A lot of monsters in Paizo APs sit in their room waiting to die


Pathfinder Second Edition General Discussion

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Ascalaphus wrote:
I feel like wandering monsters in a dungeon only make sense if the dungeon has lots of empty room in it, as well as multiple routes. Otherwise, if you systematically cleared everything behind you, where is this monster coming from?

A lot of dungeons in Pathfinder 1e and 2e are scaled smaller to fit on a page, I suppose so there can be an accompanying flipmat and also to justify the detailed artwork that often goes into them.

Dungeons of yesteryear going back to the 1970s were often much bigger, with a 10-foot scale, with many empty rooms.

If making more dynamic environments were to be a goal, perhaps the maps should be scaled bigger to justify bigger distances between encounters, less unity/solidarity among dungeon inhabitants, and more room for "restocking."


The Rot Grub wrote:
If making more dynamic environments were to be a goal, perhaps the maps should be scaled bigger to justify bigger distances between encounters, less unity/solidarity among dungeon inhabitants, and more room for "restocking."

I'm a proponent of larger-scale dungeons being treated more like cities, in that you don't map out every detail but instead describe districts. Then you can describe the important parts in more detail.


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Personally, if a structure is entirely controlled by a single entity I call it a lair instead of a dungeon and design it differently (i.e. what the residents do if the PCs attack). A dungeon is wilder and less densely populated, though it might have lair areas within it.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I think that's just another case of "what do you mean by dungeon?"

A "dungeon" could be a tower of relatively small diameter, where nothing could come through a floor unnoticed and no ecosystem exists, or it can be a sprawling cave complex where you're really only mapping specific areas where encounters occur.


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In regards of enemies being alerted to the presence of enemies, everyone converging on that location to swarm the players is one option.

Another option would be writing off the people in the room currently being slaughtered & taking the time to prepare & fortify a defense for when they move on from that first room.

Which is the better option would depend on the specific terrain aspects & the relationships involved.


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I admit I'm a bit late to the party, but one way to avoid combining encounters to the point of an auto-tpk is to not necessarily send everybody from the next room at the PCs at once. Something along the lines of Grog! Go see what those idiots up front are brawling about! Don't make me get up and put down my mead! And then send over only one guy. Which is also a hint to the PCs that somebody noticed them.


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RealAlchemy wrote:
I admit I'm a bit late to the party, but one way to avoid combining encounters to the point of an auto-tpk is to not necessarily send everybody from the next room at the PCs at once. Something along the lines of Grog! Go see what those idiots up front are brawling about! Don't make me get up and put down my mead! And then send over only one guy. Which is also a hint to the PCs that somebody noticed them.

This could be part of the advice for a situation.

PCs having a rough time, Grog pussyfoots.
PCs doing well, Grog comes on schedule (more as warning of threat* than a threat).
PCs trouncing (non-silently), Grog & buddies rush in or Grog & buddies fortify (flip tables, bar door, pour oil).
Whatever timing's needed to separate/combine battles to suit difficulty desired.

*And this is a solid way to build suspense.
Danger comes, you suck it up and take it.
Danger's coming...what is it going to be?!


Ascalaphus wrote:
I feel like wandering monsters in a dungeon only make sense if the dungeon has lots of empty room in it, as well as multiple routes. Otherwise, if you systematically cleared everything behind you, where is this monster coming from?

"Against the Giants" from Tales from the Yawning Portal has some great random tables.

On these tables they use the monsters/creatures already in the farmstead/dungeon. As an example (just from memory), if you roll e.g. 10 a Stone Giant from the big hall (where a feast is going on), might exit the room, and go outside to get som fresh air. So it's not like random creatures just pop up out of nowhere.

That's a great way to use random tables, which I agree can be a bit strange.

Sovereign Court

rohdester wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:
I feel like wandering monsters in a dungeon only make sense if the dungeon has lots of empty room in it, as well as multiple routes. Otherwise, if you systematically cleared everything behind you, where is this monster coming from?

"Against the Giants" from Tales from the Yawning Portal has some great random tables.

On these tables they use the monsters/creatures already in the farmstead/dungeon. As an example (just from memory), if you roll e.g. 10 a Stone Giant from the big hall (where a feast is going on), might exit the room, and go outside to get som fresh air. So it's not like random creatures just pop up out of nowhere.

That's a great way to use random tables, which I agree can be a bit strange.

