of the one Stealing the power, but if done to often or with a mighty beast it will change the Plams itself. This will affect the decendants and creates a bloodline of sorcerers (in best case) or twisted freaks (more common).

The plundered plasm far a much worse destiny, in the next reincarnation it will become a human. That is the real reason the humans are so much more common these days.

The growth of dungeon nodes

As I mentioned in passing in my blog post here, i see my my dungeon built in a “node-mode”. With that I mean that each level consist of a number of distinct places, more or less independent from each other, a dungeon quanta of sorts. Suitable for a short evenings play. A handful of critters, some traps and tricks. As each node is a bit of distance from each other they won’t automatically go on alert from the sound of combat (as they usually should in many published dungeons. They become a microcosm in the dungeon macrocosm. And it is from these nodes rulers that the dungeon grows into a full fledged mega dungeon of Dungeon’God.
Each conflict (encounter) in a node empowers Dungeon’God and when enough energy has accumulated a new node buds into existence.
And how much energy is that, a tentative guess is that it should be equal to twice the level cost of five party members of that dungeon level. After each invasion of a party add the estimated encounter XP (very detailed in 3.5/pathfinder) and subtract the value of treasures the adventurers made of with, but add half of the value of any spent magical stuff as well as half of the XP lost by any killed PCs as well as half the total value of henchmen (as they aren’t resurrected)*.
As this XP energy goes down with higher level PC the Leveltenant quickly lose interest in engaging high level parties and just want to speed them on further down into the dungeon. Hopefully making some value by doing that.
The nodes grows in a patter similar to a Pascal’s triangle. With the exception of the first level lairs creating one other lair (and the starting lair that starts the dungeon creating two lairs) two Leveltenants has to cooperate to start a new node. The cost must be shared in proportion to their actual level. And will be populated by the stronger Leveltenant.
Between the Leveltenants there will be a complicated network of intrigues and deals that the PC may use or abuse if the become aware of it.
When a level is “cleared” by a party it will be repopulated from neighbours and someone will be declared Leveltenant (about d3+level HD).
Each lair has a connection to the surface world, but with the exception of the first three lairs these don’t have to be in the same neighbourhood (distance related to fibonacci series expressed as the natural logarithm in km, this will fast take you to other continent and dimensions in order to satisfy this distance, and thats actually the general idea).

* I use other indert method to gauge the XP and level increase of the players

About the dungeons of the DungeonGod

I have written several posts now about worlds “infested” by the Dungeon’God, but not much about what is beyond the gates this entity opens to the worlds in question.

As mentioned here and there the things inside these entrances are a physical manifestation of the gods actual body. The reality and natural laws that holds sway here are are a product of an utterly alien mind. With that in mind they follow their own internal consistency and logic. 

By adhere to this postulate the players can learn and actually deduce things from earlier experiences, giving the world (in all its alien and unformed glory) a meaningful way of exploration and revelation.

Secondly, by giving the inhabitants of this alien world motivations and personalities that are understandable if not reasonable or even remotely likable, there will be ways for “social” interactions. This refutes James Raggis monster philosophy as he lays down the words in the excellent Esotheric Monster Generator

Having a monster acting as the only purpose is to mindlessly tear the limbs from the PC now and then is probably good. However if that is the only thing they meet in a mega-dungeon campaign it will certainly get tendious. As they will come and go through the same area it is much more interesting with a series of diplomatic/intimidation encounters instead of a repeated slaughter. The aforementioned Esotheric Monster Generator is still extremely useful to create a interesting monster (or base to one at least).

With those thoughs I have begun to scetch a dungeon creator. As the dice drop tables are the latest black I was thinking of something like this, but with eight fields corrsponding to the types outlined in Rooms, and Basic Trap Design by the mega-profilic Courtney Campell.

The first thing I did was looking through my electronic heaps of geomorphs and find one each that fit (somewhat) the description Courtney uses for the rooms. Although I from an estetic viewpoint would like to use the Billiam Babbel set but the Dungeon in blue is easier to edit and have a much wider range of geomorphs.

 These I put in eight stacks, the thought is to use them only once to avoid a too standardised feeling, as some are a bit to big to really fit my perspective of a “room” they are easy to edit a bit and resuse another edit later. 

The numbers of the dice would be interpreted as in this table (I couldn’t get it to fit the blog format in any functional way).

I drop a “standard set” of dice, d4, d6, d8, d10, d12, d20 and interpret the result as following:

The d6 is the geomorph assigned as I, d8 as II etc drawn from the stack indicate by the die position.

The first two columns (d4 and d6) is about connection to other nodes in the Mega-dungeon, these will certainly be developed further when I get a clearer picture of the macro structure and the connection between nodes. The roman numeral is a just an arbitary number assigned to the relevant geomorphs. As for the result of 1 which allows for a total bypass of the level further down into the mega-dungeon it may prove a bit of a problem. A way to mediate that problem is having a magical gate demanding a McGuffin in the associated node to open/become passable.

The third column is a pointer to what kind of special treasure the main treasure of the level boss, which I call Leveltenant as a working name. This is some kind of extra-special advantage/achivement/enrichment a defeat of the Leveltenant will enrich the players with, aside from gold and such uniteresting stuff. I will speculate of what this can be in a later blogpost, but the general idea can that inspired me can be found here.

 The d10 column is about how the node is layout, in a general way in relation to the entrance, it is the nine form of the five dungeon room theory (more about that here), and a very special addition, from a marvellous erudition in this fantastic blog post at my favorite map blog, Dyson Dodecahedron (the map it self was from here).

Then we have the d12 column containing the standard Jungs archetypes, how to interpret them from a monster perspective will indeed be a interesting endeavour for a blogpost.

The last column is a bit of atmospheric inspiration for the node, this can be a help for the PC to orient by (up this stair I recognise the rotten smell from the entrance), or perhaps an indication of the local ecosystem (no firedrakes in this cold). 




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