Saturday, June 25, 2011

Dungeons for Adventurer: Traveller style ! (the UDP) part 1.

In fact, developing a UDP  (universal dungeon profile) was one of the first things I did for adventurer.
Towers, Temples and Terrors
What is the point of realms and cities if there is no room for profitable adventure free from city guards and the king’s army? What hero of worth in a sword and sorcery yarn has failed to delve into a wizards tower for forbidden gold ortreasure ?  Labyrinthine hallways, locked portals, magical constructs, terrible monsters of myth and legend, all await within.  And, as ever, the nemesis!  The mage at the center of his construct, the spider in the web!  But that's not all!  When the wizards tower is missing, or looted, there are the ruined cities, hidden lairs (of thieves, pirates and  bandits), lost dungeons deep beneath the earth along with  caves caverns and the underworld all draw the hero like a magnet.  Glory, gold and artifacts of unspeakable power all await amidst terrible guardians, and cunning traps.  Evil cults and pretenders to thrones must be ferreted out and overthrown –or contacted and joined! 

The cunning GM must always consider that a well stocked ruin is a far better investment of time than a detailed exposition of a ruler’s family in a distant realm.

In general, one cannot go far wrong with a wizards tower or ancient ruin (subterranean or not).  The Tower may have an active plotting inhabitant, with organized patrols, reset traps, and well hidden treasures, or the master may be gone, and the keep simply a convenient lair for his surviving minions and lesser evils.  Ruins will be inhabited by survivors or squatters, and make excellent lairs for fantastical creatures (which may well be the cause of the ruin).  Tombs too should abound in plenty, stocked with the grave goods of dead kings wizards and conquerors; protected by fiendish traps, hidden areas and terrible spirits.

Several such sites should be premapped, generally at least one each of tower, ruin and tomb.  Practically, it is recommended each level or specific area be limited to a single piece of paper, with maps and encounter keys all upon one side. 
Generally, such adventure havens come in two types: organized and haphazard.  Organized sites generally have a well defined overall purpose, and inhabitants and contents that support this mission.  The inhabitants and contents (traps, treasures, and access) tend to cooperate towards a specific goal –although factions may exist!  Traps are often complex and well maintained, and generally make allowance for safe passage for those who have the authority. 

Haphazard sites tend to be abandoned and generally anarchic, with random inhabitants that may or may not cooperate, compete or ignore each others.  Much is simply the detritus of absent inhabitants, or loot from deeper in.  The stronger monsters will tend to have the best and most isolated lairs, seeing the lesser as cheap protection.  Traps will tend to be very long lasting and self resetting, or simple and crude, set by the new inhabitants. 
Challenge
Code
A
B
C
D
E
X
Theme
Epic Foe
Tribal; unified
Tribal, balkanized
Horde
Undead
Beasts
x/36
3
7
11
5
4
6
2d6 Roll
2-3
4-5
6-7
8
9
10-12
 
 
Epic Foe
The Site is inhabited by a single foe of  great power ,
possibly with useless but annoying  minions
Tribal, Unified
The site is inhabited several unified cooperative
groups of threat rating -4 (min 1)
Tribal, Balkanized
The site is inhabited by a several hostile or at least
uncooperative groups equal to 1d6+11
Horde
The site is inhabited by a large and shifting number
 of groups equal to threat rating *2 with little or
no overall  organization or interaction
Undead
The site is inhabited by leaderless undead,
summoned and bound abominations or
unspeakable constructs, all acting entirely
reactively and without regard to the other
inhabitants.
Beasts
The site is inhabited by a variety of beasts
and/or dangerous pests.











Once the Theme of the Site is determined, generate the key variables to guide its design:  Type, Size, Denizens, Hoard, Reputation and finally, Threat.  The series of values coded from 0-A make up the UDP, or universal dungeon profile.




Denizens
Type
Size (guidelines)


2d6 -2
2d6-7 +Denizens
2d6-7+Denizens

0
1
Lair
100-600 sqft x Denizens

1
2-4
Cave
1d6*1d6 acres

2
5-10
Tower or temple, active
2d6 *2d6 acres in 1d6 levels

3
11-20
Tower or Temple, buried
1d6*1d6  acres in 2d6 levels

4
21-50
Tower or Temple, Ruined
2d6 *2d6 acres in 1d6 levels

5
51-100
Catacomb, tunnel complex, Dungeon
2d6 *1d6 acres  in 1d3*1d6 levels

6
100-250
Necropolis
d6*d6   *2d6 structures

7
251-500
City, Ruined
((2d6*d6 )) ^2 
                   
8
500-1000
City, Buried
(d6*d6)^2 in 1d6 levels

9
1001-10,000
City, Lost, inhabited
((d6*d6 )) ^2

A
10,000 +
Lost Kingdom
Frikkin  huge

* yes, square it.  This actually covers the range from troy (~4 acres) to  50% bigger than ancient (augustian) rome. The average size is bigger than would be reasonably expected  from a survey of classical cities, but, 1. It’s a ruin, and 2.  For adventure, the bigger the better.


