Themes and Description
An easy way to make a memorable, cohesive dungeon is to create a general theme that ties all the rooms together. This can be something simple, like a statue or icon of a religious cult that appears in each chamber, is crafted on to each door, or is woven into the carpet and tapestries that decorate many areas. Other themes can have a radical effect on the dun- geon environment, such as a series of caves found at the base of a volcano. The dungeon templates presented later in this chapter serve as examples of complex dungeon themes that have a major impact on the encounters, dan- gers, and obstacles a dungeon presents. A theme is simply an aspect of the dungeon or descriptive detail that appears again and again as the characters move through a dungeon. The detail you choose should be something catchy that ties into the dungeon’s history, its current use, or the monsters that dwell there. A temple should have many religious icons scattered throughout its halls. A series of caves con- trolled by a band of trolls may feature gnawed human, dwarf, and elf bones scattered in great piles in the dungeon, warning the characters of the trolls’ experience and many years of suc- cess in launching raids on nearby settlements. Themes and descriptive details can mark important transitions in a dungeon. An ancient, ruined temple to the dark gods may be inhabit- ed by a band of orcs. The orcs control the upper levels, but the undead and evil outsiders that infest the lowest levels have prevented them from expanding their control any farther. The orc-controlled areas are mostly empty, filthy affairs, as the orcs cannot be bothered to regu- larly clean their living quarters and employ only the most basic furnishings. The air is thick with smoke, hot, and stuffy from the many cooking fires the orcs tend throughout their lair. The dungeon’s stone walls are marked with crude graffiti and great gashes from bored orcs hacking at the walls with their axes. In contrast, the lower levels are chilly. The smooth, black rock is free of any signs of orcish despoilment. Sounds echo strangely, as if the walls were much closer together than they actually are. Astute players should notice the sudden change and be ready for monsters other than orcs. Never underestimate the importance of small descriptive details in setting a dungeon’s mood.
Distorted Spectacles: One of the more
unusual devices in a well-equipped illusionist’s bag of tricks, distorted spectacles are similar to normal eyeglasses in design. However, the lens are very precisely misshapen. There are odd bulges in them, and hairline cracks cause the view through them to be fragmented and warped. Anyone wearing such lenses suffers a –4 penalty to any task requiring vision, includ- ing combat (–8 when using ranged weapons). While it might seem the only use for this item would be to try and trick an opponent into wearing them, their precise pattern of flaws and cracks causes visual illusions to appear more unreal. Anyone wearing the spectacles gains a +4 equipment bonus on Will saves against any visual illusion, and a +1 equipment bonus on Will saves against shadow spells. Most often, the spectacles are put on when an illusion is suspected, rather than being continuously worn. Creating these lenses requires a Craft (Jeweler) check (DC 30), and 5 gp worth of material to create. However, due to the extreme precision with which the lenses must be shaped, the retail cost is 50 gp, and all such items are considered masterwork quality.
greedy and show no fondness for evil—most fall somewhere between the two.
Anaema Lands: Anaema do not hold nations themselves. Rather, they form communities of their own within human kingdoms. Because an anaema on his own is more susceptible to the difficulties of the corporeal world, these people strive to stay together. The communities they form are designed to meet their specific needs. Anaema raise all the food they can, make their own clothes, and buy tools from anaema black- smiths. Despite the efforts and precautions, anaema cannot rely on what they make for themselves. Anaema communities are invari- ably built within or near human cities and the anaema make every effort to maintain friendly relations with those around them. Without the trade and mercantile interests of human lands, anaema would be hard pressed to survive. Anaema have learned that by magic or by force of will they can interact normally with the mundane world. Anaema sorcerers developed the skills necessary to bridge the gap between their people and the humans around them. They learned to craft “spirit tools,” mundane objects enhanced by subtle magic so that anaema can interact normally with them. Though this method does allow anaema to use otherwise mundane objects easily, the time and energy expended in crafting these tools result in goods that are often significantly more expensive. Tiny (or smaller) goods and weapons as well as small shields cost an additional 25 gp. Small items and weapons, large shields, and light armor cost an extra 50 gp. The cost for medi- um-size items and weapons, tower shields, and medium armor is increased by 75 gp. Large items and weapons and heavy armor cost an additional 100 gp. Anaema can use normal human goods, but they will have some difficul- ty. Magical items of any kind present no prob- lems. Anaema can easily wear magic armor and may just as easily be killed by a magic sword. Religion: Anaema follow human gods, usually those of law, justice, and craftsmanship. They take grim satisfaction in feelings of justice and retribution, as many anaema feel they have been wrongly cursed or tormented. The com- mon opinion is that they were changed from normal humans to their current state by the machinations of a powerful wizard or a divine curse.
