Asmor's Instant Dungeon

Taking a dose of my own medicine I will now create a dungeon in 45 min using Asmor to help me build encounters and select treasure lots.

So starting with the Treasure lots:

  1. [Level 5 Magic Item]: Bloodthread Armor +1 (Player's Handbook, page 227 (Magic Armor))
  2. [Level 4 Magic Item]: Bloodcut Armor +1 (Player's Handbook, page 227 (Magic Armor))
  3. [Level 3 Magic Item]: Eladrin Armor +1 (Player's Handbook, page 230 (Magic Armor))
  4. [Level 2 Magic Item]: Resounding Weapon +1 (Player's Handbook, page 236 (Magic Weapons))
  5. [201.6 gp]: 198 gp, 27 sp, 90 cp
  6. [180 gp]: 75 gp, 47 sp, 30 cp + 1 peridot (100 gp)
  7. [122.4 gp]: 17 gp, 45 sp, 90 cp + 1 moonstone (100 gp)
  8. [122.4 gp]: 120 gp, 19 sp, 50 cp
  9. [57.6 gp]: 51 gp, 57 sp, 90 cp
  10. [43.2 gp]: 34 gp, 84 sp, 80 cp
Now to pick encounters: (I am limiting the sources to just the monster manual for simplicity).

Encounter 1: level 1, 375 xp

Elf ArcherLevel 2 Artillery 125Monster Manual, page 106 (Elf)
1Human BanditLevel 2 Skirmisher 125Monster Manual, page 162 (Human)
Note: The bandit is playing a delaying tatict, trying to keep the PC's off the archers, so he will flee from the Melee opponents and close with ranged attackers when ever possible. The terrain should be filled with obsticals that provide cover, the archers should be located behind concealment and spread out.
Treasure: Lot #10.

Encounter 2: Level 1, 500 xp

4Goblin SharpshooterLevel 2 Artillery 125Monster Manual, page 137 (Goblin)
Note: the goblins should be equal distance from the group at start but in opposite corners.
Treasure: Lot #9

Encounter 3: Level 1, 525 xp

3Kruthik YoungLevel 2 Brute 125Monster Manual, page 170 (Kruthik)
1PseudodragonLevel 3 Lurker 150Monster Manual, page 91 (Drake)
Note: Intererior encounter with high celings, the Kruthik Young conduct a straight up attack against the nearest opponent, while the pseudodragon does flyby attacks on ranged attackers and spell casters.
Treasure: Lot #4

Encounter 4: Level 1, 524 xp

4Kobold SlingerLevel 1 Artillery 100Monster Manual, page 168 (Kobold)
4Kruthik HatchlingLevel 2 Minion 31Monster Manual, page 170 (Kruthik)
Note: The hungry hatchlings disperse through the party as quicly as possible, The slingers, in two groups of two, evade melee combat as long as possible, trying to pin the party down with special shots (one glue, 2 fire each).
Treasure: none.

Encounter 5: Level 2, 600 xp

2Guard DrakeLevel 2 Brute 125Monster Manual, page 90 (Drake)
1Gnome ArcanistLevel 3 Controller (Leader)150Monster Manual, page 134 (Gnome)
2Fire BeetleLevel 1 Brute 100Monster Manual, page 30 (Beetle)
Note: Interior encounter; The PC's will first see the Gnome Arcanist, and when they are close enough will fire off his illusinary terrain (standard action), followed by a Fey Step to move into position while the brutes attack. From there she will unleash scintalting bolts(standard) at the melee combatants, and Startling Gamor (minor) to pack in straglers, or keep PC's away from her. The fire beetles will lead with their fire spray and when ever it recharges.
Treasure: Lot #3 and lot #8

Encounter 6: Level 2, 675 xp

3Ettercap Fang GuardLevel 4 Skirmisher 175Monster Manual, page 107 (Ettercap)
1ImpLevel 3 Lurker 150Monster Manual, page 63 (Devil)
Note: The Ettercaps' will try to entagle then bite, or strike while the imp (supervisor to the gnome in Encounter 5), will on alternating rounds vanish (standard)/fly (move) or Bite (standard)/Fly (move) to keep its wereabouts unknown.