Yeah the "random" in "random monster" always needs to get a second look. It can mean so many different things:

- Pick something at random from environment-appropriate monsters from a Bestiary (disregarding level/CR, maybe you should run?)
- Pick something from a specifically created "random" table for that area?
- Any encounter that isn't related to the plot, even if it's planned and has a 100% chance of happening with that specific monster?
- An encounter from further on, that's happening outside its standard room?


RealAlchemy wrote:
I admit I'm a bit late to the party, but one way to avoid combining encounters to the point of an auto-tpk is to not necessarily send everybody from the next room at the PCs at once. Something along the lines of Grog! Go see what those idiots up front are brawling about! Don't make me get up and put down my mead! And then send over only one guy. Which is also a hint to the PCs that somebody noticed them.

The issue I run into with this sort of tactic is that you can end up feeding a later, generally more difficult, encounter to your party piecemeal and everything ends up easier.


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Many early wandering monsters were also false, like odd noises, odors, or discoveries. Some were bystanders (i.e. merchants) or potential allies.
Some charts had decent backstories for most encounters, several with the expectation you were supposed to meet a few of them, i.e. if they haven't met Sir Xalot before reaching Town Y, have him here.
Others could be depleted out of a set maximum, i.e. there are three Ogres you might meet one at a time, ignore future rolls after they're dead.
Some dangerous or isolated areas would get none, while cities might have an extensive list useful for ideas even if one shies away from rolling.

So there's a whole lot that can be done with "random" that isn't as random as the "let's haphazardly toss monsters at the party from a setting-jarring list just because the area's dangerous". And these diverse options were as long as 40 years ago. But people see the generic charts in rulebooks and miss that there a lot of other options for charts that empower or inform dynamic environments.
And these asymmetric encounters don't even need to be off charts, as there were some that gave them as optional or part of a mini-game of escalating reprisals by a greater unified force if the party didn't cover its tracks. (This was up to and including unstoppable forces (for the level of the PCs) if the party went off the rails).

So yeah, I wouldn't mind such charts if crafted wisely, with greater intent than "more encounters".


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Interesting.

It may be time to bring back the dungeon ecology in truth.

Liberty's Edge

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KrispyXIV wrote:
RealAlchemy wrote:
I admit I'm a bit late to the party, but one way to avoid combining encounters to the point of an auto-tpk is to not necessarily send everybody from the next room at the PCs at once. Something along the lines of Grog! Go see what those idiots up front are brawling about! Don't make me get up and put down my mead! And then send over only one guy. Which is also a hint to the PCs that somebody noticed them.
The issue I run into with this sort of tactic is that you can end up feeding a later, generally more difficult, encounter to your party piecemeal and everything ends up easier.

Grog's twin brother Grag appeared in the next room to keep its difficulty intact ;-P


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HammerJack wrote:

I think that's just another case of "what do you mean by dungeon?"

A "dungeon" could be a tower of relatively small diameter, where nothing could come through a floor unnoticed and no ecosystem exists, or it can be a sprawling cave complex where you're really only mapping specific areas where encounters occur.

When I talk about dungeons, I use it as a shorthand for "area which is divided into smaller areas, which the PCs explore, and which has multiple mostly-separate encounters in it." It does not necessarily have to be indoors/underground.

For example, chapter 1 in Legacy of the Lost God is mostly an outdoor area, but it's still a dungeon. So could a large camp, or a farm, or something like that be.


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The Raven Black wrote:
KrispyXIV wrote:
RealAlchemy wrote:
I admit I'm a bit late to the party, but one way to avoid combining encounters to the point of an auto-tpk is to not necessarily send everybody from the next room at the PCs at once. Something along the lines of Grog! Go see what those idiots up front are brawling about! Don't make me get up and put down my mead! And then send over only one guy. Which is also a hint to the PCs that somebody noticed them.
The issue I run into with this sort of tactic is that you can end up feeding a later, generally more difficult, encounter to your party piecemeal and everything ends up easier.
Grog's twin brother Grag appeared in the next room to keep its difficulty intact ;-P

Nope, absolutely not, never.

The "Bad Guys" having arbitrary, undefined, or unlimited resources is an absolute no for me.

One of the big restrictions on Bad Guys, that an rpg like this allows you to implement, is the idea that the bad guys are laboring under the same fundamental challenges as the players.

If the players clear out half a dungeon, the bad guys only have their surviving assets with which to secure the other half unless they can somehow receive outside support - persistent influence in the world is one of the big advantages of tabletop rpgs and I would not deprive my players of it.


Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber

I wouldn't say "Not Ever".

There is a place for playing a bit of Quantum Monster (in either direction) to adjust on the fly, but this is not that place. I wouldn't knee-jerk to using it just to keep the challenge level of a room intact. That ends up invalidating the events the players set in motion without a counterbalancing benefit to the game.

But it doesn't mean I won't ever change my mind about what's going on deeper into the dungeon, and who is where at this exact moment to put a thumb on the scale of how things will run together, if it actually is needed based on my dungeon, my party and my current situation.

Liberty's Edge

KrispyXIV wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
KrispyXIV wrote:
RealAlchemy wrote:
I admit I'm a bit late to the party, but one way to avoid combining encounters to the point of an auto-tpk is to not necessarily send everybody from the next room at the PCs at once. Something along the lines of Grog! Go see what those idiots up front are brawling about! Don't make me get up and put down my mead! And then send over only one guy. Which is also a hint to the PCs that somebody noticed them.
The issue I run into with this sort of tactic is that you can end up feeding a later, generally more difficult, encounter to your party piecemeal and everything ends up easier.
Grog's twin brother Grag appeared in the next room to keep its difficulty intact ;-P

Nope, absolutely not, never.

The "Bad Guys" having arbitrary, undefined, or unlimited resources is an absolute no for me.

One of the big restrictions on Bad Guys, that an rpg like this allows you to implement, is the idea that the bad guys are laboring under the same fundamental challenges as the players.

If the players clear out half a dungeon, the bad guys only have their surviving assets with which to secure the other half unless they can somehow receive outside support - persistent influence in the world is one of the big advantages of tabletop rpgs and I would not deprive my players of it.

I absolutely agree when it is the result of the players' actions. Not when they did nothing special to deserve the easier fight.


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KrispyXIV wrote:
RealAlchemy wrote:
I admit I'm a bit late to the party, but one way to avoid combining encounters to the point of an auto-tpk is to not necessarily send everybody from the next room at the PCs at once. Something along the lines of Grog! Go see what those idiots up front are brawling about! Don't make me get up and put down my mead! And then send over only one guy. Which is also a hint to the PCs that somebody noticed them.
The issue I run into with this sort of tactic is that you can end up feeding a later, generally more difficult, encounter to your party piecemeal and everything ends up easier.

Nobody but the GM knows how many bad guys were there to start with. As you get a feel for what challenges the party, you can set numbers as appropriate.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

I thought it worth mentioning that the books in Agents of Edgewatch seem to be increasingly good about flagging this kind of dynamic feature of encounters, and addressing when and why encounters should/shouldn't bleed into each other. A beautiful example is this sidebar, from p31 of Belly of the Black Whale:

Sidebar with Spoilers:

Quote:

MANAGING RESOURCES

In order to rescue Wynsal Starborn, the agents must disable three binding crystals, which are located in areas E3, F5, and I5. This will require them to explore much of the prison. The text of this adventure assumes that the agents will overcome the majority of the encounters on the ships. Overcoming an encounter, however, doesn’t necessarily require combat, and characters should receive the full XP reward for an encounter even if they use Stealth or Diplomacy to avoid a fight.

In fact, the best way to rescue Wynsal is to perform the entire prison break in one day, meaning that characters who try to fight every encounter are likely to fail, as their resources will be quickly depleted. Be sure to impress upon players that resource management is key to this portion of the adventure.

Resting: There are quite a few empty rooms on the Black Whale, providing ample locations for the agents to hide or regroup. These rooms are seldom empty for long stretches, however, as guards regularly patrol the prison, which makes resting for a full 8 hours an unlikely prospect. If the agents attempt to do so, their best bet is hiding on the Talisman, which the guards seldom patrol. Even at this location, however, the agents will have to evade at least one patrol during their rest. Alternatively, if the agents befriend Clarity in area I2, she might shelter them in her cabin long enough to rest. Finally, the agents always have the option to use the unfettered mark ritual to go back to Absalom and rest before returning to the Black Whale.

Reinforcements: Resting ends up being a double-edged sword, however. Given time, Warden Guirden takes the following measures, increasing security each time the agents retreat from the Black Whale and return.
• For each slain or incapacitated guard, two replacements are hired.
• Wynsal (along with his binding circle) is moved to a different prison cell each day.
• Warden Guirden installs a banshee’s symphony trap (Pathfinder Core Rulebook 529) in area E3 to protect the binding crystal there. The trap has a 30- foot radius instead of the normal 100 feet.
• The sea witches use their powers to conjure uthuls (Pathfinder Bestiary 317), which patrol the skies above the boats in groups of three.