The tubules require 100 gp worth of equipment to produce, and a Craft (glassblow- er) check (DC 23). Their market cost is 200 gp. Infinite Prism: The study of light and its magical effects led to the creation of the infi- nite prism. One of the most difficult pieces of glasswork to craft, the infinite prism consists of several nested prisms, each constructed of a slightly different type of glass and each only about one-eighth of an inch thick. The slight reflectiveness of the inner surfaces causes any- one looking into the item to see an effectively numberless series of reflecting planes, akin to looking into two opposing mirrors, only multi- plied by a factor of three. Its beauty aside, the infinite prism is a potent spell focus for the casting of prismatic spray. When used as a spell focus, if a Spellcraft check (DC 24) is made, the caster can control the spray to an unprecedented effect. He can select one color
more akin to wild animals than calculating, conquering tyrants. Only the oldest of these wyrms commands respect, with many of their lesser kin hunted by other monsters or kept as pets and slaves by frost giants and other intelli- gent races. The region around a white dragon’s lair is usually desolate and empty of life. These creatures viciously attack any morsels that enter their domains, as the younger ones usual- ly lack the self-control and intelligence to keep a low profile. They prefer to carve their lairs from ice, relying on their claws and strength to gouge a suitable opening in a glacier. With their ability to walk on ice, they craft tunnels with steep vertical climbs, forcing humanoids to make slow progress to invade their chambers. White dragons are fiercely territorial. The eldest amongst them love intensely cold envi- ronments, forcing the youngest of this species to cluster at the edge of the arctic environment. For this reason, younger white dragons are always a threat to cities and towns on the bor- der of a cold region. Over time, an attack is inevitable as the white dragons push their young closer and closer to the edge of the zone they can inhabit. Worst of all, some exception- al young white dragons may find clans of gob- lins, kobolds, and other easily dominated crea- tures. By bullying these creatures, a young white dragon can form a small army to conquer towns and villages and claim loot and fresh food.
Development: The western corridor is the only egress from the chamber. It leads to the Gallery of Travelers (see area 5).
5. Gallery of Travelers (CR 4)
Both the doors of this room are lock (good lock, DC 30). Snig the Axe (area 4) and Zezrell (area 6) both have keys to this chamber. The Hark has been busy. Not only has he made deals with the illithids of the Flayer’s Corridor, and the mysterious figure known only as the Green King, he is also I the process of sealing a deal with the Llorkh Banites. Envoys of the Llorkh Zhentarim were recently sent to finalize a deal with the Hark. They wait here for an audience with wererat, and have waited for a number of days. With the attack on the Dungeon of the Hark, they sense something is dreadfully wrong in the complex and have become quite paranoid. They plan on attacking anyone who enters the chamber, hoping to speed their audience with the Hark through force of arms. When the PCs enter, they find the following.
Pages 3-6 are the rules. Pages 7-8 are the Hero Cards Pages 9-18 are the Dungeon Deck
Pages 19-20 are the Level, Boss, Dungeon, and Stairs cards. The pages are laid out front/back/front/back in the Hero Cards and deck section of the PDF. For double sided printing, you should make sure the pentagon symbol: winds up in rough- ly the same position on the front and back.
If they have no loot, they must discard 1 card from their hand for each monster in play. For example. There are 3 monsters in the dungeon. The player pays oﬀ the 1st, but has no more loot. They must then discard 2 cards. When discarding, another player chooses the cards the aﬀected player must discard. The player may hold their cards so the player choosing the cards to discard cannot see what they are selecting.
It’s like that moment in a James Bond movie when Q gives 007 a new gadget. You expect that the gadget will come into play at some point, and so you wait for the payoff. Sometimes in the heat of the narrative you forget that Bond has the gadget, so when it finally comes into play, there’s a nice moment of surprise. The Aston Martin’s ejection set in Goldfinger (1963) is a classic example. The wrist-mounted dart gun in Moonraker (1979) is another—and especially surpris- ing because it comes into play not once, but twice. Conversely, if Q gave Bond gadgets that he never used, what would be the point? The writers know they can’t set up something like that and not pay it off. Of course, novelists and screenwriters don’t have to worry about RPGers mucking with the story of their novels and screenplays. They have total control when it comes to planting their setups and payoffs. A Dungeon Master, on the other hand, doesn’t have complete control of the story and can’t always predict what the heroes will do next. Consequently, not every setup has the perfect payoff. If my Wednesday night heroes had thrown Evendor’s apprentice overboard or killed her outright, the encounter with “Captain Artana” would have played out very differently. A setup that hinges on the characters keeping a captured villain alive is risky, but there are other kinds of setups that are subtle and thus more likely to pay off later. For example, at this summer’s live Acquisitions Incorporated game, I set up a mystery involving several crates of raw hamburger, which were delivered to the Darkmagic estate with no hint of who ordered or sent them. Later on, the heroes learned of the enmity between the New Hampshire
I strongly believe that a community thrives or dies through the initiation and completion of collective projects. From edition wars to the explosion of online-based indie RPG micro- companies, from the rise of RPG bloggers to the creation of the Old School Renaissance movement our community is going through one of its most turbulent periods ever. It is my fervent wish that other initiatives like the One Page Dungeon contest see the light of day. I’m an optimist at heart and I know that awesome things are awaiting us just around the corner. I truly hope you’ve enjoyed these dungeons and I wish to thank you for having read this docu- ment. I wish you many hours of exciting dun- geon crawling.
Price: 30,000 gp
Favorite security devices of the rich, screamers are dread- ed by thieves everywhere. These coins are crafted to look like the coin of the realm with one nasty feature. If ‘tripped’, the coin will emit a loud scream for one hour and cannot be turned off. A thief making his getaway with a bag of coins can not tell which coin is making the noise unless the coins are spread out over a large area to isolate the location of the noise and time is taken to review the lot. Trips for the coins can include simply being moved, being moved beyond a preset border unless done by the owner, being moved after a certain time of day, etc. Faint Illusion; CL 1st; Prerequisites: Craft Wondrous Item; Ghost Sound