Treasure: None

Encounter 7: Level 4, 850 xp

4Doppelganger SneakLevel 3 Skirmisher 150Monster Manual, page 71 (Doppelganger)
1Shadar-kai GloombladeLevel 6 Lurker 250Monster Manual, page 230 (Shadar-Kai)
Note: Initaly the doppelgangers will appear as helpless individuals to try and draw the party in, at which point they will initate the attack. Otherwise they will work in pairs to attempt to flank a single PC so that they get extra damage. The gloomblade will use its Veil of Shadows and Gloom strike to try and blind melee combatants until bloodied, then it will make use single use of it's shadow jaunt power to try and flank with a doppelganger on a bloodied target.
Treasure: The gloomblade wields Lot #1, with lot #7 and #6 on their persons.

Encounter 8: Level 2, 657 xp

3Phantom WarriorLevel 4 Soldier 175Monster Manual, page 116 (Ghost)
1Hobgoblin WarcasterLevel 3 Controller (Leader)150Monster Manual, page 140 (Goblin)
Note: The phantom warriors will attempt to disperse amonst the PC to maximize their Phantom Tatics ability. Mean while the Hobgoblin warcaster will close with the artillery and use Force Lure to keep melee combatants packed in with the Phantom Warriors or Force Pulse to knock them down (as he is able to), other wise he will bludgeon ranged attackers with excessive glee (leading with Shockstaff).
Treasure: Lot #6 and Lot #5.

Major Quest: Level 1, 500 xp and Treasure Lot #2.

This gives us a total of 5,206 xp's.

It took just over 2 hours to do including formating.

Now to create the actual adventure...


Need Inspiration : Look Here

The page is staring at me, it's emptiness taunting me, freezing my creative juices and dooming me to another lost hour of "Not Writing". Yes, I often suffer from blank page syndrome (a.k.a) writers block. If I move away from the computer and consult with my oracle (a.k.a. my cat Mindy) I have dozens of ideas. Then when I return to the evil blank page, I freeze. One of the best way I have found to get around it is to use a random generator to give me a starting place.

A quick "cut and paste" stab and the blank page monster is gone, and I can move forward.

Sometimes a less "gaming specific" source of inspiration is more useful to jump start my creativity, to prevent me from settling into the standard Tavern/Clearing in the Woods/Dungeon tropes. These links are good for finding new ideas, though they may take more effort on your part to turn the ideas into something "game-able".

Finally there are (GASP) "non-digital" methods of finding inspiration:
  1. Open the Monster Manual and flip to a random monster, this will be the "Villian" of the adventure. (I got Goblin Hexer)
  2. Grab a book (even non gaming) and flip to a random page, the middle paragraph indicates what the plot or focus of the adventure. (It was a pragmatic choice).
  3. Grab a Campaign Setting or Adventure, either one of your own or a published one and reuse the map contained with in, but rotate it 90 degrees.
  4. Start writing.
Grab a foreign language dictionary (I like Latin) and flip find two random words and note their meanings use that as a title for the next adventure.

Also you can just start writing what ever gibberish comes to mind. What you write may not be game related in any way but at least the blank page monster is dead.



The Quantium Nature of Plots: Intrest

Previously I stated that a plot that does not interest the PC is also a waste of effort as they won't interact with the plot and won't bother to observe it further.

When crafting a plot you will need to take steps to both figure out hooks for each of your players AND what the Characters would find interesting:

  • Power gamer/Slayer is all about combat: give them some "foreign raiders" from country A in country B that are actually "Agent Provocateurs" to beat into submission; Or give them a press gang to pummel.
  • The Actor will want to talk to the Patriotic citizen, Sultry Bard, let them.
  • The Investigator will need plenty of clues planted as to who the actual threat is.
  • The Explorer should be shown communication magic, that works until it is compromised; Code books; Secret languages; Half a map with no keys.
  • The Storyteller can be lured in by the annoucnement , rumors and news.
  • The Thinker will hopefully be entertained by the antics of the others but effort should be taken to keep them guessing as to the true nature of the plot.
  • The Watcher should also enjoy the seeing others act on the plot, but be sure to have the Plot's NPC interact with them directly. The Merchant see them as an "easy mark"; the Sultry Bard works them over for information.
A boring plot, or one that has only perfunctory interest from the Players is a waste of everyone's time. Engage the Players or try something else.