This tells the GM what to highlight to the players, so the players have an idea of what they're in for and what kind of resource management they should expect; it tells the GM what kinds of resting they should allow, and the consequences of doing so; and it sets up the prison as a dynamic environment that will change if the players take too many breaks. Great stuff.

I don't know if James Jacobs or any of the other Paizo folks are still following this thread, but additions like this are fantastic. Hopefully we'll see more sidebars like this in future APs!

EDIT: Spoiler tag added!


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Need spoilers ASAP!

Liberty's Edge

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Porridge wrote:

I thought it worth mentioning that the books in Agents of Edgewatch seem to be increasingly good about flagging this kind of dynamic feature of encounters, and addressing when and why encounters should/shouldn't bleed into each other. A beautiful example is this sidebar, from p31 of Belly of the Black Whale:

** spoiler omitted **
...

This kind of sidebar is absolutely needed and an excellent idea. Also saying which encounters can come together in a single combat and plausible reasons why it does not happen for other encounters are a must have for GM quality of life as well as PCs' life expectancy.


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The Raven Black wrote:
Porridge wrote:

I thought it worth mentioning that the books in Agents of Edgewatch seem to be increasingly good about flagging this kind of dynamic feature of encounters, and addressing when and why encounters should/shouldn't bleed into each other. A beautiful example is this sidebar, from p31 of Belly of the Black Whale:

** spoiler omitted **...
This kind of sidebar is absolutely needed and an excellent idea. Also saying which encounters can come together in a single combat and plausible reasons why it does not happen for other encounters are a must have for GM quality of life as well as PCs' life expectancy.

Yeah, that sidebar is an amazing step in terms of the problems this thread is about. And if they went one step further as The Raven Black suggests with describing why some encounters might merge and why others wont would really seal the deal.

This is exactly the kind of thing I would look for as a GM and I hope they do more of this kind of thing for future work.

Ascalaphus wrote:
I feel like wandering monsters in a dungeon only make sense if the dungeon has lots of empty room in it, as well as multiple routes. Otherwise, if you systematically cleared everything behind you, where is this monster coming from?

I agree wandering monster don't make sense in a small "dungeon" with a single route through it, but it also creates a situation that the remaining monsters in the dungeon should probably become aware of the invaders and band together to beat them, unless there are good reasons not to. Which can easily exist, but should be provided to GMs up front.


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Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Dungeon Master Zack wrote:
Personally, if a structure is entirely controlled by a single entity I call it a lair instead of a dungeon and design it differently (i.e. what the residents do if the PCs attack). A dungeon is wilder and less densely populated, though it might have lair areas within it.

That actually seems like a super useful distinction, might steal this.

Sovereign Court

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The-Magic-Sword wrote:
Dungeon Master Zack wrote:
Personally, if a structure is entirely controlled by a single entity I call it a lair instead of a dungeon and design it differently (i.e. what the residents do if the PCs attack). A dungeon is wilder and less densely populated, though it might have lair areas within it.
That actually seems like a super useful distinction, might steal this.

"Lair" seems like a useful name that covers the idea of single inhabitant, or tight unit like a family or brood, or maybe a small gang of bandits or somesuch.

I'm not as enthused about using "dungeon" to refer to what seems like a whole ecosystem with multiple factions. Dungeon still sounds to me like something at the bottom of a castle and ultimately answerable to the boss of the castle. I just don't think it's a word that has a very nice clear precise meaning. Maybe it's best kept just as a broad vague term for all types of dungeon together?

But this whole topic of having a couple of broad types of dungeons that imply different encounter design styles, is really interesting!

Sovereign Court

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Claxon wrote:
Ascalaphus wrote:
I feel like wandering monsters in a dungeon only make sense if the dungeon has lots of empty room in it, as well as multiple routes. Otherwise, if you systematically cleared everything behind you, where is this monster coming from?
I agree wandering monster don't make sense in a small "dungeon" with a single route through it, but it also creates a situation that the remaining monsters in the dungeon should probably become aware of the invaders and band together to beat them, unless there are good reasons not to. Which can easily exist, but should be provided to GMs up front.

