One of God's own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.” -Hunter S. Thompson

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Tharzad-Dul Design Thoughts

Tharzad-Dul: The Mountain Door Level 1
Heres a slightly fixed up version of the level 1 map I posted previously. I added in the stairs down to the lower levels. I also hatched in a section that I missed when I first inked the map. I should have the map key posted up in instalments through the week. I might come back to this map again but for now it does the job.

My experience working on this project has been a very different process from how I normally work.I'm an obsessive compulsive planner. Everything needs to go according to plan. I've been trying to break free from those shackles and let the dice fall where they may, both in gaming and in life.

Typically I start off with the a basic concept of what the dungeon level was originally intended for. In this case I knew that this level was first built by the dwarves as a fortress to defend the rest of the city from invasion and act as a check point for those entering and leaving the city.

Normally when I draw my maps I do them on graph paper. This time however I started off with the idea to just create room nodes connected by lines. I took a regular blank sheet of white paper and just drew a bunch of squares and circles and then connected them with lines. This didn’t sit with me very well. I wanted a sense of scale and more traditional feel. I will say the process did help to give me an idea of what the level was all about before I did too much work drawing.

I got another sheet of paper and used a sheet of graph paper underneath to use as a guide for drawing rough rooms and halls. Once I was satisfied with I inked the rooms with a big sharpie, and the halls and hatching with super thin black and brown markers and finally numbered the rooms.

Even when writing up my key stocking the dungeon has been a very random and organic process. Normally I like to have planned static encounters that need to be worked through. This time I just used the random tables from the 3.5 Dungeon Masters Guide to help stock the monsters, traps, and room contents. I made a few adjustments here and there, but otherwise I just tried to brainstorm up reasons to explain some of the weird combinations of room contents and creatures that came up.

It's been a fun and liberating experience. I'm not sure why I've never done it before now but I'm glad I did.    

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