"Dungeon" that's not actually a dungeon


Homebrew and House Rules

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Mark Hoover wrote:
What about a vertical dungeon? A series of cliff face aeries and nests, maybe a cave or 2, but the whole thing is part of a steep ascent and the ultimate goal (gold/monster/enlightenment or whatever) is at the top. I guess this would have to be a mid to low-level game though since fly and teleport sort of ruin the whole concept.

A vertical dungeon is a neat idea, and you could use the wind rules to restrict the ability of the fly spell to provide very useful. For example, the mountain is permanently covered by a powerful thunderstorm. This could even ruin teleportation attempts since it would not be possible to view the area beforehand.


An infernal duke's palace and throne room
A mansion on fire
A dangerous mountain trail


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Inside an inn or tavern

Between lines of written text; not "in the story" per se but rather in the grooves created by the pen. Perhaps the ink is still drying. Or with a twist; perhaps its a normal underground maze that's spawning monsters, the the whole maze viewed top down shows that its one giant rune.

Inside the living dream of an ancient dragon or the collective nightmare of an orphanage

The inside of a titan's Horn O' Plenty. The monsters are attracted by the once a year feast that suddenly materializes within

Also, what about an "extended dungeon"; a series of sites the party must deal with in order to resolve their objective. I'm not talking connected by teleporters or mundane bridges. They start in a tomb in the local graveyard, with the objective being to collect several mcguffins. They fight one monster, get some obvious set of clues, and within minutes of real-time the PC's are standing at the base of a mountain where high above assassin monks are training

A classic: the cloud giant's castle. Only the castle is ruined and abandoned...you're exploring the cloud it's floating on

The party is hired by a wealthy merchant to protect and preserve a gallery of art and artifacts contained within an ancient castle. The PC's watch over them for a night since there's bandits in the area and by morning the merchant will arrive with teamsters and such to haul away the pieces. The PC's give an oath/sign a contract/give their word etc that the artifacts will not be lost, stolen or damaged while they're on duty. As soon as the sun goes down the items animate a la Night at the Museum. Now the party has to deal with them without permanently damaging them, as well as the bandits attempting to break in and loot the place...


Dragonamedrake wrote:
A dream.

I am so stealing this idea. :)

It is awesome!

Silver Crusade

.... a sewer


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3.5 Loyalist wrote:

1) Built into and absorbing much of a forest, a skyscraper hive of giant killer bees. Dripping with honey goodness but also protected by, in additional to the standard bees, huge bee guardians with scythe limbs, ankhegs tunneled in the soil and ettercaps in buildings or barns around the hive.

My players are now on low hp.

I love this one, have to do it some time.


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What if the entire dungeon was alive: you're inside a CR20 Great Elder Mimic which in turn is filled with deathtrap oozes, ropers, lurkers and such. The PC's are there to find out what's given the old girl indigestion...


Threeshades wrote:
3.5 Loyalist wrote:

1) Built into and absorbing much of a forest, a skyscraper hive of giant killer bees. Dripping with honey goodness but also protected by, in additional to the standard bees, huge bee guardians with scythe limbs, ankhegs tunneled in the soil and ettercaps in buildings or barns around the hive.

My players are now on low hp.

I love this one, have to do it some time.

Cheers, it was actually brought together by seeing a new bee-hive like building being put together on my campus. Combined with my love of honey and the imagined terror of giant bees.

Also, I modded the standard giant bee. Gave them an extra level of a melee class, or perhaps a level of sorcerer. The giant bee guardians can be represented by a few different stat blocks.

Like the idea Hoover!

Silver Crusade

pobbes wrote:
Mark Hoover wrote:
What about a vertical dungeon? A series of cliff face aeries and nests, maybe a cave or 2, but the whole thing is part of a steep ascent and the ultimate goal (gold/monster/enlightenment or whatever) is at the top. I guess this would have to be a mid to low-level game though since fly and teleport sort of ruin the whole concept.
A vertical dungeon is a neat idea, and you could use the wind rules to restrict the ability of the fly spell to provide very useful. For example, the mountain is permanently covered by a powerful thunderstorm. This could even ruin teleportation attempts since it would not be possible to view the area beforehand.

One Kobold Quarterly issue had an article on "side-scrolling" dungeons and encounters that could be useful here.

Actually, sidescrolling maps can really open up some possibilities for this sort of thing. (like say a giant ant farm, with a giant/archdevil watching and cheering/jeering the PCs the entire time)

Sczarni

A city.