I'm playing Agents of Edgewatch right now and some of the missions are very much "crime in progress, intervene urgently" style jobs. I think some of them could be much improved by (1) just slicing a whole level off the power of the monsters (2) explicitly not giving 10m breaks in most of the dungeon.

You'd still have short breaks in between encounters (examine the room, check for traps, drink some potions, untie civilians, tie up perps, quickly question people, take a new case as investigator) but overall an emphasis on keeping moving and keeping the pressure on the opposition.

How to write and balance such a dungeon isn't covered at all in the CRB/GMG but I feel it's something that the narrative of a lot of adventures really needs.

Liberty's Edge

If you have no 10mn breaks between encounters, I feel the best way to modulate the encounters is to consider the total sum of creatures when assessing the difficulty. They are thus not 5 encounters with 2 creatures each, but actually an encounter with 10 creatures that just happens to take place in separate locations.


The Raven Black wrote:
If you have no 10mn breaks between encounters, I feel the best way to modulate the encounters is to consider the total sum of creatures when assessing the difficulty. They are thus not 5 encounters with 2 creatures each, but actually an encounter with 10 creatures that just happens to take place in separate locations.

Except then you're overestimating the creatures. Foes being spread out makes a significant difference, as does even having a modest amount of time in between (like a minute for faster shield repair work or to recharge one's Rage).

Unfortunately it's just as easy to underestimate enemies depending on how reliant the party is on lulls. A Wild Shape Druid and some Oracles are based around having Focus Spells available most battles (hopefully not all battles or they have a design flaw) while another party w/ good damage mitigation and lots of in-combat healing may end many battles as strong as they began. (And spell slot attrition isn't accounted for anyway!)

I think a general rule of thumb would be whether a party did or didn't have a lull, with all encounters past the first counted as one degree worse, and with GM flexibility to bump that up or down depending on party reliance on lulls. Much like monster creation, I don't think rigorous rules do justice to how various combinations interact.


Castilliano wrote:
The Raven Black wrote:
If you have no 10mn breaks between encounters, I feel the best way to modulate the encounters is to consider the total sum of creatures when assessing the difficulty. They are thus not 5 encounters with 2 creatures each, but actually an encounter with 10 creatures that just happens to take place in separate locations.

Except then you're overestimating the creatures. Foes being spread out makes a significant difference, as does even having a modest amount of time in between (like a minute for faster shield repair work or to recharge one's Rage).

Unfortunately it's just as easy to underestimate enemies depending on how reliant the party is on lulls. A Wild Shape Druid and some Oracles are based around having Focus Spells available most battles (hopefully not all battles or they have a design flaw) while another party w/ good damage mitigation and lots of in-combat healing may end many battles as strong as they began. (And spell slot attrition isn't accounted for anyway!)

I think a general rule of thumb would be whether a party did or didn't have a lull, with all encounters past the first counted as one degree worse, and with GM flexibility to bump that up or down depending on party reliance on lulls. Much like monster creation, I don't think rigorous rules do justice to how various combinations interact.

Agreed. Even without a break, enemies coming in waves aren't aren't as dangerous as one huge mass, mainly for action economy reasons.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Rulebook Subscriber

Whether or not to spend 10 minutes between encounters is something that a GM can have a lot of influence on in the way they choose to reward PCs with loot, and the kinds of NPCs the party is able to interact with.

If you want to have lots of high tension chase scenes with little time between them, make sure your PCs know that will be the case and give them lots of consumable healing to compensate. Make sure they know that the consumables are meant to be consumable and if they are still hesitant about using them, do things like having an NPC witch brew healing potions in such abundance that the cost of them is even lower than normal and have enemies regularly use 10 minute breaks to run off with some of the extra stolen loot or bury or hide it in ways that costs the PCs extra resources to recover.

Alternatively, lean into short breaks. Don't let them just be about healing. Let other PCs do investigations of the environment or the situation that actually result in big useful clues that really help move the story along. Sure you have the enemies try to use that time effectively, but instead of having it always result in the enemies getting stronger, maybe sometimes the one that escapes reports back to the larger group and it leads to some kind of division in the ranks as morale breaks down over time. Maybe captives use the time to plot a revolt or engage in a sabotage of their captors.

Tension and story should be about more than just PCs being physically prepared with HP and focus points. It should also be about information gathering, building connections with the setting and other characters and making the world feel alive and not programed like a video game.

Sovereign Court

Maybe the solution to my unease is to be a teensy bit fuzzy about how long 10m really is. Consider it more like a "beat" of the theme music than an exact absolute unit of time.