Reputation equivalent
Protection
(example)
Strategy

2d6-2
2d6-7 + Reputation
2d6-7+Protection
0
Pwell’k’arn-deloth*  (I made this up)
Wide open
None
1
Rhyleh
Sock under mattress
Passive
2
Atlantis
Buried in back yard
Guerilla
3
Dragons Horde
Average Bank
Reactive
4
Shipwreck s mine
Prison
Indominable
5
Lost dutchman’
Coldiz
Aggressive
6
Local wizards tower
Supermax facility
Berserk
7
Mint building
Titan II Missile silo
Cunning
8
Kings castle
Area 51 secret labs
Tactical
9
Part of general creation myths/literature
Bond villain lair
Relentless
A
False story
Gates of hell
Vengeful
[more to come]


Denizens A rough guide to how many opponents are inhabiting the site, and often, but not always guarding the site.  Note that more powerful creatures can count as multiple inhabitants.  Thus while a huge ancient dragon would most likely be rating 0 denizen (1) , it could also be as strong as a hundred men and count as a rating 6 denizen.  This is useful to keep in mind when considering the Theme of the Site in relation to its population. .
Type Type is further described in its own table, below. More denizens imply bigger and more complex sites.
Size Size defines the general area occupied by the site: this differs depending on actual type, mainly based on being underground, a single structure, or more spread out types such as ruined cities and catacombs.

Reputation A general measure of how easy it is to find out facts about the site, hear about it at.  Half the Reputation is the equivalent of a players reputation for determining how well known the site is, and also the Positive DM applied to attempts to locate the general location of the site, typically the standard 1 week campaign hex.   The specific location is modified by access.

If the rating is A, however, the site does not actually exist, although rumor and myth have its stats as otherwise rolled.  Reroll Rep as 1d6 for purposes of hearing the false leads and finding the purported  general location of the non-existent site.

Protection How hard it is to get into, and to locate the site itself once the correct wilderness hex is found.  Once the hex is located (by Reputation) the site must be found, either by game play with higher values of Protection  being harder to find.  Alternately, an appropriate task check can be made (Recon, Knowledge, etc) with Half the Security rating (round down)as  the negative DM to locate the site within the campaign hex. Note that if the site doesn't exist (see above) a successful location roll simply means you’ve figured out the joke. 
Entering the site can be handled by a 2d task throw using stealth type skills as modifiers and half the security rating as a negative modifier(round up).  Alternately, and preferably, use the Access as a guide to setting up security, with higher values being harder and more dangerous.
The assumption linking this to Reputation is that well known sites need tight security to survive, and for lost sites, protection is slacker.

Strategy  An approximation of how the denizens protect the site it is a complicated enough topic to deserve its own section (below) The strategy rating determines the chance to encounter random denizens each turn (see below).
The assumption linking this to protection is that draconian security tends to make more well trained and aggressive guards.

Threat: Is the general danger associated with the site. Obviously highly reliant on the gm to operationalize.



After generating, tweaking and fudging the basic UDP, the Hoard is then generated.


Hoard
Finally, the reason we are here ! The sites’s horde rating is the final measure of its value, both in the main cache of the biggest boss,, and spread around and hidden throughout. Basic procedure is: roll 1d6 and add modifiers from table.  The main horde consists of final number on the Hoard table.  This is the big one, the one the whole thing may be protecting – or the main dumping ground for undead who dislike silver (say).  This treasure is in one place.  All lower coin values are also found, but spread out through the rest of the dungeon and its denizens. Similalry, roll once more on the gems,jewels and magic items at Hoard -1, and distribute any that result as with coins.   Now that’s a place worth getting you neck snapped for, right ?  Hmmmmm.  Your characters neck.  Sound better ?


Challenge
Denizens
Size
Type*
Reputation
Protection
Strategy
0


+1
-2
+1
-2
-3
1



-1
+1

-2
2






-1
3



+1



4







5



+1



6



+1



7






+1
8

+1

+1
+1

+1
9

+1

+1
+1
+1
+2
A
+4
+1
+1
+2
+6 *
+1
+2
B
+2






C
+1






D







E







X








*Remember, it’s a fish story…….

1d6 + mods
Metal
Gems :
d6 x (rating+1)
Jewelry:
d6 + rating
Minor magic:
d3
Magic item:
H -L
Artifact:
1
0
Copper  2d6 *10
10+
12 +
10+
12 +
12 +
1
Copper  2d6 *100
10+
12 +
10+
12 +
12 +
2
Bronze 2d6 *100
9+
11+
10+
12 +
12 +
3
Silver 2d6 *100
9+
11+
10+
12 +
12 +
4
Bronze 2d6 *1000
8+
10+
9+
11+
12 +
5
Silver 2d6 *1000
8+
10+
9+
11+
12 +
6
Gold 2d6*100
7+
9+
9+
11+
12 +
7
Silver Talents 2d6
7+
9+
9+
11+
12 +
8
Silver 2d6 *10000
6+
8+
8+
10+
12 +
9
Gold 2d6 *1000
6+
8+
8+
10+
12 +
A
Silver Talents 2d6 *10
5+
7+
8+
10+
12 +
B
Gold Talents 2d6
5+
7+
8+
10+
12 +
C
Gold 2d6 *10000
4+
6+
7+
9+
12 +
D
Silver Talents 2d6 *100
4+
6+
7+
9+
12 +
E
Gold Talents 2d6*10
3+
5+
7+
9+
12 +
F
Silver Talents 2d6 *1000
3+
5+
7+
9+
12 +
G
Gold Talents 2d6 *100
3+
4+
6+
8+
12 +
H
Silver Talents 2d6 *10000
3+
4+
6+
8+
12 +
J
Gold Talents 2d6 *1000
3+
3+
6+
8+
12 +

1 comment:

NetherWerks said...

This is sheer insane genius. Applying the Traveller mechanics to Sword & Sorcery really works much better than anticipated or expected--especially the way you've been developing things. The UDP is super cool and could be expanded into a very functional random dungeon designer, but one with some serious heft and depth.