Friday, January 17, 2014

Empty rooms and slow moving dungeons

You how the players in your game always wakes up when you without hesitation give a name to a NPC, or suddenly mentions the look of a door in the dungeon?

I have been sitting in agony, trying to get a game moving again after I in passing mentioned some details of dungeon room that was in all other respects just empty. Naturally, if there's a description it has to mean something, right?

A suggestion for us all.

When describing a room in a dungeon, always mention one thing of dungeon dressing per room. 

If there's one item, smell or oddity in each room, they will have to consider it all.

Should this lead to games where everything is examined for 15 minutes and the players insist on rolling some ability to find the clue, then just drop a piano on them. Yeah, in a dungeon. Go ahead.


  1. I usually talk about portraits, landsacpes in pictures, some stuff like applles and bottles and books, etc.

    My players pick up the bottles, try to eat the apple 2 sessions after the one they got it, and search in libraries all the time even when they hardly ever found something useful.

    Last one is my fault, they collect rare titles like: Sex with dwarves in the court of Agamenon, The problem with oriental cooking and dragons or Five ways to spit on a king.

    In any case i usually let they do one or two search with a dedicated skill and then let them know "But it seems there is nothing here and adventure can use".

    1. It sounds like you're having fun, and the game is not bogged down. Then you are doing it right! :)

  2. Random encounters, man. That's what they're there for!

  3. Threatening but meaningless graffiti is always good.

  4. Sean Robert MeaneyMay 23, 2015, 7:44:00 AM

    I remember there was a formula on how information travels. I applied it to a dungeon to build a network linking rooms and determining response to sound. If the wolves chained up in cave two hear you kill the guard in area one they wake up. If the bbeg in cave five hears you kill the guard in cave one he sends his minions in cave four -giving him time to prepare if they inturn give the alarm. It was a ratio of distance to population and I applied it as a communal pool of intelligence points. Intelligence pool/distance from event equals chance of being alerted.

    1. Not that dungeons has to be realistic, but I remember some blog post about how hard it was to hear anything at all around the corner in some caves.

      For a good game, I think actions with consequences makes a hell of a lot of sense.


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