Sunday, October 21, 2018

Mapping Progress Report

I've finished mapping another dungeon entrance down three levels, and I've noticed that I'm not doing as much with set pieces as I really would like. I feel like each area should probably have that one memorable location that players will talk about and reference again and again, but I just really haven't been designing with that in mind.

I think what I will do is see if any such areas emerge while stocking, and if not, add some in during Pass #2. I have purposely left a lot of empty space around my dungeon for that very reason, in fact. Now I am glad I did.

Of course this does beg the question: What should a set piece be? Obviously, it should be unique and memorable. Just another 10-by-10 room won't do. But that doesn't mean it needs to be a giant, cavernous room, either. It could be a maze of claustrophobic tunnels in which the PCs are forced to fight ratmen on their own turf, or maybe it's the tops of a series of pillars sprouting from a bottomless pit.

I think the main thing is that it is different from the rest of the area and not encountered before this point in the dungeon. Sure, pillars through the bottomless pit of mist might exist somewhere else as a level unto itself, but here is the first time you see it. These are the bottomless pit pillars, and that level is "the one like the bottomless pit pillars" - not the other way around.

Still, I don't think I'll reuse set pieces as a basis for entire levels too often. Anything can be overdone, and frankly, it's better if the unique areas stay unique. Also, I'm starting to think there will be an area with pillars thrusting out of a bottomless pit filled with mist. Go figure.

So, what sort of set pieces have you used in your dungeons? What is your favorite published one?

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