Cities that predate the automobile can be surprisingly labyrinthine, and when there's guards all around your players will have to solve puzzles and deal with enemies through roleplaying and skills instead of hack-and-slash. It also makes it easier for the players to, say, not run out of arrows or whatnot.


I've run some sessions as platformers. It was quite fun. Lot of jumping, climbing, endurance checks, and combat in truly dangerous locations? Snowy cliffs, trees, volcanoes.


3.5 Loyalist wrote:
I've run some sessions as platformers. It was quite fun. Lot of jumping, climbing, endurance checks, and combat in truly dangerous locations? Snowy cliffs, trees, volcanoes.

Did anyone pick up the hammer or use their grappling hook to swing from platform to platform?

I've only run ONE sidscroll map in almost 30 years of gaming. I know it's sad... I've been gaming that long.

Still, the idea's worth re-visiting. Especially if there were gold rings floating in the air or TONS of enemy ninjas with dogs. Or gothic undead in a castle where hidden behind every breakaway candelabra was a heart or a potion...


Pathfinder Rulebook Subscriber

I can't quite picture it in my head. How can one do a sidescrolling encounter?


The original OP wanted enclosed...for a one shot. Let's have a party!

- An outdoor faire: the game is confined to the fairgrounds, perhaps the surrounding urban center (village, town, city, whatever). Your antagonists can be as mundane for a first level crawl as pushy vendors an psychotic jugglers to as fantastic at epic level as a troupe of demon performers and sucubi lead by a masked pit fiend ringmaster. Heck, you could even make the pc's part of the act and the faire itself their only ticket to freedom from slavery or something.

- The feast of nobles: a timeless classic. The area of the crawl is a single large chamber, like a castle hall or keep. I played one of these as a player where the whole event was social encounters where I never cast a single spell. Still there was danger; if I insulted a noble or disgraced myself in some way I would at least be ostracized and at worst be hunted down and destroyed by the movers and shakers of the game world. Of course you could pull a Van Helsing and have the entire crowd be vampires or something. Objectives could include gathering info, making vital social contacts, or stealing some noble mcguffin; even assassination leaps to mind.

- A night at the tavern: barfights are ALWAYS a good time, but what if the bar was built atop an ancient burial ground, or a shadow plane portal; what if it surrounded a fey stone circle? As the night of drinking and carousing wears on you could have a series of encounters all through the tavern from the main room to the wine cellar, outside in the beer garden or upstairs in one of the private dining halls. The objective could be fluid; it starts just as a night out on the town and quickly devolves into surviving: a zombie apocolypse, a dark creeper assault/extraction team or an evil fey revel.


Think old school castlevania, or adventure games like uncharted. Less or no rooms, corridors, the usual. More going up, down and across. Movement becomes difficult. Checks to make leaps, yes, the use of grappling hooks, jumping down and straight into combat. Mess with the light situation so they cant just ranged everything to death. Add creatures that can crawl, climb and leap better than players.

I've had platforms and cliffs, inside mountains, working your way down with the great threat of falling to your death. Boss is at the bottom, see you there!


I usually put my boss at the top where he's holding the princess. But then my villains are usually throwing flaming barrels...


A few years ago for NaNoWriMo, I wrote a "novel" (and I use the term loosely, since NaNoWriMo is more about quantity than quality) about a pair of people lost inside a giant house. The House itself was of normal scale - it wasn't a house for giants - but it had thousands of rooms and an expedition from the kitchen to the library was a three-day trip. The indiginous population of the house was The Oscars, a set of identical-in-appearance-but-not-in-attitude butler-types. They were at war with the chef and his kitchen boys.

I maintain that this was a really neat idea, even if the execution was sub-par.

Dark Archive

Feegle wrote:

A few years ago for NaNoWriMo, I wrote a "novel" (and I use the term loosely, since NaNoWriMo is more about quantity than quality) about a pair of people lost inside a giant house. The House itself was of normal scale - it wasn't a house for giants - but it had thousands of rooms and an expedition from the kitchen to the library was a three-day trip. The indiginous population of the house was The Oscars, a set of identical-in-appearance-but-not-in-attitude butler-types. They were at war with the chef and his kitchen boys.

I maintain that this was a really neat idea, even if the execution was sub-par.

house bigger on the inside vs the outside?

that's "House of Leaves"


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

A bunch of giant heads encarved into the side of a mountain like the monument at Mt. Rushmore. Can you imagine crawling for cover from a swarm of fireballs into Abe Lincoln's nose?

