dungeons as monsters

Aaron Griffin’s post Procedural Exploration reminded me how good Planarch Codex is and its procedural method for generating dungeons. I used it a fair bit a few years back; here’s one that I wrote up.

I’m definitely going to consider something like this for my Torchbearer game, should be perfect for exploring the fog.

Saved from G+ meltdown: 12 April 2013

So I used the Dungeon as Monsters method from the Planarch Codex DW supplement to create a warehouse in my Technoir (via Apocalypse World) game. I came up with three dangers, semi-randomly, and it all worked really well.

Madness: dominate choices XXXX
Sewers: befoul and disgorge XXX
Cliff: endanger OOXXX

One of the PCs has a flying surveillance drone “Bessy” that got badly hit by heavy-calibre rounds fired from a holy avenger’s high powered sniper rifle. So Bessy ended up crash landing in a warehouse leaking radioactive fuel.

I started tonight’s session with a couple of PCs scoping out the warehouse that stank of shit. Grey parkoured his arse to a second storey window (Cliff +1, Sewer +1).

Grey found himself on a walkaway above a huge pit dug out the length of the warehouse, 4 or 5 metres below street level, with broken pipes and filled with effluent and seething with worms.  He also spotted Block-Rockers working down there with sledgehammers, in the shit  (Madness +1, Sewer +1, Cliff +1).

Climbing a rope to the third floor, Grey crossed a room full of drugged, sick or exhausted people and has an interesting conversation with a Mind-Blower, who was smoking a peace pipe, about his mission to find the alien spacecraft (Madness +2). O yeah, he got a bucket of live worms in case he got the munchies.

Then Grey climbed the stairs into a room full of tall vats of sugar. He found Bessy wedged in the rafters and a bunch of kids dead beneath, blue-faced on her leaking radioactive fuel (Madness +1, Cliff +1).

Then Grey rolls snake eyes trying to get Bessy down and out of the building, the fire being she’d roll free and landed in the pit, deep in shit.

The sugar came in handy for dropping bags at height on Bessy’s owner when he came in, gunning down Block-Rockers and bossing people around. The proceeding battle got dangerous enough that both PCs backed off and regrouped.

Overall, Dungeons as Monsters worked, the dangers and rolling inspired me and the “dungeon” hung together well.

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7 thoughts on “dungeons as monsters

  1. I find I need to keep a few impressions / moves / what-have-you for each theme. This extended the dungeons-as-monsters concept a bit further. You give the theme an instinct AND some moves, and maybe choose one or more moves each time it presents.

  2. Yeah I found Dungeons as Monsters worked fine for me. It gave me enough nudges to reincorporate the key themes and, perhaps more importantly for me, when enough is enough.

    I usually roll up the themes before the game and maybe a few rooms ahead of the group. I come with a general idea based on the context of the game and the region there in.

    I only ever playtested Perilous Wilds, but I remember noting the DNA of Planarch Codex in the end product. I really should pull it out sometime and try it.

  3. I’ve had a lot of luck pre-rolling dungeons up using the Perilous Wilds process for a while now. This feels like a more direct approach without some of the extra bits that PW uses: unique vs common rooms, danger vs discovery, foundation and failure, etc. The PW process is a bit more involved but I when I go through the procedure (I opt to do it before hand) I find myself with a strong grasp on the important questions about the dungeon.

    In your experience, how’s the continuity between themes been during this method of dungeon development?

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