The Quantium Nature of Plots: Influence

Previously I stated that an unobserved plot is a waste of effort, so is a plot that the players have no possibility of influencing or acting upon.

Now by Acting I do not mean that the players can necessarily defeat it at 1st level, just that they can have some sort of interaction with it. They could:

  • Try to find out who put up the posters or paid for the announcements. (a patriotic citizen, or a fifth column).
  • Talk with the Sultry Bard and hear her lies.
  • Bargain with the merchant.
  • Deal with suspicious town guards.
  • Discover the Sultry Bards' lies.
  • Visit Country A and discover identical posters, the same merchant and the same Sultry bard.
All of this will lead the PC toward the plot and give them some much needed Role Play between Dungeon blood Baths.

If the PC's cannot interact with what they observe, then don't bother showing them.


The Quantium Nature of Plots: Observation

Previously I had stated that a unobserved plot is only good for GM entertainment. While an unrevealed plot may become important latter, until it's effects are demonstrated to the PC's it remains a waste of effort.

So show the players the effect of the plot even if they or the plot is not ready yet. That Machiavellian machination plot of country C trying to start a war between Country A and Country B scheduled for levels 11-15: sure it will be interesting when it happens, but the PC's will have more involvement if:

  • They find Inflammatory posters and announcements about Country A in country B.
  • The hear a sultry bard telling story's in Country B about how decadent/Militaristic/Corrupt/Foolish the people of Country A are.
  • They know that the local smith is over worked and back-ordered on military equipment.
  • A merchant from country A offers to buy "used" equipment for 2-3x the normal asking price.
  • If that sultry Bard in the tavern keeps chatting the warrior up about keep defenses and outpost locations.
  • They encounter extra security/inspection/suspicion/restriction as they enter a community.
  • They see fields lying fallow or the crops unharvested.
If the GM sprinkles these little tidbits throughout the first 10 levels of the PC's lives then when war comes at level 11 they will be more than ready.

If the PC's cannot "see" the plot's through its effects upon the world then don't bother with it.


The Quantium Nature of Plots

Plots, to matter, must:

  • Be observed by the Players' Characters;
  • Be able to be influenced by the PC's;
  • Be of Interest to the PC's.
A plot that has no observable effect upon the characters or an effect that the players are unwilling to observe isn't a plot, its a story for the GM entertainment only.

A plot that the PC's cannot or will not influence isn't a plot it is a box text railroad or short story entertains the GM and maybe, just maybe the players.

A plot that doesn't interest the PC's will be ignored and thus it will not be influenced or observed by the players. Again, it becomes entertainment for the GM at the expense of the Player's boredom.


Panic Attack: Two Days: More Spiders

Fell Claw Spider Level 1 Skirmisher
Small Natural Spider XP 100
Initiative +3 Senses Perception +4
HP 29; Bloodied 14
AC 15; Fortitude 14, Reflex 14, Will 12
; Vulnerable 5 Fire
Speed 6; see jumpy
Image:Basicmelee.gif Bite (Standard; at-will)
+6 vs AC; 1d6+3 damage
Image:Basicranged.gif Spit Attack (Standard; at-will)
Ranged 10/20; +6 vs AC; 1d6+3 damage.
Jumpy (Minor; at-will)
The spider can shift (jump) 1 square and ignore terrain effect.
Alignment Unaligned Languages
Skills Acrobatics +7, Athletics +8, Stealth +7
Str 16 (+3) Dex 15 (+2) Wis 8 (-1)
Con 8 (-1) Int 10 (+0) Cha 10 (+0)

The claw spider is a bit larger and redder in coloration than the minion hunting spider. It prefers to attack and then jump away while making clicking sounds.

