Week three (yall know I’m doing days instead of weekes) focuses on the dungeon. Now, urban fantasy isn’t really a genre known for its dungea, but BLADE (1998) is one of my touchstones for this project and well, BLADE (1998) has at least three dungea.
1. Describe the dungeon entrance in a handful of words
A crumbling fourteenth-century gatehouse with plexi-glass over bad stained glass.
It’s old, but it’s not quite been looked after. (Hey ma, it’s me!)
2. Maps and markers
Set aside at least one page of your journal for a point-to-point map.
For each level, include d6+6 rooms/areas and connect them
d3+1 ways up or down per level
Come up with three themes (one per level). d3+2 for each
Spread d6 features throughout the dungeon.
So I’m no stranger to map-making (in fact, my usual favourite is Dave Lombardo’s Wallet Dungeons) but I am a particular fan of following others’ protocols to see how it breaks me out of my usual habits. Thinking about the space as a nodal map is useful in that I doubt there’ll ever be grid-based combat here, and the idea about generating and spending a theme budget is really cool — I don’t think I’ve seen anything else like it just yet.
While I’ve put five sections on the grand map, I’ve only mapped three of the smaller levels. Overall, the themes are clergy (old monk shit), mortality (memento mori et al.), and patience (turns out an abstract noun is hard to use as a dungeon theme).
3. Populate the dungeon
Make a list of 11 different monsters and place them. You can put them in rooms or passages, and on any level. Generally, the more dangerous the creature the lower it will be found. If any of the monsters help sell one of your themes, remember to reduce the budget accordingly.
While I doubt I’ll use a BX/ODND style game for this, Hit Dice is such a familiar shortcut for me that I’m using it here.
- dust-cats HD1–1
- broken thralls HD1
- wolf-rats HD1–1
- gray mold HD1 (patience)
- venomous frogs HD1–1
- lost thralls HD1+1
- cockatrice HD2 (I said no folklore in general, but this is too specific for a market town not to have — if you’ve never read the legend of Wherwell, go do that)
- stalagcape (definitely not a cloaker nope) HD2
- bat-clade HD2+1
- the rider on a pale warg HD2 / HD1+2 (mortality)
- monk-liche HD3 (clergy)
For each room/area, note whether there is treasure. To determine this, roll a d6. If the area contains a creature or feature, there is treasure on a 1–4. Otherwise, there is treasure only on a 1.
Again I did another list because lists.
- pearl rosary
- anatomically correct obsidian heart
- prehistorical quilt
- ax-head made of bronze filigree
- figs preserved in bile
- three motile rocks
- accursed carbon monoxide vial
- Ascupart’s greaves of strength
- a book of seven lies
- perpetual charcoal pencil
What do these all do? Not a clue!