Friday, October 28, 2011

Dormant Ooze

Often, an ooze can go for a very long time between meals. When faced with prospects of starvation, some oozes adapted a dormant stage – and of those, a better survival trait was a mimicing dormant stage.

The ooze goes dormant and assumes the characteristics of the surface it is on. Like a bacteria spore, it can last nearly indefinitely in this state. How long has it been since anyone has disturbed this tomb?

But once disturbed by movement near or upon it, the ooze begins to awake from its dormant state. Allow 1-3 rounds of disturbance to rouse the ooze. Then in a progression of 4 rounds, the ooze returns to its normal state.

So, it goes like this:

The dormant ooze at the bottom of the pit appears to be the same material as the stone floor beneath.

Landing on it, the ooze is as hard as the stone the players were expecting. But then it wakes up.

In the first round, one character or two (the dwarf's stonecraft in this example) may notice that the the floor shifted beneath them, subtly.

The next round, several characters feel like they're on different boats, rocking on the ocean.

The third round, the ooze begins loosing its mimicry characteristics. While not yet corrosive, it now looks its natural color and the characters see this transformation of the floor beneath them.

On the fourth round, it starts eating them from the boot up.


Choose your favorite ooze or roll one up.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Spomenik: Inspirational Images

First, check this out as an inspirational image for your next hex crawl location:

(Click to embiggen of course)

For all the coolness that this is, I would be remiss in not informing you that it is one of many monuments to World War II veterans erected in what was then Yugoslavia under a program by Marshal Tito. There is a website devoted to those veterans.

Now for another image:

You can find more by a google image search

I could go on about their abstract majesty and how their neglect adds to their appeal and mystery, but a random table would be more useful, don't you think? Here's one for you to riff off of for the "purpose" of your spomenik.

Roll d20
  1. Temple of Tharizdun (or a local equivalent if you prefer.) Is it active? Abandoned? Waiting for the PCs to be sacrificed?
  2. Confluence of ley lines. Use another table for how magic is f'd with here.
  3. Portal to another plane. I'm sure there's a table for random planes somewhere.
  4. Another entrance to your megadungeon. If you don't have one, now you can.
  5. It is sentient.
  6. It is the local appearance of the Sphinx.
  7. Another wizard's tower.
  8. Home to a deity. Go get Judges Guild's "Unknown Gods." Or J. Mal's Petty Gods
  9. Home to a Deck of Many Things.
  10. Home to the Maid, Mother and Crone.
  11. A brain transference station left by the Elder Ones.
  12. Landing site for the Githyanki invasion. If the PCs press the red button, they unwittingly have reopened the locked passage.
  13. Holy site for the Gathering of the Tribes. Which tribes? You want me to do your job for you?
  14. Death is waiting here to play chess with you.
  15. Prison for the vice (1d8: 1 Lust 2 Gluttony 3 Greed 4 Sloth 5 Acedia (irreverence to your deity) 6 Wrath 7 Envy 8 Pride). All within the influence of the monument must save or become possessed by the vice.
  16. An alchemical mechanism for turning base substances into gold. It's location and possession is highly coveted by many powerful sorcerers.
  17. Home to an artifact and its guardian.
  18. A wolf in sheep's clothing. A mimic basically. It uses its appearance to attract PCs and eat their magic items.
  19. A Tomb. Is it the Tomb of Horrors, or another?
  20. A monument to war dead.

For reading through all those, you get another picture:

Saturday, October 22, 2011

A lot of folks have done some wonderful crazy shit with sketchup. I'm not one of them. At present, I'm using it only to do easy mapping for 3D dungeons. But to followup, I have links to show what cool things others are doing and a few tools so that you could at least use sketchup for the simpler mapping I'm doing.

Here are some examples of cool things that folks have done with sketchup:
Outdoor map of the Temple of Elemental Evil
Collection of 3D dungeon pieces.
A whole DDC dungeon done up with sketchup. This one shows the full potential of sketchup, with cut views and the like.

But before you could ever create anything like the examples above, here are some essential tools. These are tools to get after you've watched and played with the instructional videos.
The Ruby Library Depot Ruby scripts are macros (and more) that will automate some of the drawing process. The other links are some of the tools I found useful.
Numb E. This macro numbers rooms sequentially at the click of a mouse. How else did I number 246 rooms of that dwarven mine?
Work Plane. This sets up a grid just like graph paper to ease pointing and clicking for map creation.
2-d tools. Most 2-d problems are solved with a work plane, but there are nifty tools here, especially the hatching texture. If you want a cool old school-looking printout of a level, you can do that with this.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Jaquaying your dungeon with sketchup

So you're hot to make a new dungeon, or possibly your megadungeon. You've read the forum posts about non-linear dungeons, and you want to blow your player's minds with some 3-dimensional Jaquaying. What tools do you use?

Your handy graph paper is 2d. That's certainly how it's been done, and for some that alone is reason to stick with it. But consider what Jaquay himself has used to create maps - various 3d programs. They're complex and often costly.

You do have a free, relatively simple, alternative - google sketch up. There are even video tutorials.

So I set out to do this thing. You can see the results below - click to embiggen.

The origin of these levels was a dwarven mine with a main entrance at the bottom of a cliff on a river. From that entrance, I've got passages to two different wings and a canal the dwarves used to ferry goods in and out - making a shortcut to the far end of the map. There's also a surface entrance, and soon connections to the underdark and a necromancer's catacombs; various levels and sublevels of a megadungeon. This is still in progress and I've yet to add sink holes and other evolutions - but that's easy enough to do.

Melan demonstrated how loops make nonlinear dungeons in his dungeon map analysis. I wanted to make them in 3 dimensions. The dwarves have various vault rooms, with balconies (the level in yellow) accessible from other parts of the dungeon. The forge level (purple), beneath the two shown, has elevators all the way up to the balcony (with a surface entrance) and an elevator down to the mines.

Here's the map as it currently stands with all levels shown.
Each level is a separate layer that I can make visible to focus on one at a time. Or I can work on the connections between the balconey and the forge, etc.

Here's the water entrance level.  The water is in green and you can see the bridge that connects the wings.  They'll be a connection between the wings on the mine layer as well.

The balcony level.  Some of the entrance level is inaccessible except through the balconies.

The verdict: it's a lot more work than my usual method (see below.) Typically, I grab someone else's map, load it onto my tablet pc and use windows journal to draw on the map. But in that case I'm limited to someone else's layout and without the complexity I want to create.

What a mess.  Hard to tell, but there are links on this map to another, and parts are accessible only from the other level - well, you could cross a chasm to get there as well.

What comes to mind then is to combine the two methods. Take a map from Turgenev's maps off his Paratime cartography site (thanks!) and import THAT into sketchup, and then make the 3d slides, chutes and ladders between them. Like this:

There's obviously a lot to sketch up that I'm not using. But for this I don't need textures, google earth, or even objects. I only need this to show the relationship between levels. I've got a mind to take Jaquay's the "Walking Wet" from his early Judges Guild days into sketchup just so that I can understand how the levels fit together!

I definitely won't be using sketchup for every dungeon - I just don't have time or inclination.  But if this is really to be a megadungeon the way Gary intended, then the investment could be worth it.