Thanks to Monster Maker 3.1 from Encounter-a-day. Also submitted to The Open Archive. Source image from spilopterus


Panic Attack: Three Days: Changing the Rules: Skill Challenges

Today I had a vision of how I want to handle an encounter: I want a skill challenge leading up to combat with the success or failure of the challenge dictating the advantage the players get. I also wanted all the players rolling and describing their actions so that everyone is participating.

The Setup: The players are tromping through the woods in pursuit of the fell spiders when they hear screams in the distance.

Rules: For the next 5 rounds the screaming continues along with the growing sounds of battle. After the end of the 5th round the noise ends abruptly. Assuming the Characters run toward the battle every round the characters must make several skill checks.

A player running full out can make it to the encounter in 3 rounds.

The ideal situation is to be quick (athletics), precise (perception) and quiet (stealth). Additionally if you are agile (acrobatics) or have wood land guile (nature) you may be able to find a better route. Given the undergrowth having some stamina is also of importance (Endurance). Some skills get easier the closer to the encounter, other get harder. Those that succeed in a roll may "spread the wealth" of any overage that they got on their roll to help those that failed.

If there are more successfull athletics checks in a round than failures then the group(s) will move one range increment tward the encounter. Failing (more failures than successes) result in only making 1/2 a range increment progress during that round. Using Acrobatics or nature may shorten the distance by 1/2 range increment per round (re-check each round). Note that Acrobatics check success may not be shared but nature checks can be.

Range 3

Blasting off the path into the dense undergrowth is difficult and tireing.

A hard perception check to find the direction; an moderate athletics check to start moving; an easy stealth check will keep their movements unnoticed.

Note for this perception check is still a group effort even for the maverics.

Range 2

Webfilled deadfalls and bramble bushes hamper progress.

Moderate athletics to make progress, Easy endurance checks to keep going (or suffer a -1 on athletics checks until a short rest). Easy stealth checks to avoid attracting attention. Moderate perception checks to find an easier path (+2 to athletics checks next round) success may be shared by the people within a group.

Range 1

The brambles become very dense as the cannopy of trees thins for the upcomming clearing.

Hard athletics checks are required to make it through the undergrowth; Stealth check are moderate in the lush grenery. Another round of individual endurance check is need to avoid being winded (-1 to attacks until a short rest).


Round 1: There is a distant trio of voices screaming (a hard insight will reveal 1 male, 1 female and possibly a child's voice).

Round 2: The voices continue shouting and screaming but are closer.

Round 3: The panniced voices are very close and you can hear the chattering and hissing of spiders.

Round 4: The trio of voices dwindles a bit for a moment, and then regains in volume and urgency as a pair (insight says that the child has fallen).

Round 5: The pair of shouts changes to a single sobbing screaming male voice.

Round 6: The lone male voice abruptly goes silent.

If all three stealth checks have more success than failures then grant a surprise round and combat advantage until the end of the next round.

If two stealth checks were successful, grant a surprise round.

If only one Stealth check was successful, grant combat advantage.
With no successful stealth checks, grant the enemy combat advantage until the end of the turn.

If all three athletics checks were successful, grand full cover and range 2 from nearest creature.

If two of the Athletics checks were successful, grant partial cover, but the range is 4 to the nearest enemy.

If only one Athletics check was successful, grant partial concealment, but the range is 6.

With no successful athletics checks arrive at the edge of the battle map (range 10).

Mavericks that push ahead and arrive prior to round 5 will be gifted 1 extra minion per round of early arrival (so arriving at round 3 will result in there being 2 extra minions).

As far as XP goes I would treat this as a normal (at level) encounter/quest.
The fate of the three victims is to be determined later.


Panic Attack: Three Days: Maps, I Need Maps

Although I am a procrastinator I do have standards: I feel that nothing helps sell a scene as much as a nice looking map.

RPG Mapshare is a wonderful place for finding all sorts of maps. Including this Camp 1 which would be good for setting an ambush scene.