An urban jungle atop the roofs like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon- a dizzying hedge maze where you have to watch your step or plummet to the streets several feet below.

A giant's dollhouse, complete with other kidnapped denizens the giant has trapped there just because they're so darn cute. Suffice it to say, the giant's other prisoners have gotten a bit perturbed and/or crazy from their prolonged imprisonment.


chopswil wrote:
Feegle wrote:

A few years ago for NaNoWriMo, I wrote a "novel" (and I use the term loosely, since NaNoWriMo is more about quantity than quality) about a pair of people lost inside a giant house. The House itself was of normal scale - it wasn't a house for giants - but it had thousands of rooms and an expedition from the kitchen to the library was a three-day trip. The indiginous population of the house was The Oscars, a set of identical-in-appearance-but-not-in-attitude butler-types. They were at war with the chef and his kitchen boys.

I maintain that this was a really neat idea, even if the execution was sub-par.

house bigger on the inside vs the outside?

that's "House of Leaves"

IIRC - and it's been a few years since I read what I wrote - the protagonists never see the outside of the House. It also wouldn't ever be considered as horror, even with the most liberal of definitions. It was more sword-and-sorcery with a dash of slapstick.


Feegle wrote:

The House itself was of normal scale - it wasn't a house for giants - but it had thousands of rooms and an expedition from the kitchen to the library was a three-day trip....

...I maintain that this was a really neat idea

Ive read two published novel series that have the same setting theme. The first is "The High House" and the second is "Keys to the Kingdom"

I can't believe i never thought of canabalising them for dungeon ideas.

Look up the books if your interested, Id recommend them.


In my experience most dungeons aren't actually dungeons to begin with, they are castles, forests, sewer systems, cities, villages, libraries, and other locations that aren't actually dungeons, they're just infested with monsters.


The house idea reminds me of a Ravenloft adventure I ran once. The house in question was haunted, but from a casual glance looked normal. It took them a while to realize that making three 90-degree lefts and ending up back where they started was strange. Then they noticed that some stairs leading up from the second floor came out in the basement. (They kept wondering why I was erasing parts of the map to draw others.)


Blue Star wrote:
In my experience most dungeons aren't actually dungeons to begin with, they are castles, forests, sewer systems, cities, villages, libraries, and other locations that aren't actually dungeons, they're just infested with monsters.

Yeah the D&D definition of dungeon is pretty broad. The vast majority of them aren't used to imprison, and they aren't necessarily underground even though they often are. The term was probably originally used because the original dungeons, Blackmoor and Greyhawk were both subterranean areas under castles, i.e. where the dungeon would usually be in real life castles.


lordzack wrote:
Blue Star wrote:
In my experience most dungeons aren't actually dungeons to begin with, they are castles, forests, sewer systems, cities, villages, libraries, and other locations that aren't actually dungeons, they're just infested with monsters.
Yeah the D&D definition of dungeon is pretty broad. The vast majority of them aren't used to imprison, and they aren't necessarily underground even though they often are. The term was probably originally used because the original dungeons, Blackmoor and Greyhawk were both subterranean areas under castles, i.e. where the dungeon would usually be in real life castles.

It's still incredibly rare that I find myself in such a place, normally the dungeon-areas of castles tend to be incredibly short and straight-forward affairs.


If you are using Golarion there were a couple of flying cities that crashed down during the course of history. You could have a city that is half sunken in the ground that creates natural maze like terrain. I have actually been working on a sunken city in a swamp. The overgrowth of slimy vines, thick heavy moss, trees and leaves make for an excellent ceiling. Wooden walkways that are about to collapse into the swamp make for natural traps (nonlethal just mood setting). Also gives me access to trolls which are one of my favorite monsters.


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Mikaze wrote:
ZDPhoenix wrote:


Crashed spaceships, like Numeria;
Here ya go! :)

That's no dungeon! THAT'S A SPACE STATION!

^_~


The inscription says, D...S...9.


Berselius wrote:
Mikaze wrote:
ZDPhoenix wrote:


Crashed spaceships, like Numeria;
Here ya go! :)

That's no dungeon! THAT'S A SPACE STATION!

^_~

The Sentinel of Eox is example of space debris floating in the orbit of Eox. Its construction and use is long forgotten but the Bone Sages dont care, they still use the place.