If you don't take more than 1 beat break between encounters/mobile exploration, then the enemy doesn't get enough time to significantly regroup and recover. You're basically getting the encounters as written.

If you do take more than 1 beat break, then enemies have a better chance to get reinforcements, do unpleasant things to hostages, put backup plans into motion or start escaping. All is not immediately lost but things do get a bit more difficult.

On the other hand, if you're really going room to room without break, you put extra pressure on monsters, and you're more likely to catch them unready (maybe not fully armored, shields not worn, weapons not drawn, not in the best defensive positions on the map etc.)

I think this is a bit more aggressive than typical AP, and maybe requires encounters to be scaled down just a little bit. You can't keep it up indefinitely, but going through 2-4 encounters at this pace might be doable (especially if you also have consumables or Heal spells).

What I like about it is that does give a feeling of urgency. Abilities like being able to refocus while doing Treat Wounds matter. Feats like Ward Medic matter.

It also encourages slightly more cautious combats - if you know that you don't have indefinite time to Treat Wounds after, you're a little less willing to yolo your way through things.

---

TL;DR - 10m lull seems like a good compromise between "enemies sit waiting to die" and "the party is being hounded forward towards exhaustion". But it does require dungeons to be reasonably scaled in total size and hardness of individual encounters.


Pathfinder Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber
Ascalaphus wrote:
The-Magic-Sword wrote:
Dungeon Master Zack wrote:
Personally, if a structure is entirely controlled by a single entity I call it a lair instead of a dungeon and design it differently (i.e. what the residents do if the PCs attack). A dungeon is wilder and less densely populated, though it might have lair areas within it.
That actually seems like a super useful distinction, might steal this.

"Lair" seems like a useful name that covers the idea of single inhabitant, or tight unit like a family or brood, or maybe a small gang of bandits or somesuch.

I'm not as enthused about using "dungeon" to refer to what seems like a whole ecosystem with multiple factions. Dungeon still sounds to me like something at the bottom of a castle and ultimately answerable to the boss of the castle. I just don't think it's a word that has a very nice clear precise meaning. Maybe it's best kept just as a broad vague term for all types of dungeon together?

But this whole topic of having a couple of broad types of dungeons that imply different encounter design styles, is really interesting!

Yeah, I like Lair for the 'small dungeon, only a couple rooms, focused on a particular foe or item and its roomates/minions'

The word I use for a larger area is 'Adventuring Location' the idea being that it should be a distinct and exciting location, something that sells itself, but is wide enough to support general adventuring, as opposed to a focused single plot point-- I'm currently considering one for my upcoming nautical west marches, that represents the massive vacation palace of a powerful emperor of the past, but is now home to an imperial dragon who guards it from trespassers and will probably be a recurring character, a tribe of sea devils and their dark god (some aberration, probably), undead spirits of the people who once lived there, and perhaps even soldiers from the same nation looking to potentially reclaim it as a fortress (thereby expanding their influence over the island chain, something the party might be invested in not allowing to happen) and other things I've yet to think of-- and of course various armories, treasure vaults, caches that hold the riches the players want. This is the kind of place where they take multiple trips to uncover its secrets, confront its various story-lines, and so forth.

A dungeon, to me, sits in between, its probably more extensive than a lair, but its still focused on a single story-- kinda like when an AP makes you go into some temple or cave or something and you never go back because once its clear, its clear, and you just clear it as a story beat.

But this is a framework that really applies to the kinds of games that I run, where the distinction between 'focused mini dungeon' 'focused dungeon' and 'large, thematic, but unfocused dungeon' are useful.

Sovereign Court

So what would be some useful gradations of dungeon scale?

Small - probably all the monsters are closely bound together
Lair
Crypt
Barrow mound

Medium - still kinda coherent around a single faction, but larger and perhaps some internal divisions
Warrens
Keep
Temple or monastery

Large - can easily fit a few disconnected or even competing factions
Catacombs
Sewer system
Mines
Castle

Huge
Lost city
Megadungeon


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I wonder if monsters who wait around in their rooms all day use some kind of fantasy "uber eats" service.


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Cthulhudrew wrote:
I wonder if monsters who wait around in their rooms all day use some kind of fantasy "uber eats" service.

It's called an Adventure's Guild or in Golarion's case, Pathfinder Society.


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Halflings and gnomes usually come in convenient snack-size. As do appropriately shape-changed kitsune...

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