Dungjinni is a nice application for doing pretty maps fairly quickly and has a fantastic user community that is continually producing mind blowing art. With a bit of quick searching I found this map that I can use for the nest/temple transition. Here is one for a deeper forest encounter. Given that I have un-exercised drawing talent that is not quite up to stick figures I managed to produce this in about 15 min using the stock art that comes with Dungjinni.

There is also the Cartographers Guild that appears to have a wealth of ready to use maps and more mapping tips than you can shake a stick at (though you will need a login to see many of them).


Panic Attack: Four Days: Encounter Mix

To promote a party of 6 characters to 2nd level requires 6,000 xp. Based upon the guidelines from page 104 of the Dungeon Masters Guide I think the encounter breakdown should look like this:


14506 minons (lvl 1 at 25xp or 150xp total); 3 Skirmishers (lvl 1 at 100xp or 300xp total)
25004 minons(lvl 1 at 25xp or 100); 3 Skirmishers (lvl 1 at 100xp or 300x); 1 Brute (lvl 1 at 100xp)
35502 minons(lvl 1 at 25xp for 50xp); 1 Skrimisher (lvl 1 at 100xp); 1 Brute (lvl 1 at 100xp); 3 artillery (lvl 1 at 100xp for 300xp total)
46003 infested Deer (3rd level creatures 150xp each)
56508 minons (lvl 1 at 25xp for 200xp); 4th level trap (200xp) and 2 lurkers (2nd lvl at 125 or 250xp)
67002 brutes (1st lvl 100xp or 200xp), 2 artillery (1st lvl for 200xp total); and a controler (3rd lvl elite at 300xp)
7750Controlled villagers (1st lvl minion at 25xp each, max of 10 no more than 4 active at a time) and Queen(1st lvl solo);
8800Temple skill challenge; most likely in several parts.
91000To kill a god

With the controlled creatures an attack targeted at the Fell Mind Bore OR any area affect spell that penetrates its defenses will return the controlled creature to a normal state of mind.
This is just a first pass and is subject to change.


Panic Attack: Four Days: Designing Encounters

Allegedly 4E is GM frendly in terms of game prep so I am going to give it a try.

Adventure: A spider nest in the forest is starting to attack a village.
So I am going to use Kobolds but "file the numbers off": Shifty becomes Jumpy; The javlin is replaced with a Spit attack. The +2 trap sense I'm replacing with +2 for stealth checks. Dark vision becomes tremor sense. So what does our Fell Spiders look like:

Fell Spider Minion Level 1 Minion
Small Natural Spider XP 25
Initiative +1 Senses Perception +6, Tremor sense
HP 1 a missed attack never damages a minion.
AC 15; Fortitude 13, Reflex 13, Will 13

Speed 6; see jumpy
Image:Basicmelee.gif Bite (Standard; at-will)
+5 vs AC; 4 damage
Image:Basicranged.gif Spit Attack (Standard; at-will)
Ranged 10/20; +6 vs AC; 4 damage.
Jumpy (Minor; at-will)
The spider can shift (jump) 1 square and ignore terrain effect.
Alignment Unaligned Languages
Skills Acrobatics +6, Stealth +6
Str 13 (+1) Dex 13 (+1) Wis 13 (+1)
Con 13 (+1) Int 13 (+1) Cha 13 (+1)

Thanks to Monster Maker 3.1 from Encounter-a-day. Also submitted to The Open Archive.
Source image from spilopterus


Panic Attack: Four Days

So I was twiddling around the galaxy, just minding the Grox's (Spore) business when I suddenly recalled that I am introducing (and running for) my group there first 4E game this coming Thursday.


So the first thing I do is play more Spore (Behold the power of Denial). The next day I do the accounting, dishes, vacuuming, run some errands, Play with Monster Maker 3.1; write this post. I do everything save actually working on the game. I do believe that I have truly mastered it the fine art of procrastination.

I suppose I will rationalize this post as a way to "just start writing".

2009/02/18 Note: Closing off comments to prevent spam.