Author Topic: FAQ: The Ten Commandments of Dungeon Design  (Read 851 times)

Offline ProphetSword

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FAQ: The Ten Commandments of Dungeon Design
« on: January 22, 2009, 11:13:26 AM »
What follows are R. S. Pylman's (RazerRed on AOL) 10 Commandments of dungeon design. Think of them as general guidlines for creating enjoyable FRUA modules.

Razer's 10 commandments of Dungeon Design:

   1. A Dungeon should be Challenging

      In any dungeon there should be the possibility of failure - this is, of course, an entirely different thing from the certainty of failure.

   2. A Dungeon should Make Players Think

      Don't lead players down the garden path of adventure; if there is only one way to get through the adventure, or if it can be solved by brute force or dumb luck, why bother playing? I could write a program to play for me.

   3. A Dungeon should not be Tedious

      If I'm attacked by a group of one hit monsters every 6 steps, I'm gonna get bored. If I get bored, I may not finish the adventure.

   4. A Dungeon should have A Plot

      Good dungeons share some elements with good writing: plot, character development, pacing, drama. The players should be given an introduction to the story, provided with a clear motive, and given clues on what they should be doing.

   5. A Dungeon should be Logically Consistant

      If a party cleans out an area, they should not continue to encounter wandering monsters there.

      If a monster has been set up as the major villain of the piece, there should not be more powerful monsters around unless A) the less powerful monster is serving the more powerful (not neccesarily discovered by the party until the less powerful monster is defeated), or B) the two are in direct competition (in which case, one monster may recruit the party to fight the other).

      If an area has been described as unpleasant, there must be a reason for people being there. Remember, most AD&D monsters are thinking beings who want the same things as you or I - food, safety, comfort. The worse the environment, the more powerful the motive for being there must be.

   6. A Dungeon should not be Restrictive

      One of the advantages of role-playing over reading is the opportunity to influence, if not outright decide, the outcome. The more choices a player has, the involved they get in the game; the more involved a player is in a game, the more they will enjoy it.

   7. A Dungeon should be Balanced

      If you design your dungeon for first level characters, don't expect them to defeat a dragon. The other side of this is that if you design your adventure for 20th level characters, dont waste their time fighting something like kobolds - a kobold CAN'T hit the average 20th level character, and at that level, even Magi can kill one in a single blow.

   8. A Dungeon should be Rewarding

      The PC's need a motive for risking their lives. Think about your characters - to them, this is LIFE AND DEATH - what lies at the end of this adventure that makes it worthwhile?

   9. A Dungeon should not be Monty Haul

      This is actually a complement to 8, but I felt it important enough to get its own point. Magic is a very powerful thing, and should be rare. The more powerful it is, the rarer it must be. While +1 items are (relatively) plentiful, +5 items should be nearly unheard of - the stuff of legend.

      Think of it this way: The most powerful magic items available in FRUA are +5. Characters can advance to 40th level. If they already have +5 equipment at 10th level, WHAT MOTIVE DO THEY HAVE FOR CONTINUING THEIR CAREERS?

  10. A Dungeon should be Enjoyable.

      Following these rules should help achieve that goal. If the other rules need to be bent to achieve this end, do it - but be SURE you know what you are doing.

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