Also mentioning Eox the Hall of the Living, its the only place where living eoxians are found though they've inbred over time but created a society. The bone sages decided to expands the complex for entertainment so I can see it as a 'dungeon crawl-esque' adventure for pc's who have lost their memories and are trying to figure a way out while encountering constructs and creatures of mutated origins.


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The ever expanding dungeon

After the PC's arrive on spot 0 (beginning of the official "dungeon") the forest is thick around them but they can make out 2 distinct paths; one leads straight into a bog south of their position; the other is a meandering track uphill skirting the thicket before them to the northeast.

From either one of these trails the party reaches an isolated part of the "dungeon". The bogs partially flood a sunken ruin providing indoor and outdoor encounters plus lots of interesting terrain. The path uphill reaches a scattering of ruined shrines which after exploring them you realize are thickly overgrown by the surrounding woodlands and border the bogs as well.

Making your way from one end or the other takes you a thickly wooded bog in the shadow of a taller hillside; hereupon you spy a door built into the distant hillside and atop the hill a much more impressive shrine.

The more you explore, the more the place seems to just expand before you.


Mark Hoover wrote:

The ever expanding dungeon

After the PC's arrive on spot 0 (beginning of the official "dungeon") the forest is thick around them but they can make out 2 distinct paths; one leads straight into a bog south of their position; the other is a meandering track uphill skirting the thicket before them to the northeast.

From either one of these trails the party reaches an isolated part of the "dungeon". The bogs partially flood a sunken ruin providing indoor and outdoor encounters plus lots of interesting terrain. The path uphill reaches a scattering of ruined shrines which after exploring them you realize are thickly overgrown by the surrounding woodlands and border the bogs as well.

Making your way from one end or the other takes you a thickly wooded bog in the shadow of a taller hillside; hereupon you spy a door built into the distant hillside and atop the hill a much more impressive shrine.

The more you explore, the more the place seems to just expand before you.

Yes Mark. I had a Sargavan dungeon that begun in a large dragon inhabited cave, which passed into an underground desert filled with giant worms, into minotaur tunnels and eventually exited at an ogre nest, near a Mwangi ziggurat half way across the continent which was being raided at the time. That was a dungeon!


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber
SolidHalo wrote:

If you are using Golarion there were a couple of flying cities that crashed down during the course of history. You could have a city that is half sunken in the ground that creates natural maze like terrain. I have actually been working on a sunken city in a swamp. The overgrowth of slimy vines, thick heavy moss, trees and leaves make for an excellent ceiling. Wooden walkways that are about to collapse into the swamp make for natural traps (nonlethal just mood setting). Also gives me access to trolls which are one of my favorite monsters.

Alternately, it could have landed sideways and be sticking straight up out of the ground. Corridors become deep pits that must be rappelled down, traps come at you from strange angles....

Or the city could have landed upside-down, hidden because it looks like a strange hill rising out of a swamp.


Some type of race course? Running and jumping in a maze like structure or open area. Perhaps some sort or creature chasing or floors collapsing. AutoX for your PCs.


Son of the Veterinarian wrote:
SolidHalo wrote:

If you are using Golarion there were a couple of flying cities that crashed down during the course of history. You could have a city that is half sunken in the ground that creates natural maze like terrain. I have actually been working on a sunken city in a swamp. The overgrowth of slimy vines, thick heavy moss, trees and leaves make for an excellent ceiling. Wooden walkways that are about to collapse into the swamp make for natural traps (nonlethal just mood setting). Also gives me access to trolls which are one of my favorite monsters.

Alternately, it could have landed sideways and be sticking straight up out of the ground. Corridors become deep pits that must be rappelled down, traps come at you from strange angles....

Or the city could have landed upside-down, hidden because it looks like a strange hill rising out of a swamp.

Why do fallen flying cities always land in swamps? Here's a cool idea; the "Metropolis" of the flying cities lands on the "New York" of your homebrew world... a city literally ON TOP OF another city.

They'd both be medieval fantasy style cities, meaning for example you might have a temple or ampitheatre 10 stories high buried under a literal mountain of rubble. Now THAT would be kind of cool to imagine:

You descend down a vertical shaft, tethering 2 50' ropes together and you're still not all the way to the bottom. However as you lower yourself the shaft opens into a vast chamber beyond. As you swing toward the opening your light finds a huge stone face staring down at you from the distant wall of a colossal ancient portico entombed in the living rock.

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